Southland: Reckoning – A Cop’s Eye Review

Southland: Reckoning

Most cops manage to stay sane despite the chaos all around them. But in their hearts they know…everyone has a breaking point.

Imagine standing knee deep in the aftermath of incidents like the recent bombings in Boston, the Newtown and Aurora shootings, or the 9/11 attack in New York City. Picture yourself trying to muster up the right words to say to someone whose whole world has just been pulled from beneath them, when the dearest, most important person in their life has been taken away in the split second it takes to pull a trigger.

Try telling a mother that her only child was raped and killed by a filthy and vile stranger. Spend a morning combing through mangled body parts and bloody debris. Step into a room where a self-inflicted shotgun blast caused human tissue and blood to rain down from a bedroom ceiling like dozens of leaky bathroom faucets. Reach down to the hot pavement and pick up a four-year-old’s limp and lifeless body, the result of a drunk driver who claims he didn’t see the girl riding her tricycle.

Are you with me yet? Okay, now imagine that you have one person…only one person in this entire world…with whom to share your thoughts and emotions regarding the devastation you deal with on a daily basis—the dead kids, mutilated bodies, rape victims, suicides, blood, tissue, and tears…lots and lots of tears. Heartbreak beyond belief. The tears and gut-wrenching sobs never, ever end.

So you talk to your partner. You share your thoughts, your emotions, and your soul with the officer in the seat next to you. This is the guy, or woman, you’re with eight to twelve hours a day, maybe more. You eat together, laugh together, and you see the world around you, together, as it slowly comes unglued.

You know your partners kids and they know yours. You know their wives and husbands. Your lives intersect and intertwine. Hell, you’re almost one being, with two heads, four arms and four legs.

You train together. You move in unison when at crime scenes. She goes one way and you go the other, without ever speaking a word. You just know who’s going to do what, and when. You are a team. A partnership. You have a bond, and while it’s not a romantic love, you love your partner sort of in the way best friends share a connection. But a cop’s bond with his work partner goes a bit deeper, because you absolutely, without a doubt, trust your very life to the person sitting in the shotgun seat of your police car.

You totally and unequivocally trust your cop partner. You have to, or the partnership won’t work. So all is well, until…

Chaos shows up, which is often followed by a reckoning.

My former detective partner unexpectedly passed away just a few weeks ago. We’d been friends for a long, long time. Over 40 years, actually. And, when I heard the news of his death it felt like a huge blow to my gut followed by a heartache like none I’ve ever experienced. But my friend’s death was due to medical issues, which was far different than the way we saw Hank Lucero die.

Hank’s partner was there with him when he was murdered. And, like the team they were, Hank and John Cooper were physically chained together when Lucero exhaled his final breath. On purpose or not, that symbolism—partners bonded together till the end—rang true to police officers all across the country.

The ordeal Cooper and Hank endured was traumatic, to say the least, and that’s why the LAPD placed Cooper on paid leave. And when he returned to work, he was assigned to “desk duty,” without a gun on his side. And that’s a traumatic experience within itself.

A cop’s weapon is like an extra appendage. It’s a part of them. And to have it taken away is like sectioning off a piece of their soul and holding it above their heads like a carrot on a stick that’s just out of their reach. The empty holster is a symbol to all other officers that you’re sort of tainted. There’s something wrong with you. You’re not as good as your fellow officers. In fact, it’s demeaning as hell. That’s why officers who are involved in shootings are issued a spare weapon while theirs is making its way through lab testings and comparisons.

So that’s where Coop’s head is at the very onset of the episode. He felt he was ready to return to full duty, but his superiors didn’t agree. This is also where we, as viewers, were treated to the start of some pretty darn good acting. Michael Cudlitz said just as much with his eyes and facial expressions during this episode than many writers are able to accomplish in 80,000 words, or so (an average novel). We saw, hurt, anger, fear, sad, lonely, disappointment, and a lot of “I’m so tired I don’t know if I can take another step in this world.”

