True Detective Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 8

Well, here it is, folks…

The last episode of the second season of True Detective.

Where everything gets tied up all nice and neat, the heroes win and everyone lives happily ever after!

Well, not really (especially on the happily ever after part).  But the season concluded, and we now know the fates of (almost) all of the characters.  And we have an ending, even if it is not the happy one we may have wanted.

With that being said, here is my recap and review of True Detective, Season 2, episode 8.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The episode begins after Ani and Ray have consummated their relationship.  Ani and Ray both confess their painful pasts to each other, and make plans to escape Vinci and its corruption.  Ray then receives a call giving him news of the death of Paul.

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Ray and Ani speak to Laura Osterman (Caspere’s former secretary), who turns out to be one of the children who was orphaned by the robbery of the jewelry store in 1992.  They learn that her brother Leonard (the camera man on the movie set in episode 3) was the one who actually killed Ben Caspere, and that Caspere is the father of Laura.  The robbery was also to keep the public from finding out about Caspere’s affair with Laura and Leonard’s mother.  Leonard and Laura had plans to use Caspere’s sex tapes for blackmail, in exchange for the blue diamons.  Ani buys Laura a bus ticket, and tells her to get as far away from Vinci as she can.

Frank pays a visit to Mayor Chessani’s mansion and finds him dead in swimming pool.  Frank then meets with his Jordan, and tells her that she must leave Vinci as soon as possible.  Frank promises to meet Jordan in Venezuela in two weeks or less.

Ray and Frank invade the headquarters of Catalast, the company involved in the land deal gone bad.  Ray and Frank then proceed to murder everyone, including Osip, and also take $2 million in cash.  They split the money between them, and promise to each other that they will meet up in Venezuela.

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Ray meets with Leonard in a transportation center in Anaheim.  He tells Leonard to let him bring justice to his former chief Holloway.  Ray then meets with Holloway, and tells him that he has killed Leonard.  Ray tells Holloway that he wishes to be cleared of the murders of Paul and the prosecutor Kathryn Davis.  However, Leonard comes out of hiding and stabs Holloway.  Leonard is, in turn, shot by Burris, who has been hiding in a corner.  Ani shows up and also begins shooting.  Both Leonard and Holloway are killed, and Ray and Ani escape from the transportation center.

Ani visits Dr. Pitlor’s office, and finds him dead, with his wrists slashed.  She also notices that his his files are missing.

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Ray sends Ani to board a boat, telling her that he will catch up with her when she can.  Ray wants to see his son Chad for the last time, so he peeks in on Chad at his school.  He notices that Chad is playing a game, and using his grandfather’s badge as a game piece.  When Ray leaves the school, he notices that his car has had a tracking device placed on it.  Ray then realizes that he will not make it to Venezuela and drives to the forest.  He leads his pursuers on a chase and manages to take out a couple of them, but the pursuit ends in Ray’s death as he is shot.

Frank attempts to leave Vinci but is kidnapped by members of a Mexican gang in retribution for setting fire to his clubs.  The gang drives him out into the desert and robs him of his share of the cash.  One member asks Frank to give up his suit but Frank refuses.  Frank is then stabbed and left out in the desert.  He begins to walk across the desert and has hallucinations of various people from his past.  These hallucinations include his abusive father and the bullies who tormented him as a child.  Frank finally sees an image of his wife Jordan, who is wearing a white dress.  He thinks that he has escaped, but Jordan tells him that he actually died several yards away.  Frank sees his own dead body, and collapses, dying of his wounds and exposure.

The episode jumps forward several months.  The murders of Paul Woodrugh and Kathryn Davis are pinned on Ray, and the news reports that he was taken down in a standoff in the woods.  The paternity tests ordered by Ray’s ex-wife confirm him as Chad’s father.  Woodrugh is hailed as a hero and memorialized.  Tony Chessani is inducted as mayor of Vinci, implying that the corruption will continue.  The construction in Vinci continues.  Ani speaks to a reporter in Venezuela and tells him her story.  The reporter tells her that she should testify, but she refuses, and continues a life on the run.  Ani then meets with Jordan, and we learn that she has given birth to a baby boy fathered by Ray.  The two women make their way on the streets of Venezuela, as they continue to try to escape the danger that continues to haunt them, even though they have started a new life on a new continent.

Exclusive... 51651882 Actors Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams filming scenes on the set of 'True Detective' in Los Angeles, California on February 12, 2015. The hit HBO show is in it's second season, Farrell and McAdams are taking over for Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson who were the detectives on the first season. FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813


 

My Thoughts

So, the second season of True Detective (that was much anticipated and had high expectations to meet) is now over…

Or is it over?  I know that this show is an anthology show (much like Fargo and American Horror Story), but I still had the impression that something was left…unfinished, to say the least.

Maybe I was supposed to feel this way.  After all, reality is hardly ever nice and neat with a tidy ending, and perhaps this season was trying to bring that point across.

