Southland-PART Five-Penultimate write-up
The Final Series-So far.
Lydia & Partner:
“Give me dead bodies over babies any day”
“Yeah, but they both stink”
“Yeah, but at least dead bodies stay quiet”.
Sherman and Sammy Bryant.
“What’s with the haircut?”
“You Taxi-Driver now?”
Yes, as it happens, he is. Sammy was bang on. Since Sherman is getting a medal for killing a bad guy (a pimp) However the point is that Sherman didn’t kill the bad guy in the line of duty, Sherman
obsessively stalked, followed and eventually chased the guy down and killed him in cold blood.
Rober De Niro indeed.
For newcomers to Southland, Sherman’s partner, Sammy Bryant willingly went back to being a Police Officer or Cop on the beat. He volunteered to don the uniform again after being in the anti-gang unit as a Detective for years. Then his partner and beloved friend was killed one horrific night, in front of him.
After this traumatic experience Sammy went through hell, post traumatic stress, moved in with his dead partner’s wife and child to look after them and half fell in love with them both. Sammy’s sorrow on eventually being gently told that this living situation could not go on by his dead partner’s beautiful wife and his terrible grief was only resolved by Sammy deciding to leave the anti-gang unit and offer to train new Cops. Be their mentor.
Which is how Sammy Bryant ends up with Sherman. Sherman who has been through the baptism of fire of training with Cooper. During the time Cooper is suffering from crippling back pain from an injury and scoffing heavy duty pain killers like Smarties.
However Cooper still manages, mostly, intellectually if not physically every time, to train Sherman. When finally the metaphorical stuff hits the fan and Cooper’s addiction and back problem is uncovered by Sherman, he makes Cooper an offer he cannot refuse. Get help or I will tell. So Cooper goes off to hgave his back operated on. Hence Sherman comes under the tutelage of Sammy Bryant.
Sherman, who started off so bright and bushy tailed, ful of idealism and valour and the desire to help people. Cooper, for all his cynicism has actually, miraculously, managed to hold onto those values in spite of his longer experience.
Whereas Sherman has become swallowed up by his own vengefulness against particular crimes and criminals that he has a problem with and which have ties to his own past. Well off he may be, but Sherman’s life with his divorced Mum has been a tragic experience h lived as a boy and saw through his own prism. Which we and he come to realise was not truly correct. Well not the same story is related by Sherman’s Mother.
Cooper is the arch genius.
Man who has been left by his wife and has, rather unsuccessfully, been trying to kill himself with is gun all afternoon:
“I came home and I couldn’t stand the silence, my footsteps on the carpet, the clock ticking..”
“But what if she wasn’t the one?”
“It wouldn’t be so bad then, would it?”
It is only as Coop pulls th aman up by his hand that we see the man’s bloody ear, dripping.
“So what do you do?”
“I’m an engineer,I design elevators”
“Really?” says Copp, glancing wryly up at the numerous bullet holes in glassed paintings dotted throughout the house as they walk through.
Coop and the breaking windows man.
“Why’d you do it?”
“it made me feel surprised”.
Coop and the catapult.
When Coop gets home after correctly divining the culprit who was breaking windows:
“I hate it when you’re right”
Says Henry, Coop’s new partner.
Coop is unpacking his bag and guess what? I guessed correctly that inside that bag would be the bright red catapult that Coop had confiscated from the guilty middle-aged man with the dog. Coop grins and the rest follows as night follows day.
Coop, looking at some empty bottles he has, sojourns to his garden. Presumably where he has some white lotus flowers growing as previously mentioned by Coop in his genius deduction concerning the hallucinogenic lemonade, (The Egyptians got high on lotus flowers apparently)
Anyway, Coop lines up his empty wine bottles in the garden, and pings them successfully with stones in his bright red catapult. He sips whiskey from his glass and grins, his face lit up like a cheeky schoolboy.
Sherman who, as mentioned, started out so clear eyed and bright and bushy tailed has begun to resemble a burnt out and hollow-eyed Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. It is the haircut too.
Sherman has strayed from the path of righteousness as proscribed by his teacher trainer Cooper. Or more correctly, veered away from right conduct as a Police Officer perhaps. In the latest episode reference is made to the girl victim on whose behalf Sherman decided to hunt down and kill her Mother’s pimp.
Sherman used to care in an almost fresh-faced social worker type way about such victims. Now, he laughs when asked whether he is still in touch. However he did move heaven and earth to get the girl away, to Texas.
