I won’t go as far as to call this week’s episode of ‘True Detective’ a good one – the season is far too much of a mess to make that proclamation – but I will say that in terms of storytelling, this is one of the most straightforward entries. In other words, I didn’t spend the whole episode scratching my head trying to figure out what was going on… only part of it.
After last week’s bloody shoot-out, the show takes a dramatic leap forward on the timeline, returning to these characters’ lives a little over two months later. Ray has left his job with the police (and shaved off that 1970s porn mustache) and is now working for Frank doing security in his casino and some collections work. Frank and his wife have been forced to move into a much smaller house, although they’re still fighting just as much as ever. Ani is still a cop, but she’s been demoted and is required to attend a therapy counseling group for sexual harassment. Paul is no longer a CHP officer and is now working on insurance fraud cases. We also learn that the Ben Caspere murder has been pinned on the Latinos involved in the shoot-out we saw at the conclusion of last week’s episode, meaning that the case is more or less closed.
This episode features a number of meetings with lawyers. Ray and his ex-wife are still battling for custody of their son. The judge in the meeting orders a paternity test for the boy and, in the meantime, requires that Ray’s visits with his son must be supervised by a representative of the court. Meanwhile, Paul is still trying to straighten out his issues with the actress accusing him of sexual assault. The actress threatens to take him to court, but it becomes obvious that she’s just using the threat in order to get past charges against her dropped.
Knowing that he’s going to need extra money to continue his legal battle over his son, Ray meets with Frank. Frank continues to be suspicious of his right-hand man Blake Churchman, so he assigns Ray to follow him. When Ray does, he sees Blake going to a large house and picking up a trio of attractive women from another man. He then takes the women to another location in the city and turns them over to yet another guy.
Paul pays another visit to his mother this week, and – naturally – things don’t go well. He discovers that she’s stolen and spent the $20,000 in cash that he had brought back from Afghanistan and had stashed away in his room. While fighting about this, his mom tells him that she knows about Paul’s homosexuality. Paul calls mom a few choice words and storms off. Later, when Paul has a sit-down dinner with his wife-to-be and his future mother-in-law, he has to spike his iced tea with alcohol just to get through the meal.
State attorney investigator Katherine Davis thinks that the Caspere murder has been swept under the rug, so she meets with Ray, Ani and Paul about working for her again, undercover this time, to find out the truth. Ray resists getting involved again, until Davis promises that she can help him keep custody of his son. Ani has gotten some new evidence in the case, including photographs of the blue diamonds they found in Caspere’s safety deposit box, a photo of a state senator at an exclusive party, as well as an invitation card to said party. It’s decided that Ani will tackle the high-end escort aspect of the case, Paul will investigate the diamonds, while Ray will do what he does best – beat the truth of out potential suspects.
After Ani and Paul leave the meeting, Ray asks Davis why she trusts him again. She says it’s because the police finally caught the guy who raped his ex-wife, so she now knows that the rumors about Ray killing the guy can’t be true. However, given Ray’s reaction to the news, it becomes clearly obvious that Ray did kill a guy… and now he needs to find out why Frank sent him after someone who obviously had nothing to do with his ex-wife’s assault.
Frank has a meeting with local businessman Jacob McCandless, who is willing to pay Frank a lot if he can get his hands on Caspere’s missing hard drive, which contains blackmail videos of important people taken at various sex parties. McCandless, incidentally, is my prime suspect this season. Not so much that he seems the type, but rather because the character is played by Jon Lindstrom, a notable former soap opera star who played an evil twin (and his good brother) for over a decade on ‘General Hospital’. My guess is that he wouldn’t be playing this seemingly unimportant character (at least up until this point) if there weren’t more to his story.
With the investigation now underway again, Paul learns that the now-deceased (a victim of the big shoot-out) Det. Dixon was making inquiries about the blue diamonds before the detectives ever came across the safety deposit box. Ani, meanwhile, meets with her webcam-star sister to see if she can use some of her contacts in the escort business to get her an invite to one of the sex parties.
Finally, Ray goes to the office of the psychiatrist and plastic surgeon, Dr. Pitlor (Rick Springfield). Ray beats the tar out of him to get the doctor to admit that not only did he turn some of Caspere’s “8” escorts into “10”s, but he tells Ray that the mayor’s son, Tony Chessani, was working with Caspere at the parties as well. While Ray is busy beating the stuffing out of the good (or not-so-good) doctor, Ani and Paul team up to investigate a lead, and stumble upon a shack in the woods with a bloody chair that someone apparently had been duct-taped to. Is this where Caspere was tortured and murdered?
This week’s entry wraps up with Frank in bed with his wife, where he seemingly comes to the decision (after learning earlier in the episode that she will probably never be able to conceive) that he’s fine with them trying to adopt a child. Suddenly, there’s a loud knock at the door and Frank goes to answer it. It’s Ray… and he wants to have a talk with Frank. Uh-oh.
As noted at the outset of this recap, this was probably the most straightforward and easy-to-follow episode of Season 2 to date. I’m not sure the show can redeem itself after a pretty awful start, nor am I willing to say that this was a particularly outstanding entry. But I wasn’t as confused or as bored as I have been in past weeks, so that – if anything – is worth noting.