And I found the ending to also be quite disturbing, on quite a few levels.  And perhaps some of that feeling is because everything was so unfinished.  After all, no one ever really faced justice for the murder of Caspere and the conspiracy surrounding it.  It is true that Leonard died, but the corruption was given license to continue, since Tony Chessani was inducted as mayor, after he got away with murdering his own father.  The public was never told the actual truth about the murders of Paul and the prosecutor, Kathryn Davis.  Instead, the city of Vinci was led to believe that Ray was the one who committed the murders, when he was actually one of the few people who was trying to bring the truth about Vinci to light. Ray paid the ultimate price for that, and it is unlikely that anyone will ever know the truth.  And Vinci will be able to continue on in its corrupt ways and face no consequences…that is an unsettling thought.

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Another unsettling thought is the thought of Ani and her lifestyle.  It appears that she has been perpetually on the run, although she did tell her story to someone.  However, that action has put her at risk, even though she has fled to another continent.  The implication is that is that Ani will constantly be in danger, and will always need to keep that knife in boot (we saw it at the beginning of the season and we saw it again in the last episode).  In the beginning, Ani was running away from a troubled childhood.  But now she is running from people who want to kill her and would probably stop at nothing to hurt her and her son.  So any kind closure for Ani is a thing of the past.  Any kind of normal life for her and her son is also a thing of the past.  While Ani may do a better job at protecting her son than her father did at protecting Ani and her sister, she is still unable to give him the kind of normal childhood that she did not have.  So this is both sad, and disturbing.  In other words, Ani got screwed again.

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I think Frank’s death scene was my favorite part of this episode.  The imagery was really good, I loved seeing him walk through the desert and have hallucinations involving people from his past, like his father and childhood bullies.  If there really is a hell, being stuck in the desert and haunted by people from your past would be a pretty good depiction of it.  The vultures following Frank also added a nice, disturbing touch to an already creepy scene.  And I liked how Frank finally reached his wife, and she was wearing her white dress.  Perhaps Frank will find the peace in death that he could not find in life.

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So, let’s evaluate this season.  I have been holding off doing this, since I wanted to see the entire season before passing judgement.  This show is really more like an eight hour long movie, so evaluating it without seeing all the episodes would be akin to evaluating a movie I didn’t watch all the way through.

Because of the ground-breaking first season, True Detective was subject to some ridiculously high expectations for its second season.  The first season was unlike anything on television, and provided something unexpected:  a writer’s show, that featured ridiculously tight writing, and performances from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey that were also ground-breaking.  So, the second season was supposed to follow up, right?

Well, not necessarily.  It would have been nice to see performances from the actors that were similar to the first season, and a script so cleverly written, but alas, we need to be realistic.  And by being realistic, I mean that we need to cut everyone, from the writers, to the producers, to the actors, some slack.  Sometimes an artist  (or in this case, those involved with a TV show) is just in the zone, and that artist creates something never seen before, and is hailed as a genius.  And of course, people come to expect genius from that artist, and anything less than genius is seen as failure.

So was the second season of True Detective genius?  Not really.  But was it an utter failure, as some critics have painted?  Far from it.

The second season of True Detective was good.  Very good, in fact.  However, it was never great.  And there were a couple of things that kept it from reaching great.  One of them was a convoluted plot line, with too many characters to keep track of.  The final episode was a great example of that, as it went back to a character (Leonard), who was only seen for a few minutes on a much earlier episode.  Had I not been doing research and watching like someone who was analyzing the show for a blog post (imagine that), I would have had a hard time connecting this character to the story.  We also learned a lot about the characters’ pasts, like Ani’s history of being sexually abused and Paul possibly committing war crimes during his time in the military, but the show failed to really flesh any of this out and connect it to the story line as a whole.  In other words, we were provided some interesting puzzle pieces, but were unable to find out where they fit in the jigsaw puzzle, and those pieces just ended up being left out the table.

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Another issue with this season of True Detective was the acting.  Or lack of it, in some cases.  In the first season of this show, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson both provided performances for the ages.  McConaughey’s performance, in particular, was another ground-breaking aspect.  A character such as Rust Cohle was never seen in a “mainstream” TV show, and McConaughey was able to portray this character so beautifully. And of course, this set a high bar for the acting for season 2.  And that bar was not reached (and probably never will be on any show).  This is not to say the acting in season 2 was bad.  It wasn’t.  Colin Farrell gave a great performance and was able to portray Ray as sympathetic, even when Ray was not being a good guy.  Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch gave decent performances as well.  Rick Springfield gave what may be the most memorable performance as the creepy doctor that one does not want to meet in a dark alley.  But the show also suffered from uneven acting, particularly with Vince Vaughn’s character.  Vaughn did have some memorable moments (his death scene was probably his best), but fell short too many other times.  There were times when I think that his dialogue was meant to be serious, but either it just made me yawn or even start laughing.  And I still don’t know whether this is the fault of Vaughn, the lack of decent writing for his character or perhaps a combination of the two.  I am leaning towards the latter, although I may change my mind in the future.

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So did I love this season of True Detective? Well, love is probably too strong a word.  But I did like it.  In fact, I really liked it.  And really liking something, as opposed to loving it, is the next best thing.  Really liking something is the consolation prize, and who said consolation prizes were a bad thing?


