Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SouthLAnd Season 4 Retrospective

The season began with the highly anticipated return of Officer John Cooper after rehab and back surgery.  Will he be able to return to the streets?  Did he make it through rehab?  And who would be his next boot or partner?  Our first look at Cooper is at the gym.  He’s leaner, healthier, and obviously more fit as he works the various equipment. When he is welcomed back during roll call, he takes the razzing with a smile.  In fact during the entire first episode, the expression on his face tells it all.  He is so happy to be back on the streets. 
Jessica Tang, a veteran officer (a P-3 like Cooper) was paired with Cooper this season.  We weren’t too sure about Lucy Liu before the season started, but she turned out to be an excellent partner for Cooper (at least at the beginning of the season).  Tang, like Cooper, has a backstory that influences her work greatly.  By the end of the season, we realize Tang is not the great cop she thinks she is.  There are three situations where she did not follow police procedure (that we know of): when she allowed the big, tall guy to get close enough to give her a vicious beating; when she removed the orange tip of the toy gun; and when she put her partner in danger at the car wash. 

Tang and Cooper work together well as they handle calls from the crazy invisible guy, to the guy that tries to take out Cooper by biting Cooper’s neck.  From the “Jesus and two more white folk” mother to trying to save a suicidal kid.  From arguing jurisdiction of body parts on some train tracks to helping a homeless marine.
But all that good rapport would go down the drain when Tang messed with the evidence of her in-policy shooting of a teenager.  Cooper didn’t see Tang remove the orange tip of a toy gun, but he was positive that she did.  And because he didn’t witness her action, he couldn’t say anything to FID about his suspicions.  He tried numerous times to get her to correct her statement to FID, but she was testing for sergeant, and there was no way she was going to ruin any chance of that promotion.  And with that she lost all of Cooper’s trust and respect.  There was no longer any chit-chat and you could cut the tension in the patrol car with a knife.  Let’s see Cooper paired with a female boot next season.

Lydia began the season with yet another new partner: Ruben, a new detective trainee and veteran of the Afghanistan war.  Dorian Missick is such a natural actor that he makes his work look easy.  But I think he was marginalized when Lydia found out that she was pregnant.  She doesn’t tell anyone.  However, Ruben, the happily married father, is on to her.  Lydia continues to deny that she’s pregnant until she is stabbed by a suspect late in the season.  In the meantime, every case that she and Ruben work has something to do with babies, parents, pregnant women, etc.  The writing was a little heavy-handed about the subject, but maybe that was meant to mean that that was all Lydia was thinking about.  All baby, all the time.  We finally found out the father was Terrell, a married man with a young son.  And a man with which she had previously had a relationship. We saw him briefly at the end of the second episode of season one and Lydia used to keep a picture of him on her desk.  Lydia meets with Terrell in the season finale to let him know she is pregnant with his son.  He seems very ready to let his wife in on the news, but Lydia says she didn’t come to, “Blow up his life.”  She just hopes someday that he and his son can get to know each other. Hopefully the time between season 4 and season 5 will allow her to have the baby so that we don’t have to go through the entire pregnancy with her.  One of the best scenes for Lydia this season was in Episode 1 when she confronted her former CI that said things had been rough on her (the CI).
What can we say about Dewey?  Dewey is Dewey.  And C. Thomas Howell plays the hell out of this role.  From wanting his S.A.G. card to motor-boating a BBW (“Kinda like riding a moped.  It’s fun as hell till someone catches you on one.”).  Dewey adds the crazy to this show.  I think we should see a little more of Dewey next season (Why wasn’t he in the finale?), along with an encounter with a BBW.  At the least, he should be in each episode.  

When Season 4 began, Sammy and Ben had been working together for 6-8 months. Sammy kids with Ben about the badge bunnies and then tells him he should really move out to the suburbs where he would have a much bigger house for the money.  In addition a pool which is a chick magnet.  Ben is disgusted by the attitude of another officer named Ferguson.  To the point of wanting to go to the Watch Commander and ask him to remove Ferguson from the unit.  Ferguson is very jaded and cynical and doesn’t care if he does things by the book or not.  Sammy tries to explain why Ferguson is the way he is.  But that doesn’t matter to Ben.  Ferguson confronts Ben in the locker room about Ben’s by-the-book manner.  Ben more or less says that Ferguson can be the way he wants, letting kids play with a body and taint a crime scene.  Ferguson says it’s time Ben picked a side.  Ben responds that he’s picked a side - he’s going to do things the way he’s been taught.
Ben’s and Sammy’s partnership stumbled during the middle of the season.  Ben accused Sammy of planting evidence and that broke the trust between them - and trust is everything to a cop.  Ben discovered later that day that it was evidence from the previous shift.  Neither the cops from the previous shift nor Ben searched the car very well in between shifts and that resulted in Ben’s accusation.  Ben apologized, but Sammy couldn’t get over it.  That resulted in a tension-filled patrol car for a bit, but Sammy finally let things go. 

Contrast Ben’s attitude in the first episode with his attitude in the last few episodes, especially the finale.  Ben is no longer a by-the-book officer.  He finds Ronnie, the pimp husband of Amber the hooker and father of Daniela, and beats him up.  Sammie knew what Ben was going to do and came and got him before Ben beat the guy to death.  Ben’s beat-down causes Ronnie to come after Ben; chasing them down in the patrol car and shooting at them.  This results in someone crashing into their patrol car, putting Sammy in the hospital.  So now Ben has even more reason to go after Ronnie.  When Ben visits Sammy at the hospital, Sammy realizes what Ben will likely do.  In one of the most emotional scenes of this season, Sammy tries to keep Ben from doing what Sammy thinks he’s about to do.  Sammy tries to get him to stay at the hospital with him and explains why he stopped being a detective and came back to patrol - to help mentor younger officers.  But now he feels like he failed Ben because he knows what Ben is going to do.  Ferguson is Ben’s partner for the day and even Ferguson comes to realize what is going on and tells Ben he can’t be judge and jury - that’s not a police officer's job.  Ben ignores this advice and puts Daniela on a bus, without getting the permission of the parents.  Then he seeks out Ronnie and maneuvers him into a confrontation where Ronnie pulls his gun. That allows Ben to return fire, which will end up being ruled an in-policy shooting.  The next day Sammy and Ben are at the pool hanging out.  Ben puts his shades on and leans back in his chair.  I don’t think he feels any regret at what he did.  And as the voice-over at the beginning of the episode says; Ben has decided what kind of cop he is going to be.
What do we want to see next season?
Ben move back from the edge a little bit and continue to partner with Sammy.
Very little about Lydia’s baby.
Ruben still partnered with Lydia.
A little more Dewey.
Cooper with a new female boot.  And we don’t want to see him backslide into addiction again.  That would be completely out of character for him.  Cooper knows how lucky he is to have been able to come back from addiction at his age.  He knows he probably wouldn’t be able to do it again.  And as he told Ben in a previous season, “If I can’t be out on the streets; you may as well put a bullet in my head.”  He wants to make six stripes plus one day and we want to see that too.

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