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 still reeling from Wednesday night's episode. That was the most gripping TV drama I have ever witnessed. The acting and writing is outstanding. I really enjoyed Lucero and am bummed that character won't be back. I am trying to recruit friends to watch this show, but haven't been sucessful. They don't know what they are missing. Oh, how happy I am that I found this site.


WOW, that was a disturbing and amazing episode. The ending with Cooper was so heartbreaking...all these years trying to help people and then after such an ordeal he has to beg to be helped at that gas station. I wonder if he will quit the force after that experience. And are you sure that Lucero was cavity searched with the blow torch?!? I wasnt sure what was happening in the bathroom and wouldnt let myself think about it too much. I agree that the juxtaposition with the gay bar scene was pretty brilliant.


No comment about the gay slur that Lucero threw Coop's way as they left the bar or the ensuing tension between the two of them the next morning? It is worth noting in this review only because after they were kidnapped, the partners were cuffed together, sans clothing and because Lucero was later cavity searched by having a blow torch shoved into his rectum. The writers for Southland often go deep and make subtle plot line connections that appeal to the intellect. I love finding "Easter Eggs" like that in episodes.


Since I buddies "on the job" I won't call it a "great" show, because that would be disrespectful....absolute reminder what these ladies and gentlemen sign on for each and every day. "Superb production and acting" last night how about that; and is there an Emmy for most under appreciated show on TV? If so put Southland's name on it.


Great Review! You put into words what I've been trying to come to terms with all night. It was a tragedy and horrific, but I couldn't stop watching. It was so tense and every cops worst nightmare. I do like Anthony and have since Third Watch. He does seem to play characters that can be weasely, BUT, there's something about him that causes me not to dislike him. Maybe it's because deep down, he says things that for a split second we all think at some point or another and we correct ourselves before actually spouting it out loud. Throughout the whole episode I was thinking "Are the writers really going in this direction?" Then when it happened, I was still shocked even though I could see it coming. I was hoping I was wrong.


That was an amazing episode. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I have been with this show since the beginning and am always amazed by my friends who say they don't watch it nor have they ever. I'm to the point of begging them to watch it because I don't want to see it end. There should be several emmy nominations spewing forth!


Emmy nominations are due. For acting. For writing. For Outstanding Drama Series.


Great episode, but it is extremely nice to see Third Watch brought up by you. This is the first time that I have read anything about the show that mentioned Anthony Ruivivar's work there, so I am glad you brought it up. It was a spectacular yet horrendous end for him, and they could not have acted any better throughout the episode. Hopefully the show gets renewed again.


Seriously love this series. Tight storylines, superb acting.


I'm gonna miss Lucero!!!

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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.