 

So that’s it for the second season of True Detective.  Sometimes it was confusing, sometimes it was disturbing and sometimes it was even frustrating. but it was never dull.  And hopefully we will be meeting again next year to discuss and dissect season 3.  But until then:

that's all folks 1

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True Detective Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 7

Well, it appears that a certain show has bigger cajones than an un-neutered male dog…

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Yes, I am talking about the penultimate episode of True Detective, in case that wasn’t evident.

And boy oh boy, was it eventful, to say the least.  Well, at least things are never dull with this show.  Confusing, yes.  Disturbing. yes.  Puzzling, yes.  But dull is not a word that creeps into my vocabulary in conjunction with this show.

With that being said, here is my recap and review of True Detective, season 2, episode 7.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler

 


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with Ani, Ray and Paul clustered in a hotel room.  Ani is recovering from her ordeal and the drugs she was given, and Ray and Paul review the documentation that they found.  Ben Caspere’s name is found in the documentation, along with Tony Chessani’s name.  It appears that Ben Caspere’s shares of a company were redistributed after his death.  All three realize how dire the situation is.  Ani tries to seduce Ray, but her advances are rebuffed by Ray.

Paul receives some pictures on his cell phone, showing him and his friend Miguel engaging in some compromising acts.  Paul speaks to his mother and fiancee, and tells them that they need to lay low for the time being, as it appears that his cover on the case was blown.

Ray speaks to Frank and relays the night’s events to him.  Ray also presses Frank for the name of the person who wrongly identified his ex wife’s rapist.  Ray also looks to track down his former chief to question his involvement in the Caspere murder.

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Ani speaks to her dad and sister, Athena.  She also tells them that they need to leave town, as her involvement in the case may endanger their lives.  Ani also speaks to her father about the man who molested her as a child, and her father expresses regrets about being unable to catch the man.

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Paul does some research on the internet in regards to the blue diamonds and finds some information on Caspere.  Paul also discovers that Ani is wanted in connection with the death of a security guard at the “sex party.”  However, it appears that Paul is being watched while he works.

Ani speaks to Vera, the girl she rescued from the “sex party.”  Vera has recovered, and is not happy about being rescued.  Ani tries to question her but Vera gives very little information.  Vera does mention a girl named “Tasha” who was one of Caspere’s “favorites”, but talked too much, intimating that Tasha may have met an untimely end.  Vera’s sister shows up, but Vera is reluctant to leave with her sister at first.  Ani warns Vera that if she does not leave with her sister and lay low, she may also meet an untimely end.

Frank confronts his lieutenant Blake, in regards to the death of Caspere, and the wrong of identification of Ray ex-wife’s rapist.  Blake tells Frank that the man presented a problem for him, and he wanted an easy way to get rid of him.  Blake also confesses to killing Frank’s business partner Stan.  Frank then beats Blake almost to death, and then finishes the job by shooting Blake in the chest.  Frank then summons his wife Jordan to the scene.  Jordan is not upset by the dead body and asks what she can do to help.

Ray attempts to deliver the documents that he and Paul stole to the prosecutor Kathryn Davis, but finds her dead in her car.

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Frank makes some deals with a jeweler to raise some quick cash, and purchases plane tickets to Venezuela, along with some fake passports.  Frank goes to his club and speaks to Mayor Chessani, letting the mayor know that his son Tony has been involved in some unsavory activities.

Paul’s blackmailer requests to meet Paul at the Hall of Records.  Paul calls Ray, fearing a setup.  Ray tries to warn Paul not to go to the meeting, but Paul hangs up the phone.  Paul sees his friend Miguel, along with Ray’s former chief Holloway.  The men meet in tunnels under the city, and Holloway requests the documents that Paul and Ray stole the night before.  It is also revealed that Miguel’s encounters with Paul were part of the set up.  Paul says that he will sell out Ani and Ray so he can give the documents to Holloway, but is able to trick the chief.  Paul grabs the chief’s gun, and is able to hide from the armed men while using Miguel as a human shield.  Paul then attempts to make his way out of the tunnels and back to the city.

Ani and Ray are looking at photos from the sex party back at the motel room.  Ani realizes that Caspere’s secretary resembles one of the children who was orphaned as a result of the robbery of the jewelry store in 1992.  They realize that they cannot advance the case any further now due to the death of Kathryn Davis, and begin to open up to each other about their pasts.   Ray and Ani then consummate their relationship.

Frank clears the safe in both of his clubs of all cash.  He then sets both clubs on fire, and watches them burn.

Paul nearly makes it to safety, using Holloway’s gun to defend himself against the henchmen.  However, Officer Burris (a crooked police officer), waits for Paul in the shadows.  Burris then shoots Paul twice from behind, killing him.


 

My Thoughts

Ermahgod, Ture Derterctive!

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Oh, this episode.  The series started off at a leisurely pace (snail’s pace, actually) but now appears to be heading off a cliff…

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And I was lulled into a false sense of security.  I know that there would probably be a death this season (since this one is so dark), and when Ray found the body of the prosecutor, I let my guard down…a little bit.

