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Officer Down, Southland “Integrity Check” 

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT

I have loved Michael Cudlitz‘s portrayal of Officer John Cooper from the beginning. He’s so good at his job, but for a while there he was in so much pain it compromised his judgement and eventually his partner’s life. I love that Ben Sherman has no interest in talking to his old training officer, let alone catching up with him. I also love that John’s relationship with Tang is really blossoming and becoming something interesting. After he got himself clean, I guess I thought Cooper wouldn’t get himself into any real trouble again (dumb, I know). With a good back and his full faculties what could go wrong? In “Integrity Check” I was genuinely worried we were seeing the end of John Cooper.

When Sgt. Hill practically has to order Tang and Cooper to take the documentary film crew out with them for the day, we know this isn’t going to end well. They’ve got to watch what they say on camera – which is why they’re not riding with Dewey, even though he volunteered – and just make it through the day. Even though they’re not really supposed to be giving their opinions on things, they do. Their first call is to a bakery where a white supremacist couple are trying to get a Jewish Black man to but swastikas on the birthday cake for their son Adolf. As soon as he sees the camera, the white supremacist starts talking about his rights being violated and Tang has to escort him outside of the shop when they can’t come to a compromise.

Later they have to break up a group of people trying to set some sort of planking record. They aren’t lying in the middle of the street to protest anything, which really seems to set Dewey off. Dewey thinks the film crew can’t hear him, so he’s saying all sorts of things that I hope will get him in hot water with the chief. We’ll see. The next call is to a domestic disturbance. When they arrive they can see that Dewey’s stirring things up and they quickly have to step in. Dewey’s showboating for the cameras and not doing his job, so he puts them all in danger. When Tang takes a knife wielding assailant down, things go horribly wrong. Protocol would’ve been for Tang to shoot her but she thought she could take the woman down safely with a tackle from behind. But the knife gets caught under her as they go down and she ends up stabbing herself. Tang doesn’t know if what she did was right or wrong, but she knows she didn’t do it by the book.

Later Tang and Cooper spot a car with expired tags and pull the guy over. Protocol is to cite him and impound the car, but the guy has a good enough sob story – I believed it too – that they let him go. It’s during the interview with the crew later that we find out about integrity checks – when the city is testing it’s officers to see if they’re going by the book. It could’ve been a trap set by their own department to see if they’d let the guy off. What was that about not becoming emotionally involved? I’m glad they do, but I can see what their jobs would be so much easier if they didn’t.

As they’re headed back to the station at the end of the night, they decide to respond to one last call. As they pull up a group of guys are fighting and they take off. Cooper gets into it with one guy as Tang takes off after another. We see just how much trouble Cooper’s in when his guy gets him on the ground and from behind. He bites on John’s neck and draws enough blood that John’s in trouble. The film crew documents everything as it happens and never steps in, even though they can see Cooper’s in real trouble. I actually didn’t expect them to step in but it doesn’t mean I can agree with that choice. Tang’s upset enough to accuse them of wanting to get a shot of a cop dying on camera.

What an ending. I feel so incredibly invested in Officer John Cooper. I love that he got himself clean, got his back fixed, and is back out on the streets where he belongs. He’s been on the job for 22 years. That’s an incredible of dedication to a job where he’s always risking his life and very rarely getting any thanks. I know there are real cops out there like him and for that I’m grateful. I hope this good cop isn’t down for good.

Random Thoughts:

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT
  • It was weird but so interesting to see Adams in an officer’s uniform. I liked seeing her visit the different crime scenes – especially the house where the kid locked his parents out and was destroying everything. That scene alone proves she’s going to be a great mom. I’m glad she finally realized she’s going to have to make some changes.
  • When did Sherman become such a douche? He’s making horrible choices in his dating life – his prerogative, but still – and accusing Sammy of something he’d never do? I don’t like seeing this new side of him at all.

Southland airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT.

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