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Character Development: John Cooper Reaches His Breaking Point, Southland 

Photo Credit: TNT

“The Winds” is another powerful episode in a season that’s been firing on all cylinders. Michael Cudlitz‘s John Cooper, as you know, has been dealing with crippling back pain for quite some time. He won’t talk to his partner about it and he’s all but turned his ex-wife into his dealer, after he severed his relationship with his actual dealer. He’s turned to acupuncture, which is doing absolutely nothing to relieve his chronic pain. So he turns to stealing Not only that, John has to attend his father’s parole hearing. He’s not there for support or to make an appeal to get his father out. He’s there to remind the board what his father did and to hold him accountable. On top of that, John has made a connection with an abandoned boy. When the boy wants to come home with him, John has to tell him no and we see how much it affects him.

John Cooper is under an enormous amount of stress. His internal temperature has been building practically since we met him. John refuses to deal with his back properly because he’s terrified to be behind a desk; if he’s not on the street he might as well be dead. He’s afraid to trust his partner because Ben has actually made it 9 months on the job. That seems to be the magic number when all rookies start believing they know everything. And it’s then when they make mistakes. John is frightened by his connection with the abandoned kid. Not only does he understand what the kid’s going through but he knows how bad social services is. But John also knows he doesn’t have what it takes to look after a kid. John is panicking that he’s let his life come to this – flailing around in the dirt for some contraband drugs. I’m sure he’s asking himself if he’s really any better than his father. I’m sure he’s wondering if his back will ever be better. I’m sure he’s hoping he’ll have more and be more than just his job. Does he have room in his life for a partner? A family? Maybe if he’s honest with himself he’ll have those things. I can’t see it happening any time soon. He’s so broken and damaged. If he can’t love himself, he’s probably asking himself why anyone else would want to.

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