Southland: What Makes Sammy Run – A Review

Southland: What Makes Sammy Run

“Veteran cops know better than to take work home with them.” What a great opening line for this week’s episode. Great advice, too, for all cops. Unfortunately, even though the old-timers know better, the job is in their blood and that’s where it’ll remain until the day the bagpipes play.

A cop’s job is a tough, grueling job. Police officers see all sides and aspects of human life. They witness people’s behavior at its best, and at its worst. They laugh, they fight, and they hurt—all in an eight-hour shift. Their job is to protect the citizens within their jurisdictions. To do so, they’re sworn to enforce the laws of their communities and of their state and country. That’s it. That’s all they’re required to do.

No one orders a cop to spend a few minutes talking to a lonely, elderly person whose spouse of 50 years has recently passed away.  It’s not a requirement of an officer’s job to hold the hand of a sick drug addict, or to cry when a child is injured. They don’t have to work 36 hours straight, for free, while searching for someone’s little girl that didn’t come home after school. The job is an emotional roller coaster. It’s a career that’s brimming with pain, hurt, and sorrow. And that, Southland fans, is what makes Sammy run…

Now on with the review.

They’re back—the killers with the pointed-toe cowboy boots. And this time they shoot a couple of guys in a crowded nightclub. Investigators arrive to work the scene and we hear quite a bit of joking and clowning around. This is normal. Cops do what they have to do to deal with day-in and day-out death. It’s not meant to be disrespectful to the victims or their families. Not at all. It’s merely a coping mechanism for the officers.

– Detectives are seen during a brainstorming session in front of a large whiteboard. This is good stuff. I had one in my office for the same purpose. My partner and I spent many hours hashing out theories and ideas over the material on the board. Many cases have been solved in this manner. We also used the board for pre-search warrant/raid briefing sessions. Very realistic.

– A detective’s daughter was in the club when the shooting occurred, and she was sprayed with blood spatter from one of the victims. The spatter looked genuine. In fact, the angle of impact of the drops and droplets were depicted accurately. So accurate that I could almost picture a point of convergence. Great eye for detail.

– Sammy is shown trying to mentor a kid who’s teetering on the fence between good and bad. He takes the time to go to the kid’s house to speak with the boy’s mother. He takes the boy to a movie and to a restaurant. He’s trying to do all the right things, but the kid still manages to fall onto the bad side of the fence where he shoots and kills another kid. Unfortunately, the boy has been brought up in that type environment and lifestyle, which all to often becomes the only way of life they know how to lead. It’s like training to be a cop. Instructors drill the same information into their heads, day in and day out, until it’s ingrained into their minds. No longer do they have to stop and think before acting on a specific situation. Instead, they react instinctively. The same is true for kids who’ve been brought up on the streets. It’s all they know, and what they know is what they’ll do. Every time. Again, I can’t say enough good things about the writers and actors of this show. They’ve really done their homework. They may not admit it, but somebody from this show has lived this life. I know, because I’ve been there, too.

– I liked the scene where Cooper snatched the Ipod from the guy taking the upskirt photos. Not exactly legal, but I’m sure I’d have done the same thing (breaking the phone, not taking the photo).

– There’s a domestic call that Cooper and Sherman answer, and guess who’s at the heart of it? Yep, it’s the pointy-toe-cowboy-boots folks. Cooper tells Ben that they’re going to search inside the residence to make sure there’s no one inside who’s injured, or possibly dead. This is a legal search, without a warrant, but only if they search for people, not “things.” This type search is for the safety of everyone involved—officers and residents. All too often, an attacker lies in wait, sending the terrified victim outside to tell officers that all is well. Then, after the officers leave the attack continues. But, all sorts of evidence is discovered during these searches, such as the nearly 4 million dollars in cash that Ben discovered.


– Once the cash and guns are found (legally, because the lump looked like a person lying under the blanket) Cooper runs outside and yells, “Hook ’em up (handcuff them).” This was the right thing to do. Those two killers knew it was only a matter of time before officers found their stash, and they’d certainly have no problem killing someone to get away.

– During the search a cellphone rings and one of the detectives answers. I’ve done this many, many times. I’ve also responded to messages left on pagers. Once, I even told a guy to come by the residence we’d just raided because I wanted to buy some dope from him. He did, and we arrested the big dummy. After all, he’d only walked by five or six police cars to come calling with a big ‘ol bag of dope in his jacket pocket.

This episode continued with two other raids—Trinney’s place and of a boat used for drug smuggling. The entry/raid teams carried out the procedure pretty much like a real team would.

Officers discovered Trinney’s severed head in a box, and again made jokes about the horror they’d stumbled upon. That’s probably what real cops would do to cope if faced with a similar scenario. Sure, it would bother anyone to find something that gruesome, but when you see things like that on a regular basis…well, you have to deal with it somehow.

Once again, this show tops the list when it comes to realism. Each week I feel as if I’m back on the job, chasing bad guys with Cooper and Sherman. Great show!

By the way, the print of Ben’s vest can be clearly seen in the photo above. This show is all about detail.

10 replies
  1. RebeccaJ
    RebeccaJ says:

    Wendy, I agree with you, I have a hard time understanding some of what is being said. Cooper seems to be the worst at mumbling.

