True Detective S02 E05: Other Lives


“It’s never too late to start all over again,” Ani Bezzerides assures a reluctant Ray Velcoro; and apparently our “True Detective” showrunners took that advice to heart, as episode five explodes in a tangled highway of new and resurfaced plotlines that bring us back to the bad old days of episode one.  Find out what I really think after the break!

Wow, what happened here?  There was no doubt that last episode‘s gripping shoot ’em up was going to have a profound effect on the characters and the show, but I really didn’t expect to come back nearly full circle.  The episode started promisingly with a not unexpected sixty day or so fast forward view of our characters as they dealt with the aftermath of the shootings  in Vinci:  Frank living in a downsized suburban house, Ray retired and working full time for Frank, Ani attending sexual harassment counseling and working in the basement, and Paul, promoted to detective but working as far from being a motorcycle cop as possible.

...coming in 2016, the True Detective Spinoff Paul Woodrugh: Insurance Cop...
Coming in 2016, the True Detective spinoff Paul Woodrugh: Insurance Cop…

But the edges started to fray almost immediately, as plots that had taken a back seat to Casper’s murder suddenly sprung forward, and brought a bunch of bastard children along with them.  Let’s explore!

Frank and Jordan

That damn baby.  Look, I know that when a couple is trying to conceive it can become an all-important, all-encompassing quest, something that takes up time and conversation and can border on obsession. I get it.  But it’s the least interesting part of Frank’s story, and we’re right back into it.  Maybe Jordan’s need for this child is reflective of something within her character, maybe Frank’s reluctance is more than the fact that it would be the worst effing time to bring a kid into that dynamic.  I no longer care.  And our other plots… Frank is running the clubs he used to run, bad things are happening there and he’s getting threatened by mysterious, scary people (just like he used to).  Perhaps the only positive is the Frank here seems a lot stronger now, dealing with Mayor McSlimy and McCandless with the swagger that was missing when he was just a guy getting out and trying to go legit.  I want to see more of that Frank, and we’ve only got three more episodes to do it.

...are you sure the doctor said this position was the best way to conceive?
Are you sure the doctor said this position was the best way to conceive?

Paul and Emily (and the Mamas)

So Paul and Emily are back together and painting a picture of domestic bliss, just like in episode one.  Before that we get a visit with Mama Hot Mess, and we get reminded about what a terrible, strange mother she really is, what with her boozing and tendency to wear negligees and open robes around her handsome son.  We also get reminded that Paul was injured in Afghanistan, and apparently took $25,000 in walking away money during whatever scandalous thing happened there (great, more information on that plot line).  Of course, Mama stole the money he had hidden in the closet.  Wait… is the money a metaphor for Paul himself?

...It's important that all my stuff stays in the damn closet...
It’s important that all my stuff stays in the damn closet…

Anyway, now we get to wonder where exactly Paul got that money (that he no longer has) and whether it has anything to do with the Caspere case.  And speaking of cases, the case involving Paul and the accusatory actress resurfaces briefly.  Why?  I guess to show he’s a very angry ex-motorcycle cop.  At least he’s not an angry future son-in-law, as he seems genuinely interested in having Emily’s mom move in to help with the baby and the wedding.  Then again, speed-gulping iced-tea laced with two airline bottles of vodka would probably make him amenable to anything.


Hey look, Ray no longer has a mustache!  Just like when he was a young cop in episode one!  He really can start over.  Except for the part when it turns out the guy he killed for raping his wife wasn’t the guy who raped his wife, just some schmuck Frank wanted dead.  Oh, and the lawyer who said Ray is going to need more money to continue the custody battle back in episode one tells him the same exact thing in episode five.  And Ray is following a guy, for Frank, and beating up Dr. Rick Springfield – just like he beat up that reporter.  And he’s angry his ex-wife is trying to take the kid and wants a paternity test, and he’s willing to do anything to get his kid back.  Nice to see Ray’s wonderful character arc apparently arced so much it turned full circle.

...what about me, I arced didn't I?
What about me, I had a character arc, didn’t I?


Remember way back in episode one when in an incredible bit of coincidence, Ani worked two cases that brought her in contact with a family member?  Remember, one of those cases involved a missing girl that Ani agreed to look into.  For weeks I’ve hoped that was simply put there to show Ani was a dedicated cop, willing – despite her shortcomings – to truly serve the community she supports.  Because having that missing girl somehow, randomly have anything to do with the Caspere case would just be one huge bit of coincidence too many.  Surprise!  Turns out the missing girl has everything to do with the case!  Hell, she may be a veritable lynchpin in a click ’em and stick ’em blackmail ring that makes all the rich and powerful in Los Angeles a potential suspect in Caspere’s murder.  What a fantastic plot twist!  Good thing Ani’s such a dedicated detective… except she’s not, since she’s been busted down to desk jockey as part of the bogus sexual harassment charge.

...OK, sister what do I do about Dad?
Okay, sister involved, former partner involved… now what do I do about Dad?

Misc. Stuff

On the good side, it really was nice seeing Frank continue to be a badass.  And he had maybe the best line of the night, describing the feeling of getting dicked out of his money as “blue balls of the heart.”  That sounds really, really painful.

Ani’s scene in the sexual harassment class was  an instant classic, especially as her explanation continued and the workshop leader grew more and more uncomfortable (and the other, all male, attendees grew more and more interested).  Just a rare bit of humor in an otherwise humorless show.

Did anyone else wonder whether Ani getting her sister involved in the case could mean the younger Bezzerides is in danger, especially after she made her happy announcement about school?  Maybe I’m getting too cynical, and “True Detective” has never been that formulaic until this episode, but I guess we’ll see.

So now we have a new special task force… kicked off by the same woman who asked Ani to prostitute herself to get to Ray a few episodes back, and who can… I don’t know, operate above the law.  We’ve got about fifteen plotlines to wrap up and three episodes to do it.  Should be fun.


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