Episode Title: "Let It Snow"
Writer: John Wells
Director: Christopher Chulack
Detective Adams (Regina King) is running down a suspect at the airport when we flashback to ten hours earlier where we cut between Officers Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) each getting ready for the day ahead. We see Cooper putting on his back brace while Sherman races up a flight of stairs outdoors. While Detective Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) discusses his marital woes with Detective Moretta (Kevin Alejandro), Cooper tries to get a hold of his doctor to re-up his pain meds. Sherman and Cooper respond to call from a young woman claiming her mother has been missing for two days. They arrive at her work to discuss the matter with her less than cooperative supervisor.
Detective Adams and her new partner Ochoa (Jenny Gago) bring in a canine unit to sniff out the missing woman’s work premises where they find her dead body bound and gagged up in air conditioning vent. Meanwhile, Moretta and Bryant arrive on the scene where two dead gang members were found under a highway overpass. Ochoa and Adams question the dead woman’s daughter and learn that she felt threatened by a co-worker. The two detectives question a number of employees and lock in on a man with scratches across his upper body.
Bryant and Moretta speak with the father of one of their victims. He insists that gang leader Luis Reyes is responsible for the murders. Ochoa and Adams pay a visit to their prime suspect’s home to get a DNA sample. Bryant and Moretta stop by Reyes’ garage to question him about the murders and learn that the two victims raped his daughter.
Cooper makes Sherman pull over a woman in a Porsche for a minor traffic violation but he let’s her go. Moments later the two arrive on the scene of a shooting spree with an officer down. Cooper manages to get the downed officer into a patrol car while Sherman chases down the shooter but the man collapses along the side of a building and shoots himself.
Moretta learns that the two victims were acquitted in the rape of Reyes’ daughter while Adams and Ochoa question a confidant of their victim who refuses to talk. They stop by the suspect’s home again and discover that he and his girlfriend are planning to leave the country. Moretta and Bryant find blood in Reyes’ car leading to his arrest. Adams tries to get the DNA results expedited before the pair catch their flight. Ochoa runs the suspect off the road by the airport. Adams runs the man down, just as the DNA results revealing a match come in, and arrests him for murder.
Sherman forgoes grabbing a beer with his fellow officers but then agrees to get a drink with the woman in the Porsche he pulled over earlier after she shows up at the precinct lot. Cooper asks his ex-wife Laurie (Hedy Burress) for more pain meds but she denies him, instead telling him to get help. Bryant goes home to his wife and apologizes for fighting with her. She informs him that she’s pregnant as snow comes down around them.
With "Let It Snow" "Southland" returns for its well deserved third season of slow-burning line-of-fire police drama. Rookie cop, Ben Sherman has come into his own while veteran John Cooper struggles with back pain and a growing addiction to prescription meds. But it’s the rising tension between Det. Adams and her new partner Josie Ochoa that made this episode a classic cop shop character study.
The subtle friction between Adams and Ochoa and Cooper’s battle against his own ailing body are what’s at the heart of "Southland’s" too-dark-for-NBC drama. While gang related murders and single mom missing persons cases might be the meat and potatoes of other cop dramas, it’s the mundane interactions between "Southland’s" main players that make the series and in this episode in particular, tick.
With only a few hours on the beat together, it’s clear Adams and Ochoa have very different M.O’s. While Ochoa plays it fast and loose, not letting her emotions on the job, Adams makes her plays by the book, right down to not using the cellphone while driving. The pairing is an Internal Affairs nightmare in the making, but we’ve got a whole season to get there.
Bryant’s continuing marital problems and Cooper and Sherman’s toy store dispute call are perfect examples of the day to day grind "Southland’s" ragged L.A. police force contend with. "Let It Snow" sets off the season on the right foot, re-establishing the show’s dark, oppressive tone and lighting the end of a candle that promises to burn slow to a painfully scorching end.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.