Southland “Integrity Check” Review

“The average street cop in Los Angeles makes $75,000 a year. It’s not enough.”

The above may be true but it was a subpar opening narration for a subpar episode. Over the last few weeks I’ve questioned why (or, indeed, if) Southland has become little more than a series of vignettes or vague and unsatisfying plotlines. In ‘Integrity Check’ everything felt unfinished and, for the most part, uninteresting.

The best plotline this week was Sammy, Sherman and the accidental evidence. The reveal that Sammy hadn’t planted the pipe was not only a great twist, it was a relief. Sammy is still essentially the same character he always was, but paired up with Sherman (who is much less accessible for the audience now that he’s no longer ‘the new guy’) it feels like they spend most of their time commenting on the attractiveness of women and parties (and, occasionally, houses). It’s disappointing that these two great characters are, to me, at least, quite off-putting at times, and Sammy planting the evidence would only have compounded that. So that plotline was definitely a plus. Sadly, almost everything else was a con.

Lydia was on the streets as a sergeant today, which of course meant that she was injured and would have to reveal her pregnancy. That outcome was obvious right from the start of the episode. I still can’t bring myself to care about Lydia having a child because she’s such a good detective that the pregnancy storyline seems to get in the way of her as a character. (Sidenote: the moment when she told the kid to put down the toy gun was absolutely priceless.)

This episode had a twist to it: Cooper and Tang were seen through the eyes (or should that be lenses) of a reality television crew who followed them around and captured their day on camera. The problem is that introducing documentary-style, handheld camera work into a show that uses a similar type of camera work anyway felt sort of redundant. The shaky-camera-half-obscured-behind-things overcompensation was unpleasant to watch at times.

But was it a good plotline? Well, possibly. The things Dewey said on film are bound to come back and bite him in the ass. I love the character but he’d been a crass bastard for four series now; has the time finally come for Dewey’s behaviour to be called out, once and for all?

I love Cooper and Tang but this week wasn’t great for them. That said, the best scene of the episode for me was the final one. How horrific was it that Cooper was being attacked and the camera crew didn’t even attempt to help? The camera never faltered. This may only have been a dramatization but that one scene summed up our reality television culture perfectly.

It also helped to make the point that cops are only human beings and they make decisions, both good and bad, and bleed like everybody else. Maybe that’s what the opening narration should have told us instead.

What did you think of ‘Integrity Check’? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!