I’ve left off talking about LaDonna (the luminous Khandi Alexander) so far this season in order to discuss her story in the context that Tom Piazza (teleplay) and Eric Overmeyer (story) create in the current episode.
Juxtaposition is one of the things that David Simon’s series have done excruciatingly well, and this episode is a superb example. The Sophia story has progressed to the point where we really do understand that an unregulated and uninspected police department inevitably leads to abuse.
At the same time, her mother’s case against the police and L.P. Everett’s investigation into a police killing gain prominence, as do detective Terry Colson’s problems within the department. (A nod here to David Morse’s fine, understated performance.)
But then comes LaDonna’s story, and suddenly the need for a police force hits us with the same force as the abuse by the cops does.
In this episode, LaDonna is thrust into the criminal justice system. She’s hardly healed from her rape. Her marriage is still showing its effects. Her dentist husband Larry – a richly and lovingly drawn character played by Lance E. Nichols (how many richly and lovingly drawn dentists have you seen?) – cannot understand why she insists on running Gigi’s. He’s come back to New Orleans for her; she seems headstrong and, at times, foolish.
And now she is not merely running through the maze of hearings with trial nowhere in sight, but she is under direct threat. Bangers are showing up at her bar; calls are coming into her home at night. Matches are lit and she is told specifically “we know where you live.”
This is, of course, the other side of police abuse. It’s the lack of an effective force that protects citizens, but it’s also why police are necessary. LaDonna needs protection beyond her family and employees. She needs more than emotional support.
She needs effective law enforcement.
Suddenly, the Sophia story isn’t so simple. None of us want a police state, but none of us could bear to live in a state without police.