The same was true for Shawn Hatosy and Ben McKenzie when the situation between them reached the boiling point. Sammy, as we all know, can be a bit dramatic at times. But he’s the cop I want in the shotgun seat of my patrol car. He’s a stand up cop when it’s time to circle the wagons. He’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the biggest, nastiest, meanest thug on the street. And, he’s a cop who’ll back his partner to the end, if necessary. Ben, on the other hand, is fighting a personal battle with himself. The world is all about him. Sure, he’ll duke it out with the best of them, and he’ll dive in no matter the odds. But at the end of the day, there has to be something in it for him, and that usually involves a female.

Ben is a bad cop. He’s so dirty his vile stench oozes from the TV when he’s on camera. However, as nasty as he is, it’s a reflection of a fine acting job by McKenzie. He’s pretty darn good at being pretty darn bad.

The fight between Sammy and Ben was inevitable. We all knew it was coming, but it was somewhat nail-biting to witness. I don’t know about you, but these actors are so good at what they do it was sort of like watching two of my best friends exchanging blows. Still, I wanted to see Sammy land a blow that would’ve sent Ben to the dentist holding four or five of his pearly-white teeth in his hand.

Hatosy, too, is an unbelievable actor. I can’t wait to see him in his new role, although, I’d rather see him back in this one next season.

Dewey. What can I say? We’ve seen this character run a full gamut of emotions, from anger to kick-in-the-gut sorrow. He’s been obnoxious, boisterous, and a general pain in the ass, but one thing’s for certain, he’s a tough-as-nails-cop who absolutely adores John Cooper.

C. Thomas Howell has been a key player this season. He’s provided light breaks in the action when we need to take a breath, and he’s pushed us to the edge of the cliff when we needed to feel the suspense of a moment. Howell is a class act, and Dewey is a cop’s cop who ain’t afraid of nuttin’.

Lydia… Regina King is brilliant at whatever role she plays, but she breathed a life into Lydia Adams that I don’t think anyone else could’ve done. King is another one who tells a story with her eyes, and last night was a perfect example, from worry over her son, to Ruben hitting the tweeker while in pursuit, to showing pure love and affection for Russell. Those two together again was inevitable, and if there is a season 6, which is a long stretch, I hope she’s finally able to be at peace in a life with someone who cares deeply for her, and that someone should be Russell (we saw it in her eyes).

King said I’d be blown away by this episode, and she was right…I was.

Anthony Ruivivar (Hank Lucero) was only on the show for a short time, but he made his presence known and he did so quickly. He was a perfect partner for Cooper in an opposites attract kind of way. And, the final scenes he played as hostage to the two meth-heads were truly fantastic. We all felt his pain and fear. Ruivivar made sure that we did. There was no overacting, which many people have a tendency to do in these scenarios. Instead, Ruivivar connected with the viewers’ emotions in a way not many are able to pull off effectively.

The “Tweekers,” played by Tobias Jelinek and Ryan Dorsey, were superb in their roles. I’ve dealt with a lot of meth users over the years and these two guys, well, lets just say they should immediately head to the nearest rehab facility. Their acting was that spot on. By the way, Dorsey has expressed his wishes to receive only a warning ticket from me should we ever meet on the highways. I’ll see what I can do.

Gerald McRaney (Hicks, Coop’s former TO) was another building block in this tower of cop shows. He was there to help Cooper prepare for his soon-to-come reckoning. There’s not a lot I can say about McRaney that I haven’t already said. I’ve been a fan for a long time. He’s appeared on many of my favorite shows over the years, including Major Dad and Designing Women, and now Mike and Molly. He’s married to Delta Burke, and who didn’t think Burke was hilarious on Designing Women? So we know he has great taste, and to appear on Southland reaffirms it.

Ruben was in fine form last night, especially during the arguments with the arrogant RHD detective. Ruben has been a good partner for Lydia, and they worked well together. He preferred to work “by the book and guidelines” while Lydia worked off instinct and reading people. Actually, they sort of reminded me of me and my former partner. He liked to stick to the textbooks and loved paperwork. I, on the other hand, preferred to get out of my car and talk to people, walk the neighborhoods, and sit on front porches having conversations with the citizens, getting to know them and the problems they faced and dealt with on a daily basis. And I absolutely hated paperwork. Funny that I now write…

A quick word to LAPD Chief Beck…thanks for opening your doors and welcoming TV viewers to the LAPD. I think the Southland cast portrayed your department in an excellent light. Also, please know that law enforcement officers all across the country have you and your officers in our thoughts and prayers. You’ve all been through a lot lately. Unfortunately, so have many other departments. It never ends, unfortunately.