Unfortunately, from experience in watching Southland, we know that such personal involvement and attempts at helping, do not always end well. For the victim.
So i have worry over the fate of the young boy with the sore shoulder, obviously sustained from his foster Mother although he is blaming it on other kids.
Sherman, in a more relaxed and cheerful self is taking the boy out to dinner with his new girlfriend teacher. The young boy keeps popping up to see Sherman and Sammy Bryant. The boy shares a love of Mustang cars with Sherman.
You just know tragedy, for the boy, will follow.
You see in Southland, as in physics, every action has an equal an opposite reaction.
Although not directly causal in nature all of the times: some of the times a decision made by the men, almost as if they were supreme beings or inimically ordering the universe, that decision will have an irrevocable effect. Later in the day.
Such is the responsibility they (the Uniformed beat Cops) carry upon their shoulders. Cooper is aware of this. He explains it to his trainee, the Afghanistan veteran. The vet thinks Coop is being harsh, taking away an elderly man’s out of date (driving) license.
“Why not let him off?”
The vet says.
“Elderly man mowed down 9 people in….” replies Coop.
Later that day Coop and the vet are called out by a worried cleaner, to the old, war Veteran’s home. ( he is RAF) The elderly man has taken his own way out. In full uniform.
“But how will i get my groceries, go to my Doctor’s appointment?” he had querulously queried Coop.
Indeed. There doesn’t seem to be that many buses in America.
Coop and his retired mentor in a bar.
“So it was a 415, 11 year old child, said she’s been abused!”
“They did it to her when she was asleep, her head, it was all shaved, like Sinead O’ Connor, Ya know?”
“Said they did it (for character building) it would make her fight harder, as an outcast”
“No, Brooklyn Heights”
“Wha’d you tell em?”
“To give up those damn child rearing books they read and try some God-damn simple common sense!”
“God I miss it, especially the morons”!
“Cooper knew that one wrong step was the difference between life and death
(what did i tell you)
Sherman and Sammy Bryant.
“Hey, i watched Missing In Action lat night”
That’s so old-school”
“Chuck Norris likes his meat so rare, he eats unicorns”!
“A bulletproof vest….wears Chuck Norris for protection!”
“Cops are trained to be in control but sometimes even heroes get tired”..
“Hey, what’s up?”
DB (dead body) over there,coffee cart here”
“So glad he died in a convenient place for you..”
Nb. There is a deliberate visual mirroring of Coop and his retired mentor in the corridor in the cabin.
(of his mentor’s boat)
Sherman and his girlfriend’s brother, Moko.
“You think I’m one of the square Cops you can fuck about with right?”
“Well I’m not”
Sherman gets up in Moko’s face.
“I’ll respect you,
“You respect me”
“Are we cool?”
Not sure if this was Robert De Niro or Chuck Norris Sherman was doing.
“Most Cops manage to stay sane in spite of all the chaos around you, but in their hearts they know that everybody has a breaking point”
Russ & Lydia and the baby.
“So you took him out to the park?”
“No, the Cicero crime scene”.
“Hey, maybe for his birthday you could take him to the Dahmer house?!”
Sherman & Sammy Bryant:
“So when Smokeface was alive you were warning me off, now he’s dead you’re urging me on?”
Sammy to his son:
“You’re right,I did come back to patrol to try and make a difference”
“To try and help Cops avoid some of the mistakes I made, hell, some of the mistakes i continue to make”..
“By how I act out there, to hold onto who I am,”
“to see if anybody cares”.
“I can’t help everybody, I see that now, I couldn’t possibly.”
“But I don’t really have to, you know, that’s not all it is for me..”
Baby coos happily.
thoughts on Southland
So i had already noted the similarity between Sherman’s vendetta against the pimp who was fixing to make the daughter of one of his “girls” (albeit now an older burnt out wreck of a woman) into a prostitute too:and the movie Taxi Driver.
Sherman did exactly what Robert De Niro, in much the same haircut (astutely pointed out by Sammy) did. He saved a young girl from a life on the game. Sherman just didn’t burst into a seedy hotel and blatt everybody in the way who was keeping the girl prisoner there and rescue her, sort of Rapunzel like from the top of the house.
So i forgot about this link with a movie or film mentioned in Southland, A thematic link.
Then, in the episode in which the poor unfortunate Smokeface dies in a dreadful acident, purely because of Sherman’s underhand dealings (over the film of Sammy beating his ex-wife up) and keeping quiet about what he has done (and blaming the NBK) which leads to Sammy mistakenly questioning/ blaming the NBK (gang) all over town.
