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Two Unexpected Deaths, Southland “Chaos” 

The title of this episode more than lives up to its name. Not only are Sammy (and Ben by proxy) on a wild goose chase around town looking for Strokeface but Cooper and Lucero are kidnapped by a pair of tweakers. And then things go horribly wrong.

Two Unexpected Deaths

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT
Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT

Henry “Hank” Lucero

Cooper, tired of Lucero’s constant homophobic comments on the job, takes him to a gay bar for drinks, although Lucero doesn’t realize it at first. So after John comes out to him and not-so-politely asks him to keep his opinions to himself, Lucero tries to roll with it. It’s later that things get extremely awkward. They’re drunk and decide it’s a good time to do a little play fighting. One thing leads to another and Cooper inadvertently does something Lucero doesn’t like. And Lucero reverts back to his old ways so fast, Coop barely has time to react after Lucero calls him a name.

When Coop and Lucero are on patrol the next day things are dead quiet in their cruiser. They don’t want to acknowledge each other, much less talk. On a routine call, things quickly go sideways after they both let their guards down and a pair of tweakers jump them. At least they had a moment of levity before they had guns in their faces. Coop and Lucero are stripped of their uniforms and taken to a remote location. The tweakers just want to get high, but Lucero runs his mouth and gets the butt of a rifle to his face, again. When one of their captors gets nervous and thinks he hears something outside, he figures Coop and Lucero have trackers on them. He won’t listen when they deny it and decides to take a blowtorch to Lucero. Things only go downhill from there when they drag Lucero out of the room screaming. And Coop, still cuffed but fighting, has to listen.

Lucero’s pretty messed up when their captors are done with him. He’s beaten and bloody and quiet, which is a serious cause for concern. One of their captors leaves with Coop and Lucero’s ATM cards and passwords for an easy score. Their other captor has left his cell phone unattended, so Cooper’s just looking for an opportunity to get it. That comes later when Coop and Lucero are left unattended. But the phone is taken from John before he can make a call. It’s then that one of their captors shoots Lucero in the head, killing him. He says Lucero was trying to escape; he had to kill him. He wants his partner-in-crime to kill John, but he won’t do it.

So they make John dig Lucero’s grave. They make John drag Henry into it and demand he get in as well. John refuses, but is forced down into the hole. Just when it looks like John’s about to die, one of their captors flee leaving the other to deal with John. When he takes his shot, he’s distracted and moving away but John knows the value of playing dead. He makes a run for his life and ends up at a gas station along the road.

My reaction: I was genuinely shocked. I had to tivo back to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. And John’s reaction to Lucero’s death? To be cuffed to a dead man has to mess with your head, especially when it seems like you’re about to meet the same fate. This is going to have serious repercussions – as it should. I’m curious to see how John will deal with this.

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT
Photo Credit: Doug Hyun/TNT


The results of Ben’s bad choices seem to be showing up in spades lately. Brooke is basically stalking Ben now and shows up at his job. She wants to know if he’s having sex with someone else and he admits that he is. Realizing that he didn’t respond in an entirely appropriate way, Ben apologizes. But Brooke doesn’t want to hear it. When she threatens to blow every cop in his division, Ben’s done. As he walks away she says he’ll wish he never met her.

Ben hopes that today will be like any other day on patrol, but he soon realizes those hopes are in vain. Sammy knows someone with info on the NBKs. Ben thinks someone else should deal with it and Sammy tells Ben he just wants to ask around. Unlike with the Mendoza incident, Sammy says he’s not gonna shoot anybody. But someone will still end up dead.

Ben just wants to lend a hand to Hollywood division instead of looking for Strokeface. They find him and Sammy is determined to bring Strokeface in for questioning. When Strokeface flees the scene in his car, Sammy and Ben have to pursue. It turns into a foot race when Strokeface abandons his car at an active construction site. In his effort to elude them, Strokeface jumps off an unfinished balcony and lands on steel post. Sammy and Ben have to watch him die and it ain’t pretty, but it is quick. This isn’t what Sammy wanted though and he has to apologize to his sergeant when she shows up on the scene.

My reaction: I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that death is a the result of both Ben and Sammy’s overzealous actions. A kid ended up dead after Ben took matters into his own hands after the Mendoza incident. And when Sammy does the same another person dies. I understand the need for justice and the desire to protect your family, but sometimes I want these guys to stop and think before they do anything. But even more than that I wonder if this partnership can survive after Sammy finds out about what Ben did, because we all know it’s only a matter of time.

Other developments

  • Chris is a real problem for Ben. He’s in trouble again, this time because of his own stupidity and he expects Ben to do something about it. When Ben notices Chris wearing one of Sammy’s jackets he loses it. He wants Chris to get rid of everything associated with that crime. He can’t sell anything, he needs to destroy everything.
  • It’s nice to see Lydia trying to lead a more balanced life. With all her recent drama, she’s been thinking more about the big picture. She’s tired of being mad at people and holding onto things. Is this a new and improved Lydia? I like that she’s making an effort to be more than just her job, but I wonder how long this will last. And will she still want to be a cop?
  • I love that Sammy was married for so long he doesn’t pick up on it when Det. Lang is flirting with him. Awww. Sammy does need a girlfriend – or at least a nice (and sane) distraction – and soon. I hope he calls her.

The season 5 finale of Southland airs Wednesday, April 17th at 10/9c on TNT.

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1 Comment

  1. Tract Washington

    I love Southland..I wish this show would come back on its positive and I really miss it. .

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