Hey everybody, it’s time to recap another episode of ‘True Detective’, the show that makes you pay close attention in order to unravel a mystery that you don’t give two hoots about. I’ve tried to give this series a chance, honestly I have. But at the midway point of this second season, I’m not any more interested in this group of characters or the case they’re investigating than I was back in the premiere. Knowing I have four more of these babies to watch before I’m granted my unconditional pardon isn’t going to make the next month worth of Sundays any easier.
How bad has ‘True Detective’ gotten? Let’s take a look at the opening scene between Vince Vaughn and Melissa Gilbert… err, I mean Kelly Reilly… who play the characters of Frank and Jordan. The scene, in which the two get into another back-and-forth about their inability to conceive a child, isn’t as important as watching the performances – which are just awful here. Vince hasn’t been good at delivering a lot of the material he’s been given on the show up until this point in the series, but this scene seems like a rehearsal instead of something that should have made the final cut. Don’t believe me? Go watch it again. It’s dreadful.
Latent homosexual Paul awakens in the bed of a hotel, where he discovers that he spent the night with the guy he got a few leads off of in last week’s episode. Because he can’t accept the fact that he’s into men, Paul freaks out and can’t get out of the hotel fast enough, going out to the sidewalk and dropping some loud “f-bombs” at absolutely no one. It’s enough to get the attention of a group of nearby reporters, who mob him and start asking him questions about the actress he’s accused of letting out of a ticket for sexual favors. Just come out already, dude. Your life, and my television viewing, will be a lot easier.
[Ed.: He was swearing because he left his motorcycle on the street and it got stolen. –JZ]
Given his financial woes since the murder of Ben Caspere (whose last name we finally get the correct spelling of this week, thanks to a white board that appears in this episode), Frank has been going around to old associates trying to get back into some shady business arrangements to make money. These include having a sit-down with a guy in a bakery to negotiate selling drugs, offering protection for a Latino apartment complex, and getting back into the restaurant business with a friend of his wife’s (which, to no viewer’s surprise, leads to another fight between the couple).
While the above is going on, Ray and Ani are busy investigating the case, starting with following and interviewing the mayor’s daughter, who passes along the vital information that her father is a bad man. (Really? We didn’t know this already?) But the big step in the investigation this week focuses around a man named Lito Amarilla, whose connection to Ben Caspere is… vague. I think Lito is a pimp and Ben was seeing one of his girls, but honestly, I have no clue what Lito has to do with this case, other than that he’s an excuse for the episode to end with a shootout. More about that in a bit.
Paul meets his girlfriend in a diner. She tells him she’s pregnant. She’s religious, and she’s keeping the baby… which, by the way, is the worst conversation you can have with your girlfriend, particularly if you don’t want kids, but especially if you’re a closeted homosexual. Since Paul is rejecting his gayness, he sees this as the best opportunity ever and tells her that he loves her and wants to be with her. She replies, “I guess I love you too,” which is exactly the kind of response you want to hear from your gal, isn’t it?
It wouldn’t be an episode of ‘True Detective’ this season if we didn’t get a scene in the bar with Frank, Ray and the world’s worst lounge singer ever. There’s not a whole lot exchanged this week, other than the fact that Frank tells Ray that he’s getting back into some of his more illegitimate dealings and wants Ray to consider leaving law enforcement and coming to work for him.
The episode wraps up with Ray, Ani, Paul and a group of officers raiding a warehouse where they believe Lito and his men are located. They barely arrive on the scene when they start getting shot at by machine guns out the window of a building. Firing back at one of the men causes the top floor of the building to explode in a burst of flames, but Lito and a few of his guys try to make a getaway in an SUV, with Ray, Ani and Paul in pursuit on foot. The SUV crashes into a bus, and eventually Lito is the only bad guy left. He grabs a hostage from the bus and points a gun to his head as both Ray and Paul point their weapons at him. Lito kills the hostage, and Ray and Paul react by shooting Lito full of bullet holes, killing him. As Ray, Ani and Paul look around at the damage, they realize that most of their team and a good number of innocent civilians have been killed.
While this ending is certainly the most action we’ve seen on ‘True Detective’ this year, one can’t help but compare to the ending of Season 1’s fourth episode, which also ended with a big shootout sequence. The difference is Season 1’s sequence (which was a long, continuous tracking shot) was an impressive piece of filmmaking that fans were talking about for weeks. This episode’s shootout is just a typical action scene that’s certainly more violent than the Season 1 scene, but nowhere near as impressive by any measurement. Some of you may say it’s unfair to compare this season with last season, but the show-runners must certainly have known that by putting this scene at the end of the fourth episode, it would instantly remind people of last season’s fourth episode. Not only do I feel the comparison is fair, I believe it’s warranted.
And so ends another episode of ‘True Detective’. Did we learn anything more about the murder this week? Not really. What about our lead characters? Nope. Anyone think this season is going to change significantly in its final four episodes? Well, Ray is shaving his moustache next week. That might be the most exciting development so far this season.
Sorry about the spoiler.