*Boston, we’re thinking about you, too.

So we’re now back to Cooper and that dramatic final scene. He’s trying to sleep and hears the neighbor’s generator fire up. His ex is asleep (did you notice the earplugs she’d stuck in her ears so she wouldn’t be kept awake by the machine’s rumble?), so he goes out to “take care of business.” What happened next simply oozed with symbolism.

For five years we’ve watched John Cooper go about his daily life. He’s a mentor to new officers. He’s the rock that supported the veterans. He was the guy who helped his former training officer get his own life back on track. Coop was the man they all respected. He’s a good cop who cares about every single person on his beat, from the crack-heads to his sergeant, and beyond.

He’s also a gay man in a largely heterosexual profession who just happens to be a drug addict with a network of personal and physical troubles that would break the backs and souls of most men. But Cooper shoulders it all. He’s held the weight of the world on his shoulders until the chaos in his life finally pushes him to the “breaking point.” And the man outside Coop’s ex’s house just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in the way when Cooper’s spirit finally broke.

And how ironic was it that John Cooper was shot by people wearing the very uniform and badge that he loved so much for most of his life. The LAPD was indeed his life, and it’s quite possible that it was the LAPD that ended John Cooper’s life.

If last night was Southland’s goodbye to all of us, then that’s certainly sad, because we’ve all grown to know and love the characters and actors who opened their souls to us for so long. It’s a rare and special thing for TV characters to touch the lives of so many in so many ways. Through their Tweets, emails, Facebook messages, and personal appearances, these fine actors have become beloved friends to many.

So, if last night was Southland’s “End of Watch,” you should know that your fans were there for you until the screen faded to black for the last time. Me, I re-lived an entire career—the good and the bad—, one hour at a time, each week, over the past five years.

For now, we’re all hoping to hear this again next year. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

29 replies
  1. Judie
    Judie says:

    Great show. Re bad vs good tv. No doubt SouthLand is/was fine quality television. But the reason it may not come back is strictly ratings. As wonderful as it may be, the almost non existant ratings are what doomed it. TNT should be given props for keeping it on for 4 seasons. 5 years is a very good run for any series. However, TNT should be taken to task for not promoting SL the way it should have.

    I happen to like Rizzoli and Isles and Major Crimes. Do I think they are equal or superior to SL? No. But I’ll be damned if after watching gut wrenching eps of SL every week, I’ll prevent myself from watching lighter fare.

    That said, Cudlitz has cemented himself on my Favorite Actors List. Loved him on Band of Brothers and the recurring role as an inmate on “Life” aired by NBC starring Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi from a few years back. Would love to see Coop survive for a 5th season. I would love to see him do a less serious series of good quality.

    And who knew C.Thomas Howell was that good?

  2. Carmine D'Amato
    Carmine D'Amato says:

    I lost my LE partner on 14 May 2007. was shot and killed during a traffic stop,He was shot with a .45,then beaten and before he was executed with a shot to the head with his own gun,he forgave his shooter/murderer. his unit was burned and his body was taken 50 miles from the shooting.He was striped of his uniform and buried in a shallow grave next to a cornfield.He was not only my LE partner he was my father-in-law.The episode in which Cooper loses his LE partner.That episode brought back a lot of painful memories.It was very painful for me to watch. Cooper is my favorite,If he dies,the show dies.

  3. Barb
    Barb says:

    Great review of this awesome show and the superb acting by this exceptionally talented cast. I have watched Southland from the very first episode and always looked forward to the next week for the next one. NBC lost a great show which I think it needed but TNT got it and I am hoping they will bring it back for a Season 6. I have watched many cop shows..Hill Street Blues, CHIPS, Third Watch for example, which was my all time favorite. Then along comes Southland which blew them all out of the water. Please, TNT and whomever else..bring Southland back and give us, the fans, something to look forward to in the fall or early in 2014. Wednesday night won’t be the same without it.

