SOUTHLAND RECAP: TWO GANGS
Detective Salinger’s gun is stolen by gang bangers and the detectives launch an off-record investigation to relocate the weapon. Their search takes them a bit deeper than they had anticipated.
Salinger removes himself from the driver’s seat of a vehicle he’s managed to wrap around a pole. All that remains of the hood is warped metal and smoke. He crumbles to his knees and spits blood. We learn that a cop’s most commonly recurring worst nightmare is one where they lose their gun. For Sal, the nightmare has become a reality.
Everybody’s Doing It
Tammy sneaks a joint in the bathroom she and Detective Bryant share. Sam is lying in bed, calling to his wife who won’t respond. The dog is going ape-shit, clawing at the door. Sam bursts in to find his wife getting high. He tells her to flush it which she does, but not before reminding him that he used to love doing it, too.
Cooper and Sherman respond to a 911 phone call. The girl who answers the door explains that everything has been resolved, but Cooper wants to know why they had called the police. A man shows up next to her with cuts all over his face. The two had bee fighting, and the crazy bitch threw the cat at the man. The woman gives Cooper come lip. When Cooper asks the guy if he wants to press charges, he declines. The officers take off. Later, Cooper indicates that the woman really irritated him.
Friends in Need
The events which led Detective Salinger to his worst nightmare are played out for us. Salinger and his girlfriend, Mia Sanchez, pull up to his car, and Sal gets out. They thank each other for the good time and Sal, getting into his own car, takes off. He sings loudly to the radio one his way home, indicating that perhaps he’s had a few drinks. Suddenly, a yellow Mitsubishi Eclipse pulls out in front of him, causing him to steer his car away: right into a pole. His airbags deploy and the impact renders him unconscious. A black Chevy Monte C arlo was pursuing the yellow Eclipse, but it stops at the sound of Sal’s wreck. Two guys get out of the car, realize that Sal is a cop, and strip his unconscious body of both his wallet and his firearm. When Sal finally comes to, the punks are long gone. He immediately realizes that his gun is missing and calls Detectives Bryant and Moretta.
Bryant argues that they shouldn’t call in the incident or the missing fun. Sal can’t have a DUI on his record, and if they can get the whole thing resolved quickly, there will be no need to raise alarm. He claims that Salinger is a good cop. Moretta objects, claiming that not filing a report on a missing police weapon is not right. Bryant gets his way. They ask Sal if he’s alright. Between hawking gobs of blood and tending his wounds, Sal is cursing the sons of bitches who took his gun. He informs the detectives that there had been two v ehicles; a yellow eclipse, and a black Monte Carlo. Bryant assures his boss that they’ll find the guys.
While mulling over what course of action to take, the detectives hear gunshots ring out from somewhere close by. Sal can tell merely by the sound what gun those bullets came from: his Beretta. Bryant and Moretta jump in a car and rush off to investigate. There is a liquor store close by with some fresh bullet holes in the windows. The woman behind the counter says she didn’t see anything, and a search of the perimeter yields no bodies or guns, only casings. The detectives ask the proprietor if they can observe her surveillance tapes.
The tapes play out a scene where two gangs get into a pissing match in the par king lot. One group is huddled around a yellow Eclipse the other guys jump out of a black Monte Carlo. The gang bangers seem to be throwing insults back and forth. One pulls out a gun and fires a few shots, strolling fearlessly towards the other gang. A gun is pulled in retaliation and the shooter is brought down. Everyone else scatters, leaving a lone body in the parking lot. A zoom on the murder weapon verifies that the gun is Sal’s Beretta.
Stopping the tape, Bryant and Moretta hypothesize that the body must have been dumped somewhere. They call in some of the other detectives for help and inform them that they are trying to protect Sal. Conversing, they decided to come down hard on the neighborhood and bring in anyone who is connected for any reason they can find, no matter how trivial; parking tickets, expired tags, no insurance.
Adams unlocks her car door but before she can step in a small, creepy voice asks her if she “wants some,” from the bushes. Adams turns and can barely discern a tall man, hiding in the foliage. She cons the man out of the bushes, and discovers that he isn’t covered beneath the belt. He is a flasher. Adams immediately slaps the cuffs on the guy and asks him his name. It is Stanley. She asks him if he is the Valley Molester. Stanley claims he is not, realizing the sort of trouble he is in. Adams puts him in the car and calls in a code 6. Stanley becomes very quite and tries to explain that he’s tried therapy. Then he starts crying. Adams leaves Stanley half naked in his jail cell.
