EpisodeTitle: 'Integrity Check'
Writer: Jonathan Lisco
Director: Christopher Chulack
Officer Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) is at the courthouse for the trial of a gangmember who killed a teenager after he testified against him. When he sees the young man's father, Bryant apologizes but the hysterical man responds by hitting him.
At the precinct, Detective Adams (Regina King) is assigned to field supervisor while Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and Tang (Lucy Liu) are told that a camera crew will be riding with them. On their first call, the officers deal with a neo-nazi claiming discrimination when a baker won't put Swastikas on his son, Adolf's birthday cake.
Bryant tells Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) he plans to arrest the accomplice in the teen witnesses' murder after getting a tip that the man failed to check in with his parole officer. When Bryant spots the gangbanger hanging out on the street, he takes him in.
Back at the precinct, Bryant tells the man he'll be facing additional charges after finding a pipe in the backseat of the patrol car. Sherman tells Bryant he patted the suspect down and found nothing. At lunch, he accuses Bryant of planting the evidence to give the suspect more time. Bryant takes offense at the accusation. Later, Sherman learns that another officer left the evidence in the back of the car by accident. Sherman apologizes to Bryant, but he gives him the silence treatment.
Adams finds her new position physically taxing when she chases a perp over a fence and takes a fall. She calls for medical help and is taken to the hospital. There, a doctor tells her the baby is ok but warns her about working while pregnant. She tells Adams she needs several days of bed rest.
Tang and Cooper encounter a crazed woman in a van, allegedly off her meds. When they get her out of the car, she begins waving a knife around. Tang tackles her and the woman stabs herself with the knife. Afterwards, the filmmakers ask Tang if she thinks she made the right call. She tells them it depends on who you ask.
As their shift comes to an end, Tang and Cooper take a nearby call about a street fight. Cooper is taken down by one of the men who starts biting his neck. Tang calls for backup and repeatedly tells the crew to stop filming. When they don't, she pushes the camera away and pleads with Cooper to hang on for help.
The crap cops have to put up with. It's bad enough that Adams was placed in a physically taxing role while pregnant (though she has no one to blame but herself since she won't tell anyone), having to jump over a fence to chase a guy down for stealing an iPhone. But the expectant mom may be having second thoughts after dealing with a couple of pacifist parents and their out of control six-year-old locked inside their house destroying his "playroom."
And in a case "ripped from the headlines" Cooper and Tang had to get between a baker and the irate customer claiming discrimination when he can't get a swastika put on his son's Adolf's birthday cake. Poor kid loses, either way.
"Southland's" directorial style has always had a documentary feel to it but in "Integrity Check" it was taken to another level, with many of Cooper and Tang's scenes shot from the visiting camera crew's perspective. "Southland" has recently touched on the plight of cops in the camera phone/YouTube age and this episode gave us yet another look at life on the beat through the filter of mass media. It's an impressive feat when you remember that "Southland" is a fictionalized procedural with a large ensemble cast.
What's also impressive is how many issues and dynamics this show seamlessly weaves into each episode. We spent a good amount of time watching Adams come to terms with the decision that she'll have to make very soon about her career and her unborn child. And then there's Bryant's ongoing struggles with the gangbangers who run the streets he patrols.
Last season, Bryant saw his partner become a casualty of his war on the gangs. This time, it was a teen he asked to testify in a case. It's a heartbreaking battle we know he can't win and yet you have to wonder how much worse things would be if he didn't continue to fight it.
Perhaps the lightest moment in the hour was at the top. Watching Sherman make a run for it in his undies after spending the night with a couple of badge bunnies was comical. However, his day didn't end on such a light note. Sherman questioned Bryant's integrity and found that it's his own judgement that needs a check. And yet, Bryant's decisions may have led to terrible consequences though his intent was only to do his job. Perhaps Tang had it right when she said it really depends on who you ask.
Crave Online Ratings: 8.5 out of 10.