  4. Mike
    Mike says:

    Lee, simply amazing review of a very great and powerful show…nothing like it on tv, please TNT keep it on….my simpathy on the loss of your partner.

  5. gayle johnson
    gayle johnson says:

    Marilyn, you have taken the words right out of my mouth regarding the CRAP that is on tv. Of course, there are good shows out there, but unfortunately these days they seem to be far and few between. I guess there are people out there that are more screwed up than me (lol) because they watch the crap, so therefore it keeps coming back. I just heard on a talk show about NCIS being in its 11th season. I do like this show, good actors with good character roles, but they are also in their 11th season because of better advertising and promotion of the show. I have never seen a lot of promotion with Southland. I think that would really help to get even more viewers, although I know there are a lot of fans out there already. I have never been so caught up in a show like tis one. I have been a big fan of a lot of “cop” shows, but this one is really something. Of course they went and ended season finale with my favorite cop getting blasted off his feet. DAMN It was gut wrenching enough when Lucero got it. That was a real shocker to say the least. I have been reading a lot of the fan comments, etc, and they all say pretty much the same thing. This show is so realistic, that I think that is why so many people are caught up in all the drama. John Cooper has been my favorite since day 1. I could not believe that I was sitting there watching a TV show and when those cops shot him I came unglued as if I was watching real life, as if I was watching the Boston cop that was shot while sitting in his car, like maybe I was standing somewhere and witnessed that horrible tragedy. I sat that with tears in my eyes, (wondering if I would need therapy after this, lol). But what was even worse, I somehow missed him picking up the gun and thought he was just beating the guy with his fists, so I went to that final scene, and sure enough he picked up the gun and beat the crap out of him with it. This time as I watched John laying there and the cops realizing who he was, I just sobbed in my hands. This show needs to continue and of course everyone wants cooper back somehow. I guess the realism of it is that cops get shot every day in the real world, and Southland is as close as it can get to the real world of law enforcement. SO I SAY TO TNT PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAPS AND KEEP THIS SHOW GOING. Southland has excellent writers and cast, they can make it work. Now I will get off my soapbox I guess!!

  6. jack
    jack says:

    excellent review…

    i am both a recovering alcoholic, and a gay man, and mike has served us well, by representing us honestly.

    as the last episode spun into its dreadful climax, what impressed me most was a look that passed across “cooper’s” face, a look of resignation, almost welcome, that read, “ah thank you, now i know how to stop this pain” as he turns and makes himself the easy target. suicide by cop.

    also, was there a suggestion that hank had some sexuality issues of his own? his wife seemed to possess information the audience did not, and she did not want it shared. or was i mistaken.

  7. Ron
    Ron says:

    I spent 37 years on the job (LAPD) and this show brought back so many memories, both good and bad. I’ve never been much of a “cop show” watcher but this show was different, in my humble opinion it is the best cop show ever.

  8. Viccy Kemp
    Viccy Kemp says:

    Lee, I was anxious to see what you had to say about these episode, too. I thought it was brilliant. The EOW about Hank was so powerful. Do you know if the series will be back? I am hoping against hope; I believe it’s gone and that will be such a loss. All the actors are just so powerful.
    Sorry about your partner as well.

  9. 1015 Adam Henry
    1015 Adam Henry says:

    Yeah, I agree with you Lee. It would have been nice to have Lucy Liu on longer. I also wish that Bokeem Woodbine (Ofc. Jones)had a bigger role. Maybe opposite of Dewey. Those two would be serious comedy relief!

  10. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    I have so much on my mind and would like to say about this Amazing show…..but I will only say and address this to not just TNT but to all cable and network television. To cancel a show like Southland with the Outstanding acting and writing with the gut wrenching story lines and to keep the crap that is on television today would be a sin…..Wake up people and bring back this Terrific drama and do a better job of promoting the show and the actors. …..out….

