The Best Episodes of Southland

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2019

Rookies learn the ropes. Veterans burn out. Detectives take their work personally. Partners take their addictions too far. Relationships fall apart. Blood spatter patterns provide clues. With fast-moving action filmed on gangland streets and in pricey cul-de-sacs, Southland tells personal stories of men and women on both sides of the badge as they struggle to make a difference or simply survive.

Chaos

#1 - Chaos

Season 5 - Episode 9

Chaos prevails in the city of angels when Cooper and Lucero are kidnapped and held hostage by a pair of tweakers. All of our cops join the frantic search to find their brothers in blue before it is too late. Sammy searches for Strokeface. Ben tries to throw Sammy off the trail while simultaneously dealing with an increasingly irrational Brooke.

star 8.58
262 votes
Writers: Zack Whedon
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Reckoning

#2 - Reckoning

Season 5 - Episode 10

John copes with the aftermath of his kidnapping. Sammy closes in on the real robbers. Lydia continues to pursue John’s kidnappers and becomes more intimate with Russell.

star 8.55
266 votes
Writers: Jonathan Lisco
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Code 4

#3 - Code 4

Season 3 - Episode 4

Ben learns the hard way, some valuable lessons about the importance of following established procedure and protocol, Lydia's current murder investigation takes an unexpected turn, and Nate and Sammy are unprepared when a group of people they encounter turns into a violent mob.

star 8.29
213 votes
Directors: Felix Alcala
Writers: Will Rokos, Diana Son
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Thursday

#4 - Thursday

Season 4 - Episode 10

It's the last day on patrol for Tang, as she prepares to move to another precinct as sergeant. But first she wants to tie up some loose ends on the beat. Lydia is pressured to make a decision about the extent of her police duties during the rest of her pregnancy. With Sammy recovering from injuries, Ben and Dewey are partnered together. But Ben is bent on tracking down the prostitute he's been trying to help and then getting her and her daughter away from the abusive pimp controlling their lives.

star 8.28
200 votes
Writers: Jonathan Lisco
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Legacy

#5 - Legacy

Season 4 - Episode 5

John tries to save a suicidal teen in a situation that hits extremely close to home, and Sammy convinces a former addict to be an informant, with devastating consequences. Meanwhile, Jessica gets a visit from someone from her past, and Lydia and Ruben investigate a home invasion that appears to have been staged to cover up a murder.

star 8.24
215 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: Heather Zuhlke
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Integrity Check

#6 - Integrity Check

Season 4 - Episode 6

Lydia dons a uniform and hits the streets when the shift is short a supervisor and she must fill in. Meanwhile, John and Jessica are stuck with a film crew tagging along on their calls. Elsewhere, Ben infuriates Sammy when he implies Sammy planted evidence.

star 8.20
221 votes
Writers: Jonathan Lisco
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Risk

#7 - Risk

Season 4 - Episode 9

Ben finds himself heading down a slippery slope as he attempts to help the daughter of a prostitute, putting him in hot water with the woman's pimp. Lydia and Ruben investigate the murder of a gang-banger who may have been killed over a graffiti tag. Tang faces more questions about her shooting of an innocent bystander, which could determine whether she gets promoted to sergeant.

star 8.18
200 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: Jason Horwitch
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The Felix Paradox

#8 - The Felix Paradox

Season 5 - Episode 8

The funeral of a major drug dealer brings gangsters of all kinds out of the woodwork, there is chaos in the streets but as our cops learn sometimes the greatest threats come from within. Lydia and Ruben investigate the drug related murder of Sgt. Hill’s son; they discover police corruption in the process and clash over how to handle it. Ben suspects that Sammy did not destroy the tape and decides to take matters into his own hands with tragic consequences. John sinks farther into his loneliness.

star 8.16
243 votes
Directors: Stephen Cragg
Writers: Aaron Rahsaan Thomas
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Graduation Day

#9 - Graduation Day

Season 3 - Episode 10

On Ben's final day as a rookie, he decides to force John to get the surgery he needs to relieve his back pain which, in turn, will end his need for painkillers. Meanwhile, Josie discovers that her son is the man Lydia has been seeing. Elsewhere, Sammy decides to go back to regular patrol.

star 8.15
205 votes
Writers: John Wells, Heather Zuhlke
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Heroes

#10 - Heroes

Season 5 - Episode 7

John takes drastic measures to try to save Hicks while being confronted with demons from his past. Sammy’s lie about the tape weighs heavily on his conscious. Lydia and Ruben track down a John Doe. Ben’s relationship with Elena becomes more serious.

star 8.10
236 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: Heather Zuhlke
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Wednesday

#11 - Wednesday

Season 4 - Episode 1

John returns to duty after recuperating from back surgery and meets his new partner, Officer Jessica Tang, a tough and disciplined cop with her own set of baggage from working the streets. Lydia, whose new partner is Detective Ruben Robinson, can't seem to escape helping a former CI who seems unable to stay out of danger, Ben, Sammy and Dewey chase an armed man into an elementary school, and Ben bumps heads with an intense street cop whose cynical attitude is affecting their work.

star 8.10
226 votes
Writers: Jonathan Lisco
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Underwater

#12 - Underwater

Season 4 - Episode 2

Things are gonna change with Joel Rucker as the new captain. Lydia and Ruben investigate a convenience store murder, and Lydia uses her typical compassionate charm to collect facts on her suspect from an unassuming grandmother. Meanwhile, John and Jessica get to test their physical abilities when they're attacked on the street. Elsewhere, Sammy and Ben ride with a mistake-prone officer, but Ben is the one making mistakes... mistakes that earn him some notoriety.

star 8.04
232 votes
Writers: Cheo Hodari Coker
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Maximum Deployment

#13 - Maximum Deployment

Season 2 - Episode 6

John, Ben, and Chickie are sent out as part of a maximum deployment to capture the “Canyon Rapist,” a perp who's been impersonating a cop. Russell is back, but on light duty as he continues to struggle with his recovery after being shot. While working a double-homicide with his old partner, Lydia, he discovers he's no longer up for the job. Sal plans a special night out to commemorate his wife's promotion, but their evening is ruined when their daughter reveals Sal’s affair with TV news reporter Mia Sanchez. Chickie gets a chance to prove to herself -- and others -- that she still has what it takes to be a good cop.

star 8.02
210 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: David Graziano
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Derailed

#14 - Derailed

Season 1 - Episode 7

The day takes a turn for the worse when officers John Cooper, Ben Sherman, Chickie Brown and Dewey find a member of Marta's Avenue gang dead in a trunk outside Dodger Stadium. Meanwhile, Detective Bryant convinces Lydia to take in Janilla in order to ensure her safety. Elsewhere, Detective Salinger becomes increasingly frustrated with his growing rift with his teenage daughter.

star 7.99
230 votes
Writers: Ann Biderman
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Heat

#15 - Heat

Season 5 - Episode 2

After Mendoza is injured in a drive-by, Ben takes it upon himself to solve the case, much to Sammy's dismay. Lydia regains her footing as a detective while investigating the murder of a female boxer's husband. Tensions between Cooper and Steele finally come to a head during a traffic stop-gone-sideways.

star 7.98
228 votes
Directors: Danny Sackheim
Writers: Heather Zuhlke
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Sideways

#16 - Sideways

Season 3 - Episode 7

When crime scene photos from the case of the celebrity suspected of murdering his estranged wife show up on the internet, all of the first responders are suspended, including Lydia and Josie. Further investigation proves the photos were the unauthorized pictures taken by Lydia using her phone, and she's shocked when she learns who was responsible for the leak. Meanwhile, Sammy fails to pick the right guy from the line-up for Nate's murderer, and Dewey and Chickie are involved in a high-speed chase that ends in disaster.

star 7.95
196 votes
Directors: Allison Anders
Writers: Jonathan Lisco
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What Makes Sammy Run?

#17 - What Makes Sammy Run?

Season 2 - Episode 5

After two men murder a man in a crowded nightclub, Nate discovers his daughter was an eyewitness. Meanwhile, tensions rise between Sal and Gil on the gang task force, and Sammy confronts his wife, Tammi, after discovering she has been photographing gang members.

star 7.95
205 votes
Writers: Cheo Hodari Coker
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Off Duty

#18 - Off Duty

Season 5 - Episode 5

John is forced to think about what life will hold for him once he leaves the LAPD. Lydia connects with a man she sent to death row earlier in her career. Much to his chagrin, Sammy becomes a tabloid celebrity for the day after a very public act of heroism. Ben makes a dubious decision to get a drug dealer arrested. And a foot pursuit puts Dewey in danger.

star 7.94
218 votes
Directors: Regina King
Writers: Zack Whedon
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Failure Drill

#19 - Failure Drill

Season 3 - Episode 9

As John's back pain worsens, so does his drug problem, and Ben, about to finish his training period, is gravely concerned about him. Meanwhile, when a man wielding an automatic weapon goes on a killing spree inside a factory, Josie gets injured and Lydia must go after him alone. Elsewhere, Sammy decides to take a more active roll in the upcoming birth of his child..

star 7.94
192 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: Jonathan Lisco, Chitra Elizabeth Sampath
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Community

#20 - Community

Season 4 - Episode 3

On Hood Day, a day where gangs seek retribution, LAPD is trying to keep the peace by camping out in neighborhoods prone to violence. Sammy and Ben leave their assigned neighborhood with disastrous results. Meanwhile, the neighborhood grabs a golden opportunity to seek a little retribution of their own against the gang banger who has been terrorizing them. Elsewhere, John and Jessica discover that another group of neighbors will go to any lengths to get a registered sex offender off their streets.

star 7.94
214 votes
Directors: Felix Alcala
Writers: Jason Horwitch
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Unknown Trouble

#21 - Unknown Trouble

Season 1 - Episode 1

From the beaches of Malibu to the streets of East Los Angeles, this fast moving drama takes viewers inside the lives of cops, criminals, victims and their families. In the series premiere, John Cooper, a seasoned Los Angeles police officer and his rookie trainee, Ben Sherman, respond to a call that ends in a deadly shoot-out -- and Ben is left questioning whether or not he has what it takes to become a police officer. Even though John is cool to the new recruit and his straitlaced "Beverly Hills" past, his honed insight and honest, no-nonsense advice is invaluable to the young rookie: "Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp. You do what they teach you in the academy, you will die."

star 7.89
409 votes
Writers: Ann Biderman
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Bleed Out

#22 - Bleed Out

Season 5 - Episode 6

The day’s events bring all of our cops face to face with some of their greatest fears. The death of a baby shakes Lydia to her core. Sammy is questioned by I.A. about his altercation with Tammi. A difficult day on the job causes Cooper to seek solace in Hicks but finds none. Ben becomes more deeply involved with Brooke while continuing to see Elena.

star 7.88
241 votes
Writers: Chad Feehan
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Babel

#23 - Babel

Season 5 - Episode 3

A breakdown in the LAPD's dispatch system makes a difficult job even harder for the cops, all of whom are already grappling with communication issues. Lydia, in a moment of weakness, reaches out to her old flame, Terrell. John is assigned a new partner; Ben and Sammy's partnership is strained just as Ben makes a romantic connection on the job.

star 7.88
215 votes
Directors: J. Michael Muro
Writers: Aaron Rahsaan Thomas
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God's Work

#24 - God's Work

Season 4 - Episode 8

Lydia and Ruben investigate the death of a young nanny, but first they have to find the kids who were in her care. Ben tries to intervene in the life of a prostitute with a daughter, but his efforts only make things worse. Tang gets an update about the boy she shot, but John still wants her to come clean about what really happened.

star 7.88
205 votes
Directors: Guy Norman Bee
Writers: Cheo Hodari Coker
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The Winds

#25 - The Winds

Season 3 - Episode 5

When a rape victim hires a lawyer and refuses to talk with the two detectives unless her lawyer is present, Lydia and Josie want to know why. Meanwhile, John strikes up an unlikely friendship with a boy who returned home after a sleepover, only to discover his parents had packed up and moved during the night, abandoning him and leaving him to fend for himself, Later on, John begins to feel the stress over the prospect of testifying at his father's upcoming parole board hearing, but he doesn't realize his testifying will open up an emotional can of worms that he's not prepared for.

star 7.87
204 votes
Writers: Heather Zuhlke
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