Disturbing the Peace
We get to see the detectives’ plan in action. Bryant lines a bunch of dudes up and slaps the cuffs on all of them. When asked why he was arresting them, he claims that someone had reported that they were being too loud, disturbing the peace. They pull another guy from his home and walk off while his girlfriend curses them out from the doorstep. Moretta wants to know how much longer this is going to go on, and Bryant explains that they’ll do this as long as it takes.
They arrive at a house with an Escalade parked in the driveway. A cute girl opens the door, and the detectives ask to speak with Big Wayne. Big Wayne is wheelchair bound, but appears happy when he recognized the detectives. We learn that his joy is only pretense, though. Bryant asks Big Wayne how his youth center is going and then get to the point. They ask Wayne if he knows anything about Sal’s gun. Wayne claims that he hasn’t heard a thing. He doesn’t like the implication the detectives are making by showing up at his door and asking him if he knows anything about stolen police weapons, either. The detectives only want the gun back, and ask Wayne to inform them if he hears anything through the grapevine. Big Wayne happily obliges. He also confesses that he loves cops. Hell, if he hadn’t been shot by one, he wouldn't have money for his wheelchair or his youth center. He tells them that he’ll keep them informed.
Bryant and Moretta head back to the surveillance tapes and realize that there is more to the tapes than they had first seen. They watch the dead body on the pavement for awhile longer and after a while the body stands up and shuffles off. Apparently the dead body hadn’t been dead after all and that’s why they had only found bullet casings in the parking lot. The news is bitter-sweet, however, as Bryant realizes that gang bangers are now wearing bullet-proof vests.
Sherman and Cooper respond to another 911 phone call. The door is opened and a woman is standing there with her daughter, speaking calmly. The woman explains to her daughter that when you call 911 “these nice men show up to help.” Cooper and Sherman immediately discern that there is no emergency, but Cooper wants to confirm with the woman that she was merely called 911 to show her daughter what will happen when you call the cops. The woman explains that this is precisely what she was doing. Cooper politely informs her that she has her head up her ass, and the two officers leave. Cooper is annoyed that his time had been wasted, and that he has to respond to such calls whenever he is beckoned.
It seems like the entire neighborhood showed up to complain about the extent to which the detectives are exerting their authority. A crowd amasses in the department and Salinger tries to calm them down. He tells them that they bring police authority down on themselves. Mia walks in with her camera crew, but Sal ignores her. The Captain asks to speak with him.
Oh Captain, My Captain
The Captain asks Salinger why a misdemeanor task force was put together in the middle of the night by his detectives. Sal comes clean, explaining that he was thrown off the road by gangsters who relieved him of his weapon. The Captain asks if a report was filed, and Sal initially tries to dodge the question. The Captain asks again if a report was filed, and Sal tells him the truth. Sal explains that his vehicle was impounded, and that he had had a few drinks, but was by no means intoxicated. The Captain thinks for a minute and gives Sal 12 hours to relocate his weapon. If the weapon cannot be found, he must fill out a report and launch an investigation. Sal thanks the Captain for his mercy, but is warned that if it ever happens ag ain, he’ll lose his badge.
Sal and Mia get into it. He’s pissed because she shows up to his workplace and he accuses her of stalking him. She’s mad because he thinks she’s here because of him. She was trying to get the story on why there was a lobby-full of pissed off locals. Sal tells her to get her camera and leave.
The detectives find an abandoned building which is being used for target practice. The bullet holes they find in the walls are disconcertingly large. In fact, some of the bullets have passed through two walls. It gives the law a little perspective as to what they are up agai nst.
Bryant interrogates one of the hooligans they’ve brought in. He asks the kid if he remembers the HCC gang, one with which the kid was formerly affiliated. He also asks if the kid knows anyone who drives a Monte Carlo. The kid says he knows nothing. Bryant suggests that the kid take a look at what is happening to his boys: how they’ve been getting busted. He threatens that this sort of action is going to continue until they find what they’re looking for: Sal’s gun. The little punk seems to know a thing or two about guns that can blow holes through two walls, and actually gives himself away by admitting that he fires Sal’s Beretta.