Well, that was not a good idea, because what happened next came out of left field.

In other words, the death of Paul was an emotional throat punch.  It was very well played, because I thought that he was safe.  But once I was lulled into feeling safe, he was ambushed and killed.

And yes, I think this death is “for real” this time.  This is not like the “death” of Ray.  Blood was shown, and Paul tried to defend himself, and was unsuccessful.  This was NOT the case when Ray was shot, as there was no blood shown, and Ray was shot once but did not struggle with anyone like Paul did.  The writers of the show are not playing around, as one major character has been killed, along with a “major” minor character (the prosecutor Kathryn Davis).

The show is finally bringing in some emotion, which is a good thing.  And now I find myself actually caring about who killed Ben Caspere (I really did not before).  And of course, I want to know how that connects to the murder of Paul. as well.

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I did make complaints about Vince Vaughn’s character in some earlier entries, and those complaints still stand.  However, I did enjoy his character in this episode.  Maybe because of all the senseless violence he was inflicting on those who wronged him?  Whatever the case, Vaughn played a good psychopath in this episode, ruthlessly hurting anyone who got in his way.  It made me buy the “gangster who tries to be good, he really does” scenario, but I am still not completely sold on this one.  The jury is still out (until the final episode, at any rate).

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The final few minutes of this episode were the best part of the episode, and probably the best part of the season as a whole.  The sequence that included Frank burning down his clubs, Ray and Ani consummating their relationship and the death of Paul was done beautifully.  The flames added such a nice touch and conveyed the message clearly:  the characters’ world is going down in flames, both literally and figuratively.  And next week, our characters will have to sort through the ashes and attempt to put everything back together again.  And the odds of putting everything back together don’t look good:  one dead prosecutor and one dead cop.  Not to mention a dead informant.  Oh, and the original dead guy.  Will we actually find out why he was killed, and why there is this conspiracy that literally includes the mayor of Crazy Town (Mayor Chessani)?  Its hard to say, given how tangled this has become, but I will be tuning in to find out.


 

Well, that’s it for this week’s recap and review of the sometimes confusing but never dull second season of True Detective.  Join me next week, when we will review, analyze and dissect what promises to be quite the interesting finale!

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True Detective Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 6

Yes, sometimes you just need a reset.

Actually, sometimes a reset is just what the doctor ordered (well, as long as the doc in question is not evil Rick Springfield…ewwww).

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And as I stated last week, True Detective certainly benefited from the reset.

Again, this week…the benefits of the reset were certainly visible.  In fact, the game has kicked into full gear, and we are finally making some progress…

With that being said, here is my recap and review of True Detective, season 2 episode 6!

And, as always:

Homer spoiler

 


Synopsis

The episode begins with a confrontation between Ray and Frank in Frank’s house.  Ray wants to know why Frank sent him to the wrong man, as the man he killed did not rape his ex-wife.  Frank responds that he was given bad information, but that he will track down the man who gave him the information, if Ray will help him recover a hard drive owned by the deceased Ben Caspere, as the hard drive main contain clues to Caspere’s murder.  A truce is then called between the two men, and Ray leaves Frank’s home.

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Ray then visits his ex-wife’s rapist in prison, and tells the man that he intends to badly hurt him for what he has done to Ray’s family.  Ray visits with his son Chad, but the visit is uncomfortable, as it is being supervised by a state official.  Ray then heads home, and indulges in drinking and a massive cocaine binge, smashing all of the models that he and Chad built.  Ray calls him ex-wife and attempts to make a deal with her:  he will allow her full custody, as long as she agrees to not reveal Chad’s parentage to him, if it turns out that Ray is not his father.  His ex-wife reluctantly agrees to these terms.

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Frank and his wife Jordan pay a visit to the bereaved family of Frank’s deceased business associate, Stan.  The couple offers comfort to Stan’s widow and son.  Frank then meets with people whom he thinks may have information in regards to Ben Caspere.  Frank tortures one man, and the man gives up the name of a woman, Irina, who may have information on the blue diamonds that once belonged to Caspere and were sold to a pawn shop. The woman tells Frank that an unidentified police officer told her to sell the diamonds.  Frank convinces the woman to meet with him, but finds her murdered once he arrives at their pre-arranged meeting place.

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Paul continues to track down the blue diamonds, and meets with a jewelry store employee who once sold them in his store.  The owner speaks of a robbery/shootout in 1992, and of two children who were orphaned due to the incident.  The owner tells Paul he knows little about the children, other than their approximate ages in 1992 and that they then became part of California’s foster care system.

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Ani makes preparations to attend the sex party to obtain information.  Paul and Ray place a tracking device on her so that they may know of her whereabouts.  Ani boards a bus, and has to give up all her personal belongings, including her cell phone and purse.  Ani arrives at the party and is almost immediately drugged by the hosts of the party, and is propositioned by a much older man.

Ray and Paul spy on men making some kind of land deal, similar to the one Frank had made with Ben Caspere.  Ray and Paul then steal some of the documents so that they can be reviewed.

