One of the great things about the Nintendo was the reset button. Yes, the reset button. Having a bad game? Things not quite going your (or Mario’s way)? Missed the fireflower? No problemo…just reset the game, and start over from the beginning! Hit the reset button often enough, and soon things will go your way!
Well, apparently the reset button does not just apply to gaming systems of yore. It also applies to TV shows about corruption, murder, creepy psychiatrists and sleazy sex parties. In other words, True Detective, like my old NES, has a reset button.
And it appears that someone did not like the way things were going in episode 4, because the reset button was hit after that episode, and now we are back at the beginning of the game. We can start over, and just erase the prior mistakes (well, not really but it feels that way)! And let me tell you, watching this episode really does feel like an entirely new game!
With that being said, here is my recap and review of True Detective, season 2, episode 5!
And, as always:
Season 2, episode 5 jumps ahead three months after the previous episode, which concluded with a shootout on the streets of Vinci. Ray has resigned from the police department, and is now an under the table security guard for Frank. Frank has returned to his illegal activities, and has moved into a smaller house with his wife, Jordan. Frank and Jordan still do not see eye to eye in regards to starting a family (and other things). Ani has been demoted to working in the evidence locker, and is also forced to attend sexual harassment seminars. Paul is no longer a highway patrol officer and is now working in the insurance fraud department. Paul is also planning to marry Emily, and is looking for ways to secure a future for his unborn child. No one believes that the murder of Ben Caspere was truly solved, even though the investigation has been officially closed.
Paul pays a visit to his mother and tells her that Emily is pregnant and he plans to marry her. Paul’s mother becomes upset, telling him that he should not limit himself in life. Paul also discovers that his mother has stolen $20,000 in cash that he had previously hid in her house. Paul becomes angry and confronts his mother, and then leaves her house.
Ray meets with a judge, his attorney and his ex wife to discuss the custody issues regarding his son. The judge orders supervised visitation and a paternity test, as Ray’s ex-wife believes her rapist to be the father of their son, Chad. Ray’s attorney warns him that his retainer fee will now increase, and Ray asks Frank for extra shifts to help cover his attorney fees.
Frank puts Ray to work investigating one of his subordinates, whom Frank suspects to be double-crossing him. Ray follows the man, who attends a “sex party” in the company of Dr. Pitlor and Tony Chessani, son of Mayor Chessani. The men are also in the company of several women who may be prostitutes.
Even though Ani has been demoted to the evidence locker, she picks up a trail on the case of a missing young woman who had previously worked in her father’s commune. The young woman’s sister sends Ani pictures of blue diamonds. Ani and Paul realize that these diamonds were also seen in Caspere’s house. Ani and Paul head to the young woman’s last known address, which is also an address that was found in Caspere’s GPS. They spot carrion birds near a guest house, and find the inside of the house covered in blood, but find no body.
Ray pays a visit to Dr. Pitlor and demands answers. We learn that Dr. Pitlor also specializes in cosmetic surgery, and has used that skill to change the appearance of women. Ray brutally beats Dr. Pitlor until he receives information on the “sex parties” that the doctor participates in.
Ani visits her sister Athena, and begs for information on the sex parties, as her sister has ties to these parties as a former participant. Athena reluctantly tells Ani that she will speak to some of the women and find some more information.
Ani, Paul and Ray meet with prosecutor Kathryn Davis, who tells them that she is assembling another task force to re-investigate Caspere’s murder, as she also believes that it has not been truly solved. Ani agrees, as she feels the case is linked to the missing young woman. Paul agrees, as he is not enjoying working behind a desk. Ray is reluctant, but persuaded when Davis assures him that she can help him obtain custody of his son if he participates in the investigation. All three are then hired by Davis, but “off the books.”
Davis also informs Ray that his ex-wife’s rapist has now been caught. Ray believed that he had avenged his ex-wife’s rapist by killing the man and is now left to wonder who he actually murdered, and if he was set up by Frank.
Frank and Jordan share a tender moment, and discuss adopting a child. Frank then gets up to investigate a loud knock at the door. He opens the door, and finds Ray waiting for him.
As stated before, this episode was a reset. Did the producers decide that the
game show was getting a little muddled for their tastes, and chose to hit that button so that they could start from square one, just like I did when things weren’t going my way in my NES game of choice?
Well, probably not, but it did have that feel. It was getting kind of confusing after all, and then last week ended on that big shootout with a big pile of dead bodies. So what do you (if you are a producer) do after you end the previous episode with a shootout? That’s right, jump ahead three months and “break up” the Terrible Three!
In all seriousness, I do think that this was a good move. Something about it strikes me as realistic, for one thing. I don’t think that anyone involved in that type of shootout would just return the next day to work, with everything being hunky dory like always. I also think this move allowed the plot line to advance just a little bit…
Well, actually, the plot line advanced more than a little this week. The plot line advanced quite a bit.
For one, it seems that we are getting closer to who murdered Ben Caspere. In the previous episodes, it seemed as if The Terrible Three were walking in circles (both literally and figuratively) in trying to solve the murder of a city official who was probably a rat bastard any way. But in this episode, I can’t say that I became more invested in solving his murder, but I am intrigued now. Whereas in the previous episodes (even the first one), I felt that solving his murder was a side note at best.
I also liked how the show circled back to the missing woman mentioned in the first episode. This (likely) murder is actually much more intriguing to me than Ben Caspere’s murder, and I do want to know exactly what happened to her and how she is connected with Ben Caspere. She is also probably connected with Dr. Pitlor, the icky Mayor Chessani and probably even Ani’s icky dad Elliot. So referring back to this woman added to the emotional gradient of the show, and gave me something to be invested in.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the symbolism in this episode. True Detective has always been big on the symbolism, and this episode was no exception. The birds of carrion seen by Ani and Paul are meant to symbolize something, I am sure. The most obvious would be death. But the death of who (or what)? Perhaps the death of Paul’s old life, now that he has a kid on the way and has promised to marry that kid’s mother? Or is it the death of Ani’s childhood? Ani appears to have had a difficult upbringing, since she was raised in a cult by some dirty old men (there, I said it)? Somehow, I think Ani’s innocence has been long dead, and I am hoping for more details on this, to provide insight into what I consider to be a fascinating character.
And speaking of emotional gradient, Ray was responsible for much of that in this episode. There are almost too many Ray moments to count: Ray battling for his son, Ray finding out he shot the wrong guy when trying to avenge his ex-wife, Ray beating the stuffing out of one of the aforementioned creepy old men, etc. Ray beating the stuffing out of Dr, Pitlor in particular was one of my favorite parts of this episode (and the season so far, honestly). Rick Springfield is just really creepy in this role, and the interaction between him and Ray is great example of chemistry. This kind of chemistry will keep the show alive and keep viewers invested, so I am hoping that we see more of it.
Again, Vince Vaughn. And Frank Semyone. And maybe the show’s writers? Really not sure who I can pin this on. As I have previously stated, Vince Vaughn seems to be stumbling through this role. This is not to say that this character has not had some good moments (his story about being trapped in the basement as a child and battling rats still makes me shiver), but overall, this character is flat. He is flatter than a can of Pepsi left out of the fridge in an 80 degree room, with the tab pulled off. Ok, I am kidding on that. A can of Pepsi may actually bring more dimension to that role than Vaughn has so far this season. And the lines. “Blue balls through the heart.” Am I supposed to laugh? Really, I need a laugh track or something to give me a clue as to how to react when his character says stuff like that, because I am clueless right now…where is this character going? How does he fit in? Since we have advancements nearly everywhere else, I hope that Frank gets his due soon, so I at least have a clue as to how I am supposed to react to him.
Well, that’s it for this week’s recap and review! Join me next week, as we continue to delve into the murder, creepy old men and sex parties that make up the universe otherwise known as True Detective!