Surprisingly, the funeral of fallen officer Nate Moretta is not how this episode begins. In fact, it’s only mentioned in passing and the chances that it may not even be viewed next week either are high. Quite the unconventional choice for a cop show – they tend to indulge in the sentimental and the nostalgic especially after one of their own goes down. I applaud Southland for being different in how they’re keeping things business as usual just as it would be in real life. Nate’s partner Sammy isn’t seen on-screen at all either as the focus is on the remaining two duos of Southland.
With a serial rapist on the loose, Detectives Adams and Ochoa butt heads yet again on the differences in their methods. Everything, including the victim’s account of the event, leads to the perpetrator being one of the local day laborers from the neighborhood. Once a suspect is found and apprehended the case slowly starts to unravel into something far more ugly. Again Detective Ochoa shows a greater interest in clearing the case than in picking apart each detail to make sure the right person is arrested. Even when it turns out that the serial rapist is not their suspect she stubbornly continues to believe he could still have assaulted their victim.
What’s most intriguing about their dual approaches in this particular case is that they both have blinkers on in a way. The continued push and pull between the two characters continues to cause some good conflict for the actresses to delve into. I love seeing how Lydia is able to keep an open mind during the course of a case. At first, she’s all for comforting the apparent victim, but the second things are not what they appear to be she’s able to see who the real victim is and her support is firmly behind them instead. There’s also a dose of guilt involved as a series of events lead to Lydia’s and by extension, Katherine Wellington’s, actions causing the supposed suspect to nearly lose his life. Now, Josie on the other hand is more of a big-picture person as opposed to the directly intimate consequences. She’s less concerned with Katherine Wellington’s wellbeing than she is with preventing any other victims from having such a heinous act happen to them.
Officer John Cooper meanwhile is having a hell of a week. First he finds out that after a few sessions of acupuncture nothing non-pharmaceutical is helping his chronic back pain. Back surgery is no option to John as I imagine he’s nervous about that actually getting him to a point where he can no longer perform his duties, all of which he’s been doing while on painkillers. In a moment of tremendous hypocrisy he pulls over a man for being on painkillers while driving. I’ve noticed that Ben keeps asking if John wants him to drive, at first it was likely because he just knew that driving would aggravate the pain but now I’m becoming sure that he’s scared to drive, and especially after John has the evidence report of the man’s confiscated pills thrust into his face, Ben asks now partly for his own safety. Ben Sherman clearly knows something is up with his partner, but his every effort to inquire about John’s personal life is rebuffed so I doubt he’s going to be able to be the person who can help John no matter how much he wishes to be.
John has a moment with a young boy who was causing a disturbance in his abandoned home after his parents packed up and left him behind. The boy is clearly fated to being in and out of foster homes who could care less about his wellbeing just as long as they get their check every month for housing him. Officer Cooper is always such a hard-ass out on the street and with Ben that when his more sympathetic side is on display, it’s always a little surprising. But it’s never artificial as he connected with a boy who likely will grow up in a fashion similar to John himself, relying on himself to survive. Michael Cudlitz gave a nicely restrained performance as he was forced to let the system have the kid, and when Richard expressed his disillusionment that John wasn’t his hero in blue that could rescue him into a better life just because he legitimately cared.
The end of the episode had John appearing at the parole board hearing for a man who was serving time for rape and murder. It turns out this man was his father and John was there to speak against his being released, ever. The fact that he knew the victim’s name and spoke of her in a familiar way made me wonder if it was just a case of John knowing the back-story of his father’s victim, or if it was something worse such as his victim being related to John. There really was a vague intention behind John doing it–was it either just his duty as a police officer or was it his separate personal disgust toward the acts of the man he came from? On the way back, an accident on the road resulted in John’s pill stash being ruined, and John himself very nearly reaching rock bottom in his addiction as he clawed through the dirt on the side of the road to recover even one pill. There is no way Officer Cooper can go on like this.