'Southland' season finale: 'I'm a cop.'

Southland-finaleImage Credit: Doug Hyun/TNTLook below the surface, and Southland is one of the quietest shows on television. On last night’s season finale, there was a car crash, a rooftop chase, some bloody gunplay, and a brutally extended fight sequence. One man was shot to death, and another fell off a building. A child was born. At one point, a skimpily-dressed hooker climbed up onto the hood of a cop car and loudly demanded $10 while beating her fists against the windshield wipers. It could play as bombastic, but Southland never feels over-the-top. Even though the finale delivered big emotional payoffs for most of the main characters — and even though the show’s future is still currently up in the air — the show ended its third season on a thoughtful note.

The key, I think, is the lack of music. The big action sequence of the episode saw Ben Sherman chasing a fleeing child molester up a fire escape and across a rooftop, while his ailing partner-mentor John Cooper — suffering from bad back, drug-addled brain, and a semi-existential detachment from reality — struggled to follow. It’s the kind of sequence that on most TV shows would be scored with 24-ish action music, but on Southland, the only soundtrack was the tinny creaking of the fire escape, the quickening footsteps, and the ambient city sounds of a disinterested metropolis.

Of course, it helps when a cast is stacked this full of talented actors. Last night was a good showcase for Michael Cudlitz, who has nailed John Cooper’s slow-motion moral descent. (It feels like we’ve seen the guy age ten years this season.) His last scene was devastating — as he checked into a hospital, listing off all the prescription drugs he was addicted to, he still managed to look disgusted when the nurse asked him if he had taken cocaine and heroin. “I’m a cop,” he said, which in context was both sad and funny.

It was also thrilling to see Shawn Hatosy’s Sammy avenge Nate’s shocking death. It was, admittedly, a curiously perpendicular vengeance: Nate’s killer was fleeing from the cops for a different crime and ended up getting shot by some other uniforms on the scene. Still, Sammy got some mortal retribution, whispering Nate’s name in the dying killer’s ear over and over again: “Nate Moretta. Nate Moretta, m—–f—–.” It was a weird, fascinating scene, made even stranger when we saw Sammy holding his newborn son just a few scenes later.

At the end of the finale, Sammy was back in a uniform, with Sherman as his new partner. I’d be interested to see those two characters play off each other more…if the show goes to a fourth season. Viewers, did you enjoy the finale? Want to see more Southland? If the show goes to a fourth season, what former teen star would you like to see gritt-ify their reputation? Jason Behr? Jason Dohring? Some other former teen star named Jason?

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  • Kaci

    I completely agree, Darren – about Southland not being over-the-top, about the music, about the strength of the acting. Personally, I think Southland is one of the BEST shows out there with an amazing ensemble cast. I really hope it goes a fourth season; I would love to see the characters grow.

    • Jethro

      Totally agree, and Detroit 1-8-7, just as good and ABC is not thrilled. NBC didn’t give S/L a chance, yet it thrives on another network. We need more shows like these 2!

      • paul

        BOTH Southland and Detroit 187 would be good fits for FX!! If either or both DON’T get renewed, I hope FX has a full wallet and an open mind.

      • Kendall

        Southland is one of the best shows on tv – in terms of story, acting, and pacing. It deserves another season, just focus more on the cops and less on the detectives, I would even like it if they cut the detectives’ storylines altogether

    • Sheila G

      Contact TNT on their website if you want this back!

  • elle

    Love this show! Definitely hope there is a season 4 but if not, this finale managed to wrap things up nicely.

  • Meg

    I truly hope that TNT continues to give this tragic beauty of a show life, even for at least a 13 show season. Between the thoughtful and gripping writing to the outstanding execution by the phenomenal actors, I can’t say enough about this show… For me, it’s the yardstick which all the “gritty, flawed, and rookie” cop shows are measured by….

    • meaghan

      I totally agree I don’t think u couldve put it any better

  • Michael

    It was so great. I didn’t want the episode to end.

    • Lucy

      that’s what I feel about every episode. Renew this show!!!