In the meantime, the drugs are affecting Ani, and she begins to have terrifying flashbacks of being molested as a child.  However, Ani purges the drugs from her system, and steals a carving knife.  Ani then notices Vera, the subject of her missing person case.  Ani rescues Vera, and stabs a man with the knife, escaping from the mansion.  Ani and Vera then are rescued by Paul and Ray, who speed away from the mansion as quickly as possible.


My Thoughts

Well, then.

Finally…

The confusing, winding road known as True Detective, season 2 is finally leading somewhere…

And…

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Yeah, in a nutshell, I suppose.

This episode may be the most eventful episode of the season so far.  Like the shots of highways and traffic this show seems so fond of, this season started out slow, and was almost meandering.

Not this episode.  This episode sped down the open road, much like the car that contained our heroes in the final scene.  So buckle in guys, and let’s get ready to take a ride!

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First of all, the show now seems to want us to be invested in the characters.  We got to see Ray have a cocaine and booze infused temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums.  We also got to see the alleged gangster Frank console a dead friend’s child.  Now, I don’t think this is coincidental.  The show is gearing up for something major.  A death perhaps?  It would seem that way, although maybe that thought is just a little bit over-simplified.  However, I do think that there will be something major that will happen with one or more characters in one (or both) of the upcoming episodes.  So right now, this is just speculation, but only time (and the remaining two episodes) will tell.

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Another curious thing that I noticed about this episode was the photograph of two children with dark hair, who would be in their mid to late twenties if they were still alive today.  The two Chessani children have dark hair, and appear to be in their mid to late twenties.  Somehow, I don’t think that this is a coincidence either.  Chessani’s daughter has even stated that her father is “evil.”  And we know that Mayor Chessani himself is a shady character.  So it does not seem to be much of a stretch to speculate that even his means of acquiring children would perhaps be surrounded by shady circumstances.  The children were orphaned by a robbery that went wrong.  Or were they?  Was something even more sinister at work?  Again, its pure speculation, and only time (and the next two episodes) will tell.

Well, ok.  You want to get to the good stuff, right?  Right?  RIGHT???

Yes, the “sex party” scene.  The one that the internet has been abuzz about for the past several months…

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Well, not quite as creepy as this movie, although the entire last 7 minutes or so of the episode probably would have made Kubrick proud…

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In all seriousness, the scenes at the sex party were very, very well executed.  I loved how we could see the party from Ani’s perspective, who happened to be stoned out of her mind (well, until she took it upon herself to change that).  I also loved how the past and present was merged (Ani appears to see her molester at the party and the two settings bleed into each other).  My heart was literally in my throat the entire length of the part, and I am sure my sigh of relief once Ani escaped was audible.

Oh, and speaking of Ani…

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I think we are in for a major character arc, and soon (I know, only two episodes, but still).  The flashbacks scenes were creepy and just confirmed my suspicions…Ani was in fact molested as a child.  And we don’t know who the perpetrator was…could it have been the creepy Dr. Pitlor?  Or maybe one of her father’s other creepy friends?  Hell, could it have been her father himself?  At the very least, Ani’s creepy dad was probably complicit in whatever abuse she endured as a child.  She has seemingly repressed it up until now (although I am wondering if Dr. Pitlor had something to do with the repression as well, since he seems to be good with mind games, in a literal sense).  My heart also broke wide open for Ani during the final few minutes of the episode, as she was weeping.  I don’t think these were tears of joy or even from the trauma of that horrible party…I think they were actually tears of sadness and shock from the sudden recovery of her past memories.  My heart aches for Ani, and I hope that the show gives us some answers and some closure for poor Ani.

 

 


 

Well, that’s it for this week’s dissection of the roller coaster ride known as True Detective.  Join me next week, as we delve into the penultimate episode of murder, corruption, sex and all that other good stuff.

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True Detective: Season 2, Episode 5 Recap and Review

I remember playing a lot of Nintendo games as a child (I was, and still am, partial to Super Mario Brothers in particular).

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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!

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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:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

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.

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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.

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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.

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My Thoughts

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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True Detective Review and Recap: Season 2, Episode 4

Good morning everyone, and welcome to this week’s recap and review of True Detective, season 2, episode 4!

You know, True Detective, the land of incredible coincidence and let’s use everything as a metaphor, even that random piece of dirt on the ground (ok, slight exaggeration, but still).

This week’s episode was interesting, to say the least.  So time to cut to the chase, and delve right in to this week’s review and recap!

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with Ani and Ray inspecting the vehicle that had caught on fire in the previous episode.  Ray and Ani both agree that the person who set fire to the vehicle is probably not Ben Caspere’s killer.  Ray also states that it appears that someone does not want this case solved.

Paul awakens in a hotel room, apparently having spent the night with a male friend.  It appears that the two have had a sexual encounter, but Paul has no memory of the events from the night before.  Paul is accosted by reporters outside of the hotel, who pepper him with questions about his military service and Operation Black Mountain.  Paul attempts to leave the hotel, but finds that his motorcycle has been stolen, and is forced to call Ray for a ride home.

Ani and Ray track down Mayor Chessani’s daughter Betty and question her.  Betty recognizes Ben Caspere, but cannot recall much about him.  Betty reveals that her mother died when she was only 12 years old.  Ani also reveals that she lost her mother at a young age as well.  Betty also tells Ray and Ani that her mother was treated by Dr. Pitlor, the same psychiatrist who treated Ben Caspere.

Ani pays a visit to her sister Athena, and the two reminisce about their mother.  Ani examines sculptures that were created by her mother, and states that the memories often sneak up on her.

Ray and Ani then visit Ani’s father Elliot in the commune where he works and lives.  Elliot confirms that he knew Dr. Pitlor, although in a more academic sense, as Pitlor was taking part in a study about communal living that was conducted with Ani was a child.  Elliot also confirms a connection to Ben Caspere, and even to Mayor Chessani, although the connection is to Chessani’s father and not to Chessani himself.

Paul meets his ex girlfriend, Emily, in a coffee shop.  Emily tells Paul that she is pregnant and keeping the baby.  Paul is shocked, but states that he thinks that they should get married and be a family.

Ani and Ray take a trip to Fresno to investigate some land that was of interest to Caspere.  They speak to a work from the EPA who reveals that the land was actually contaminated due to mining run-off, and that no farmer will attempt to grow anything on that plot of land, making it useless.

Frank spends the episode trying to re-establish relationships with his old contacts, with varying degrees of success.  He also argues with his wife, Jordan, about their fertility issues and some of Frank’s business decisions.

Ani’s boss calls her into his office, and informs her that she has been suspended from her job and has been charged with coercion by Internal Affairs.  Ani had a relationship with a co-worker that she had ended the previous episode, and also had a brief sexual affair with her current partner.  Ani states that she is the victim of a double standard.  Her boss warns her that these relationships will be thoroughly be investigated by Internal Affairs, along with her gambling debts.  However, Ani will be allowed to remain on the Caspere murder investigation.

Ray visits his son Chad, and passes on his father’s badge to Chad.  Ray warns Chad not to let his mother know of their visit before disappearing into the night.

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Paul has investigated some items sold to a pawn shop and identified them as being owned by Caspere.  The man who stole the items is Amarillo Ledo, and all three cops suspect that he is the killer.  Ani puts together a task force to apprehend the man.  Ray passes on this information to Frank, who puts together his own task force to apprehend Ledo.

Ray, Ani and Paul track Ledo to a warehouse that he is known to frequent.  At the same time, people are protesting Vinci’s new railroad system that has taken money away from other forms of public transportation.  A shoot out ensues, with several by-standers and cops being injured or killed.  A SUV crashes into a bus.  Ledo takes a by-stander hostage but then shoots the man in the head.  Paul and Ray and then fire their guns at Leto, killing him.  Ray, Ani and Paul are the only ones left standing at the end of the shoot-out.


 

My Thoughts

Well, I can say that this show is confusing at times.  However, what this show is not is dull.  This show is not dull, not by a long shot.

Previously, I have stated how much I love the character of Ray Velcoro.  And that still stands, Colin Farrell has done a great job with this character in making him somewhat sympathetic, even when Ray is being a scumbag.  However, the past couple of episodes have shifted more focus on Paul and Ani, who are also turning out to be fascinating characters in their right.  Paul is obviously a closed homosexual who is a textbook case of repression, as he is repressing his sexuality and some of his memories in regards to his time in the military.  And now his ex girlfriend is pregnant.  And Paul proposed.  Something tells me that Paul is headed for a major disaster of some kind (all the ingredients are now in place), and it will be interesting to see what happens to this character.

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Ani has become another fascinating character, who has been supremely acted by Rachel McAdams.  The character of Ani herself is fascinating:  she is a female cop.  She takes charge of her sexuality.  She doesn’t care what others think, even her boss.  She also takes charge at her job, putting together task forces, giving her partners leads to chase down, even taking charge of the driving.  She is righteous and committed to solving a murder that her partner has repeatedly told her that they are not supposed to solve.  And she is an old soul:  even her childhood pictures prove that.

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Another fascinating thing about Ani is all of the coincidences that seem to tie her in to this case.  So far, she has visited her father twice in the name of work.  And there is that creepy doc:  Dr. Pitlor.  He seems to be tied in to both Ani and the mayor’s daughter, Betty.  And  Ani likely knew Mayor Chessani as a child, and she is suddenly under investigation for her relationship with her co-workers.  Oh, and she took part in a major shoot-out while trying to chase down a bad guy.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  The writers have been teasing us, and the tease is becoming almost unbearable.

Speaking of unbearable, what is up with Frank?  Really, what is this guy’s deal?  Right about now is when we get to the confusing part…what is going with this character?  Conflicted does not even begin to describe it…one minute, he is almost the of this season, with his quotes.  And the next minute he’s pulling teeth (literally, even if they were gold ones.  And good on Jordan for calling him out on that in this episode!)  And in this episode, he makes threats (and gets all tough guy about his dental health) in a bakery, of all places.  And argues about adoption and fertility in his avocado tree orchard (which, while we are talking about coincidence, just happens to be barren)?  And is now suddenly the owner of the brothel that was the subject of investigation in the last episode?  This character is just all over the place, and right now I am not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing.  Nor am I sure if the problem is with the writers, the actor or both.  So I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will see some more cohesion in the upcoming episodes.