So Smokeface dies horribly in possibly the most gruesome death i have seen in Southland and that’s saying a lot. During this episode the film Deathwish is mentioned. It was only later that it dawned on me: of course, there was the exact same death scene and cause of death in Deathwish!
I started to wonder if there were any other movie references and links in Southland i had missed. I was aware that Sherman might have been doing a Chuck Norris but don’t know the film Missing In Action well enough. It didn’t seem like a Chuck Norris martial arts expert kind of thing to do to get all up in Moko’s grille. As Sherman might have said.
Nb. Most horrific scene ever for me anywhere in Southland and there are a few-was Cooper rolling around on the ground having his neck gnawed by a presumably psychotic man who may or may not have been convinced that he, not Cooper was a vampire.
When we next see Cooper he just has a large bandage on his neck. I was convinced it was curtains for Cooper. In my horror. But nope, Cooper lives to fight another day. Cool as the proverbial cucumber. If cucumbers were in fact proverbial.
As mentioned in my previous write-ups of the Southland series as they progressed: Southland focuses mainly in depth upon the male characters. When i started watching Southland Lydia was my favourite character. Her heroic and impressive holding off of an entire gang attempting to kill a young witness in her charge on night in her hose would have to go down in the annals of Southland history.
Yet Lydia’s character wasn’t explored or fleshed out in as much depth as other characters were. Although Lydia paired up with the Puerto Rican lady Detective made a formidable and deadly duo.
Lydia was at her most interesting as a character when she was shown, unusually for any drama, to just not be that maternal.
As in when she had her baby. Lydia really was not that bothered and found it both irksome and inexplicable when everyone around her expected Lydia to be going all gooey eyed and soppy over her baby and motherhood generally. Lydia didn’t get the whole photos of your baby thing. Whereas her partner did. He found it shocking that Lydia didn’t although he hid it well.
Lydia didn’t bond with her baby. A situation that wasn’t helped by the baby crying pretty much 24/7. I did wonder at one point, whether Lydia, sleep deprived and possibly tortured by frustration at her own so far lack of love for her baby and having just witnessed an horrific case of a similar death: was actually contemplating by default, a similar solution. By continuing to sleep with her baby.
Lydia’s poor benighted elderly mother who was an obvious Godsend to any single parent, had the baby unceremoniously dumped on her. Even as Lydia got back into her gym work, cool bandanna on her head. Unfortunately it was my opinion that this 24/7 baby care was the cause of Lydia’s elderly mother’s soon to be swift and shocking demise. My only thought was to wonder whether the mother was holding he baby when she collapsed. Fortunately not.
Lydia appeared to have no comprehension that failing to get some official baby care arrangements/ a “sitter” or Nanny with her presumably ample salary and taking her own mother for granted in this way to perform a herculean and stressful task that would have worn out a 20 year old and wore out Lydia soon after: had killed off her own mother. Oh well. One murder, albeit indirectly, that Lydia wasn’t exactly on top of or aware of and could be argued, was the indirect murderer herself.
Such were my thoughts on the matter. Still, all’s well that ends well since after somewhat oddly expressing her thoughts on motherhood in letters to a mass murderer whom Lydia seemed to have struck up a pen-pal semi-friendship with, Lydia goes to visit said murderer in another State. There ensues an embarrassing (agent) Clarissa-Hannibal Lecter like/style exchange through the bars.
When the murderer refusing to give any more details of a murder, which is meant to be the whole point of Lydia’s interest and letters to him: suddenly rounds on her perspicaciously and accuses her of not loving her son. Lydia has said too much in her letters you see.
Lydia and the unprepossessing yet intelligent murderer stare at each other in silence. Then Lydia says in a tiny, strangled voice…:
“I do love my son”
This was all quite odd and embarrassing as a scene and all fell a bit flat for me. Perhaps it just had too much Silence Of The Lambs written all over it. It was forced as a contrivance. Yes, Lydia had doubts over her motherhood. Yet it was very early days. Or perhaps she just wasn’t that maternal. It seemed that some kind of official closure and proper psychological correctness must be squeezed out of Lydia.
In the end, much as i was glad to see Lydia happy back with her old friend Russ, and slowly gaining confidence about what to do: (with her baby)
“Do you think he has enough clothes on?”
(Russ: “Yeah, he looks like the Michelin man”!)
It was all a bit corny, sitting in the sunshine by the sea.
I guess they had to give at least one character a happy ending.
Lydia to Russ:
“Hey, why’s the Michelin man white when he’s made of tyres?!”