SOUTHLAND 3.09 ‘Failure Drill’

Cooper pops pills instead of criminals and Adams' love life finally gets interesting.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

SOUTHLAND 3.09 'Failure Drill'

Episode Title: "Failure Drill"

Writer: Jonathan Lisco and Chitra Elizabeth Sampath

Director: J Michael Muro

Story:

Detectives Ochoa (Jenny Gago) and Adams (Regina King) are in the midst of a shootout when we cut to twelve hours earlier. Adams is at the firing range, where she receives some tips from a young officer. She and Ochoa then investigate the shooting of an elderly couple when they get a call about another shooting. They arrive on the scene where a mother was shot dead, presumably by her husband. The son insists his father is innocent but testimony from a neighbor pins the murder on the husband. 

Back at the station, the beat cop from the shooting range stops by Adams’ desk to ask her out. She reluctantly agrees. Adams and Ochoa take in the suspect in the shooting and the son finally confesses that it was, indeed, his father. Adams tries to get the man to confess in order to keep his family intact. 

As she and Ochoa go to a warehouse to get some paperwork filled out in the murder of the elderly couple, they happen upon a shooting. Ochoa goes down but Adams gets her our of harm’s way and takes down the shooter. At the hospital, Ochoa thanks Adams and moments later her son stops in. It’s the same beat cop who asked Adams out. The two discuss the matter outside, with Adams insisting Ochoa will never be okay with their dating.

Officer Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) pops a bunch of pills before starting the day. Visibly out of it, he agrees to run a community meeting and takes a burglary case, both uncharacteristic for him. Later, Officer Sherman (Ben McKenzie) pulls over an old man driving dangerously and berates Cooper for not covering him. When the man won’t stop the car, Cooper gets out of the patrol car, smashes the window on the old man’s car and takes his keys. Later, after Sherman questions him, Cooper admits to taking pills but won’t open up to his partner, who walks away in disgust.

Detective Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) is interrupted by his estranged wife while investigating a gang robbery. He’s been ignoring her calls all week and she asks him if he wants to be a part of planning for their baby. He says "yes," and later stops by the house with some paint for the baby’s nursery. After catching a glimpse of his wife’s lover, he asks the man to help him take a baby swing out of his truck, as his wife looks on, pleased to see the two working together.

Breakdown:

With one episode to go until the season finale, I’m not sure what to expect from "Southland." The fires that started from Moretta’s murder, the betrayal of Adams by Clarke and Cooper’s drug use cooled a bit over the past couple of episodes.  Well, maybe not Cooper’s drug use.

What I like best about Cooper’s drug problem (hey, it makes him a great character and by the series finale, I hope he cleans up) is that it’s so understated. The usual drama we associate with drug use (do I even need to say the words, "Charlie Sheen?") isn’t there with Cooper. 

Of course, he’s hooked on pain meds and not coke, but this is a TV show we’re talking about. Drama is king here and to be sure, there’s plenty of drama with Cooper, but it’s mostly internal, bottled up inside the man. There was a nice moment at the episode’s end where we got peek into Cooper’s psyche, when he takes off his sunglasses after Sherman reminds him it’s dark out. Yes, smashing the window on that old man’s car was extreme but Cooper’s calmness in the moment is a far cry from a drug-fueled rage. 

As for Adams and Ochoa, they’ve turned a corner and I like it. Ochoa may not be the by-the-book, dedicated detective that Adams is but that doesn’t make her a bad cop. Adams is the one with the heart but Ochoa has her moments, too. The scene in the hospital where she thanked Adams for saving her life is one of them. 

On the other hand, how she’ll handle Lydia’s inevitable hook-up with her son, remains to be seen. Judging from the preview for next week, she’s not as cool with it as he’d like to think. And you can just smell the irony, as Ochoa was the one pushing Adams about her sex life, all this time.

I’m still marveling at how Bryant is holding it together with his estranged, pregnant wife whose living in their house with her photographer lover. That, coupled with his grieving for Moretta, makes me wonder how much longer he’ll be able to keep going like this. It seems he’s learned a lesson regarding conflict, at least with his wife.  Maybe he’ll carry that over into his professional life. Or not.

Whatever’s coming down the pipeline next week, however it plays out, I’m expecting nothing short of excellence. "Southland" has yet to let me down, this far.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.