We’re halfway through season two of HBO’s critically acclaimed series, and I’m still finding difficulty maintaining interest. Action picks up considerably this week, and the fallout may be severe. Unfortunately, the ensuing firefight lacks context, and seemed completely pointless and avoidable.
WARNING: This analysis contains spoilers for Down Will Come. Check it out on HBO, or scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.
Well…if you can see the cover image for this article, you will see the expression I had on my face most of this episode. A general vague disappointment, mixed with a lazy lack of interest. A great deal of the scenes in season two of True Detective have been filled with long and depressingly vacant stares between the pained and tortured characters. There were several times in this episode in particular where I wanted to just scream “SAY SOMETHING!” at the cast members through my screen. It was almost as if the actors on set forgot their lines, or the writing team couldn’t come up with a hefty enough script to fill in the 50 minute timeframe.
Paul’s closet homosexuality comes back in full force this time around. He wakes up inside his old army partner’s house and they’re both in their underwear. He pretends to act like he didn’t remember what had happened and storms out of the apartment. This guys is really confused and pained by his life — and it is shown to us by him hilariously screaming “Fuck! FUCK! FUUUU—” on the sidewalk outside. This dude really seems to hate his gayness — so much so that when he finds out his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his baby, Paul excitedly jumps at the opportunity to marry her. It was an uncomfortable scene, just because neither of them seemed really into marrying each other for love, but more because it was most beneficial for both of them at the present time. Paul’s ex even lazily says, “I guess I love you, too…” Which I find super funny.
Ani gets some bad news when she discovers she is being suspended, pending an investigation by internal affairs in regards to her fraternization and fornication with several fellow police officers. She takes the news poorly, openly complaining to her boss that “this wouldn’t be happening to a MAN.” This made my eyes roll, especially after we find out just how many dudes at work she’s banged in her tenure as detective. Granted, the other officers are just as guilty in their fraternization, but she is in a position of power, for crying out loud. Regardless of the fact that the mayor of Vinci likely had a hand in her suspension, she is definitely guilty of what she’s being investigated for. Curiously, she is totally allowed to still head up the Caspere investigation despite her recent suspension. You know, because of reasons. She’s just not allowed to enter the building, I guess? I don’t know. That just sounds….incorrect.
Not only is Antigone questionable in her after hours activities, but she is excessively judgy of her younger sister. She once again chastises Athena for her webcam moonlighting gig, even though she’s clean from drugs and using the money in a positive way. Who cares if she diddles herself over the internet? It’s pretty harmless compared to actually working in a strip club and subjecting yourself to the potentially grabby masses. I’m personally not s stripper (luckily, for everyone), but if I were, i would much rather be doing it from the comfort of my own home. I don’t even know if they have webcam guys, but I digress.
Frank Semyon…I don’t really get what he’s up to. I understand that he’s essentially strong-arming his former contacts to bleed them of any money he can get. I just don’t get why, and why he’s not investigating the murder of his goon from last week at all. I’m not sure whether or not this development deal has completely fallen through yet, but he seems to be assuming it is and is trying to get as much money as he can to alleviate his financial burdens. Frank has some conflict with Jordan over her not being able to conceive, and with her ex-boyfriend who Frank tries to make a deal with. I don’t even know why they’re remotely interested in bringing a child into their clearly unstable environment, but that’s gangsters for you, I guess. Semyon doesn’t come off as the most adept of criminals, and I think everyone thinks it shows.
The only character who kind of seems like they’re growing as a character is Ray Velcoro. He still hangs out at bars, but he’s doing it sober now. He also is beginning to come to terms with the prospect of losing his son and essentially parts ways and gives him his father’s discarded badge to remember him by. It was a little awkward, but at least it was just a little bit touching that he’s trying not to be a total piece of shit. He even shows hesitance with signing up as hired muscle for Frank Semyon, which tells me that he may be trying to turn over a new leaf after his recent brush with death. Velcoro was mostly out of the limelight this time around, however.
Speaking of light…The Caspere investigation crew received a lead that led them to a raid of a Mexican gang hideout IN BROAD DAYLIGHT near the tail end of the episode. The police aren’t even remotely stealthy, as they casually stroll across the street in a cluster; fully decked out in raid gear and weapons drawn. I laughed at this, and even made a joke that something was going to go terribly wrong because everyone was so unorganized. Sure enough, a shitstorm almost immediately ensued. Detective Dixon almost immediately gets shot right in his damn face, which disappointed me. I was hoping because of his weird surveillance of Woodrugh last episode that Dixon would have some importance on the show. Guess not.
Anyway, there is an enormous shootout and lots of police, criminals, and even innocent bystanders get killed in the crossfire. It is very grisly and over-the-top, and all of it felt needless. These can’t be the dudes orchestrating the murders of Caspere and the other higher up gangsters in Semyon’s squad, so this whole high noon shootout just felt like action for action’s sake. I love a good action sequence as long as there is decent context backing it up. This came up out of nowhere. I am at the very least interested to see how this will affect the characters in the fallout of this massive failure of an incident, though. So at least there’s that.
I’ve basically lost nearly all of my interest at this point. There is still hope that eventually this show is going to decide to pick up and get good, but it’s just a small hope. This is literally the halfway point in the season, and nothing really has happened that hooks me. Even if the show does get better, I’ll likely have very little desire to watch the season over again. To do so, I would have to subject myself to all of these previous shitty episodes as well, and I’m not about that life.
True Detective continues to sadly stumble down the mountain of feces it has built for itself. Fast-paced, high octane shootouts and well done camera work do little to distract from the fact that these characters aren’t really all that interesting and the plot is as boring as they come. You may be better off saving your time and just re-watching the magic of season one over again than the ever-upsetting season 2.
What’s Good: Super intense violence, damaged character’s lives getting even more hilariously damaged, no silly e-cigarettes this time around
What’s Not-so-good: Violence has little context, very little character growth, the plot meanders about for nearly the entire 50 or so minutes
Similar to: Law & Order, NYPD Blue, some other sad cop show
Suggested substitution(s): True Detective Season One, Fargo