Southland's Ben McKenzie Previews Officer Sherman's 'Darker Path,' Conflict With Sammy

Southland Ben McKenzieYou can only stay a rookie cop on TNT’s Southland for so long. And in the final three episodes of Season 4, Ben McKenzie‘s Officer Ben Sherman will be growing up – and stumbling – in a big way. It all begins this Tuesday at 10/9c, when Ben meets a prostitute and her daughter and gets in way over his head.

“The woman is a hooker, and the daughter is heading down that path,” previews McKenzie. “I get personally involved trying to help both of them – in particular the daughter – get out of the life.”

Ben’s need to save the women “is motivated by what made him become a cop in the first place, which is about his mom,” who was beaten and raped during a home invasion, he continues. “He has a very strong desire to protect women that doesn’t always even make sense.”

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It’s even harder to explain in light of Ben’s actions this season, which haven’t always been the kindest. The normally reserved officer lost his cool and punched a teenage girl in the face. Then there’s his new playboy ways featuring a string of one-night stands. The rare glimpse into Sherman’s suddenly very active private life is about “him relieving stress,” says McKenzie.

“Cops are always talking about [how] they need to blow off steam,” he explains. “They find different ways of doing that. Some find healthy ways through family and their wife and kids. Some drink. Some get involved in worse stuff.” And others, who are single like Ben, “go out and get laid.”

“It’s not necessarily healthy,” he adds, “and I think that they show that.”

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Southland Ben McKenzie Shawn HatosyWe’ve already seen that this new stress reliever could lead to an unexpected pregnancy and even a beat-down by an angry husband. (He avoided the latter fate by jumping out the window of the room where he’d just had a threesome!) But the big test for Ben will come when he gets overly invested in the aforementioned case of the mother and daughter, which “leads to some violence” — and even impacts his partnership with Sammy Bryant.

“Our relationship will come to a head at the end of the season,” teases McKenzie. “There’s a conflict ahead. There has to be, because my character goes down this darker path.”

“He’s just obsessed… trying to fix something that’s unfixable, which is this core part of him that’s still traumatized by what happened when he was younger. [He] is trying to fix it by repeating the mistake over and over and over again.”