Southland Recap: Mozambique
LA’s finest are back in action this week; re-uniting a wayward-son with his mother, putting bad guys behind bars, and even digging into their own pockets to protect an important witness.
Officer John Cooper congratulates his new, rookie partner, Officer Ben Sherman, for being quick on the draw and accurate last week. Thanks to Ben’s shooting Officer Dewey is still alive. Cooper asks Sherman where he learned to shoot like that.
“The Beverly Hills Gun Club,” Sherman replies.
They patrol the beat for a while and arrest a guy who killed another guy who owed him three dollars. The man confessed to the murder and feel justified in his actions because the economy is bad. He seems drunk.
Janelle, the little girl who had witnessed the gang related shooting last week, is back. She asks Detectives Bryant and Clarke how she can go about joining The Explorers, a program for youngsters who aspire to become law enforcement. Bryant explains the process and thanks her again for testifying against the guys they’d apprehended in the shooting.
Officers Cooper, Brown, and Sherman are driving around talking about Dewey’s retirement party when Sherman witnesses a 2-11 in progress. For those of you who haven’t memorized your codes yet, a 2-11 is… well, I don’t know either, but I’m guessing it’s an armed robbery. Sherman jumps out of the car yelling “Gun! Gun!” and drawing his own firearm, runs into a liquor store where it seems that a robber has taken the proprietor hostage. Leaving his partners in the dust, Sherman goes in alone. When he enters the store, Sherman begins yelling for the man to drop his gun, but his orders are ignored. The man begins yelling at Officer Sherman in another language, but won’t take his gun off of the man on the floor. Sherman assures the guy that he will shoot him if he doesn’t drop the weapon. Finally, the man holding the gun throws down his fire-arm, and Sherman orders the man on the floor to run outside. He then moves in to arrest the criminal.
Officer John Cooper intercepts the man who Sherman ordered to run outside, and shoulders him to the floor. Taking no chances, he lays the cuffs on the man and brings him inside. Here he reveals to Sherman that the man he had thought to be a criminal was actually the liquor store own, and the guy who had appeared to be a hostage was actually the robber. The proprietor had gotten the drop on this man who had been trying to rob him. Cooper scolds Sherman for running into a situation without back-up, explaining that things could have been much worse if there had been multiple suspects. He also advises Sherman to think before acting because sometimes the suspect can be the victim, and the victim can be the suspect. As Cooper lays into the rookie, Officer Brown shouts at him to watch the road! The squad car screeches to a halt, stopping just feet away from a baby who had been crawling, unattended, across the street.
Detectives Bryant, Adams, and Clarke are going over possible scenarios as to how the baby could have arrived here. Perhaps the mom ran into a store and left the baby unattended, perhaps there had been a car-jacking and when the jackers saw a baby in the backseat they dumped it… They begin asking questions, and Adams takes the baby back to the station. Child services are called even though Adams opposes this, understanding what happens to children once they get dumped into the foster care system. She changes the baby’s diaper on one of the desks and notices that the baby has a grisly bruise-mark on his left leg.
Steps are taken to trace the source of the lost baby. John Cooper consults Barry, a junkie who rides a bike. Barry mentions t hat he saw the baby come out of a box. He also saw a car driving away from the box and got a partial license plate. Barry pauses for a long moment, trying to recall the vehicle through a haze of recreational hallucinogens, and claims that it was a red El Camino, ‘87 or ‘88.
The car is registered to Christi Cummings: arrested ten times for charges including prostitution and drugs. Adams calls vice to see if she’s still active.
Child Services comes in and asks to see the child. Adams hands it over.
Bryant is pushing to get his witness relocated but his request is denied because the department has no money to displace the witness. He claims that the little girl is in danger now that the word is out she’ll be testifying. Others believe that the Spanish gang bangers wouldn’t cross into black gang territory to get the little girl.
Janelle needs a guardian to sign some papers, granting her permission to join The Explorers. Problem is: her father is in prison and her mother is on drugs. She lives with her grandmother who thinks it is bad enough that her granddaughter is testifying and getting mixed up in business that is not hers.
Caring Father and Adulterer
Detective Salinger is speaking in low tones into his cell phone. His behavior indicates that this is a phone call he would rather keep private. The woman on the other end asks him if he misses her, but he has to go because his daughter is on the other line. Salinger’s little girl wants to take the car over to Hollywood Blvd, which he strictly forbids her to do.
Later, Sal discovers that his daughter disobeyed his commands and went to Hollywood Blvd. and got his car towed. After humiliating his daughter in front of her friends, Sal finds out that she had gotten her belly-button pierced. He screams at her, painting a vivid picture of all the diseases she could have possibly acquired.
Adams and company appear to be interrogating a hooker, the girl who’s name the car was registered under. They learn from her that the mother of the child’s name is Brianna, and that a scumbag named Skyler was supposed to be in charge of the kid while Brianna was at work.
Next, they knock on Skyler’s door and burst in when he cracks it open. They find drugs on the countertop and move in to make an arrest. Skyler jumps from the second story window, and the police give chase. He pulls a firearm and takes a shot at them, but misses. Dumping the weapon, Skyler gives them a run for their money; vaulting fences, and bursting through back alley doors. He winds up a cornered fox and desperately pulls a knife, insisting that he won’t go back to jail. Patiently, Cooper walks over with a riot gun, hands it to Clarke who shoots a bean-bag into Skyler’s chest, bringing him down, screaming.
As they carry him away, Skyler wearily asks: “What was that?”
“Please don’t do that to me again.”
Skyler finds himself in a prison cell where he tells the cops where they can find Brianna.
A phone call is made from prison. The Spanish thug who had gotten arrested in last week’s episode has a request for one of his buddies on the outside.