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This episode did feature the most action packed scene (so far) in the entire season:  the shoot-out.  Turns out taking down a (suspected) bad guy is never easy, and our heroes got first hand experience with that in this episode.  And were the only ones left standing, to boot.  Is this (like almost everything that seems to happen this season) some kind of foreshadowing?  And was the shootout and the trail to Ledo a setup?  It certainly has that feel.  And it will be interesting to see what the repercussions of this shootout will be, since Ani, Ray and Paul are the only survivors (I think), and so many others were either injured or kill.  This cannot be good, since Ani will now no longer be the only one under investigation from Internal Affairs, and it lends to veracity to the theory that someone (or a few someones) does not want this case solved, and does not care what he/she needs to do to prevent this case from being solved.


So that’s it for this week’s dissection of the ever confusing, sometimes infuriating but never dull TV show otherwise known as True Detective.  Join me next week for more analysis, dissection and possibly even some hair pulling!

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True Detective Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 3

Well, T.S. Eliot may have had it slightly wrong…

After all, it is supposed to end with a whimper, and not a bang, right?

Well, maybe the world will go out with a whimper, so its still possible that Eliot could be right about that…

But if he was talking about True Detective, then Eliot certainly missed the mark.

Last week’s episode did not exactly go out with a whimper (well, except for Ray Velcoro…even tough guys with crazy ‘staches certainly have the right to whimper after getting shot).  And this week’s episode began with a bang, and ended with…well…a bang.  And it seems the season has now taken off, so to speak, so I think we will be seeing a lot more bangs in episodes to come.

So here you go…bang (see what I did there?)…here is my recap and review of True Detective, season 2, episode 3!

Joker 3


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with a dream sequence from the mind of Ray Velcoro.  Ray dreams of the club where he normally meets Frank, but encounters his father in the dream.  There is also a man impersonating Conway Twitty and lip-synching to the song The Rose.  We learn that Ray has a troubled relationship with his father.  Ray then comes back to consciousness and realizes that he is not dead, but has been injured because he has been shot with buckshot.  Ani is called to the scene, and chides Ray for not calling her for back up.  Ani then tells Ray to seek treatment, and also to take some time off from the job.

True Detective 3

Frank and his wife are then seen at a fertility clinic, presumably to begin treatments for in vitro fertilization.  Frank complains that the process is unnatural, and argues with his wife before they leave the clinic.

Ani and Paul pay a visit to the home of the mayor of Vinci.  Paul and Ani question the mayor’s wife and son, but obtain no new information on the murder of Ben Caspere.  The mayor’s son hints that he may be involved in some unsavory business but then proceeds to kick Ani and Paul out of the house.

Ray visits his dad and tries to engage him conversation.  However, Ray’s father is not receptive, and only tells Ray that law enforcement is now corrupt.  Ray leaves his father’s house, taking his father’s police badge to pass on to his own son.

Ray also visits his doctor.  The doctor clears him for duty, but warns Ray that his excess drinking and other unhealthy habits may lead to an early death.

Frank renews his contacts in the underworld that he left behind, as he is desperate to find out what happened to Caspere, and to find out what Caspere did with the collateral given to him by Frank.  Frank also finds out that an associate of his named Stan has been murdered.

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Per the suggest from Ani, Paul begins to investigate various prostitutes and call girls in an attempt to gain a lead on the murder of Caspere.  Paul also meets with one of his friends from his days in the military, but the encounter ends in an argument after the other man begins to hint of an intimate encounter with Paul.  Paul also investigates a club that Caspere was known to frequent.

Ani and Ray also investigate a movie set that was tied to Caspere.  The vehicle used in the murder has been traced back to the movie set, but the staff claimed it was stolen.  One of the staff had quit recently.  Ani questions the man, but he claims that he quit due to medical issues.

Frank questions various people on the murder of Caspere and his associate Stan.  The questioning turns into torture, and Frank uses pliers to remove the gold teeth of one man.  Frank then returns home, where his wife is waiting for him.  Ray tells her that he does not feel like talking, and disposes of the gold teeth before going to bed.

Ani and Ray stop at Ray’s house while pursuing leads in their murder investigation.  Rays ex-wife pays him a visit at his home, and informs him that state police are questioning her about some of his activities.  Ray’s ex-wife hands him an envelope with $10,000 and tries to bride him to not contest custody of their son.  Ray refuses the money and dismisses his ex wife.

After Ray’s confrontation with his ex-wife, Ray and Ani head back to the vehicle.  However, they are stopped in their tracks as the vehicle has been set on fire.  Ani gives chase to the perpetrator, who leads her on to a highway.  Ani is nearly ran over by a semi-truck, but is shoved out of the way in the nick of time by Ray.  The perpetrator flees and evades capture.

