Monday, May 6, 2013

#sammyandben4eva -- "SouthLAnd"

Or maybe it was #benandsammy4eva.  Whateva.

My daughter Bridget came up with this hashtag, as part of her "SouthLAnd" fandom.  As is no secret, Sammy Bryant and Ben Sherman are two of our favorite characters on this show.  And we have greatly enjoyed their partnership during Seasons 4 and 5.  That partnership does come to a rather painful end, but that end contains many lessons concerning the human soul, the human character, moral struggles, trust, and friendship.  And upon witnessing Sammy and Ben's last scene together in the Season 5 finale, Bridget stated, "Well, I guess my hashtag is dead."

Is it dead?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If there is a Season 6, we may discover the answer to this question.  If not, the answer will lie in our own imaginations.

I think it could go either way.

"SouthLAnd" has, over the course of 5 seasons, brought its characters through many ups and downs.  Each character has been faced with moral dilemmas and life struggles -- and each character has had to respond to these dilemmas and struggles.  They have made good decisions -- and poor ones.  They have faced the consequences of their choices and actions.  Most of the characters, after making wrong choices, have made attempts to atone for those choices.  They have striven to become better people after their falls.  We have witnessed characters be reconciled to each other, as in the case of Lydia and Russ.  So, there is more than one possibility as we look to the future of Sammy and Ben's relationship.

Will they continue to be partners in a Season 6?  Very unlikely.

Will they regain what could be called a "friendship?"  It depends.

When we last saw Officer Ben in the Season 5 finale, he was laying on the ground after Sammy confronted him with the "error of his ways."  Officer Ben was not ready to hear about his own shortcomings, and tried to blame Sammy for his own choices.  Sammy, though -- in his detective wisdom -- was not taking any of that shit.  So, as we see Ben on the ground after Sammy leaves him to himself, we wonder what is going through his mind.  Does he honestly believe he has been in the right?  Might he be having some regrets?  He has things to repent of, but will his pride prove to be an obstacle to that repentance?

In my mind, the major factor that would prevent Officer Ben from clearly seeing where he has gone wrong, and from trying to make things right with Sammy, is his tendency to be unforgiving.  And he does have that tendency.  We see it in his relationship (or lack thereof) with his father.  Yes, his father is a douche.  But, I think his father has made an attempt -- as far as he is able to in his douche-dom -- to have at least a little bit of a positive relationship with his son.   And Officer Ben has had none of it.  He has not given his father even a teeny tiny bit of a chance for even a teeny tiny bit of a positive father-son relationship.  Officer Ben has hardened his heart.  And we have also seen him harden his heart in regard to the man who assaulted both his mother and him.  Please don't get me wrong.  I don't think Officer Ben needs to have a relationship with that guy.  I don't think he has to like him at all.  But, the way he goes after the man after he is released from prison is a bit extreme.  The guy did the time for the crime.  Officer Ben's mom is willing to put the whole incident to rest.  But, not Officer Ben himself.  He is unwilling to let go of his anger.  And now his anger is directed at Sammy.  Will he be able to let go of that anger?  After all, Sammy is neither a douche-bag nor a criminal.  But, Officer Ben feels that Sammy has betrayed him.  He feels that Sammy has thrown his friendship "under the bus."  He blames Sammy for his own wrong decisions.  He feels that Sammy is ungrateful to him.  So, we will have to see if Officer Ben has the ability to let go of his self-righteous, prideful anger.  We will have to see if he can own up to his screw-ups.  We will have to see if he is able to have a forgiving heart, after all.

As I watched the last episode of Season 5, though, I did see one bright, shining, little spot for Officer Ben -- one little crack in the almost closed door of his soul.  During this episode, Sammy is up in a police chopper.  That chopper takes gunfire and it starts to leak fuel.  An emergency landing is required.  Officer Ben hears all this on the radio of his squad car, and he races to the location where the emergency landing will take place.  He is clearly alarmed.  His genuine concern for Sammy is apparent.  He has not, as yet, completely lost his heart, his humanity.  There are still some avenues for grace left.

So, as we leave Officer Ben laying on the pavement in the last filmed episode of "SouthLAnd," there is more than one voice in his head.  There is the "angel" and the "devil," if you will.  There is temptation.  But, there is grace.  He still has a choice.  And the choice that he makes will ultimately determine whether or not he and Sammy can be reconciled or have any type of friendship -- assuming, of course, that Sammy is willing to accept from Ben what would need to be a very sincere apology, made in a spirit of absolute contrition.

This, then, is one of the things I love about "SouthLAnd."  What we see in the "dance" of Sammy and Ben is an illustration of what happens to all of us in our humanity.  There are difficult situations.  There are difficult choices.  There are falls.  There are confrontations with ugly truths about ourselves.  There is our response to those confrontations.  There are opportunities for grace.  And we are reminded that "it ain't over 'til it's over."  We are reminded that we need to persevere in our own struggles, with our own obstacles, in order to become the kind of people we know we really should be.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who never bought into the forced, contrived partnership that made me, or us to add everyone watching in the house scream "NOOOOO!" at the end of the 3rd season's finale, I couldn't wait for it to end. Too bad it wasn't sooner.

    I have to disagree about Sammy being a criminal. It's not only the kidnapping and attempted murder in the desert, but all of the making his own rules, breaking any rules he chooses, abusing power and authority and a total disregard for people's property from side mirrors and mailboxes clipped and left at random to the numerous physical assaults or letting a neighborhood turn on itself with many, including innocents killed. Then there's stealing money and who knows what else along with a history of drug use as a self-proclaimed stoner for years and now his public abuse of his ex who shall remain nameless. Anyone who is that volatile in public with someone who's been close to him would be very capable of the same or worse behind closed doors. I truly despise the d-bag word in all connotations, but I can think of plenty to describe Sammy. He rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning and no convenient whitewashing in a random scene for contrast by a writer changes that.

    Ben's father might have been at dinner and shown up once that was shown at Ben's house, but there was no indication that there was anything more than that or how much time had passed with no contact. I'm not saying that there might not have been, but blame the writers. That's something I would have liked a season devoted to rather than the mindless fabrication that wasted so much time.

    I sure hope it's over at least for Ben so he can move on to the show that looks like a great fit for him, The Advocates. I already thought Southland jumped the shark beyond any justification. For any season 6, I'd be thrilled not to ever have Ben in anything related to Sammy or his female incarnation ex-wife again. With all of the budget constraints that forced the partnership and character pairing in the first place, I don't see any room for expanding. Besides, to be anything close to authentic, Cooper is dead or headed to prison for either a) murder, if the victim died, or b) attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and any other related felony charges.