Paul Woodrugh, Taylor Kitsch, True Detective

Other Lives: True Detective Episode 5 Analysis

Check out our analysis of episode 4 here.

In the wake of all the chaos of last week’s episode, our main characters are finding themselves in even harder times than before. Last night actually did a great job at propelling the story forward, as we learn some new revelations about everybody involved in the recent turn of events.

WARNING: This analysis will contain some spoilers for last night’s episode. Scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.

The story jumps ahead from the events of last week’s action-pumped episode. While I felt the shootout was a little forced, it did serve an ultimately greater purpose. The city of Vinci was quick to brush these events under the rug and call the Caspere case closed. The investigators of these strange murders all feel differently about how things went down, though, and it was clear that there was something else going on altogether.

Despite the knowledge that things are more than what they seem, our main characters have been more or less forced to move on. Ray actually took a route I thought to be unexpected, as a full-fledged security enforcer for Frank Semyon. Antigone has been relegated to running evidence lock-up and is required to attend mandatory sexual harassment in the workplace meetings. Paul is effectively off the streets and working as a detective in Insurance Fraud, while simultaneously juggling problems at home. It’s clear that the investigation is still eating at them, as they all continue to question whether everything was a set up from the beginning, and just who is the guy pulling all of the strings.

Antigone is having a hard time dealing with her present situation. She feels powerless in her new role, and acts out in her meeting. She feels like she got pushed into her predicament, and it is a little unfair that her coworkers she slept with don’t have to go through the same scrutiny. Still, she was a superior, and it is extremely unprofessional of her to take that place of power and abuse it for her own personal satisfaction. I find it tough to feel sorry for her. She’s also succumbing to bad habits, including heavy drinking and smoking actual cigarettes. At the same time, she can’t help but think about the Caspere case, and she begins investigating things on our own without proper jurisdiction.

Paul is in a whole heap of trouble. He’s currently trying to do his best in the blowjob scandal suit placed against him, and struggling with hating his current job. Paul very much wants to be out on the road on his motorcycle, but because of the scandal has been pushed to desk work. He also has to endure his girlfriend’s mother imposing on his life by inviting herself in their home to help out with his family. Even worse, he has to put up with his own terrible mother, who he is crushed to realize stole all of his army money that he had accrued in Afghanistan. Currently, he is backed into a corner with very little he can actually do about it.

Frank is just being Frank, pretty much. He has his dirty fingers in as many pies as he can manage, all while dealing with his wife and there issues with conceiving. Luckily, it looks like we won’t have to hear about all of that anymore after this episode, as Jordan finally comes clean and admits that she is barren. Frank takes the news poorly, but ultimately decides that their love is more important than his progeny and decides to make up with her. On the business front, he makes a deal to find out who killed Caspere so he can obtain five parcels of his own land. This prompts him to seek out Ray’s assistance.

Velcoro himself is experiencing all new levels of gloominess. While he is off drugs, he is pulled into a custody hearing with his ex-wife. That’s when we discover that she is in fact playing the paternity test card, and is more or less trying to ensure that he won’t be able to see the boy he has helped raise since birth. The anger this spurs causes him to lash out further while trying to find leads in regards to Caspere, as he is shown aggressively beating information out of Pitlor.

Eventually, the investigation leads the detectives to some information about jewels? Apparently, Dixon was well aware of these jewels prior to the investigation, and had been working his own thing on the side that we are still unaware of. He was even keeping extra tabs on our three investigators for some other ulterior purpose. The plot is getting increasingly more convoluted as each episode passes, and sometimes becomes a little difficult to follow. Essentially, there are specific parties that are interested in blackmailing higher-ups in the city of Vinci by taking pictures of them with prostitutes, and these same people are interested in tarnishing Frank Semyon’s name. Things are still unclear, but all of this prompts Katherine Davis to form her own investigative task force completely off the book.

It’s when Davis brings in Ani, Paul and Ray that things get really interesting. Initially Velcoro is reluctant to get involved, most likely due to his affiliation with Semyon, but Davis ultimately persuades Ray to help in the investigation by promising him the opportunity to be with his son. Ray agrees, but is completely dumbfounded when Davis drops the bomb that his ex-wife’s serial rapist was finally caught. That is when Ray realizes that Frank has essentially been playing him ever since they met. Judging by Ray’s look of horror and shock, I’m assuming that Ray actually hunted down a man he thought to be his wife’s rapist (according to Semyon), and straight up murdered the dude. Because of his guilt, and the extreme measures he took, he completely ruined his marriage. Velcoro’s life is in ruins seemingly because of the man he’s been working with for years. The episode unfortunately ends before we get to see what happens between the two of them, but it’s this dynamic in particular that has me interested.

Admittedly, I don’t really have much interest in this outlying plot. I don’t know who is necessarily involved in what, and as the investigation continues further and further into confusion, I’m finding myself less and less interested in the conclusion. I’m more interested in where the story will take these characters, and I’m left only to hope that in the next three episodes I may finally care about the story as a whole.

Final thoughts…
Other Lives may be the most interesting episode of this season yet. There are a few hefty revelations that could alter the entire dynamic of the show. The plot itself drags as the development deal and murder investigation arcs continue to get increasingly convoluted, but the character performances are strong this time around. I’m not really invested in the story, but it is interesting to see the paths these characters are forced to take. I’m pretty excited to see where everyone ends up by the time this season concludes.

What’s Good: Velcoro beating the crap out of Rick Springfield, Woodrugh unleashing fury on his mother
What’s Not-so-good: The increasingly winding plot makes it difficult to discern what exactly the audience is supposed to care about

If you found this interesting, check out our analysis of Church in Ruins (ep. 6) — live now on Couch Potato Brothers!

2 thoughts on “Other Lives: True Detective Episode 5 Analysis

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