Southland Review: No One Is Safe

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It doesn't seem all that long ago that we watched Nate be bludgeoned to death by a rioting gang. That scene still haunts me. And, once again, Southland hit us with "Chaos."

It's difficult to pick the right words to describe what happened to Cooper and Lucero. Brutal, certainly. Graphic, most definitely. Heart wrenching, without a doubt.

Cops Are Kidnapped

They say that no routine stop is ever routine - and as John and Hank came up on some tweaked out meth head pulling copper wire out of a construction site to buy his next score, the guy looked so ridiculous they almost laughed at his stupidity. The sight even caused the two to quip in this Southland quote

Cooper: You want to go ruin his day?
Lucero: Absolutely. | permalink

Unfortunately, things were about to go horribly wrong. All it took was for Hank to let his guard down for a moment and John to take a little too much time cuffing a suspect and the call turned from amusing to horrific.

What happened next was in direct contrast to the events of the night before.

John came out to Henry by bringing him to a gay bar. John had heard one gay slur too many from his partner and finally had to set him straight.

Cooper: You've got a problem with gay people, that's your right, but I don't want to hear about it every day. | permalink

Lucero took it in his stride and gave a typical cop-like apology without really apologizing.

Lucero: I didn't know.
Cooper: You won't be mistaken for Sherlock Holmes. | permalink

But Hank quickly slipped back into one of his most attractive coping mechanisms: humor, and that was a reminder of his very first day on the job with John. What struck me about the moment was how John fell into the joking just as easily. 

Lucero: They were checking me out like crazy in there. Now I know what it's like to be a chick.
Cooper: If you want to be a chick, that's a different bar. | permalink

Despite Hank's obvious prejudice, John has appeared more comfortable in the short time they've been paired together than with any other partner. 

The scenes of their abduction were nothing short of intense. Stripped down to their t-shirts and boxers and handcuffed together, they were dragged out to the desert. That's where things spun completely out of control.

Hank seemed to feel he could talk these guys down, but the more he spoke, the worse it got. He was tormented, tortured and then shot in the head as he kneeled, praying the Hail Mary over and over again. 

All the while John's instincts seemed to tell him to stay quiet and look for an opening to escape. If Hank had been lucid the plan to grab the phone, that may have worked but it wasn't meant to be. 

John Cooper's stoic survival instinct and a brief moment of luck were what saved him. 

The rest of the storylines in the hour would have been compelling in any other episode but paled in comparison to John and Lucero's tragedy.

Ben's web of lies was quickly spinning out of control. Brooke was off the rails. There's no telling what she'll do next. Elena's brother was already expecting Ben to fix his next break-in gone wrong. If this guy gets arrested there's no way he won't flip on Ben to cut himself a deal.

Try as he would, Ben couldn't stop Sammy from tracking down Strokeface. The moment I saw all of that exposed rebar I knew what was coming. I almost felt sorry for the guy. 

I can't even imagine what hell will rain down on Ben when the truth finally comes out.

In the end, it was Cooper and Lucero's show. Not only did I think Hank was the best partner John's had in the series but I've been a fan of actor Anthony Ruivivar since his work on Third Watch.

No doubt Officer Hank Lucero will be missed and the ripple effects of his murder will be felt for seasons to come.


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (164 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.


I am very disappointed that SOUTHLAND is going to be discontinued. I thought this show was the best on TV for a long time. I hope that TNT changes their mind & continues with SOUTHLAND.


I'm still reeling from this episode. Shocking. Brutal. Heart-wrenching. Michael Cudlitz deserves an Emmy nomination for his performance in this episode.


I'm still reeling from this episode. Shocking. Brutal. Heart-wrenching. Michael Cudlitz deserve an Emmy nomination for his performance in this episode.


Bravo to has been my prviledge and honor to watch such an amazing drama. The Onion Field homage this week was something that will stay with me forever, as will the spirit and intelligence of the writing, directing, production and incredible acting. Thank you so much.


I finally did a Bing search to see if anyone else had watched this show....and now I'm registered here! I literally had a nightmare about this last episode and was left floundering in emotions when it was over, anger, rage, and so incredibly sad. I've been watching Southland for a couple of years now (after it wasn't renewed by NBC) and have been so impressed with the acting, writing, directing. Thank god they left NBC, because it wouldn't have been nearly this good if it had stayed there.
There have to be Emmy nominations for this episode!


This is the best police show on tv. I hope they keep it on for a long time.I love all the people on this show.


I'm not sure of my reaction. I'm somewhat worried that the show is getting a little too contrived, that each character is the victim of some type of unrealistic catastrophe.
True, the kidnapping of 2 LAPD officers did happen 60 years ago , and it could happen again, but it's a stretch. The Sammy/Ben plot line is just plain drivel. Sam getting all stressed out because he told a lie to IAD, big deal. This is the same guy who kidnapped a gangbanger, had him dig his own grave and fired shots near his head. he didn't feel the need to confess that crime, but is torturing himself because he got a little physical with his crazy ex wife? I'm not buying it.
Reel it in boys.


This show leaves me dumbstruck everytime. I absolutely love it! It easily compares to "Breaking Bad", "Friday Night Lights", because it's incredibly raw, edgy and the emotional roller coaster is like a nightmare and a death in the family all rolled into one. Don't stop.


I have never felt the need to look up information of a show after watching it until Southland. "Chaos" was one of the most captivating shows I have ever seen. Bravo to the writers, crew and performers for creating such a realistic show and incredibly memorable episode. I hope the Emmy nominating committees and voters take notice.


The people who seem to mostly appreciate this show are current or retired cops and their friends and family. Just like the real job, people on the "outside" generally do not get it, unfortuanately. I am the wife of a retired cop(38 years)and have dealt with the shift work, heard stories (sad and funny, bad and good), and lost a couple of friends along the way. Even the episode with Gerald McRainey accurately portrayed the depression and feelihg of uselessness that sometimes comes with retirement. That was the best performance of his I have ever seen. This last episode left me feeling sad, angry and shellshocked. The reality of how Lucero and Cooper were not just kidnapped, but tortured and then the final blow of killing Lucerno and leaving John for dead as well. Also shows a true portrayal of how addicts behave for their own needs, they have not sense of reason. Kuddos to Southland to show that reality and not the neat, clean, bloodless shooting like most other crime shows- as gut wrenching as it was.

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Southland Season 5 Episode 9 Quotes

You've got a problem with gay people, that's your right, OK but I don't want to hear about it every day.


Cops are suppose to hold the line between chaos and civilized society. Every now and then chaos gets the upper hand.