What’s this? A lackluster episode of Southland? The themes were too obvious. Of course, it’s just one part of a whole season arc and we can see that the show is trying to do something different with the characters. Also, even this episode is better than any other cop show we've ever seen. Ben starts the episode banging a badge bunny who loved the youtube video of him punching that girl. Even though Ben is not getting negative consequences for the punch, you can tell by his face that he’s not feeling completely proud of it.
Lydia and Rueben are called to investigate the murder of a woman named “Maria Moboro" and find evidence leading them to a homeless guy, named Danny, who wanted revenge on Maria for making his daddy poor. When the cops find Danny, he tries to run away, but he’s too wasted and weak to do anything but hobble. The officers think it’s sad, but we thought it was hilarious. They walk after him, shaking their heads. Danny doesn’t make it far and eventually confesses to killing Maria.
Maria took the shirt off his father’s back, he declares, so he took the shirt off of hers. Come on, show. That was lame. See what we meant about obvious? Lydia drops Rueben off and then calls someone, asking if she can come over. A new love interest, perhaps? NO. We don't care. Please, show. No Lydia's love life. The detective cases should be the most gripping of the show, but they are not. They are the most boring. Adding a love arc for Lydia will only waste more of our time. We love her, but man are they wasting opportunities here by giving Lydia cases like this.
Sammy has a beef with Two Trey gang leader, Day Day Crawford and harasses him in the morning before going to the station. At work, Rucker yells at Sammy for stirring the pot with Crawford. Rucker then decrees that Sammy and Ben watch the Two Trey gang on their “Hood Day.” If there is a police presence to protect the gang members who are coming out of hiding for this most sacred of holidays, maybe everyone will make it out without bloodshed. That was such a horrible idea, Rucker! Send someone who doesn’t hate Day Day Crawford so much.
We never really got what “Hood Day” was, but it sounds just wonderful. Once there, Sammy sees the car of a rival gang drive by. Day Day Crawford comes up to Sammy, and they bicker again. Sammy then gets a call reporting a stranded motorist and decides to leave Hood Day to answer that call instead. He’s done protecting gang members and will not let old grudges die (with good reason). Ben protests, but Sammy wins and the two leave. After helping two young girls whose car broke down, Sammy takes Ben to get tacos instead of going back to Hood Day. Ben weakly protests.
Sammy tells Ben that Day Day Crawford kidnapped a 13-year-old boy from the rival gang, sodomized him with a garden hose, and packed him full of peanut butter. Wait. Was the peanut butter in the hose? Did he just shove the butter in the kid’s mouth? Wait, we don’t need or want to know these details. Sammy doesn’t want to get in the way of the rival gang’s payback, if today is the day. Sammy and Ben get a call. A mother is screaming at her kid’s coach for not letting him play enough in the game. She whips out her taser and zaps the coach. She is arrested. This was funny.
Another call comes over the radio and this one takes them back to Hood Day. Sammy and Ben arrive to find MANY people dead and ho’s screaming, “Where were you people?” Thanks, show. We got it. We know lives would have been saved if Sammy wasn’t a douche on Hood Day. R.I.P. gangsters. It was actually sad to see all those dead bodies, even if they were baddies. Ben and Sammy find Crawford. Sammy catches Crawford and handcuffs him to a utility pole. Sammy and Ben chase another guy, leaving Crawford to his neighbors. By the time the cops come back, Crawford has been stabbed. Rucker shows up and does not yell at Sammy for leaving Hood Day. WHAT?!!!
Tang and Cooper respond to a burglary call. The woman who called, Rebecca, is the daughter of a strict Orthodox Jew. Rebecca’s father comes home and reams her for breaking the Sabbath by making a phone call. Rebecca agrees to ride along with Tang and Cooper to look for the suspect, against her father’s wishes. She spots him quickly. Cooper and Tang make a few jokes at his expense and then arrest the burglar. This does not lead to anything and we think it was only in the episode to show the diversity of the community.
Cooper and Tang come up on a guy with a bloody nose. Some other guy punched him for looking at him the wrong way. Bloody Nose doesn’t want the guy arrested, he just wants a chance to hit the guy back. The cops and criminal are ok with this. Bloody Nose gets a good hit in. This is really funny, but man, that can’t be good cop protocol. Can’t say it’s not fair though.
Later, a man in a hoodie runs up to Cooper and Tang, telling them that he’s been assaulted and he knows who did it. The cops tell him to lower his hood. His head has been badly shaved and someone wrote things like “child rapist” and “molester” on the bald patches. We will call him Chester the Molester in our heads. The cops drive Chester to the assaulter’s house. Cooper warns the guy to stay away from Chester, who has done his time, and lets the assaulter go with a warning. Chester yells, “That’s it!?” and the cops walk away. They go to lunch and discuss how all Chesters should be castrated.
Cooper and Tang get a call that night that takes them back to Chester’s neighborhood. His house is on fire. All of the neighbors are out, watching. Tons of them confess to setting the house on fire. Man, these people do NOT want Chester living near them. Tang says that she and Cooper should blame themselves, but Cooper doesn’t think it’s their fault. With this conclusion, there was no “happy, moral” ending to the story. It was a grey area. The cops on this show aren’t doing things by the book, but things are turning out badly for the bad guys anyway. This episode was called “Community” for a reason (to make us miss the show Community?). The community was driving the action and making the decisions. The cops were going along with it, letting things happen, because they fundamentally agree with the decisions of the community.
We like the new partnerships, we’ve decided. We didn’t before and we still lament that Ben and Cooper have spent all of five seconds together this season. Tang and Cooper work really well together. They respect each other and seem to agree and get along effortlessly. So far this season, their cases and calls have been the funniest and the most interesting. We are liking Lucy and respect her for doing this show, where she has to deal with funny and gritty, rather than glamorous stuff. She's not an untouchable Charlie's Angel here, nor is she O'Ren Ishii from Kill Bill with unrealistic fighting skills. She's more human and easy to relate to. Meanwhile, dunces Sammy and Ben are going to drive each other into the ground. We hope the show knows what it’s doing by turning these two previously likable characters into a couple of chodes. It’s exciting to watch and pretty ballsy.
Episode grade: B-