John Cooper’s learned in the streets of Los Angeles, a single step can separate life and death.
What a powerful statement the opening line makes. Think about it. A blink. A breath. A turn of the head. A step. All are actions that occur in an infinitely small segment of time. A space on a clock and calendar that will always serve as a reminder that a loved one nearly left this earth, or that a special someone was taken from us at a precise moment. Those seemingly insignificant actions forever mark a life-altering event.
For cops, though, those moments in time are a dime a dozen. They’re part of the job. And with each passing tick of the clock, police officers everywhere walk the very thin line between life or death. Unfortunately, none of them know when they’ll step to either side. It’s a balancing act that many people take for granted…until they slip.
I made the statement last night that while watching this episode I realized how incredibly strong John Cooper really is, because for one solid hour he carried the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. And that was true, but the rest of the solar system was divided between Sammy, Lydia, Ruben, Ben, Hicks, and Dewey.
What an emotional ride. A great bit of acting all around.
– Sammy finally goes before a panel of IA detectives, and they’re not going easy on him. Sammy makes things a little more difficult for himself by mixing a lie (about the camera) with tidbits of the truth. He’s also talking in “cop speak” to police investigators who may see this as rehearsed testimony to prevent being tricked into saying something he didn’t want to say. To further make this scenario difficult is the fact that Ben has to reinforce Sammy’s statements by also telling the same lies. And we all know what happens when two people share the same secret…somebody usually gets burned. And, believe me, this has the potential to become a very hot problem for Sammy and Ben.
– Lydia and Ruben respond to a DOA and see a very troubled Dewey waiting for them at the curb.
The deceased is an infant, and as any cop will tell you, those are calls they’d rather not answer. Ruben’s initial reaction is that the baby died a SIDS death. Lydia’s not buying that, though, and delves deeper into the situation. She feels a personal connection to the case since she, too, is a new mother whose own baby won’t stop crying unless he’s snuggled next to her in bed. Well, we learn, after many twists and turns in the case, that the mother of the infant victim took a sleeping pill and when she finally awakened, discovered that she’d rolled over during her sleep and smothered the child. Lydia’s horrified expression at the mother’s confession was not in response to knowing that the young woman had accidentally killed her own child. Instead, it was in knowing that having her own infant son in bed with her could someday end in a similar tragedy.
It was interesting to see Dewey back at work answering calls after suffering a heart attack two weeks prior. I guess an aspirin a day really does do the trick.
– Coop and Lucero pull up to assist two patrol officers who’d just chased and caught a suspect. A female officer chats with Cooper while her careless partner places the thug in the backseat without searching him. He also leaves the rear door wide open. The crook takes advantage of the situation by pulling a gun and taking a shot at the four officers. Coop takes control, gets the bad guy out of the car, and then finds the weapon. Similar scenarios have played out in real life, ending with both police officers and suspects dead. Officers should ALWAYS thoroughly search suspects before placing them inside the police car. Sure, it’s uncomfortable for all when having to place your hands on parts of someone’s body where the “sun don’t shine,” but a little embarrassment is far better than “bagpipe music and pine boxes”, as Lucero so eloquently related to the careless officer who caused the dangerous mess.
And speaking of embarrassing situations, how about the nude guy who was horse-whipped by a scantily-clad librarian who immediately set her sights on Coop the moment she saw him standing in the doorway. She also experienced a moment of pure heat when Cooper asked her to turn around for cuffing. “My cuffs or yours,” was her response to Coop. Funny thing, many real-life officers hear similar comments during the span of their careers. Must be the uniform…
A man frantically begs for help, leaving Coop and Lucero no choice but to leave their patrol car and follow the distraught man. They soon discover that a bus had struck a pedestrian, trapping her beneath the vehicle. Cooper crawls under and stays beside the severely injured woman, holding her hand until rescue crews arrive to help. They raise the bus and place cribbing under it to hold it up, and then place a backboard beneath the woman before pulling her to safety. They stabilize her neck and head (great scene and procedure, by the way) and Coop wishes her well. He also checks on her condition and is relieved to later learn that she survives.
