Southland “Legacy” Review

In ‘Legacy’, the Southland cops think about what they will create and leave behind in this world once they’re gone. Cooper is given a pin for reaching twenty years of service (though, as he points out, it’s actually closer to 22) and tells Tang his aim is to make it to six stripes – 30 years – and a day. A father murdering his son for the greater good gives Lydia something else to consider about becoming a parent. Meanwhile, Sherman and Sammy spend most of the episode pulling pranks on each other.

With the exclusion of Cooper and Tang (I’ll discuss them below), I’m starting to wonder whether it’s Southland that is changing or just my perception of it. I’ll have to rewatch some older episodes to compare, but didn’t the series utilise more episode-long storylines (like Michael’s this week) until fairly recently?

I’m not saying that the short, punchy storylines and scenes aren’t good: the pranks were hilarious and Sammy’s little speech about why it’s better to help the police than to let one’s community suffer was great. But it all feels disjointed and injects a bit too much brevity. I’m not asking for gruesome bodies and ghastly deaths every week, but surely they can at least make the ones they have count? This week’s murder – the father killing his depraved son – felt like nothing more than another ‘look, Lydia, parenting is hard’ lesson.

Speaking of which, I still don’t find Lydia’s pregnancy remotely interesting. Maybe I would if she would acknowledge it. Rueben knows and she’s still trying to deny it. Why can’t she allow him to be the one person at work who does know and who she can talk to openly? More conversations about his kids may give him more depth of personality, and it may even make Lydia’s pregnancy be something more than just a burden on the plot.

The best thing about this week for me was, unsurprisingly, Cooper. I was wondering whether his sexuality would come into focus in an episode at any point and this was the week that it happened. It wasn’t loud and it wasn’t explicit, just a mention during two short conversations. Better still, neither Tang nor the other cops mentioned it again, and they all banded together to celebrate Cooper’s twenty year anniversary at the bar.

Which was a sad counterpoint to Michael’s storyline. It would have been so easy for the writers to take the easy route and have Michael buoyed up by Cooper telling him ‘it’ll get better’. That phrase has come into use a lot recently (since use by the It Gets Better project) and while it’s a sign of support and it can help some young people, it’s not a panacea. Cooper tried to help but even he admitted that it will be hard to overcome, and unfortunately Michael didn’t think he could do it. I’m glad we didn’t get to see his death; Cooper’s expression at the end, as he watched his friends in the bar telling warm tales about him, was more than emotional enough.

What did you think of ‘Legacy’? Let us know in the comments below!