Big Wayne rolls into the department bitching about an Escalade that was towed fo rm his own driveway. He demands to get the car back, that Escalade had his bible in it. After cursing them, Wayne rolls off. The cops are suspicious: no doubt Wayne has several vehicles. They begin to wonder why he wants the Escalade so desperately. They decide to search the car. In it, they find a handful of shipping receipts. Boxes shipped to places all over the country.
Another lead brings the detectives to a funeral, where through their binoculars, they find several familiar faces. Among them is Big Wayne. Apparently, Big Wayne is sponsoring guns that go into the military. Bryant wants to know what’s up with that.
If Sherman and Cooper’s day could get any more ridiculous, their next scene would take the prize. They stroll into a tattoo parlor where one of the customers: a pudgy looking tough-guy is pissed that the tattoo artist fucked up his tattoo. To be fair, he had wanted the name “Denise” written across his back, and the guy had tattooed the name “Dennis” by mistake. The artist explains that the man had mumbled the name he wanted tattooed on his back, and that explains the mistake. Cooper tries to calm the man down, but he isn’t hearing it.
“Do I look like a faggot to you?” the fat guy shouts.
“I don’t know. What does a faggot look like?” Cooper retorts, challengingly.
“Are you fucking with me?”
The guy lunges at Cooper, and Sherman steps in. They work together to bring him down.
Moretta tells Bryant that he doesn’t feel comfortable with what they are doing: busting up the neighborhood over little issues because Sal fucked up. Bryant justifies what they are doing, after all: it’s not like they are planting guns and accusing innocent people. He points out that if Sal hadn’t lost his gun, they would never have stumbled onto this bigger thing with Big Wayne. They bring Sal the news of Wayne’s shipments which are all in cash and delivered to cities near U.S. Army bases. Sal takes a ride and knocks on the door of a Mrs. Hightower: a woman who supposedly never leaves her home but hasn’t been seen in a couple of days. A girl answers the door and refuses to admit Sal who forces his way in and cuffs her, and a man who appears from another room. Searching the house he finds Mrs. Hightower helplessly sitting on the ground and locked up in a tiny room with a coffee can to use as her rest room. They find guns and ammo which gives the detectives enough evidence to move in on Big Wayne. They stage a large scale bust and catch the gang-bangers red handed, loading boxes of firearms. Big Wayne is found helplessly slumped across a massage table. He curses when they present him a search warrant.
Adams receives a knock on her door later that night. She is surprised to find Stanley at the door with his pants on. He thanks her for treating him with digni ty and understanding. He explains that the medication he is taking won’t impact is sexual impulses, but it will allow him to control his behavior. He also asks Adams if she would like to get a cup of coffee with him. Eerily the scene changes before she can respond which means that the answer is not no.
Bryant returns Sal’s gun to its rightful owner. Sal thanks his detectives for their work and returns the firearm to its holster. In the parking garage he tells Mia that the affair between them is over. I think he’s come to realize how quickly a man’s pistol can get snatched when he’s lost his head up a girl’s skirt, if you can dig that.
Cooper comes across a fallen tree branch in the middle of the road. He breaks out the road flares and begins laying them down. A woman drives by, looks at the situation and asks what’s going on. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Cooper sarcastically replies that a UFO crashed landed here, and advises her to move along. His words are nasty, but I guess he’s done putting up with stupid people for the day.
Bryant tells Moretta that Tammy doesn’t really get the whole “Team player” thing. He also asks Moretta if he ever smoked weed. Moretta admits that he never has. Bryant confesses that he used to do it all the time.
I think Bryant’s dedication to helping out his boss is a way by which he gets out of his job what he does not get out of his home life. Tammy always seems to be doing the opposite of what he would like, and he doesn’t seem to trust her to watch his back. Meanwhile, he’s willing to bend the rules of law enforcement to ensure that his boss doesn’t get busted by them.
As for Cooper: today just wasn’t his day. Normally we see him operate with a little more reserve, but nothing interesting happened while he and Sherman were on patrol even though they got called into multiple situations. At the end of the day the biggest thing he does is lay down a few road flares to alert passersby of a hazardous tree branch. Perhaps the monotony of police work, coupled with the foolishness of the people he serves kept him from being able to hold his composure.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler