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Relationship Recap: Sammy’s Got Ben’s Back Even When He’s Wrong, Southland “Underwater” 

Photo Credit: TNT

In “Underwater,” we’re reminded why Ben McKenzie‘s Ben Sherman became a cop in the first place: he wanted to make a difference. Well, if he doesn’t stop going down the path he seems to be on, he’s going to end up just like the cops – C. Thomas Howell’s Dewey and Lou Diamond Phillips‘ Ferguson – he can’t stand. I don’t think I’ve ever been this disappointed in Ben. We’ve seen him go off the rails before, but he’s never been quite like this. No amount of provocation can justify him punching a teenage girl in the face. I know he had a hard day and, increasingly he’s realizing there’s only so much he and his brothers in blue can do, but that frustration and anger should never be directed at someone who’s basically harmless. Yes, she was hostile. Yes, she was pushing him. Yes, she slapped him. Yes, she even spit on him. I knew he was going to retaliate in some way, but I never thought he’d punch her.

When Carl Lumbly‘s Captain Joel Rucker tells the squad at the beginning of the day that he wants to send a message, this probably wasn’t it. What I do like about him is how hands-on and no-nonsense he is. Later that day a call with an armed Grandmother – Grambo – gets out of hand, and he won’t let the officers on the scene call SWAT. Rucker shows up and gets to work. He – and Sherman - manage to diffuse the situation a bit so they can subdue her.

As the day goes on, things become more and more frustrating for Sherman. In addition to being shot at by Grambo, he’s swung on by a fleeing kid. Sherman’s upset the kid swung that bat at him hard enough to kill him and gets into a war or words with the woman who let that kid hide out in her house. When Sherman can’t figure out why she’d help a kid she doesn’t know, she tells him the fugitive is more her people than he is. Bryant has to get between the woman and Sherman as things escalate. Sherman even threatens to never respond to a call from her house if she ever needs their help.

So by the time Sherman and Bryant respond to a loitering call, Sherman’s definitely at his wit’s end. When one of the Catholic school kids gets too unruly Sherman’s had enough. And then when one of her friends starts in on him, it’s apparently more than he can handle. I knew he was going to retaliate in some drastic way but I didn’t think it would be that extreme. I do like that the girl he punched still had some fight left in her even as she’s being cuffed.

I refuse to believe Sherman actually thinks what he did was ok. Even though her spitting on him is an assault, he still reacted with excessive force. The Captain warns Sherman that he just became “that guy,” and things might take an ugly turn for him. But he’s got Sherman’s back and I do think that’s important. Part of me hopes there are consquences, I just hope it doesn’t get too out of hand. And we know Bryant thinks his partner overreacted and he calls Sherman on it. Bryant tells Sherman he was wrong even though they were outflanked. It’s the job and Sherman lost his cool. You know when Dewey’s proud of you for something, that you made the wrong call.

I’m interested to see how this plays out and that’s what I love about this show. We get to see these cops as their best and their worst, worts and all. I think Bryant will keep Sherman honest and help remind him why he became a cop in the first place. And right now he needs that.

Southland airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT.

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