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'Southland' detective falls prey to vampires

Southland 3_304_6_Kevin Alejandro Shawn Hatosy_PH Doug Hyun_20633_004_0198_R

Spoiler alert:  Do not read this story if you have not seen Tuesday night's episode of "Southland."

Blame the pain that "Southland" inflicted on you Tuesday night on the vampires, America.

When the lovable Nate Moretta died quickly and shockingly from a blow to the head with a metal pipe, "Southland" viewers immediately took to the show's Facebook page and Twitter to express grief and outrage. That a police officer would eventually lose his or her life on this gritty and realistic Los Angeles police drama was inevitable, but why the cool-headed, sexy young father and best friend to his unhinged partner, Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy)?

"Not Nate!" the Internet wailed in unison.

But, sadly, it had to be Nate. And the behind-the-scenes story probably won't make you feel better about losing him.

Kevin Alejandro, who played Nate, took on a role on "True Blood" when it was unclear if "Southland" would find a new home after NBC canceled it. Then TNT bought "Southland," and although both series tried to work out their schedules so that Alejandro could be a fine cop on "Southland" and a hot gay witch on "True Blood," it proved impossible.

"We were in the dark and I was freaking out about what was happening with 'Southland,'" Alejandro said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. "And during that time, I was offered a regular role on 'True Blood' and I talked to ['Southland' executive producers] Chris Chulack and John Wells, and all of us were in the dark, and they were very, very good and understood that I have a family. We all agreed to let me out to try to pursue that, just to see what was better for my career. They genuinely showed that they cared about me. And then shortly after I signed on with 'True Blood,'  the show was picked up for another season and so we struggled and struggled to try to get the schedules to work. It was just too much conflict."

The schedules aligned enough so that Alejandro could appear in the first four episodes of this season. So the writers got to work on developing Nate and Sammy's partnership and friendship so that the viewers would feel the impact of Nate's loss even more. Like many of the stories on "Southland," Nate's death was born out of a true Los Angeles incident in which a police officer died during a routine stop at the end of his shift.

Southland 3_304_13_Kevin Alejandro Shawn Hatosy_PH Doug Hyun_20633_004_0406_R

"I knew the story from when I was doing research for the pilot," Chulack said. "At some point or another, it was going to be in the series somehow. The story of these guys who were on their way home, they were in the gang unit and they were done. They're driving through the projects and somebody throws a bottle and they're like, let it go, but they didn't. They just wanted to get out and say hey guys, don't do that.  And in the blink of an eye, two lives are changed. That was a true story, and we took an element of that and applied it to Kevin's character. It's good drama, because you have these two guys who are close partners and are opposites and have different ways of doing a job but are very close."

Alejandro, who says he choked up both when Chulack told him how his character would die and later when he read the script, says there were even more tears when they filmed it and then when he watched the episode with his wife Tuesday night.

"Everyone was so sad," Alejandro said. "On the last day, there were so many tears. From our camera guy to our crew to my castmates, to Chris Chulack, we shared a lot of tears together.  It was a beautiful, amazing, touching, educating experience. And last night, even though I knew it was going to happen, the moment it hit, it really hit. My wife and I both shed tears over it. It's sad. The reason it's so sad is we formed a family with those guys. It really felt like a collaborative project. We were all in the roller coaster together. It's sad and I hate that I'm not a part of it. But I'm also very happy that I get to watch it as a fan and be a part of the support team."

The heart and soul of "Southland" lies not with the crime stories, but with its crime-solvers. Filmed documentary-style, the series depicts the social ramifications and personal consequences in the lives of the men and women who risk their lives to protect Los Angeles.  The remaining six episodes of this season, Chulack said, will follow Sammy as he copes with the loss of his best friend.

"They're the good guys," Alejandro said. "They're the true heroes. That's one of the most beautiful things about being able to portray characters like Nate. I'm sure Shawn feels the same way. They're the modern-day, real heroes. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe. And without them, there would be chaos. I gained a whole new admiration and respect for those guys the moment I had my first ride-along. To play Nate Moretta and enlighten people a little bit more about what these guys go through has been such an honor."

Chulack, who was directing an episode on Wednesday morning, said it's fulfilling to hear about the overwhelming response to Nate's death, considering the series' precarious beginning.

"I think the show is starting to build and it's really rewarding to have people so emotionally moved by the death of a character, and it tells us people are watching," Chulack said. "For me, it's exciting. I hope we can sustain a rating number to make it viable to stay on the air, because there's a lot left for us to do. We're really just getting started."

--Maria Elena Fernandez

Top photo:  Shawn Hatosy and Kevin Alejandro as Sammy and Nate in Tuesday night's episode of "Southland." Credit: Dough Hyun / TNT

Bottom photo: Sammy  protects his fallen friend's body from a melee. Credit: Doug Hyun / TNT


Comments () | Archives (31)

I still am in shock. I will miss Nate so much, he was an amazing Police Officer and true "Good Cop". The show will not be the same, but what a show, Love this show.

I was shocked when he was killed last night, I was really trying to figure out why. This clears it up and I wish him
the best in a series, that I don't watch. Good Luck!!