  11. chanrowl
    chanrowl says:

    Soon as the show ended I was waiting for your review, Lee. Just need some clarification: Were Lydia and Reuben wearing their uniforms because of a sign of respect because they were involved in the case of a fallen cop? I ask because the RHD cops (can I tell that I couldn’t figure out what those initials stood for until they said it at the end!)weren’t in uniform.

    I don’t understand the “politics” involved when detectives don’t share info with each other when both are trying to solve the same case. I’ve seen this play out on other cop shows too. However, I loved how Reuben argued with the RHD guys and then got his recognition in the end.

  12. Tim
    Tim says:

    My dad is 20 yrs and two cousins are 10 years with nypd. Being raised in a law enforcement family they all speak highly of southland and how it portrays police officers as human beings with problems like all of us civilians. None of that hard to believe BS that most police dramas have. Many of the CSI s and such are truly just entertainment. My dad would tell you there are very few CSI s that carry weapons or do detective work like they portray. There are no Horatios at the nypd lab. Just techs. You also cannot get them to solve a crime in 45 minutes. Most of these labs around the country are two to three weeks or more unless its a high profile case. Southland is as true to life as it gets. With all the crap on tv it’s been along time since a show like this was written. MASH and Hill Street Blues are really what I would compare southlands writing and drama to. I have read it does 1 to 2 million a week in viewers. That has to say something for a chance at renewal. I have enjoyed your reviews. Look forward to more. I hope some tie and jacket dweeb at TNT makes the right choice. Enough with the zombie and reality scrap and keep an honest well written emotional gripping roller coaster ride of a series on for more. Hey maybe we can get a donation drive started to help finance another season.

  13. KB
    KB says:

    Awesome review! Of course loved the show, but pretty disappointed by the ending, which is realistic to life sometimes. Really hoping for season 6! Can’t imagine Wednesday nights without Southland or Thursday’s without your reviews. Southland +your reviews=a perfect combination! Thanks so much for your insight!

  14. robo
    robo says:

    I was not as blown away as the rest of you were. The conflict between Sammy & Sherman did not really compute. This was a guy who kidnapped a gangbanger, made him dig his own grave, and fired a few shots at his head. He also stole some $ from a bank robbery after it was thrown into a crowd.
    Now he has a guilty conscience about lying to IAD?? Come on. And BTW, the video that everybody was so concerned about was probably more likely to exonerate him than sink him. Sherman hit that loudmouth girl a few weeks ago harder than Sammy hit Tammy.

    As to Cooper, I guess it could possibly happen. But you had to reach back 60 years to the last time. He was more likely to kill himself in the locker room than suicide by cop.

    Bottom line for me was in the nascent days of this show, the streets and the calls were the center of entertainment. The characters were not that angst ridden. Their reaction to the calls were the lynchpin
    of the plot development. Towards the end, the theme shifted and the cops personal lives became the focal point of the writing. It ended like “Third Watch” ended. Every character in the middle of some crisis, and every character in unreal harm’s way. This was supposed to be a show that was particularly realistic, When I saw Cooper having lunch at El Tepayec (great burritos..try the Hollenbeck) unarmed and in a marked radio car I was able unable to suspend belief any longer.

  15. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Everyone should should wear a vest at high noon during the heat of summertime. Then they’d realize why cops pull the vest away from bodies, sometimes even blowing a breath or two of air down the front. Anything for relief. It’s like strapping two slabs of thick clay around your body and then heading out for a ten mile run.

  16. Geoff Lin
    Geoff Lin says:

    What an amazing episode. If this is the “End of Watch” episode, it leaves me pining for more of it. It would be unusual cruelty if this doesn’t get renewed for another season.

    All of the actors came through in fine form.