“Keep and eye on my little girl,” he asks.
Janelle’s grandmother doesn’t want her granddaughter spending time with cops. It’s bad enough that she’s testifying. Grandma takes a moment to reflect on how much the neighborhood has changed. Bryant assures her that testifying is a good thing, because it puts the wrong people in the right place. Driving away from Janelle’s apartment, the cops pass by a parked car with a man sitting in the driver’s seat. This is the same man who had received a phone call from his inmate buddy, and he’s been tailing the cops to find out where the witness lived.
Brianna wants to see Jimmy, her son. She knows that once Child Services get their hands on a child, they never give it back. She claims that the misplaced baby was a huge mistake. She had asked a friend to watch her son while she was working, and the friend had given it to Skyler because there had been an emergency. Brianna is relieved when she learns that Skyler is behind bars. Brianna insists that she had stopped using the minute she learned she was pregnant; she went straight, got a job, and cleaned up her act. She begs Adams to help her get her baby back.
Adams begins asking Brianna about the mark on the baby’s leg. Brianna explains that the baby had been trying to get out of his crib a nd scratched himself on an exposed screw. She had taken him to get a tetanus shot immediately.
Adams asks Brianna to leave for a moment, so she can have an audience with the representative from Child Services. Adams gets up to bat for Brianna, saying that they should at least give her a chance. Child Services are supposed to work to bring families together, not bring them apart. Moved by the way Brianna vocalizes her commitment to her child, Adam’s persuades Child Services to release Jimmy back to his mother. The Child Service lady grills Brianna for a bit, and finally concedes. She asks Adam’s to remove Jimmy’s clothing so she can take a picture of the baby. Child Services will be keeping an eye on him.
Dewey is getting lit up at his own retirement party: co-workers roasting him like a pig on a spit. Dewey claims that once he retires he’s going to get work on movie sets. He confesses that “a day hasn’t gone by- drunk or sober- that I haven’t loved this job. I love this job. I love you guys.”
Cooper asks Sherman why he became a cop, wondering what the rookie’s secrets are. We learn that Sherman’s old man was as crooked lawyer who left home when Sherman was a boy. One of his clients had been a drug dealer who paid a visit to the Sherman household… after his father had walked out on them. Sherman had a buddy whose father would take them to the Beverly Hills Gun Club every Saturday. That’s where he learned to shoot.
Sal introduces his daughter to the woman he is having an affair with. Of course, he simply introduces her as “his friend”. Later, Sal’s daughter finds her dad kissing his friend passionately and storms off in the other direction, though it turns out that she’s ok with her father’s infidelity because she thinks her mother is a bitch. Salinger scolds his daughter for disrespecting her mother. What an asshole.
A car pulls up outside Janelle’s apartment and guns appear from the windows. Bullets from automatic weapons are sprayed into the apartment, like grains of sand in a windstorm. Janelle grabs her grandmother and the two hit the deck as lead passes just overhead. Once the shooting stops, the car takes off.
Bryant receives a phone call from Janelle and sends a squad car over immediately. The cops inspect the damage: empty shotgun shells are strewn about the ground, and the place is in tatters. Bryant requests again that Janelle be relocated, but his request is again denied for the same reason: the department doesn’t have the money.
Bryant digs into his own pocket and comes up with seventy dollars to put Janelle and her grandmother up in a hotel for the night. Janelle is excited because there is a pool, and her grandmother is thankful for what they’re doing.
Officer Brown is walking Officer Sherman to his motorcycle. She’s bummed that her speech was lame. Sherman describes it as ‘anemic’. Brown tries to get close with Sherman by asking if there was more to the story of his family history. Sherman cuts off their conversation with “I gotta go.”
Detective Adams closes the episode by knocking on a door to a house. The door is answered by a woman, holding a smiling little girl by the hand.
“Is he home?” Adams asks.
The little girl says: “Yeah.” The door closes, but opens after a moment and a guy steps outside.
“You called me…” Adams begins.
“That was four months ago.”
“You look good,” she says awkwardly, and then begins to tell this man about her day, and the baby and how they got it back to it’s mother. “The baby is gonna be fine,” she says proudly.
“Ok,” the man replies, saying as few words as possible.
“Look, I think I made a mistake, you know? With you. I really do want to keep it.” Adams looks like she’s about to cry, but the man is unmoved.
“I gotta go inside,” he says.
“You take care.” He closes the door.
Adams returns to her car and sits in it for a moment. Through the passenger window we can see that the little girl inside is watching her from the other side of the door. When she looks at the house, however, the little girl has been pulled away from the window.
Once again I like how the events of the day for each character in this episode revolve around a central issue. The detectives spend their day trying to locate Jimmy’s mother, while Officers Cooper, Sherman, and Brown are out on the streets putting away the guy who left it unattended. The major conflict from last week’s episode prevails in this one, which also kept things interesting. Obviously the surest way to capture audience attention is to keep the bullets flying, but Southland brings a humbling realism to typical cop-drama shootouts. Maybe it’s how the camera shakes when it moves in on the action, or how lethally quick the battles come to an end, but this show has a way of making the violence real.
****I mentioned last week that Sherman’s character is a sort of conduit by which we- the audience- experience the reality of being a rookie cop. This week we got to share in his mistake, when Sherman blows the 2-11 early in the episode. Here the scene is staged to induce confusion for the audience as well as the character. Naturally when we see a man holding a gun on a guy who has his hands raised we perceive the armed man to be the suspect, and the hostage to be the victim. Sherman’s logic is thwarted by the reality, however, and he is fortunate that the worst thing his impulsiveness lands him is a smack on the back of the hand. Naturally, when I view the episode next week, I won’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, even if Sherman does.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler