‘True Detective’ 2.06 Recap: “A Mexican Standoff with Actual Mexicans”

Despite the fact that the last couple of episodes have been much more coherent than what we got earlier in the season, I feel safe in saying now that Season 2 of ‘True Detective’ is a huge disappointment. Not just in comparison to Season 1, which was arguably a masterpiece of TV drama, but by any television standard. The story is confusing and uninteresting, and the characters (and many of the actors who inhabit them) seem to have only one gear: tortured and depressed.

This week’s episode picks up right where last week’s ended, as Ray arrived at Frank’s house for a confrontation. Both men sit at the kitchen table across from one another, with guns pointed at each other underneath the table. Ray reveals that the man Frank told him raped his ex-wife wasn’t guilty of the crime. Frank says he didn’t know that and assures Ray that the man was still a very bad guy. During the conversation, Frank also tells Ray that if he wants out (meaning working for him) that he can leave. He doesn’t believe Ray is cut out for this sort of work anymore. However, he mentions that he needs Ray’s help finding the missing hard drive, so I guess he wants Ray around just a little longer. He then tells Ray that if he ever comes near him packing a firearm again, he (Frank) better not see Ray coming. Whether that means he doesn’t want to know he’s about to get shot or if he means that he’ll kill Ray, I’m not exactly sure. Vince Vaughn has been delivering his dialogue with such unemotional flatness, I’m not sure Vince knew what his character meant either.

Ray goes off to the local prison to threaten the guy who really assaulted his ex, while Frank and his wife go visit the widow of Stan, who I think is one of Frank’s guys who got wacked several episodes back. They give the widow a big envelope of money and Frank goes out to talk to Stan’s son, letting him know that his father’s death will make him stronger in the end. I thought for a few seconds that maybe Frank was interested in adopting the kid, but apparently this scene was just a time-killer.

Ray has a visit with his son, under court supervision per the judge’s decision we saw in the last episode. Ray’s kid just wants to watch ‘Friends’ on TV, and Ray figures that anything would be more interesting than the show he’s stuck in right now. (OK, I made that last part up.) After the visit, Ray returns home to smoke some cigs, do some lines of coke, hit the hooch, and tear his place to shreds. After he’s done with his little rampage, he calls his ex on the phone and tells her that if she agrees not to do the paternity test and never tells her son that Ray is probably not his father, he’ll give up the custody fight and, in fact, never see them again. After a few minutes, she agrees to his terms.

Frank is able to track down the missing Irena Ruofo, who was one of the now-deceased Ledo Armarilla’s call girls, and apparently knows something about the Caspere murder and/or missing hard drive, though honestly I couldn’t follow how she’s connected to the case. He finds her with the help of a couple of Mexican drug dealers who want to use Frank’s nightclub to sell their product. Over the phone, Irena mentions something about a cop being involved, but when Frank goes to meet her in person, the Mexicans have already slit her throat – saying they want nothing to do with cops.

Ani finally goes undercover as an escort in this episode, joining a bus full of hookers up to a large house for one of the sex parties we’ve heard so much about in previous weeks. While she’s inside, Ray and Paul work their way past security and observe a meeting between McCandless and the Russian. When the two men leave the meeting, Paul breaks in and grabs some files and documents in the room.

Meanwhile, Ani finds herself in a big mess as she and all the other girls are forced to take some kind of drug that’s supposed to put them in a better mood. The drug turns out to be a sort of hallucinogen, and Ani has visions of a creepy bearded guy from her past who apparently sexually assaulted her when she was younger. Was this her father or some other guy from his commune? The drug also causes Ani to flip out on one of the party guests who comes on to her. She assaults him and then stabs and kills one of the guards at the party.

Ani also finds Vera, the missing sister of that woman Ani served an eviction notice to a number of episodes back. I still have no idea how Vera ties into any of this (other than that she may know what happened to Caspere), but if she does turn out to be a major reason the case is solved, the writers have done a horrible job setting it up. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could never figure out what this missing girl had to do with anything. Anyway, Ani and Vera join Paul outside and they make a run down to a car driven by Ray, and the four speed off into the night. That’s it.

It’s starting to look like Caspere’s death doesn’t have a whole lot more behind it than a group of corrupt politicians, organized crime figures, and (most probably) a few cops. Remember when Ray got shot at the end of Episode 2 by the guy wearing the creepy crow’s head? Back then, I thought maybe the mask signified some crazy cult or dark underworld that would be slowly revealed in the episodes to come. Sadly, there’s nothing quite that imaginative happening on ‘True Detective’ this season. I’ll confess that I probably wouldn’t have stuck with this show had I not been recapping it, and won’t be sad to see it end. This season seems to be the polar opposite of what last season delivered.

But hey, at least we didn’t get a scene in that dive bar with the depressing singer this week. So that’s something.

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