    The Cooper storyline goes down like a Shakespearian tragedy. He’s the closest thing to being a POW on this show after the ‘Onion Field’ incident. He was helpless as he watched Lucero die while in captivity. The department further eviscerated him by restricting him to light duty without his weapon (like a Samurai without a sword….a warrior without a soul). His former FTO questioning his judgment only amplified his woes. As if his morale wasn’t already wearing thin, his wife reneges on having a child. Had he been in better spirits, he would have known to drop the weapon in the end and put his hands in the air when fellow officers responded in the end. I think he just couldn’t go on with life so he checked out via suicide-by-cop. Poor John Cooper. And eat your heart out, William Shakespeare. At least the writers gave him a possibility of living on in Season 6 (since the round struck him in the abdomen and off to his right).

    It’s implied that Sammy Bryant won the custody battle for little Nate. That’s great considering that he survived the emergency landing of that airship and had a new lease on life. He’s also far too smart and persistent for Ben Sherman’s machinations of self-preservation. In a sense, that fight between the two needed to happen. Talk about a serious violation of trust. If this show renews for Season 6, I doubt they’ll be working together. Sammy and Ben are basically at a Cold War standoff. Sammy has enough information on Ben that he triggered the death of Strokeface, little Nate’s babysitter winding up in the hospital, and Nate put in jeopardy. Ben has enough on Sammy that he lied to IA about the videocam and instructed him to bolster that lie. My guess is that both of them will simply say nothing and go their separate ways lest they ensure their mutually assured downfall. Seems like Sammy is at a point in life where he could do just about anything with his career. He could remain on patrol but transfer to another division (perhaps to get away from Ben), petition to take back his D-2 billet, take an 8-5pm admin role, or even transfer out of the department to another department (Santa Monica, Pasadena, West Covina, etc.).

    For 5 seasons, we’ve seen Ben Sherman change from idealistic probie to self-serving cop who’s ends justify all means. Beneath being the LAPD recruitment poster boy sporting pop culture good looks, he’s really gone off the deep end. The Ben Sherman story arc reads like Film Noir. That’s a credit to the acting of Ben McKenzie and the writers for sure. True to human nature, I’d say. He’s lost everything by now. Loss of respect by Sammy and possibly lost both of the women in his life through his poor judgment. Should we see him again in Season 6 (I’m crossing my fingers) we should see a Ben Sherman that’s hit rock-bottom and finding a need to return to fundamentals and his way back. He needs to remember why he does this job and it shouldn’t be for the uniform-chasing women, fraternity-type pranks, or just macho-ness for the sake of macho-ness. In short, he needs to return to principle.

    I really liked how Dewey, Lydia, Reuben and the narc officer went vigilante and went after the meth heads themselves. Seriously, how can you have an underworld scene and now have it shot in the LA Aqueduct? C. Thomas Howell shows tremendous range of emotion in this role as Dudek. Reuben Robinson (Dorian Missick) came through like a superhero. I liked how after the first chase scene he was clutching the top of his body armor with both hands to allow some body heat to escape. There was another place where I saw that. Me and a bunch of GIs were in Kuwait waiting for our flight into theater in the searing heat. Given that the character is a former Marine, I’d say that’s spot on realistic.

    We also saw that there really is no honor among thieves. Doublely so for meth heads.

    Good to see Michael Beach playing the RHD detective. Too bad he couldn’t have a scene with Hank Lucero (Anthony Ruivivar). It would have been an interesting reunion as a former duo from Third Watch. If my memory is correct, the Japanese detective standing next to Beach is a real-life RHD detective. I think I saw him in a documentary showcasing the Robbery-Homicide Division. The real LAPD Chief Charles Beck having a cameo was a terrific mark of realism.

    Saving the best for last, I grew very glad for Lydia. She finally has someone she cares about and cares for her and is good with her kid. Given that Russell is a former detective now corporate security guy, she understands her life and can work with it.

    Seriously, if there’s no renewal for this show, I would consider it a crime.

  17. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    The list of guest stars was pretty impressive, and I thought they were all great, from Lucy Liu (I wish she’d been around a bit longer) to Shaq, who also did a great job.

