Episode Title: 'God's Work'
Writer: Cheo Hodari Coker
Director: Guy Norman Bee
Officer Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) talks to his sponsor, a cop himself, about the situation with Tang. He tells Cooper to trust that she'll do that right thing. While out on patrol, Cooper asks Tang (Lucy Liu) about the condition of the boy she shot but she seems more concerned about basketball trades. She later learns that the boy is stable.
They soon pull up on the scene of a shooting in parking lot. A hysterical woman tells the officers that the man she shot tried to attack her. However, when Cooper looks for a weapon, he only comes up with a set of keys belonging to the woman. She realizes she must have left them in the store when she was going through her bag. The man was only trying to return them. Cooper and Tang place her under arrest. Inside the patrol car, she tells the officers she's a rape victim and acted out of fear. Tang advises her to tell that to whoever she talks to next.
Back at the precinct, Tang is interviewed for a promotion. She tells the captain she did the right thing by shooting the teen, as the gun he was holding looked real to her. Later that night, Cooper meets up with his sponsor in a gay bar. He tells Cooper that if asked about Tang, he should only say what he saw, nothing more, nothing less.
While out on patrol, Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) manages to get Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) to finally warm up to him. They soon spot a man down on the side of the road. The man identifies himself as a priest and says he was mugged for his cellphone. After helping the priest get his phone back from the gang member who stole it, the officers respond to call about squatters inside a vacant house. After searching the home, they find a prostitute and her teenage daughter inside.
The teen is taken to county services and her mother gets on bail thanks to her pimp, who is also the girl's father. When the girl is released to him, as well, Sherman tries to talk her mother into leaving town with her daughter. She refuses and he later finds her beaten in the street. Sherman ends his shift early and goes after the pimp, beating him badly before Bryant pulls him off the man. Back in the locker room, Bryant warns Sherman never to do that again, as it puts both their careers in jeopardy.
Detectives Adams (Regina King) and Robinson (Dorian Missick) investigate the death of a young woman after she fell over the railing in a parking garage. After finding explicit photos on her phone, they suspect the woman was killed by the father of the children she took care of as a nanny. However, after getting a tip from a security guard at the garage, they learn that the killer was a tweaker who went after another woman there, as well.
Back at home, Adam's mom reminds her that a child should know their father. She asks her daughter if the father of her unborn baby knows she's pregnant. Adams says she hasn't told him, as she does not want to break up his marriage. Her mother responds by telling her to stop making it all about herself.
"Southland's" been hitting it hard with the themes of parenthood and the working woman over the past few episodes. In "God's Work," we saw Sherman struggle with trying to help a teen girl, the product of a prostitute mom and a pimp dad. When going through the system got him nowhere, Sherman decided to play God, himself.
Cooper continued to struggle with Tang's shaky ethics surrounding her shooting of a teenager. Tang is a character who immediately drew me in. As a female cop, she veers so far from the stereotypical over-sensitive softy to the point of caring more about basketball than the kid she just shot. But aside from her failed marriage and starring role in a YouTube video in which she's assaulted, we know little about her.
I could say the same about most of the characters on "Southland." I griped last week about wanting the show to go deeper into the personal side of its characters. Riding along with our three main parties, you start to begin to imagine the grind they go through and the wear and tear it takes on their souls.
Which is why as the end of it all, I want to follow them further. When Sherman told Bryant he was going home to his "magic chair" ala the one mentioned in the self-help book the officers were issued, frustration set in that the story would end there.
Of course, it didn't but that's not the point. Sherman is one of the more straight forward characters on "Southland's" roster. But Tang and Cooper are two tightly wound individuals who I long to see unravel. We've seen some of that with Cooper, both this season and last but newcomer Tang remains an enigma. How exactly does someone get to the point where as Dewey suggested, they can make peace with the wrongful shooting of a teenager?
It's less a complaint and more a testament to the strength of the writing and portrayal of "Southland's" great characters. Here we have a show that does what it does very well, but it might be time to try something new as "Southland" heads towards a fifth season on the same beat.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.