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April 23, 2014

'Southland' Season 3, Episode 8 Recap

by Sharon Knolle, posted Feb 23rd 2011 6:00AM
'Southland' S03/E08 ['Southland' - 'Fixing a Hole']

Tonight's episode was grim as Sammy turned vigilante and John revealed more about why he became a cop, but it was enlivened by a turn from guest star Kay Lenz as a boozy, washed-up actress who sees another chance at stardom by testifying in a murder trial.

This season has been a race to see who breaks down first: Pill-popping John or hothead Sammy. The good money seemed to be on Sammy, who's not only had an unfaithful b**** of a wife (she's got to be the least likeable character on TV), but had to deal with the murder of his partner and, worse, not being able to I.D. the correct suspect.

In tonight's episode, Sammy followed the suspect to his job, abducted him, drove him out to the desert and made him dig his own grave.

Meanwhile, John flushed his pills and seemed to be a hair-trigger away from losing it completely. He got in a social worker's face when she assumed a runaway boy was making up a story about spending time at a "magic cave" with two other boys. Ben stood by uncomfortably while John screamed at her to do her job.

We were right there as we watched Ben waver between his own instincts and following orders. It turned out that John knew what he was talking about, although being right in this case was no victory. His instincts to listen to the runaway boy led him canvassing several seedy neighborhoods rife with sex offenders with a dogged Ben right there by his side, even though both of them could (apparently) lose their jobs for working after hours on a case.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show has always been the grudging, almost respectful relationship between Ben and John; it was nice tonight to see John be proven right and to have Ben backing up his play, even if it could have cost him his job. Whatever their personal demons, these two are damned dedicated. And hey, Ben, be sure and call that waitress. It's always nice to see you smile like that.

Back to Sammy: Shawn Hatosy hasn't seemed to age a day since 1999's 'The Faculty,' but he's definitely grown as an actor. His range of emotions when Mariella told him she was moving back to her family in El Paso was more telling than any dialogue. If this was a more exploitational show, Sammy would have capped the gang member and buried him in the desert. But Sammy's not that tough, even though he desperately wants to be. It's hard to imagine he'll get over Nate's murder and Tammy's betrayal. His eventual breakdown seems inevitable.

Lydia was back on the job with no reference to her suspension and she and Josie were finally making a workable team. Lydia pulled out all the stops to convince a reluctant witness (Lenz) to testify, only to find that she hadn't seen a thing and was a far better actress than they'd given her credit for. If the name sounds familiar, check out Kay Lenz back in the day, on the arm of David Cassidy.

It was weird to have Dewey be the voice of reason, but when both he and a perp (guest star Fred Koehler) could spot that John was going through withdrawal, let's hope that John finally sees the light and gets help. Wait, that wouldn't make for good TV, would it? Okay then, let's hope that John has a spectacular meltdown and busts a few windows, as promised by the previews for next week's ep.

'Southland' airs Tuesdays, 10PM ET on TNT.

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