Episode Title: “Reckoning”
Writer: Jonathan Lisco
Director: Christopher Chulack
Previously on “Southland:”
If “Reckoning” turns out to be “Southland’s” series finale…well, let’s just hope it isn’t . The season five finisher lived up to its title, but it also left us hanging on the fate of several beloved characters.
The man of the hour is Officer Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), who true to character, refuses to sit out on the sidelines after his traumatic kidnapping ordeal. Rather than admit what he went through with Officer Lucero may have messed him up just a little bit, Cooper takes offense at coddling from his fellow officers. When over lunch a newly sober Hicks (Gerald McRaney) asks Cooper why he and Lucero handed over their guns, Cooper walks out on him. And when the sergeant refuses to help him get off desk duty, Cooper brings up his return shortly after the death of his son. Despite the personal progress he’s made this season, Cooper is still a man who’ll do anything to avoid dealing with or even admitting he’s suffered a personal setback.
To make matter matters worse, when Cooper presses the baby issue with his ex-wife Laurie (Hedy Burress), she tells him she doesn’t want to have a child with him – or rather, not anymore. There’s something almost Shakespearean about the personal tragedies of John Cooper. As the hour comes to a close, Cooper lies in bed unable to sleep when he hears the sound of Laurie’s neighbor’s generator. He goes outside to shut it off and is confronted by the owner, who denies using it to power a pot farm. After a brief argument, Cooper heads back inside when the neighbor calls him “a pig.” He attacks the man and takes his gun from him, using it to pistol-whip the man repeatedly. The police arrive and tell Cooper to stand up. He does so, still holding the gun and is shot.
If “Southland” returns next year, it’s hard to imagine it without John Cooper. And another tragedy stacked upon a tragedy doesn’t seem like the right way for this character to go out. What’s curious about this turn of events is why Cooper, a veteran police officer, is still holding the gun after the officers order him to get up. Does Cooper have a death wish? Hopefully, “Southland” will return for a sixth season to answer that.
At least Detectives Adams (Regina King) and Robinson (Dorian Missick) bring some closure to Cooper and Lucero’s kidnapping case by running over one of the “tweakers” and arresting the other. Throughout the episode, the detectives butt heads with the Robbery and Homicide Division in a somewhat pointless political subplot, though we do get to see a drug dealer zip tied to a pick-up truck’s tire.
More importantly, Adams rekindled relationship with Russell (Tom Everett Scott) develops further when he rushes her sick son to the hospital. The episode left both asking where their relationship is headed and viewers hoping for another season to find out.
And finally, Officer Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) puts it all together after Sherman (Ben McKenzie) scrambles to cover his tracks in the home invasion case. Sherman’s become increasingly dislikable this season, but he does have a point when Bryant confronts him about the break-in. After all, it was Bryant who put him in the position of lying to Internal Affairs to begin with.
Ultimately, neither man is faultless, but it’s Bryant who talks to his infant son about “making mistakes” while trying to “hold onto who I am.” It’s hard to imagine Sherman being that introspective, while trying to break up a fight between his ex-girlfriend and the woman he cheated on her with.
“Reckoning” marks the end of another tremendous season from a show that’s as much an underdog as the characters it portrays. Though “Southland” doesn’t get half the praise and recognition it deserves, let’s hope it gets the one thing it really needs: another season.