Now, I can’t begin to pinpoint the thousands of times that officers go through hand-holding moments at trauma scenes. I’ve done it countless times, and so have many, many other officers at some time or another. And, during those seemingly endless moments until help arrives, you form a bond with the victim. And you care. And you hurt for them. And you grieve when they die. And you lose a part of you each time. You know, when I hear people claim that cops are unkind, emotionless, abusers of all people of all races and gender, well, I sometimes wish I could grab them by the collar and force them to see what it’s really like to wear a badge and uniform. But, that’ll never happen. Neither will the day ever come when everyone understands. But you know what…the folks at Southland sure do.
Speaking of emotional roller coasters, Sammy and Ben engage in a high-speed pursuit of a crazy man who stole a taxi and sped off. The wacky driver leads the two officers through city streets while striking other cars, causing multiple accidents, and generally creating a highly dangerous situation for everyone involved. Sammy’s driving while Ben watches the side streets for oncoming traffic. Each time they approached an intersection we heard Ben say, “Clear.” That’s done in real life, and it’s to let the driver know he can safely continue through the crossing.
Suddenly, Sammy decides to terminate the pursuit, and Ben is livid. “We were lead car!” he yelled. Well, that was true, but if Sammy, or any officer, decides that the pursuit isn’t safe, then stopping the chase is the right thing to do. Sure, Sammy’s mind was on other things, but that’s more than enough reason to end the chase. Good move on his part.
– Cooper is a gay cop in a profession that’s overflowing with testosterone and jokes of poor taste. It’s a job where it’s almost taboo to be different/not one of the guys. It’s where a few still believe that being gay equals weakness, unless the officer is a tough-as-rusty-nails lesbian, because being “butch” is a sign of toughness/one of the guys. Screwed up way of thinking? You bet. Right? Nope. But it is what it is.
So, when Lucero offers to hook Coop up with a woman, Coop shrugs it off. But Lucero continues… Coop still plays it off. How long can he continue to hide his personal life from his partner? I’ll tell you…not forever. Because you spend so much time with a partner, and you share so many emotional experiences that, well, it’s almost a necessity to share intimate details about your life. Besides, Cooper has no one else to turn to. His life is crumbling around him. His former TO, Hicks, is falling apart because he feels that his purpose in life is used up. In fact, he came close to pulling the pin last night by shoving the barrel of a revolver against the roof of his mouth. The hammer was back and ready to drop at the slightest touch. Remember, a breath, a blink, and the bagpipes begin to play. It can be that quick.
Adrenaline shoots through roof when Coop and Lucero are faced with a distrught man holding a large knife. He’d cut himself and was considering a final charge at the two officers when a young boy rode up on a bicycle, begging Coop and Lucero not to kill the man. Cooper scoops up the boy and takes him to safety and out of sight of the situation.
– Sammy and Ben finally spot the crazy guy who’d led them on the car chase. This time, though, they’re in foot pursuit. Ben catches the guy, but is injured slightly when he falls down a flight of steps during a scuffle with the “Attica-screamer.” So Sammy follows behind the guy after Ben insists he’s okay and it’s all right to leave him behind. The bad guy jumps a fence and is instantly attacked, mauled, and killed by two large very aggressive dogs. He dies.
Ben insists upon maintaining his womanizing lifestyle when he returns for a second shower scene with the painter-girl/gangbanger’s sister. He’s playing with fire by seeing this girl because he’s now “hanging out” at her house with her scary cousins lounging around the living room. And I do mean “hanging around.”
So, Cooper’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s nearing the end of his career at a time when his life is empty. He’s lonely and he’s fighting a boatload of demons inside. He lives his personal life in a closet where, apparently, only Dewey has ever had the privilege of peeking inside. Dewey offered Coop some great advice in a way that only Dewey could, by saying, “Hey, John. Go home. Tend to your cactus. Rent a musical. Do what you do. Just have a good time.” He knows John Cooper’s secret, but has never told anyone. Dewey may be lewd and crude, but he’s one helluva stand-up guy.
Lydia lays awake while her baby sleeps soundly beside her. She’s probably thinking about the woman who accidentally smothered her own child during her sleep, so Lydia doesn’t dare close her eyes. Sooner or later her weariness will catch up to her, and she’ll snap if something doesn’t change soon.
Sammy pops the top on a beer and takes a long swallow. He replays the video of the altercation with Tammi, watching it on the camera that he told IA detectives he’d dropped on the ground at the scene.
The show soon fades out, leaving us and the characters in silence, thinking…
Lies. Growing older. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Saving lives. Pain. Suffering. Heartache.
All are causes to “Bleed Out,” emotionally.
And that’s what officers face each and every day of their lives…