SOUTHLAND “Graduation Day” Review

Southland 'Graduation Day'

SOUTHLAND “Graduation Day” Season 3 Episode 10 – “All cops know, and probationary officer Ben Sherman is beginning to understand, that sometimes you can’t think about it, you just gotta make that leap.”

It’s graduation day for Sherman, the last day of his probationary period. He and Cooper deal with situations ranging from a father tattooing his six year old son to a crazy old man on a mobility scooter, but it’s chasing a rapist that provides the impetus for one of them to finally grow up. And it’s not Sherman.

This was the week when Cooper’s inability to do the job became unavoidably obvious to him. Still in pain and popping pills, though not as high as last week, Cooper’s unable to help Sherman. The resulting outcome forced Sherman to give Cooper an ultimatum: rehab, or he goes to the watch commander. Cooper chooses to finally go and get his back sorted out.

Lydia’s got a new man, but Josie’s glee is short-lived when she discovers it’s her son, Rodrigo. Although Lydia and Josie are both professional enough not to let the situation interfere with the case they are working on, Josie admits she’s not sure they can continue to work together. Lydia proposes she break up with Rodrigo, but Josie doesn’t want Rodrigo blaming her for that and says no, leaving Lydia with a dilemma: get a new partner or cause a potential feud between mother and son.

Dewey and Chickie had very little to do in this episode, but it was enough to show us the direction those two characters are taking. Chickie is partway through her application to the Metro division (presumably following her dream to be in the SWAT team). Dewey spends the day trying to help an old acquaintance, Denise, the drug addicted prostitute, in his own special Dewey-way. But by the end of the episode, Dewey seems to realise that while some people can be helped, some cannot.

Sammy’s eager to track down Nate’s killer, Leprechaun, when an arrest warrant is issued. After shooting a uniformed officer, Leprechaun himself is fatally injured, allowing Sammy the chance to see justice served. He ensures the man dies hearing Nate’s name, an act which allows Sammy to finally gain some closure before he heads off to be at the birth of his son. He then tells Salinger that he wants to go back to being a patrol cop, and the episode ends on Sammy back in uniform and partnered up with Sherman.

There really isn’t much to be said about this week’s episode, the season three finale. In ‘Graduation Day’ everyone grew up and, to paraphrase the bible, ‘when they became men, they put away childish things’. Cooper finally had to own up to his addiction and deal with his bad back. Sammy had to let Nate’s death go and allow himself to look to the future. Dewey had to acknowledge that there are addicts that can move on and addicts that cannot. Josie had to come to terms with her beloved son being a man, while Lydia finally let herself attempt a relationship.

It was a brilliant end, not only to the third season but to the first three seasons overall. Southland has had a pretty turbulent time, moving networks and airing uneven numbers of episodes in each season. This episode closed up that chapter in such a way that the show can come back starting afresh without the need for a dreaded reboot that would take the characters back to square one. Everyone is moving on and a potential fourth season can show us their ‘new’ lives.

In my opinion, few other shows deserve renewal as much as Southland. It’s not always pretty and it’s sometimes downright depressing to watch, but it’s also thought-provoking and more real than many reality television shows. Southland is a sneak peek into a world few of us will ever encounter, much less protect and serve. Here’s hoping we’re back singing its praises next year.

What did you think of ‘Graduation Day’ and season 3 overall? Let us know in the comments below!

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