Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Southland “Let It Snow” Recap & Review

All photos from TNT
Every time I watch “Southland” on TNT I am reminded how thankful I am that TNT picked up this series after NBC dropped it. It’s one of the most interesting police dramas on television right now, and it provides a realistic-feeling look into working crime in Los Angeles. The cast is exceptional and I don’t think there is a weak link in the bunch. I admit that I have a preference, though, for the stories of Officers Cooper/Sherman and Detective Lydia Adams.

When the episode opens with a peek into later events – a car chase – we hear a voice over saying: “Police officers often find themselves frustrated with the limitations of the legal system. Sometimes cops have to improvise.” This is what makes “Let It Snow” such a compelling episode; it shows how officers and detectives sometimes have to think on their feet and do it quick.

Lydia Adams (Regina King) is trying to adapt to a new partner, Josie Ochoa (Jenny Gago) and the two are completely different in their approach to their work. They get called into what seems like a missing person case, and it quickly turns into a murder case when the missing cleaning woman turns up dead in the office building’s duct work. Lydia has a tendency to have a calm yet firm approach, while Ochoa runs full throttle all the time. There seems to be tension between the two as they work the case, but their differing approaches and perspectives actually makes them more effective in handling the case. They fake out the main suspect in the murder– one of the building’s guards - to make him think he’s not a suspect; they’re waiting for confirmation that he actually IS the murderer. When they find that the suspect is planning to flee, they have to act quickly. This leads to a quick car chase with Ochoa at the wheel, and then a foot chase where Lydia has to run the suspect down to catch him. These two could make a great team, but it was still good to see Lydia’s former partner Russell Clark (Tom Everett Scott) who seems relegated to desk duty after recovering from a previous gunshot wound.
Detectives Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) work a case of two men found murdered and it looks like a gang hit. They find it's also a case of killing for revenge over a rape. Later, Bryant finds out his wife is pregnant – and she looks less than thrilled about it.

Officers John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) are still a team, working patrol. Things have changed a little; rather than Sherman being the student and Cooper the teacher, it seems like Cooper is treating Sherman more like an equal partner. Cooper is still getting deeper into drug addiction, which started from pain killers from a previous back injury. Cooper and Sherman get the usual routine police stuff like traffic stops (where Sherman decides not to ticket a beautiful woman driving a Porsche) to a simple dispute in a store (where Cooper kicks in $3 of his own money to resolve the matter). But they also find themselves in the middle of a shoot out at a bank where an officer has already been shot and is down. Cooper and Sherman return fire and manage to hit one of the shooters. To come to the aid of the downed officer, it’s Cooper who improvises here, by using all the officer’s bullet proof vests in order to shield the squad car. This allows Officer Chickie Brown (Arija Bareikis) to drive the car over to the injured officer so Cooper can pull him into the car. This only worsens Cooper’s back pain. Sherman is chasing down the remaining shooter and when he catches up with him, the man shoots himself in the head. Afterwards, Sherman helps Cooper get to his car, clearly in pain. Later, Sherman lets the woman for whom he earlier waived the traffic ticket to pick him up in her Porsche. When Cooper tries to get more painkillers from his ex wife because his back is even worse and he’s already run through his supply of meds, she refuses to help him, saying he needs help.

“Southland” provides not only a look into what it may be like riding along with police and detectives in Los Angeles, but also a look into the lives of those same people. The crime itself is dark enough, but that darkness seeps into the lives of those that fight it. Cooper is on a collision course with being a drug addict and being a cop. Adams is trying to be the best detective she can be, but she also has to adapt to a revolving door of partners. Sherman seems to want to be the squeaky clean cop, but there also seems to be a dark, hidden side to him that may rear its ugly head down the road. Bryant, with marital problems, now is faced with adding a pregnancy to the unhappy mix. It all adds up to interesting drama – and thanks to TNT for delivering it to viewers!

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