  2. Ron Estrada
    Ron Estrada says:

    I know you’re focusing on police procedure, Lee, but that scene with Sammy barging in to arrest Juanito was powerful. Man, if I wrote a scene like that I’d raise it on a flag pole. The emotion Sammy displayed wasn’t the typical macho crap. It was real and raw. He bawled like a baby, then threw the kid down and cuffed him. The emotion was as realistic as the police procedure. The writers and producers deserve credit for both. The unexpected twist was brilliant. We thought Juanito got killed, but the writers turned it around on us. He suffered a fate worse than death. He’ll have to live with that crime for the rest of his life, in or out of jail. By the way, when they were in the restaurant and Juanito turned to look at the adults singing “happy birhtday,” that was a very clever device as well. Juanito had to be thinking “Will I have that many birthdays?” Man, I am in love with this show. Thanks again for bringing it to my attention. Your blog is the reason I turned it on in the first place.

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Bob – I noticed the wet blood, too. I didn’t mention it because the spatter was done so well. Didn’t want to take away from that, especially after seeing what a horrible, horrible job a show that aired earlier in the week did with a similar situation.

    That search was great. Very realistic. As they say, “Been there, done that.”

  4. Bob Mueller
    Bob Mueller says:

    I’ve really only seen a couple of things I didn’t like so far.

    Early on, in the first season shows, Chicky and Dewey are dealing with an actress holding a gun on an actor; Sherman and Cooper roll up. Chicky and Dewey have their guns drawn, but Sherman and Cooper end up in a cross-fire situation. Given the whole thing, I’m surprised the actress wasn’t shot. I think her finger was on the trigger the whole time, and Chicky is yelling at her to put the gun down. I wonder if that was partially laying the groundwork for Cooper’s comments about Chicky losing her touch. But tactically, that scene just didn’t work. (S1E3, “See The Woman)

    The other problem I had was in this week’s episode. Why was the blood still wet on Mercedes’ (Moretta’s daughter) face? He caught up to her 4-5 hours after the shooting, but the blood was still wet and red. Shouldn’t it have been crusty by then?

    But this is really a great show. I loved the iPod scene. “See? It’s not supposed to do that.” Classic line, really. It’s been interesting to see some cop legends and cliches come to life, too, like the kid with the “Radar Ahead” sign, or the DB that Cooper and Sherman find that sends Sherman into the yard retching.

    The search of the apartment was great, too. The way Sherman warned Cooper about the bed was perfect. Nice and quiet, but attention-getting.

    Dave Freas, if you try and go back to watch old episodes, know that the ones posted on are not complete. They’ve cut 8-10 minutes off of the end of every show, and there are some critical scenes there, especially in “Derailed.”

  5. Michael
    Michael says:

    Wendy: the book was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Juanito (the kid Sammy was trying to mentor) mentioned it to Sammy when Sammy took Juanito to see the movie. It’s also a subtle reference to the plot, as the book is about a father caring for his son.

  6. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    What book did Sammy buy in the end? I hate how mumbled the dialogue is. I turn on my captions but they can’t even pick them up half the time. Very frustrating. I’d really love this show if I could hear half of what is going on.

  7. Julie
    Julie says:

    Lee, did I miss LESS subtle hints? Lol! Although, when I was watching the scene, something resonated with me, so I’m thinking there were other hints I stored away. This is a great subplot. I love John. He’s a cop’s cop. Sammy’s wife is annoying. ‘Nuff said.

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    🙂 I guess I’m not going to get away with side-stepping either issue. I purposely didn’t write about them because they’re so complex and don’t really involve procedure. But…

    Julie – I really don’t think these are subtle hints. John Cooper is a gay police officer who just happens to be hooked on pain medication.

    Dave – The Tammy character (Sammy’s wife) is pretty annoying, however, I do remember a real-life officer’s spouse who caused much more grief than this lady – lots of drug abuse, suicide attempts, infidelity, and more. It happens.

  9. Dave Freas
    Dave Freas says:

    And speaking of wondering what you thought:
    What was your take on the sub-plot about the cop’s (can’t tell you his name) photographer wife and her run-ins with the skateboarders, the gang members, and smoking grass with the ‘boarder who stole her camera and laptop?

    This show is definitely growing on me.

  10. Julie
    Julie says:

    I am crazy for this show–the whole family is. Last week I was in catch-up mode, saw the episode late in the week, and meant to ask you about a particular scene and what you thought:

    Ben and John are coming back from the desert after the funeral and John tells Ben that the cop whose funeral they just came from (he killed himself) used to work for the LAPD, and that they (John, his ex-wife, the cop and his girlfriend) would double date. Then, he said, ‘I started seeing him in gay bars. He’d ignore me. Then suddenly he’s moved to the desert, gets married, starts a family…’ Ben looks like he caught the inference–I sure did. Or, did I? Did John oh-so-subtly ‘come out’ to his partner? Is the bar we see John in sometimes, where he buys his drugs, a gay bar? If not, what did he mean when he said, ‘I’d SEE him in gay bars, and he’d ignore me’? I played the scene back many times because sometimes the dialogue isn’t clear. This would be a very interesting wrinkle for the show, but I can’t see a cop like John coming out to Ben so soon. To me, while they are growing close, they’re not that close yet. Wondering if you caught that little part in the scene, and what you thought.


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