“The average street cop in Los Angeles makes $75,000 a year. It’s not enough.”
Ben is standing in a place that’s all too familiar to veteran cops all across the country. He’s on top of the world—at the very tip of the peak—and he’s balancing on the big toe of one foot. Seasoned officers, officers who’ve been on the job for many years, have been there and done that. They’ve all gone through the “I-just-finished-my-training-and-I-know-more-than-every-other-cop-in-the-world stage.
Sherman thinks he’s the hotshot cop who can save the world from everything and anything. And he’s got Badge Bunnies hopping around him like he’s a human carrot in uniform. But he’s got a lot to learn…a lot. Like discovering what it actually means to be a police officer, and how to truly become a partner to the guy who’s standing beside you while facing a dozen angry, armed gang members. Your partner, the guy who has your back through both the good and the bad.
Nope, being a cop isn’t all running fast, looking cool in uniform, and dodging bullets. First and foremost, of course, it’s about protecting the public, putting their lives before yours. And it’s about trusting your partner and knowing your partner trusts you. Without earning that confidence, well, you may as well start scanning Craigslist for job openings, because you’ll never be a real cop. Never.
And Ben absolutely must realize that the way to earn the trust of the public is not by engaging in a menage-a-jump-out-the-second-story-window-trois with Ima Killu’s wife and her friend. But Ben’s in that “stage.” He’ll learn. They all do. But it takes time, a few hard knocks, and plenty of hurt feelings, and maybe even a couple of official reprimands. And, he’ll probably be on the receiving end of a nasty bite from a rabid bunny before it’s all over.
Officer Sherman has reached the first critical crossroads in what could be a long career. Will he choose the right direction? Well, that’s up to the writers, and so far they’ve done a fantastic job of taking us on the journey. And Ben is allowing us to see that trip through his eyes. A really great job by both the actor and the folks who put this on paper.
Lydia’s on a personal journey of her own. A journey that’s experienced by many female officers. A journey that male officers will probably never fully understand. She’s torn between a career she absolutely loves and the little one inside that she isn’t sure she should even want, at this point. She knows that once she tells the department, they’ll surely put her on some wacky desk job, like filing papers in evidence, or answering phones at the department’s “I’m Calling Because I’m Stupid” hotline. And you know what…wearing a uniform after working in plainclothes for any period of time almost seems like a demotion, even if it’s not. And, those things are hot and uncomfortable!
Lydia demonstrates just how uncomfortable a uniform can be when we see her slide out from behind the wheel for the first time back in uniform.
Sgt. Adams unhooks her seatbelt and leans to her left, getting out of the patrol car. Did you happen to notice the grimace when she made the move to step out? Now that brought back memories. Do you see the space between her belt line and the bottom of her vest? Well, picture a wide and thick gun belt attached to her regular belt, at the top of her pants. Then, imagine as you lean to the side that space between the belt and the vest narrowing until it finally closes…with the soft flesh of your side pinched tightly between! Yes, that’s the cause of the wince. It hurts. Yeah, I know, being pregnant didn’t help any.
Lydia’s next move was to grab the top of the vest that had pushed upward toward her throat. She pulled it out and away from her body, an effort to relieve the irritating claustrophobic choking sensation. Now this is something that you get used to (the vest choke) but officers still do “the grab and pull” all the time, all day long. First, to stop the choke, and second, to allow the oven-like heat that’s trapped between the vest and your skin to escape and be replaced by a bit of fresh, cooler air.
- Cooper and Tang are stuck with a camera crew riding along, capturing their every move and word. That’s a scenario that cops are generally not fond of. They don’t trust the media because the media sometimes paints officers in a bad light, especially when any kind of force is used to subdue suspects.
I have many friends who work in various aspects of the media and it’s always an eye-opener for them when we invite them to attend police training so they can get a feel for why cops do what they do. The absolute biggest opinion-changing eye-opener is when they go through FATS training (firearms training simulator) where they’re faced with actual shoot/don’t shoot scenarios that happen in real time. Their reactions are most often of disbelief, horror that things escalate so quickly, and they’d have been killed if they’d hesitated to use deadly force, which many do…the first time.
Anyway, Cooper and Tang are called to a bakery where there’s a dispute between the owner and a customer. Coop and Tang separate the two (good technique) and then make the customer leave. In the meantime, they work with the man’s wife and the owner to reach a solution. Of course, all this takes place with the man’s young child in the thick of it all. And that, I’m afraid, is often the norm. Children suffer because daddy or mommy can’t control themselves or their actions.