  18. 1015 Adam Henry
    1015 Adam Henry says:

    Hopefully its not EOW for the show. I’m too much of a pragmatic to get so engrossed in the story, but as far as cop shows go, Southland has done much better. The one thing that I do appreciate about the show is that it acknowledges the existence of the Filipino community. Whether its in the story line like the car accident scene in Filipino Town or last season’s premier with Ofc. Jessica Tang wanting to go lunch at Truck Norris, it was these simple acknowledgments of the Filipino community that I appreciate the most. Although they didn’t portray Filipinos, having two actors with Filipino backgrounds guess star, Anthony Ruivivar and Lou Diamond Phillips was pretty cool too.

  19. SaraK
    SaraK says:

    I’m tearing up all over again reading this. Your recaps have been amazing, Lee. I would not have enjoyed SouthLand half as much without them. This is a beautiful tribute to the show we all love so much. Here’s hoping this wasn’t the end.

  20. J. R. Lindermuth
    J. R. Lindermuth says:

    Superb acting all around. Expected the confrontation between Sam and Ben. But Cooper’s apparent demise blew me away. Hoping against hope this isn’t the end of the best show on TV.

  21. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    It’s a rare TV show that gets me so emotionally wrapped up that I’m twitching and moving in response to what I see, not even on a conscious level.

    So when those uniforms drew on Coop last night, I found myself raising my own hands before I even knew I was doing it. And during those gut-wrenching moments as he turned when we realized, sickeningly, that the gun was still in his hand, I heard myself screaming “NO!” even though there was nothing I could do — because it’s a TV show. And the shots I instinctively knew were coming literally brought me to my knees in a wave of nausea.

    I guess the open question (besides the obvious one) with regard to Cooper is whether, having gotten one kick to the gut (Laurie saying no to the baby) after another (Hank’s wife’s ill-informed “confrontation” in the kit room) after another (desk duty), having literally seen his partner murdered before his eyes without even the chance to help (unlike Sammy) and with the subtle implication that maybe he might have held some blame (Hicks), is, was this Cooper “giving up” in a wave of nauseous despair under the guise of a suicide-by-cop?

    And Ben, dear, sweet, stupid-as-a-sack-of-hair Ben…might it have been possible that in using his own shield # to tow that car, he -wanted- Sammy to catch him, either because the lies were getting too much for him, or (more likely) that in his righteous self-preservation and application of his own brand of “the code,” he wanted to shove in Sammy’s face that it was somehow Sammy’s fault for projecting such a “good cop” image that Ben couldn’t see him carrying his lie to IAD?

    I do hope we get another season, even if it’s 3 or 4 episodes to tightly tie all the threads together. But I suppose that should TNT simply let this one go (although how they can keep the dreadful Rizzoli and Isles and less-dreadful-but-still-frustrating Major Crimes while ditching this one will remain a mystery to me) the consolation will be the satisfaction I’m sure everyone involved feels along with the knowledge that they went out at the top of their game having not produced a single bad product.

  22. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    Wow. What a tremendous review and tribute. This episode was good writing at its best. Did anyone expect John to break or be shot by two of his brothers in blue? I doubt it. All of the twists and turns and surprises throughout the season, plus this startling finale, prove this is one of the best shows on television today. I don’t want it to end!

  23. Audrey Webb
    Audrey Webb says:

    Last night’s episode was tremendous. When Cooper started fighting with the neighbor, I jumped up from the couch and started coaching him in front of the screen; and when bullets flew, I had to leave the room. Yowza, the adrenalin just watching Michael Cudlitz’s amazing performance left my heart pounding until the wee hours. I don’t want to think of not having any more episodes of Southland to watch — I’ve been a fan since episode 1 — but if that was goodbye, it’s one that I’ll never forget.

  24. RMW
    RMW says:

    I was eager to see your reaction to this episode, Lee. I didn’t want it to end, and I especially didn’t want it to end that way for Coop, a guy who deserved some karmic justice. But life doesn’t play by Hollywood rules, and neither does “SouthLAnd.”

    I have to mention also that the end-of-watch broadcast for Hank was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve experienced on a TV show in recent memory. In fact, it’s partly because of how understated it was that it had such an effect. Powerful stuff.

    I, too, have my doubts that we’ll see a sixth season. I’m saddened by that. But, if this was indeed the end, this cast and crew can be proud of the show they produced.

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