Episode Title: "The Winds"
Writer: Heather Zuhlke
Director: Nelson McCormick
Officer Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) runs his car off a desert highway after a ladder falls out of the back of a pick-up truck. We cut to thirty-three hours earlier as Dets. Adams (Regina King) and Ochoa (Jenny Gago) interview a well-to-do wife and husband about an alleged rape. The victim is reluctant to give details about the incident. Based on the woman’s description, the two detectives question a number of gardeners and hone in on one in particular. After visiting his home, the man flees.
Officers Sherman (Benjamin McKenzie) and Cooper take in a young boy, abandoned by his mother in an empty apartment. The boy grows fond of Cooper, who tries to comfort him as best he can. But when he ends up back in the precinct after getting into a fight, Cooper turns a cold shoulder to the child.
Despite her reluctance to pursue their suspect without evidence, Adams chases down the gardener, now out on bail, after Ochoa insists he’s the rapist. The man is hit by a car while running through an intersection. Later, the two detectives discover that the woman made up the rape story to cover up an affair with her tennis instructor.
Cooper pulls over a van and finds pain meds inside. He arrests the man for driving under the influence and fudges the evidence report to take the pills for himself. Later he appears at his incarcerated father’s parole hearing to testify against letting the convicted rapist ever see the light of day. As he drives back, he’s run off the road by the ladder from the pick-up truck and bursts into tears as he grovels for the pain meds spilled in the dirt.
"The Winds" was Michael Cudlitz’ shining hour. After last week’s shocker, the actor carried one of the strongest episodes of the season so far.
Office John Cooper has displayed alarming range when it comes to his personal and professional ethics but "The Winds" gave us a peak into Cooper’s psyche that’s as disturbing as it is fascinating.
Cooper is a cop with an professional agenda hammered out but the harsh circumstances of a troubled personal life. His struggle with chronic back pain and an addiction to pain meds means going after a guy for having Xanax and Oxycodone in his van. He comforts an abandoned boy who’s angry at his mother for leaving him, but when the child becomes attached to the one adult who seems to care about him, Cooper turns away. Later, he testifies against his own father’s bid for parole. The man happens to be a convicted rapist, thus we can only imagine the toll this father/son relationship has had on Cooper.
The weight of his very existence, both as a cop and a man suffering with severe physical/emotional pain finally catches up with Cooper on the side of a wind-swept desert road, as he grasps in the dirt for his stolen pills. Cooper’s a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Michael Cudlitz has done a great job of portraying someone suffering on so many different levels and in so many different ways.
Nate Moretta’s murder was mentioned but for the most part, it was back to business as usual, which I appreciated. While Sammy Bryant and Moretta’s widow are dealing with the loss of a partner and husband, life and work go on for the rest of the force. Aside from a memorial service, there’s really no time to stop and grieve, a reality that other cop shows often bypass in the interest of drama. Of course next week we’ll check in with Bryant and learn of his vendetta against the thugs who killed his partner, but for everyone else, it’s just another work-related casualty.
Ochoa and Adams’ friction has finally started to heat up, as the two clashed yet again, this time over an alleged rapist wrongly accused by an adulterous wife. The fact that every case the pair takes puts them at odds is sometimes a bit tedious. After this week’s round of "Ochoa vs. Adams," I’m hoping the two finally turn a corner in their working relationship.
While I assumed we’d jump right into depths of Bryant’s despair after Moretta’s murder, "The Winds" presented the perfect opportunity to give one of "Southland’s" most compelling characters the spotlight. I only hope it isn’t too long ’till we get to spend more time with Officer John Cooper on the warpath, again.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.