There’s a common saying among LAPD officers…leave the job in the locker with your uniform. It’s easier said than done.
A cop leaving the job at work? Ignore the druggies, pimps, and punks walking the streets beside you and your family? Not a chance. And Sammy was a perfect example last night when he left his post as a personal bodyguard to head into a volley of gunfire, an act that garnered him the unwanted attention of LA’s always out of control paparazzi.
Once a cop always a cop is a saying that rings true to nearly everyone who’s worn a badge. There’s a pull toward the duty that’s nearly as strong as the gravity that holds our feet snugly to the ground. Rarely does a day go by when I don’t examine vehicle license plates for signs of tampering or expired stickers, or damaged steering columns, a clear indication that the car is stolen. I see officers on the side of the highway conducting traffic stops and I feel the urge to pull over in case they need back up.
This incessant need to “police” used to drive my wife absolutely bonkers. Once, while watching TV in the comfort of our home, I heard a bit of commotion outside. I let it go at first, thinking perhaps a group of teens having a good time were passing by. But when I saw the familiar staccato blinking of blue flashing through our curtains, well, I had to see what was going on. A traffic stop, maybe?
I stepped out onto the front porch and saw three patrol cars idling in the street. Blue lights flashing and spotlights trained on a man standing on the front porch of our across-the-street neighbors, a very sweet elderly couple. He was shirtless and held a large revolver in his right hand. He was yelling obscenities and occasionally pointed the gun at the residents who were seated side-by-side in a porch swing. I recognized the man as someone I’d arrested a few times in the past for disorderly behavior. He was a military veteran who lived with one too many ghosts inside his head and seemed to find drugs and alcohol as the best means of keeping those demons in check. Normally, when he was high, he walked the streets scaring little old ladies and small children. This time, though, he’d wandered onto the property of two people who thought going to the doctor was an exciting outing. They were beyond frightened.
The patrol officers on the scene were all young and fairly inexperienced, but were using every single tactic they’d learned in the police academy to get the crazy guy to put down his weapon and surrender to them. Nothing was working, though.
I went back inside to grab my pistol, which I shoved inside the waistband of my shorts (remember, I was at home watching TV), and headed across the street, where I promptly walked past the officers and up onto the porch where I calmly asked the man for the gun he was waving around. He recognized me and immediately handed the weapon to me, and then started blubbering like a baby. I walked him back to the police officers who handcuffed him and carted him off to jail. Me, I was back in my easy chair in time to see the end of my show.
Yes, it’s in our blood. We bleed blue.
Now, on to the story. This episode, directed by Regina King (Lydia), was one of the best episodes of Southland to date. In fact, it just may be the best. The cast was superb, and, in fact, they delivered a flawless performance last night. Speaking of flawless performances, an Emmy nod to Michael Cudlitz for his work over the past couple of years would certainly be appropriate and well-deserved.
Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and his former TO, played by Gerald McRaney of Simon and Simon and Major Dad fame, sit in a bar having a cold one. Cooper sees his former mentor as a lonely ex-cop who’s grown older, yet still misses the job he can longer work. Coop sees visions of becoming that empty shell of a cop, and it’s hitting him like a ton of bricks. He knows he’s a few steps from pulling the pin (retirement) and the thought is leaving a bitter taste in his mouth.
- Ben and Brooke are out for a night on the town and she’s a bit anxious that Ben has a gun concealed under his jacket. Well, a gun is like an extra appendage to a cop. You feel naked without it. But, what’s no big deal to a police officer can sometimes be off-putting to a civilian.
Speaking of plainclothes, Ben runs into one of his former buddies, a drug dealer, and introduces Brooke as his girlfriend, a moniker she seemed to enjoy. Ben realizes that his former pot dealer is making far too much money to be in a legitimate business, so he whispers that news to the narcs who later move in for a big bust that’s worthy of a celebration. The bust was so big that it sparks a notion in Ben’s head that he should take the detective’s test, a notion that Sammy, a former detective himself, thinks is a bit absurd.
- We learn that Lydia has been corresponding (while off duty) with a guy who’s serving time on death row, and, she’s promised him that she’d show up for a visit on the day of his execution. But, always the good investigator, Lydia’s motive was to hopefully get the condemned man to confess to additional murders and learn the location of the bodies. Turns out that her off-duty letter writing paid off. A brilliant piece of acting by Regina King, by the way.
- Dewey engages in a foot pursuit that lands him with one foot in the grave. The exertion stops his heart and Cooper immediately starts CPR, an act that saved Dewey’s life…as he’s apparently done several times before. Each stone that’s unturned in this episode is another notch in Cooper’s belt, a step closer to retirement. Everything he does is a reminder that he’s one of the “old guys” who’s been there/done that time and time again.
Dewey’s scenes sometimes give us a much-needed break from the building tension this show always delivers. His obnoxious behavior and rude and lewd comments take us out of the moment just long enough to catch our breath before heading to the next cliff.
- Sammy’s ex, Tammi, is pursuing her abuse complaint against him, which has now been handed over to Internal Affairs. Things aren’t looking too sporty for Sammy, who’s coming unglued, piece by piece. Ben has made it clear that he “has Sammy’s back,” meaning that he’ll lie for him if that’s what it takes to get him off the hook.
But Ben has his own troubles. He can’t seem to veer off the path of self-destruction. In many ways, he and Cooper are a lot alike. after all, Cooper trained him, right?
Ben is an arrogant narcissist who’s determined to take himself down. He’s so into himself that he brushes off Sammy’s need for a true friend. And, he’s so not in control of his own zipper that he practically chases after any female who shows him the slightest bit of attention, like the woman he met during the arrest of her brother. It is so uncool to become romantically involved with people connected to criminal cases you’re involved in. Not cool at all. Sooner or later it will bite Ben on the rear. It always does (in real life).
- Cooper injures his back again, slightly. But it’s the fear of injuring it permanently that hurt the most. He doesn’t want to leave police work, and a permanent back injury would most certainly seal the deal.
The cast dealt with several demons last night. Demons that live in the far corners of their minds, constantly scratching and clawing at the inside of their skulls, wanting out. And, it’s all the Southland crew can do to keep those monsters inside. I guess the big question is, who will be the first to let one loose, and what hell will they pay for doing so…
*Favorite line from the show – “I’m all over this b***h like a fat kid on a cupcake.” ~ Dewey