SOUTHLAND: 3.07 “Sideways”
Well this is infuriating. I had a nice long post written up about this episode of Southland. I went ahead and clicked “Publish” and WordPress published the post blank. Everything I wrote vanished into the ether. So, let me apologize in advance for being relatively short here. I’m going to try to recapture the main thrust of my original post. To put it short: this was my least favorite episode of Southland ever. Lydia and Sammy’s stories were OK; Sammy couldn’t identify Nate’s killer and is clearly at the end of his rope, while Lydia had a very affecting scene with a dying witness but later learned that her former partner sold crime-scene pictures to the tabloids that she wound up taking the fall for (that scene didn’t really work for me; Russell wasn’t contrite enough, considering the history between him and Lydia.)
But anyway, the real problem with this episode was the scene between John and Chickie, right after Chickie and her partner hit and killed a woman with their police cruiser during a high speed chase. The entire scene began with mournful “why am I a cop/it’s all my fault” cliches, followed up by way too much background exposition (it sounded like Chickie was reading her background blurb off a writer’s notes: “I didn’t want to become a cop, I wanted to be a surfer, but then I got pregnant, and then…” It was too much!), and then all wrapped up in a bow a “This is why you’re a cop” speech from John that sounded like a pale imitation of his awesomely motivational encouragement of Ben at the end of the premiere episode of the series. The entire scene was too fast, too expository, and too focused on such a secondary character (this could have worked last year during her crisis of confidence, but Chickie’s hardly been in this season) that it had almost no emotional impact at all. It all seemed so hollow and fake that it actually gave me a bad feeling about the rest of the episode as a whole. That’s fine, I guess, as every show will have an off day. There are, however, only three episodes left in the season (and possibly the series depending on the ratings) so I hope we don’t see anything like this again.