      • Just Me

        Exactly…I freaking love this show. KEEP SOUTHLAND TNT!!!!

  • Allie

    Southland is one of the best shows on tv, ever. The finale wrapped this season up nicely and I’m glad Sammy got some closure. I’m really hoping for season 4 since Sammy & Ben will be partners. It’ll just suck if this show isn’t renewed. I think I’ll lose hope in quality television.

    Oh, and as a diehard fan of Roswell, Jason M- F- Behr would be an awesome addition to this cast. We need some more hotties since they killed off Nate!

  • Lori

    Southland never ceases to amaze me. Every character has depth. It will be a shame if it’s not renewed. Love that John got help and love Ben and Sammy as partners. Ben’s smirk said it all!

  • mama

    An absolutely riveting show and I hope it comes back. It is not glamorous and shows the high pool of talents along with real feel by the understated way of being. I have watched Southland from the beginning and this season was very different, almost minimal, but still so rich. To this day the horrific and real murder of Nate was the ‘highlight’ and to see Sammy being able to have that last scene was amazing.

  • foxmulder87

    I love this show simply because it is shot fantastically and there is no other cop show out there that gives you the feeling as if you really were in LA! I hope they go for many more seasons!

  • FH

    Awesome show. It’s sad this site did not keep a weekly recap going for it and opted to recap reality garbage instead.

    • Jenks

      Agree. If sites like EW gave shows like Southland a little more exposure, more people would watch. Reading a random article about the show is what got me to watch and now it’s one of my favorite shows.

      • UGH

        Entertainment Weekly: A Time-Warner owned company.

    • Asha

      I totally agree. There are a lot of shows that I watch that were recapped that EW stopped recapping in favor of crap reality shows (who really needs a recap of Jersey Shore?). EW needs to get it together and recap shows that are actually worth recapping and disecting.

      • Just Me

        100% agree. EW never recaps or give exposure to shows that need it. They just over expose shows that are already hits….This is not the only show they have given a tiny article about saying how great it is but never shows any other support for them…

  • James Noury

    One of the best shows ever. A great cast and touching stories.

  • Kristina

    I have watched Southland since the beginning and this season really put it on top as my favorite show on television. It is just a quality show from the writing to the directing to the acting. I think my favorite thing about Southland is that it feels real and I agree that the lack of music is part of the reason why. But it’s also because of the decision to use a very gritty style of directing and how the extras on the show look like they’ve been plucked from the streets. This is an A+ show and I really look forward to another season to see how the character’s stories grow from here.

  • UGH

    I don’t understand why TNT didn’t release season 3 on DVD? I know you can watch it online, but I can’t stand that.

    • UGH

      I meant SEASON 2 damn no-edit function!

  • Elizabeth

    Never thought about the lack of a soundtrack until now, but I totally agree w/ Darren on that point. Its subtle and it doesn’t need to smack you upside the head to make a point – I totally appreciate that!
    I’d be shocked if TNT didn’t pick this up for a 4th season. There are plenty of clunkers on this network, but this show is a pure gem. Writing, acting – all fantastic.
    I had kind of hoped that Lydia and Sammy would be paired up as partners, but Sammy & Ben is just as good. Wonder where Chickie will end up next season?

    • Jaded

      I agree about the music and about Lydia and Sammy as partners! That would have been cool, but I think she’d have a hard time putting up with all of his personal distractions.
      I really hope they pick this up for another season. I can’t even believe they’d have to debate it–it’s a fantastic show!

  • Ann

    Southland is the epitome of excellent television. The combination of superior writing, acting, and production value delivers a series that is always compelling yet never overwrought. No other show so well deserves renewal.

    • kathy obrian

      This is Ann Biderman isn’t it!!

  • Shelly

    Southland is by far one of the best shows on tv. I have watched it from the beginning whenit started n another network. I love that there is no music to tell you when you should feel certain emotions at what you’re watching. It’s pure and raw. That’s something that is missing from tv shows. I also hope the future is bright for Detroit 187, but ABC doesn’t give it half the advertisement it deserves. Too bad. Two of the GREATEST shows on tv.

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