- Sammy attempts to talk to a man whose son was killed in retaliation because he helped the police (Sammy) identify a criminal suspect. The man punches Sammy, blaming him for his son’s death, a death Sammy also feels responsible for causing. Sammy doesn’t fight back out of guilt.
- Ben and Sammy respond to an officer needs assistance call. The officers who needed the help were an oddly-matched pair—a male officer who was rather large and extremely out of shape, and a female officer who, as Sammy described, was, “Five foot and 99lbs soaking wet.” He resented having to come to aid because of their physical limitations.
Now, male or female. each officer should be able to hold their own and not have to call for assistance on calls that shouldn’t require assistance. I feel Sammy’s pain. When you’re trying to arrest a combative suspect and you spend most of your energy protecting someone who could barely lift a 5lb bag of sugar, well, that person is a liability on the street. They could easily get hurt and, their partners will surely be hurt trying to protect them.
I once worked on a shift with a person who was 4’11, weighed 91 lbs, had to sit on a pillow to see over a patrol car steering wheel, and couldn’t pull the trigger on a standard, department-issued weapon because his/her fingers were too short. Now, I ask you, would you feel confident wading into a bar fight among motorcycle gang members with that person as your backup? I’ve done it, and it wasn’t a good feeling. Sammy was right. Some people shouldn’t be cops.
- Ben and Sammy roll up on a group of guys who immediately set their beer bottles and cans on the ground. That’s exactly how it happens in real life. Good scene. And Ben’s searching technique was spot on—have the suspect clasp his hands behind his head, officer grabs the fingers of both hands and slightly leans the guy backward, off balance. Then he starts the pat down with using his free hand, Patting every (I mean EVERY) area of the body, searching for weapons and other contraband.
- When Ben and Sammy first started their shift Ben began a search of their patrol car, looking under the seats, etc. This is done every day, between every shift, by both oncoming officers and those leaving for the day. The purpose of the vehicle search is to locate any contraband that may have been stashed there by suspects who’d been transported in the back seat area/cage. The search is supposed to be conducted after each transport as well. Then, oncoming officers know that anything they find belonged to the last suspect who rode in the car.
Ben thinks Sammy planted/conveniently found a crack pipe in their patrol so he could frame the guy he believed killed a witness to an earlier crime. He accuses Sammy of the illegal and immoral act only to learn later that the pipe was already inside their car, left there from the previous shift. The officers had neglected to search at the end of their watch. Ben attempts to apologize but a lot of damage has been done. He didn’t trust his partner. He didn’t back him…stand by him. Didn’t believe in him. Unlike Sammy who stood by Ben when he punched the girl. Remember?
It will be interesting to see how the tension between the two partners works out. If it works out. That sort of incident makes it extremely difficult to trust your life to someone you’re not sure will be there for you when you need him.
- Cooper and Tang are behind a car. The driver’s nervous and, like many drivers across the country, he starts doing all sorts of dumb things. Black and White Fever is the cop’s name for what happens to drivers who suddenly realize a police car is behind them. They start swerving, braking too often, stopping in odd places, run red lights, and more. So Cooper nailed this one on the head, stating that drivers forget how to drive when a cop car shows up in their rear-view mirror.
_ Lydia earns a spot in the ER when she’s struck in the belly. But the physician assures her that the baby is fine. Lydia, though, is not. And a lone tear rolled down her cheek to let us know that she’s hurting from far deeper pain than the punch in the gut.
Now, regarding Lydia. It was great to see her in uniform and in action last night. Did you notice how the show seemed to fly by from opening credits until the screen went dark at the end? That’s because there were none of those “driving and thinking” scenes to slow us down. No walking around a crime scene talking about feeling sick and sad. Nope. None of that. And I certainly hope the writers remain on this track, because action, realistic action, is what makes this show stand out from all the other cop shows.
Southland is all about the day-to-day action that patrol officers face during their shifts. And that’s the stuff that drives the show’s fan crazy with excitement and enthusiasm.
And talking about realistic action…
How about Tang and knife-wielding woman? Great scene, and she and Cooper were right. They should have shot the woman when she first lunged at Dewey with the knife. But deep inside you never want to do that. You just don’t. So Tang tackled her, hoping to end the situation in the best possible way. It wasn’t her fault the lady was injured.
Then comes Cooper’s fight-for-his life fight scene. Now that was how to insert tension into a TV show. It was real. Very real. If I could’ve crawled into my set to help Coop I would have. And that brings up my final point for the week. These actors take their roles so seriously that their characters come across as real people. And I, for one, am glad that these guys are out there to protect us, even if it’s only for one night each week.