Things are starting to pick up a bit at the tail end of this new season of True Detective. This season has been particularly rocky, relying on comically depressed characters, and a pretty uninteresting plot surrounding some sort of development deal.Things have luckily been picking up since last week, where we were left with quite a cliffhanger. This episode continues right where Other Lives left off.
WARNING: This analysis includes spoilers for Sunday’s episode of True Detective. Scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.
The opening scene did not play out like I was hoping, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The kitchen scene where Ray and Frank discuss their complicated past while holding each other at gunpoint was actually tense. Ray managed to maintain his composure enough to be convinced by Frank that he was unaware that the man whose name he was given years ago was in fact not the man that had raped his wife. Frank makes a profound point when he confides in Ray by telling him he may just be the last friend he has left. Semyon is growing increasingly weary by his worsening situation. This conflict with Ray only made things worse. I’m not sure Frank was telling the truth or not, but his will to survive was pretty strong. I was really expecting Velcoro to kill the man regardless.
Frank goes on a journey to find more information about Stan’s death, even consoling his grieving family in the process. He discovers somebody who may know a little bit about the Caspere case, but is astonished when he finds out that the Mexican drug dealers were involved in some way. The same men who he turned down for a deal in one of the previous episodes. Or…something like that. I really don’t care about any of that. I think the main point they were driving home is that there has been quite a lot of collateral damage on account of Capere’s dirty dealings, including the death of the woman who had more information about the case in general. According to her, it was a cop who had helped sabotage everything. She unfortunately was killed before we learned enough information, so hopefully they clear all of this up in the final two episodes.
Not much interesting happened with Paul, other than him uncovering the people that I think are actually behind the recent murders. Being young kids when all of this shady diamond business took place years earlier, they were forced to stay hidden in a confined place for quite a long time as their parents lay dead on the floor. This may have forced them down the path of vengeance and mental illness, which may or may not have led to all of these recent murders of corrupt gangsters. It’s a loose theory I’m operating off of now. There was a brief mention of masks, and we all know that the person who gunned down Velcoro was sporting a raven mask. It makes sense.
I’m always interested when Ray is on screen. He has to endure supervised visitation, as he awkwardly tries to connect with his son, who in reality just wants to eat pizza and watch Friends. He’s also reeling from the guilt of going through the path he went through in his life, which was all caused by a lie. His wife’s rapist was not the man he killed, but some hapless junkie. Frank mentioned that the guy was still a piece of shit, but killing that man completely changed Velcoro for the rest of his life. Ultimately, he ends up going on a bender — doing a ton of booze and drugs — and calling his ex. On the phone, he promises to stay out of their lives for good as long as she never tells their son the truth about anything. Hesitantly, she agrees.
Clearly no longer giving any fucks, Ray is free to focus on the path ahead of him. One of the best scenes of the season so far shows Ray visiting prison, and confronting the man who raped his wife face to face. He shows a calm resolve when he promises what he will do to the man. It’s good to see him a little more level headed and not so keen to flying off the handle. He may have lost everything, but damned if he isn’t going to try to make it worth all the trouble.
Ani’s plot this time around was actually good. Desperate to find intel on the Caspere case, Antigone decides to infiltrate one of the prostitution dens that everyone seems to be connected to. Her sister gives her words of wisdom, which Ani accepts with a guarded distance. Her relationship with her sister is really uncomfortable, and she is more than content with ignoring her to practice her sweet knife skills. Once at the party, things begin to get quickly out of hand. Ray and Paul offer some sneaky assistance outside of the compound while Bezzerides is forced to take drugs before the depravity begins. What is great about this scene is we learn more about why Ani is the way she is — and we actually find out organically. Lately the show has suffered, because it too often relied on the “tell, don’t show” approach. The characters would just sit around explaining their troubles, resulting in lazy storytelling. This time around, Ani’s being under the influence provides the perfect outlet for her subconscious to take over, as it’s revealed that Ani used to be sexually abused by some gross hippy looking man. Amidst all of the copulation and drug use, she began having flashbacks and quickly loses control.
She ends up forcing herself to vomit, which helps her gain back some clarity. Ani notices the woman she’s been looking for at the party by chance, but is accosted by an older man who shows interest in her. That’s when Ani loses it and beats the crap out of him. One of the security guards is upon her in moments, but her extensive knife training has her prepared. Ani stabs the man several times, and he bleeds out as he tries to strangle her to death. She quickly grabs Vera, and they begin to make their escape.
Paul manages to grab a file from McCandless’ upstairs office that purportedly has some new groundbreaking information on the Caspere case. Ray beats a guard senseless with his own gun, repeatedly bringing the weapon down on the unsuspecting man’s face. They endure some brief gunfire as Ray makes it back to his car, and manages to pick everyone up and speeds off into the darkness and to safety. Things went south pretty quickly, but this was actually a good win for them, and they managed to make a lot of headway in their investigation. It’s too early to tell the impact Ani’s actions this time around will have on our detective trio, but this episode actually had me interested to find out.
Church in Ruins is the best episode of the season so far. There’s plenty of tension, and just enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. The writing team excelled at developing the characters through action rather than over-explanation. There’s still hope for this show yet, and each passing episode continues to slightly restore my faith in the series. Episode 6 definitely has me excited for the final two episodes, and what is promising to be an interesting conclusion.
What’s Good: A naturally organic development of character is a welcome change of pace, high tension between characters heavily maintained interest
What’s Not-so-good: Still uninterested in the overarching development deal stuff
How are you guys feeling about the direction this show is going? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!