If you haven’t watched Tuesday, January 25th’s episode of SouthLAnd, and you plan to, DO NOT read this blog. It will be very spoilery. Because I don’t know anybody that watches SouthLAnd (ridiculous), and I need to vent.
The thing is that I love SouthLAnd. And I did right off the bat. I seriously worked my tail off to keep it from getting canceled. I’ve done more work promoting that show than I have my own books. That’s how much I love it and believe in it.
But tonight’s episode was the most traumatic viewing experience of my life (aside from real tragedies, such as footage of the 9/11 attacks or that ASPCA commercial with the Sarah Machlachlin song).
Tonight on SouthLAnd was a fairly normal episode. It always starts with an ending scene. It was Det. Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) , sitting in a waiting room, his clothes covered in blood, then a woman screams. The voice over says “Most of us go to work every day with a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen. As Det. Bryant will be reminded of today, cops never do.” Then at the bottom it says: 20 hours earlier, and the show goes starts at the beginning.
As the story unfolds, I assume that the witness of one of the crimes that Sammy and his partner Nate will be killed. Similar things have happened before. I’m also becoming annoyed with how Sammy has been acting this season. He’s a good cop, but this season he’s too focused on his upcoming divorce and he’s making mistakes. But Nate (Kevin Alejendro – as seen on a couple episodes of True Blood and an episode of Psych) is reeling him back. Nate is always grounded and does the right thing, and I’m pretty sure he’s the only latino guy I’ve seen with blue eyes.
Anyway – throughout the series, I always think about how unbelievable it is that these guys do these things. These cops walk into these dangerous situations knowing that they could be shot or killed at any moment. I think of that particuraly with Sammy and Nate because they work with the gang task force or whatever, and they situations filled with gang bangers. I’ve always admired and appreciated the way they interact with them, Nate especially.
So tonight, Sammy and Nate go about the episode trying to catch a murderer. Regina King solves another crime, and Ben Mckenzie is randomly also a really shitty copy now. But Cudlitz is still funny.
But it isn’t until the last 5 minutes of the show that I understand the beginning of the episode. A gang banger throws a bottle at the cop car, and Nate stops. Sammy and Nate get out to deal with it, and it was that moment I realized it wasn’t the witness’s blood on Sammy’s shirt.
And I have to be honest – from an objective standpoint, this is really artful, intense storytelling. Because suddenly, I know what’s going to happen. I know how horrible this will turn out. And my heart is pounding out of my chest, and I’m shouting at the TV, “No! Nate get back in the car!”
There’s like fifty gang bangers in a crowd, and Nate is teasing them, talking to them, and I think for a brief second, that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everything will turn out okay. Then Nate turns around to get back in the car and they hit him over the head with something (a bat? a tire iron?)
And then the scene gets so utterly horrific and intense. It’s just Sammy and Nate alone on the street. And now Nate is down, and these gang bangers swarm Nate. They’re kicking him and stomping on him, and Sammy is trying to save his partner. He literally has to climb on top of Nate and shoot in the air to keep the gang bangers from swarming Nate like vultures.
Help finally comes, and Sammy gets Nate in the car, but he’s not moving.
The next scene is the one from the beginning. Sammy in bloody clothes at the hospital. And then you hear the woman scream, only this time, we know it’s Nate’s wife, who only recently gave birth to their baby. And then she comes out and she and Sammy break down sobbing, and so do I.