SOUTHLAND 4.02 ‘Underwater’

Episode Title: ‘Underwater’

Writer: Cheo Hodari Coker

Director: Nelson McCormick

Story:

Officers Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) and Sherman (Ben McKenzie) break up a dance party on the street. In a flashback to twenty-two hours earlier, the boys enjoy a police-hosted pool party on the weekend.

Tang (Lucy Liu) and Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) respond to a hit and run where a woman’s severed hand and an expensive purse are found on the curb. Back at the precinct, new captain, Rucker lays down the law to the patrolman and passes out McDonalds applications for anyone who can’t handle the job.

Detectives Adams (Regina King) and Robinson (Dorian Missick) visit the home of the driver from the hit and run. He confesses to drinking while celebrating a new job. Robinson is surprised by Adams’ stern approach to the arrest.

Tang and Cooper visit the mansion of the woman who was killed in the hit and run. When Cooper notifies her husband of her death and he and the help celebrate.

Robinson and Adams investigate the shooting of a CI in a deli. They learn that he is responsible for putting an innocent man in jail for twenty-two years. When they visit the man, now free after DNA evidence proved his innocence, he denies killing the CI, using his grandmother to back up his alibi. They return later and the man’s senile grandmother allows them to leave with his bloody sneakers.

Bryant and Sherman call Captain Rucker to request SWAT back-up when a stand-off with an armed elderly woman becomes too dangerous. Rucker arrives and poses as a preacher. The woman drops the rife but pulls a handgun and Rucker shoots her. However, the old woman, who was wearing a Kevlar vest, survives. 

Adams and Robinson get a match off the sneakers and arrest the recently released man. Robinson questions the fairness of the justice system, as the man sought his own justice on the person who wrongly put him away for two decades. However, Adams stands by the system, though it sometimes means “doing the right thing for the wrong people.”

At the street-side dance party, Sherman tells the teens to leave but when one of the girls puts her hands on him, he arrests her. Her friend becomes angry and slaps Sherman several times. He finally punches the teen and her friends capture the whole thing with camera phones. Back at the precinct, Rucker reprimands Sherman for acting irresponsibly. Bryant covers for his partner but in the parking lot he advises Sherman to learn to keep his cool. As Sherman prepares to drive home for the night, a female cop he was teasing earlier praises him and then hands him a McDonald’s application.

Breakdown:

You want an excellent police procedural? “Southland” tops any “Law & Order” or “CSI” iteration out there. Getting down to the dirty, grimy details of life on the beat in the L.A. streets is as “procedural” as it gets.  And “Underwater” was packed with tiny stories that feel as big and powerful as any hour long cop drama.

I’d call “Southland” a dramatized version of “Cops” if it weren’t so darn insulting to say so. I don’t know much about creator Ann Biderman, aside from her experience with “NYPD Blue” but “Southland” feels as real to me any as law enforcement reality show.

What’s so exceptional about “Southland” is how well it succeeds at telling emotionally stirring stories in a series of what seems like mundane, everyday calls for the LAPD. Networks are shying away from heavily serialized shows these days. I’d advise them to look to “Southland” for a show that’s easily accessible to casual viewers but also intensely satisfying in its storytelling. Need I remind you that NBC cancelled this show back in ’09?

in “Underwater” we witnessed Sherman go through some wince-worthy growing pains while Adams and Robinson talked out an ethical dilemma that every police officer probably faces at some point in their career. And none of it felt forced, heightened or over the top, which is a testament to “Southland’s”  fantastic acting, writing and direction. Yup, if you can’t tell by now, I’m kinda in love with this show.

Thing is, I typically avoid procedurals. In fact, I have near allergic reactions to anything involving cops, lawyer or doctors. Which is why I know there’s something very special about “Southland.”

If I had to lodge one complaint about this season, it’s the absence of Adams’ old partner, Josie Ochoa (Jenny Gago). The dynamic between these two was addicting to watch. New kid on the block, Ruben Robinson lacks the edge that made watching Ochoa get under Adams’ skin so much fun. 

Otherwise, “Southland” is pretty much perfect. If you’re looking for a police procedural in the purest sense of the term (and yes, you’ve already seen “The Wire,” ) it just doesn’t get any better.

Crave Online Rating: 10 out of 10.

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