Southland: Out of Control

SOUTHLAND: 3.4 “Code 4”

Gotta say, I didn’t see that coming. I’ve been avoiding Twitter, and other Southland related news for a while, not for any particular reason, but just because I haven’t been looking out for it and haven’t been online as much as usual over the last couple weeks. For this reason, I didn’t expect this episode of my favorite cop show to be so momentous. Adams is flying solo in this one, but I’m going to skip over her plot because it’s pretty standard. Sherman deals with a day full of rookie mistakes, and in the end gets chewed out by Cooper, but I’ll skip over them too. In this post, I just want to talk about Sammy and Nate.

When the episode opens, and we see a distraught Sammy slumped in a chair in the hospital, and then hear a woman’s anguished scream, I assumed something happened with his wife. Maybe they discovered that he was the father, but then she subsequently lost the baby. Instead, though, it’s Nate who is lost to us, victim to a bat, (or lead pipe, or some other kind of blunt impact weapon) over the back of the head, swung by an angry gang-banger.

Much like he did in last season’s “Run Sammy Run” episode, Shawn Hatosy as Sammy Bryant turns in an outstanding performance. The anguish in his face as he hears Nate’s wife scream is heartbreaking; equally heartbreaking is when he hugs Mrs. Moretta after she hears the news, clearly getting as much comfort as he’s giving. Perhaps my favorite part of the episode is the panicked heroism Bryant displays, as he tries to drag an unconscious Nate away from an angry mob, while simultaneously shooting his gun into the air to scare the mob away and trying to use his own body to shield Nate from stray punches and kicks.

The fateful scene is so well done, and like all the best action scenes in this show, does an excellent job of establishing a sense of low-level menace that quickly ratchets up to panic, confusion, and sheer terror. The scene begins with Sammy and Nate driving through some part of the projects when a flying bottle shatters with the sound of a cannon shot on the windshield of their car. Sammy wants to let it go but Nate says they can’t. They get out of the car and start bantering back and forth with a group of nearby gang-bangers who, presumably, are angry because Nate and Sammy busted one of their buddies for murder earlier in the episode. Everything seems normal, if not a bit tense, until Nate begins to turn around to return to the car and someone slams him in the back of the head with a lead pipe or bat.  Everything goes to hell from there. It’s sad that only moments before the fight breaks out, Nate holds up four fingers to the police helicopter circling above, indicating a code-4, or for us laymen: “Under control, no further assistance necessary.” If only that were true.

You feel bad for Nate, and the family he left behind, of course, but I feel especially bad for Sammy. His life is now in complete ruins. We’ve already seen how the situation with his wife, her lover, and the pregnancy of undetermined origins affected him on the job. Nate was pretty much the only person left in his life, who we see at least, who cared at all about him. I didn’t see much of Sammy in the previews for the next episode, but I hope the show spends some time looking at how he deals with the aftermath.

UPDATE: I’ve embedded the final scene from the episode here. You should, um, watch it. I don’t know how much longer it’ll be on YouTube. You can always watch the whole episode online at, which you should do too.


5 thoughts on “Southland: Out of Control

  1. When I first started the episode, I thought Sammy lost his cool and got some innocent woman hurt, and that’s what the scream was. This was so much sadder and worse.

    Thanks for posting the video. The first time I saw it, I barely noticed he got hit. Now I actually heard it–and I noticed that you didn’t see who did it. That will be key in episodes to come, I bet.

    Also, I found the angle at which they filmed this interesting. You don’t see the guy directly hit him. It’s behind Sammy’s back and slightly hidden, so you can see how they thought they could get away with it or do it without any trouble. It’s really sad.

    Finally, and on a lighter but darker note (can it be both?), parts of this scene reminded me of something you’d see in The Walking Dead, where you see this mass of people just clamoring toward the unmoving body, like prey. It’s really creepy and horrifying (if not for the fact that I just compared something to zombies).

  2. Yeah. I watched it for a third time, and a few scenes before Nate gets hit, if you look really closely, you can see three guys walking slowly down the street perpendicular to the detectives. They’re moving like they have a purpose but don’t want to be noticed. One of them was carrying something in his hands; it almost looked like a broken axle from a car or something. I suspect it was one of them who attacked.

    You’re right about the angle. It’s funny; Nate gets hit and goes down, and it takes Sammy a few seconds to even realize that anything happened. He looks around, doesn’t see Nate, then sees him on the ground, and then the reality hits.

    And I totally agree with you about the mob/zombie comparison. It really did seem like that!

  3. Also, thanks for the tip on those guys. I see what you’re talking about. Definitely didn’t see that the first (or second) time.

    Something else interesting about this. I remember in the first season–or maybe some of last season–really disliking Nate. It was right around the time he introduced Sammy to his friend in another department and they were like the “cool kids” to Sammy’s “rule following” demeanor. I recall, only a few moments before this scene, saying, “Remember how I didn’t like him? I really like what they’ve done with Nate. I like him a lot now.”

    Yeah, that shoulda been my first clue.

  4. Pingback: Moment of the Week: What Will Jennifer Love Hewitt Do? « Raked

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