I’m not sure how they did it, but “True Detective” pulled a rabbit from their hat to close out season two. Granted, it was a snarling, 300-pound rabbit with matted fur and a taste for blood,
…but they took what had been an uneven, frustrating season and turned it around with a gripping closing episode filled with action, tension, and emotion. Lots to cover after the break.
Ray and Ani
Paul’s death last week turned our little trio into a duet (though his sacrifice does play heavily in events later), as we open the episode with perhaps the most awkward post-coital conversation ever. Ani sharing her recently recovered memories of her brief kidnapping from her father’s commune; while Ray recounts killing the man he thought raped his wife. The scene was actually pretty poignant, moving back in forth in time as each deals with they shared. I’m not sure if sex in a cheap hotel room will ever catch on as therapy, but it certainly seemed to help Ani and Ray. “We saved each other,” Ani tells Felicia later. I don’t think she was talking about her timely wounding of Lieutenant Burris.
Alas, there’s not a lot of time to bask in the afterglow when you’re on the run and wanted for the murder of an attorney general and a cop (yup, they pinned Paul’s murder on Ray too). Lucky for our detectives, Ray read the fan theory boards and had the sudden revelation that the photographer on the movie set earlier in the season kinda looked like the recently revealed Laura/Erica and must be her brother. It was another one of those great coincidences that have plagued this season, but I’m not going to nitpick, they hooked me last week and I’m all in.
There’s not a whole lot of point to pulling in the Laura and Lenny (her brother) plot line at this stage, but again I’m alright with it. Right now it’s all about the story, and this fills in those troublesome gaps as we learn it was all about revenge. And the siblings (at least the crazier half) don’t plan on stopping with Caspere. “I am the blade and the bullet,” Len tells Ray; and in the end, after one last revelation (Caspere was Laura’s daddy, ew…) Len uses the blade and takes a helluva lot of bullets.
Unfortunately, so did Ray, and his final scenes, from his long distance visit with his son to his phone calls to Ani and Felicia to his last desperate flight through the redwoods was some fine television. So much of this episode was about the temptations of Ray Velcoro. Burris and Holloway trying to pull him to the dark side, Frank convincing him to join the heist in the end, and the final one, the inability to resist one last look at his boy really defined Ray’s character throughout the season. He was not a bad man, but one who often couldn’t be counted on to make the right decisions.
In the end, it killed him.
Ray and Jordan
It seems like a very simply equation this season, the episodes in which Kelly Reilly was allowed to give absolutely no f*cks were the best episodes, and the finale was no different. Jordan was fierce in her desire to stay by Frank’s side, and it took every tool in his persuasion toolbox to get her to follow the plan.
The same episode equation can really extend to Frank, and watching him in action, smart and resourceful and badass, was awesome. Granted, it didn’t work out for him in the end, but the action leading up to it was a real treat.
Perhaps more important, were the themes that Frank conveyed. “Relationships are important,” he reminds Ani; and he’s right, because in the end it was those he had built a relationship with that were there for him in the end. Nails, Felicia, Jordan, and Ray himself, sticking with him through the end. Those he treated right were there, so it’s no surprise that those he treated with disdain, that he seemed to forget about were his undoing. Hell, I guess he could be forgiven, by that point of the episode, I had forgotten about the Mexicans myself.
And like Ray, Frank’s final scene really defined him . As the ghosts of his father, and others who had stood in his way before, mocked him, it was easy to imagine this is what drove him throughout his life. Why he relentlessly moved forward to prove them wrong, to make them stop.
But of course, that drive, that need to be on top was ultimately his undoing. His refusal to give up the suit (more because of the diamonds, not the suit itself), that need to always come out on top, and that unending anger, is what cost him in the end. So by the time he came to Blake, begging for life in the white desert sands, Frank was lost. And it was the final ghost, Jordan herself, who had to show him the truth.
Misc Stuff (and Unanswered Questions)
Maybe the only black mark against the episode was the lack of ladies. While they had important parts, and ultimately their actions in the end are what will (hopefully) expose the scumbaggery that is Vinci; there did seem to be a bit of the ‘let the menfolk handle it’ vibe to the finale. Maybe I’m just searching, and frankly I’m glad someone survived.
Did the heist just go a little two easily? There were what, two guards outside the building? Granted, they’re out in the middle of nowhere, but I gotta tell you, for a corrupt organization that spans military-industrial corporations, organized crime, and most of the police force of a town – their security sucks.
Was it really necessary to show the failed connection on Ray’s phone as he died? Really guys, way to twist the blade.
Exactly how did the Mexicans find Frank so easily? Did the Albanians turn him in? If so, why?
Nice touch finding out Paul was considered a hero. It does make you wonder if there was arm twisting, maybe a push for Mom and Fiancee to not dig too deep into Paul’s death. It was galling seeing Burris and the other criminals, smug and untouched, at the various ceremonies. They’ll get theirs, though. In Ani and Jordan we trust.
Loved the misdirection at the end with Jordan holding what we thought was her kid with Frank, only to find out he was Ani’s with Ray. I was really confused two minutes earlier when Ani said “I owe it to his sons” to the reporter, glad they cleared that up fast.
So, season two is in the books and I find myself pretty happy (if a little depressed). What about you? Are you hoping for a third?