SOUTHLAND 3.03 ‘Discretion’

L.A's finest learns that discretion isn't always the better part of valor.

Hilary Rothingby Hilary Rothing

SOUTHLAND 3.03 'Discretion'

Episode Title: "Discretion"

Writer: Jonathan Lisco

Director: Nelson McCormick

Story:

Officers Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) and Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) investigate a domestic violence call at a local motel. Sherman attempts to apprehend the suspect but he won’t surrender. He then tackles the man through a sliding glass door.

Six hours earlier Detective Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) interrupts Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) while he’s having sex with his wife, to let him know that a key witness in a shooting has fled. The two attempt to track the man down with no luck, while Bryant continues to do battle with his wife over the phone. However a tip from an incarcerated informant leads them to their man, in the middle of an underground cockfight.

Sherman learns that David Morgan, the man who raped his mother, is now out on parole. He pulls Morgan over for a traffic violation and issues a stern warning. Later, Morgan files a complaint about Sherman. When his mother confronts him over the matter, Sherman learns what really went on between her and Morgan.

Detectives Adams (Regina King) and Ochoa (Jenny Gago) look into a bloody chainsaw returned to a rental shop, despite Ochoa’s better judgement. Adams’ instinct turns out to be spot on when their investigation uncovers a grisly murder.

After learning of Morgan’s complaint, Sherman loses it while investigating a domestic violence case and nearly beats the suspect, whom he tackled through a sliding glass door, death. Cooper warns his partner that we won’t lose his parole and pension over Sherman’s personal issues.

Breakdown:

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching a bunch of people trudge through the misery of their day-to-day lives as much as this week’s episode of "Southland." 

The theme in this season’s third hour is laid bare in the episode’s title, "Discretion," and exemplified throughout the hour. 

We see Officer Cooper let a kid with a crack pipe, and possibly a future beyond his immediate surroundings, go free. Officer Sherman allows a restaurant owner to hold onto an illegal handgun, for fear he won’t be able to defend himself when his establishment is robbed yet again. And in one of the episode’s most intense scenes, Sherman’s mother explains how she’s come to forgive the man who raped her years ago. 

While it’s easy to understand why each of these players have made exceptions to the rules they live by, the consequences of their "discretion" are devastating in some cases. Sherman’s decision to allow the restaurant owner to keep his illegal gun ends in murder. And his mother’s confession about her sexual assault all those years ago breaks her son’s heart. 

But half the beauty in the episode is found outside its more dramatic moments. The relationship between Detectives Adams and Ochoa continues to deteriorate. I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, Ochoa’s lack of integrity or Adams’ lack of a backbone. Yet there’s something about the non-drama between these two that feels very real. While Adams may not like Ochoa or her questionable ethics, she doesn’t lose her cool, and for her part, neither does Ochoa. The friction between the two is clear to see, but in the end it’s not personal. While Ochoa may try to get under Adams’ skin, making remarks about her partners’ lacking sex life, it all just comes down to how these two women see the job. For Adams, it’s about justice while Ochoa’s main concern is when she’s clocking out. 

It’s a whole other story with Detectives Bryant and Moretta. Bryant’s wrecked marriage is bleeding into his work and relationship with Moretta. Not only is Bryant crashing at his partner’s house, much to the dismay of Moretta’s wife, he’s spending a good amount of time fighting with his wife while on duty. Bryant ultimately drags Moretta to his house, where he attempts to break in, only to be apprehended by the local neighborhood security patrol. Bryant’s desperation couldn’t have been more palpable as we watch him nearly get arrested for breaking into his own home. 

All of these events make for a heavy hour of television. But "Southland’s" bleak tone and sobering storylines are more than just a punch in the gut. As we watch these characters attempt to reconcile their values with their often unfortunate circumstances, their choices continue to kick them in the ass. It’s watching them get to their feet, again and again that makes us want to keep rooting for them.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.