This show is the most realistic and grittiest of cop shows. Another thing that puts it over the top in quality is its good character development and tracking of random encounters police have with people. Most cop shows track one case and then focus on people hooking up on the side. This show has one big case and a bunch of little encounters, always keeping us entertained. When people do…get together, we actually care, because there has been build up and we care about the characters’ personal lives. As always with this show, it’s time to settle down, pay attention, and shut down all open internet windows, because this is a show that you have to actually watch. It’s not background noise. You can’t follow it that way.
This Tuesday night, season four of Southland premiered with an action-packed episode and guest star Lucy Liu as Officer Jessica Tang. We like Liu, and her character isn’t even remotely annoying, so that’s good. She’s not a GREAT cop though. She spent most of the episode trying to get to a taco truck to have her favorite lunch. While a man was hanging himself with pantyhose, Jessica was checking her phone, tracking the taco truck. We can’t really judge her for putting food first though. We usually do.
Jessica is “famous” for a youtube video that sparked plenty of nicknames from the other cops. Jessica chose Cooper as a partner, as he recently returned from rehab. He got a back surgery and is better than ever, lifting weights, working out, and stopping runaway cars. It’s nice to see that. Things are still a little awkward between Cooper and Ben though. Sammy’s new baby, Nate, is six months old, and absolutely adorable. Six months might be the cutest age of baby.
An old CI of Lydia’s who grew up in Lydia’s neighborhood showed up on Lydia’s porch, wanting to be relocated for her own safety. Except that CI had already been relocated and got into trouble in her new area too. We are going to take a shot at spelling the CI’s name…Danell? Lydia was annoyed that the CI grew up in the same circumstances as Lydia and yet made nothing of her life. Yep, Lydia showed off her serious, judgmental side for a change, haha. Was that a water bed in the hotel Danell stayed in? In a HOTEL? After Danell was arrested in a drug bust, Lydia told her to hit the road. Of course, Danell ended up getting brutally murdered. The line, “I guess she finally got a chance to see the ocean” was overkill. We got it, Lydia.
Ben Sherman, now partnered with Sammy, tangled with a cop named Ferguson. A suspect was shot in a bathroom and Ferguson’s response was, “That’s a perfect resting place for that piece of shit.” Ferguson also taunted the man as he was dying. Later, Ferguson allowed a child to play with a dead body, saying, “Let the animals be animals.” You just knew that Ben was going to get sick of this guy before the end of the day. Sammy tried to calm Ben down, saying that Ferguson was a capable, street-smart cop. Sammy also tried to calm Ferguson down, saying that Ben was new and didn’t going how the job really was yet.
We were on Ben’s side completely. In every difficult job, there is a jaded cynic who has lost all will to do the job the right way, like Gandhi would or something. It’s the same thing with lawyers and even doctors sometimes. People lose hope that compassion and integrity actually make a difference. We think that’s wrong now. Ask us what we think after 20 years of working though.
Things escaladed between the two after they encountered an attempted rape. Ben chased the suspect back through the suspect’s neighborhood and we saw the suspect take out a gun. We were actually scared, because since Nate’s death, we’ve realized that anyone could die on this show and we wouldn’t hear about it first through either spoilers or hints. That’s the beauty of this show. The suspect was then HIT BY A BUS! On any other show, that would just be sensational, but on this one, it was really shocking.
A crowd gathered to look at the suspect, upset that the cops weren't helping him. Ben started trying to stop the bleeding. Ferguson thought this was ridiculous, and the suspect ended up dying anyway. Back at the station, Ferguson and Ben almost got into a fight when Ben gave Ferguson lip about doing the job right, because citizens don’t see people, they just see a uniform and attach one man’s bad behavior to all cops. True.
As if this episode didn’t have enough going on, a random guy came to the police station and started shooting. (Might it have been someone in that crowd watching Ferguson’s behavior?) The guy shot Ferguson through the face and in the vest, just as Ferguson shot him. Poetically, it was Ben who sat over Ferguson, telling him he was going to be ok and checking his injuries. We like that Ferguson wasn’t a flat, villainous character, especially if we are going to continue to see him. He was very brave in charging the gunman at the police station.
The show made us wait the entire episode to see Jessica’s youtube video. It wasn’t funny like we thought it would be. At all. It showed a big guy beating the tar out of her. We are amazed that the other guys in the station would joke about this. This episode kept our attention and got us viscerally. Lydia’s plot didn’t really grab us and we disliked her attitude through it. Overall though, this was a good premiere.
Episode grade: A-