'Southland' finale recap: Does this show deserve another season?
I know my headline is sort of a ridiculous question. Because if you watched tonight’s season finale of Southland, then you know the answer is “absolutely.”
I’ll lead by saying, however, that I recognize that this show — and its subtle approach to story execution — may not be for everyone. (In fact, most of the best parts of tonight’s season 4 finale happened off screen.) But its unique form is also what makes this show so great.
For one, take Lydia’s storyline. After finally coming clean to her superiors about her pregnancy, Lydia (Regina King) was faced with a decision: In what capacity she would work during the duration of her pregnancy. Would she stay in the field? Sit at a desk? Never one to limit herself in any way, I fully expected Lydia to stay out there as long as she could. But then she worked a case that eventually found her having to interview a young (very young) burn victim in the hospital. (We never really saw the child because there were bandages covering every surface of her little body. It was wrenching.) As Lydia made her way into the room in full sterile gear, we saw her sit down with a look of repressed horror on her face, and she started to conduct the interview.
We never heard the child — or Lydia — speak a word in what could have been an emotional scene. But that creative decision is what I respect about Southland. They never feel the need to throw emotions in our faces. Instead, it’s about impact. After she walked out of the interview, Lydia ran up to the roof of the hospital to catch her breath. And I took the moment to release the breath I had been holding as well. In the end, Lydia decided to take a much less active role on the force until after her baby was born. If unborn children can hear and feel what their mothers do, she wanted her child to have no part in the horrors she experienced every day.
That was just one great arc-end in this truly intense hour.
Meanwhile, Ben and Sammy shared a few great moments as Ben continued to spiral over this case involving a hooker, a pimp, and the hooker’s child. Ben was eventually able to save the girl and get her on a bus to some place better. But at what price did it come? He ended up shooting the pimp in the alley (another one of those scenes we didn’t get to see). But the last scene seems to hint that Sammy now has his doubts about his partner — doubts about what kind of cop he’s become.
It was a subtle ending in comparison to other cop shows — no explosions, no life/death cliffhangers. But that’s Southland‘s style — take it or leave it, TNT. I hope they take it.