Remember those old movie serials where, at the end of a particular episode, the hero would drive his car off a cliff only to reveal in the next chapter that he jumped out before the car went over the ledge? That’s kind of what we get on ‘True Detective’. Normally, I’d be upset about playing with an audience like this, but since this third episode is the best we’ve seen so far, I’m going to cut the series some slack.
This week’s entry begins in a bar where Ray is sitting across from a man we’ll know by episode’s end as his father, Eddie (played by Remo Williams himself, Fred Ward). What I first thought was an Elvis impersonator is on stage singing, but after belting out “The Rose,” I realized he must be a dream world version of Conway Twitty. That’s right, Ray is dreaming. When he asks his father where he is, Eddie replies that he doesn’t know and that Ray was there first. Is the series implying that Ray will die before his father, or is it just a message to Ray that if he doesn’t straighten out his life that he’ll die first?
Ray wakes up to find himself on the floor of Ben Caspar’s Hollywood home where he was hit by multiple shotgun blasts at the conclusion of last week’s episode. Thankfully, when he opens his shirt we don’t see a bulletproof vest, but we do see that the shotgun hasn’t done as nearly as much damage as we thought. Ani and some additional police officers arrive on the scene, where a patched-up Ray reveals that there was rubber buckshot in the shotgun – the kind that police use to quell riots. This is the biggest BS moment of the entire series so far; anyone with any knowledge of firearms can tell you that a shotgun blast (particularly the second one he got, which was inches from his body) at that range would have ripped him in two… rubber bullets or no rubber bullets.
While all the above is going on, Frank is at a fertility clinic with his wife, who’s umm… “helping” him produce a sperm sample in one of the offices. Frank’s obviously got too much on his mind to perform, but he takes the opportunity to imply that it’s his wife’s fault, not his, that they’re unable to conceive a child. Later, Frank meets Ray at the bar (thankfully, minus the depressing singer this week). Ray asks who else knew about Caspar’s second home in Hollywood. Frank either doesn’t have or is unwilling to reveal any answers at this time.
Ani and Paul take a trip to the Bel Air home of Vinci’s mayor, where they question his rather drugged-up trophy wife. I’m not sure what the point of this scene is. It also includes the two detectives interacting with the mayor’s son, who likes to use a number of different accents, as well as Ani running into the mayor’s daughter for one brief moment – although the girl quickly closes the door to her room without saying a word. There’s also a scene not long after this one where the detectives go to a bank to open a safety deposit box that was owned by Caspar. In addition to deeds to a number of land deals, they find a handful of blue diamonds, which I’m sure are a big hint to what Caspar was involved in.
The first couple episodes have had more than a few unsubtle hints that Paul is gay and closeted about it. Those hints can be put to rest this week after Paul meets with an old military buddy and the guy mentions something about three days that the two men spent together. Upon his friend bringing it up, Paul knocks him to the ground and storms off. Unbeknownst to either, a mysterious man has been taking pictures of them not too far away.
Frank learns that one of his associates has been killed, but for the life of me I have no idea who the man is (which just goes to show how convoluted those first two episodes were). Regardless, Frank believes this guy’s death along with Caspar’s death means that someone has targeted him and is trying to destroy everything he has achieved. He goes back to the same club he did in last week’s episode to talk with the heavyset guy with the gold teeth and some of his other former partners so they can keep an eye out on behalf of him. The heavyset guy doesn’t think he owes anything to Frank, however, and the two men get into a fight. Frank gets the better of the big guy, and then uses a pair of pliers to pull out his gold teeth.
Ray gets another visit from his ex, who tells him that the police have been around asking questions about extra money Ray may have had and if he might have anything to do with the death of the guy who was suspected of raping her. She also offers Ray $10,000 if he won’t protest her upcoming custody suit. Ray refuses the money. Later that night, when he and Ani go to question some people, a mysterious black-clad figure in a white mask sets fire to the detectives’ car. The two chase after the suspect on foot, but are unable to catch up. Ray saves Ani from almost getting run over by a large truck. Ani thanks him for saving her, and Ray replies that she can repay him by telling him what she knows about evidence the state has on him.
This week’s entry is probably the best we’ve seen from this new season of ‘True Detective’, primarily because it was the most coherent of the trio of episodes to air to date. I’m waiting to see how negatively people will react to Ray’s miraculous recovery from his shooting, but at least I didn’t spend half this episode scratching my head trying to figure out what the heck is going on and why I should care about any of it. I still don’t think ‘True Detective’ is anywhere near great this season, but at least I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time.