Me and my husband absolutely love this show. I am going to miss Nate because he brought swagger to the show and he was good eye candy too but I'm sure the producers will make it up somehow. A lot of shows I get into get cancelled so I really hope this one stays on the air for a long time.

I adore this show!!!

I felt like I was the only one watching it when it was on NBC. So sad Nate had die in such a brutal way. RIP to his character and the fallen officer the incident was based on. I heart SouthLAnd but episode tore me apart. PLEASE DONT KILL REGINA KING!!!

I've never responded to anything on tv the way I did last night. I try not to get too emotionally attached to characters but when I started watching Southland, it was the first time I felt like I knew the characters and could relate to their struggles. The documentary style is simply ingenious and makes the show incredibly real. Nate quickly became one of my favorite characters on tv because of what he represented and his devotion to his family and partner. When he went down, I started shouting expletives at the tv and couldn't fall sleep because I was so worked up. If I was on set I probably would have gone crazier than his partner did.. incredible acting by the way. I agree with Kevin Alejandro that it probably had to happen to drive home the reality of fighting crime on the streets, both in LA and everywhere around the country. HBO's lucky to have another great actor - if I ever saw Kevin on the street I'd shake his hand.

Thank you for this explaination cause I along with many others were in complete shock and had nightmares about his death since it was so sudden. I agree that I was sad that it had to be the hot cop but this solidified my watching of the rest of the season and hoping there are many more seasons!

As a police officer I can relate to the trials and tribulations that officers go through. With that said, NBC's loss was TNT's gain. This in my humble opinion is a great portrayal of a cop show! I will miss Nate, but wish him well with "True Blood". Nate's character is the type of person you would want to have a beer with. RIP brother, your character will be missed.

I still can't believe Moretta was killed off! He was one of my favorite characters, and I'm still pretty shocked about it. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I was bawling my eyes out a good 30 minutes after the episode ended, but that just goes on to show the effect that such an amazing show like Southland has on faithful viewers. I can't wait for next weeks episode!

I have this on my DVR but will still watch and cringe and probably cry. Maybe several times. I will miss Nate but it does fit the story and I still get to see Kevin this summer.

Southland is BY FAR the best television ON television.

The team that puts this show together is one of the
most talented out there today. This is what television CAN BE.

I'd give a body part to work with them.

Kevin Alejandro is a talented actor, and his absence from this series will be missed. But I think the focus of any review of this heartbreaking episode of "Southland" should have been on the last five minutes of the show. They are among the most riveting and frightening moments I've ever watched on television. Two police detectives were on their way home at the end of shift one moment were brutally under attack the next. One made it out alive, one didn't. The intensity and sheer panic of the mob mentality of the attack was truly riveting. And once again, this wonderful show forcefully illustrates the desperate mood on the streets of Los Angeles. I feel that it would have been appropriate to have named the L.A.P.D. officer who died in the line of duty in the real life incident that inspired this episode. That would have been appreciated by many who truly appreciate this television series for what it is, and what it portrays.

How in the HELL could they kill off the HOTTEST cop on southland. I'm too MAD!! I'm going to miss Nate, but still I am a fan. Now I'm going to watch True Blood.

I' was honestly very shocked and saddened by this character's death. It's strange that a drama that I know to be fictional brought me to tears last night in the way it did. The last time I cried like this way was at the end of LOST. This is truly great TV, keep it up Southland, keep it up!

At the end when Nate was killed I was mad!! Mainly the way his partner reacted. He was totally unprepared for the potential violence that did erupt. I am sorry, but I would have died too, because I would have unloaded my gun on everyone in sight. I know someone would have popped me before I took out 9 or 10, but you don't fire in the air when deadly force would have been authorized off duty or not. Your life was in grave danger for crying out loud. Oh well, if they were looking for a reaction then they definitely received one. Great show!

I, like everyone else was 'SHOCKED' when Kevin's character was killed off; for a split second I thought I was seeing it 'wrong' because the main characters of a series Never die! I don't watch True Blood, but I wish Kevin Alejandro the very best. Southland is by far one of the best 'cop shows' on tv in a very LONG time! I will miss Nate and hope the producers can make up for this loss...

I was so shocked that Nate died last night. I love the way that the storyline starts from the end and then goes to the beginning. I really thought Sammy was in the hospital with his estranged wife when the show started. Kevin Alejandro is a great actor and a fine ass man. I'm glad my Latino brother has another job lined up but I will miss him on Southland. If they kill off Regina King, I swear I will stop watching the show.

best show on tv!

Love the show! I was so glad it found it's way back. This episode was absolutely gut wrenching. Although it was very well done and surely served it's dramatic purpose, I almost wish they had left it open ended so "Nate" could come back at some point. He was definitely one of my favorites. There is always True Blood. . .hopefully this means he has a bigger role there now next season. Oh, and the actress that plays his wife . . . the scream she let out and the collapse into "Sammy" at the end absolutely broke my heart. Well done!
Also, I agree with the previous poster - Do what ever is necessary to hold on to Regina King!

very moving. to keep it simple: TNT please renew this show!

I am a new viewer of Southland, and was really sad to see nate killed off. He was one of the few latino cops on the show, hope their will be a new one to represent the many lation cops in the LAPD.

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