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My Thoughts

Last week’s opening sequence was awesome.  I loved it.  I loved Frank’s description of his childhood, the rats, etc.  And this week’s opening sequence was also awesome.  But weird too…weirdly awesome?  Awesomely weird, perhaps?  Whatever the case, it was weird.  And awesome.  I can’t help but think that perhaps there was a little foreshadowing, in both the song choice and the setting to the dream sequence.  Is this foreshadowing for something that may happen to Ray?  We now know that Ray’s health is horrible (really, it can’t be good when the doc asks you point-blank if you want to live) and he had a near brush with death the last episode (it was just buckshot, but still).  Its a fascinating question, and I believe that this dream sequence will be referenced again in a later episode.

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I have spent much time discussing Ray and Frank in my previous reviews, but I would like to take the time to discuss Paul’s character for a minute.  In the previous episodes, it was hinted that Paul may have some hang-ups (and is a serious mama’s boy to boot).  Well, this episode has confirmed those hang-ups.  All of the characters on this show are troubled, at least to a degree, but Paul may be edging out Ray for the “troubled bad boy” medal.  Paul is a closeted homosexual.  And he appears to have some anger issues, as evidenced by his argument with his friend (and possible former lover).  This is going to make for an explosive combination, and I am sure that we will be seeing the results of that combination in the near future.  I am also curious to see how Paul’s anger will affect his relationship with his partners, especially the one with Ray, as the two have not had very much interaction as of yet.  Paul’s issues may also have an interesting effect on the murder investigation, as the show has hinted that there are some tie-ins to the pornography and of course, the oldest industry in the books (prostitution).  So it seems that Paul may be confronting some of his demons soon, and that confrontation will be interesting, to say the least.

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True Detective deals in symbols, and this episode was no exception.  There was the scene at the beginning of the episode, with the dark bar and the Conway Twitty impersonator performing The Rose.  There are the ariel shots of the highways that criss-cross.  And in this episode, we also had gold teeth.  Frank was shown to be unmerciful when he tortured that man and played “dentist,” pulling out the man’s gold teeth with pliers.  Frank later disposes of those teeth when he gets home, and then dismisses his wife’s advances in the same breath.  Is Frank losing his humanity?  Are we seeing the man who is willing to kill a “rat” with his bare hands?  Frank wants to claim he is a legitimate business owner and entrepreneur, but his actions in his episode are anything but.  Frank and his wife also claim to want to be parents and bring a baby into their world, but again, Frank’s actions are anything but.  So perhaps, the gold teeth, and Frank’s disposal of them, symbolize a turning point in Frank’s story line.

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I have watched three episodes of the season so far, so I am almost to the point where I can play “so who is the killer?”  Is it the person who attacked Ray at the end of the previous episode?  It is possible, the assailant was wearing the same mask worn by the killer.  Is it the person who set the car ablaze and led Ani and Frank on a wild goose chase that nearly got Ani killed?  Probably not.  Life is never that easy, after all.  And the car was set ablaze after Ray’s confrontation with his ex-wife, which also culminated in attempted bribery.  Surely, that is not coincidental.  I think that the killer was more likely to be the person that attacked Ray as opposed to the person who set the car on fire, even though it is also likely that Ray’s assailant may be yet another red herring, and that we have not “heard” from the killer yet.  But speculation is fun, and it looks like there will be plenty more speculation to come.


 

So that’s it for this week’s review and recap of True Detective.  Join me next week for more dissection, speculation and analysis of what is shaping up to be a fascinating second season!

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True Detective Recap and Review: Season 2, Episode 2

What.  The.  Fuck.

Or is it what the fucking fuck?  Or maybe what the actual fuck?

Yes, I am talking about True Detective.  More accurately, the second episode of the second season.  To say this episode ended on a cliffhanger would be the understatement of the century (or at least of this month).

CarOffCliff

This show is all about suspense but this episode took that concept to another level, and wow.  Just wow.  Not sure what to say other than wow, but let me try…

With that being said, here is my recap and review of True Detective, seasn 2, episode 2.

And as always:

Spoiler alert

 

 


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with Frank Semyone awakening from a nightmare.  Frank then tells his wife of an incident in his childhood, where his parents locked him in a basement for a few days with no food or water.  Frank recalls that he was attacked by rats and forced to kill the rats with his bare hands.  Frank also wonders if he maybe still actually in that basement, and everything thereafter is actually just a dream.

Ani, Paul and Ray come together to discuss the autopsy of Ben Caspere, the city official who was found murdered in the previous episode.  We learn that Caspere’s eyes were burned off with hydrochloric acid, and that his genitals were shot off.

Ani and Frank begin to chase leads in Caspere’s murder.  They review Caspere’s appointment book, and speak to his therapist.  The therapist recognizes Ani by her last name, and states that he knew her father.  Ani replies that she is the only person among the girls she grew up with in her father’s commune to have a normal life; two committed suicide and the other two are in jail.

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We also learn that Caspere owed Frank several million dollars before his death, as Frank had given Caspere all of his liquid assets to invest in a land deal that never came to fruition.  Frank begins to panic, and places pressure on Ray to solve the murder as quickly as possible, so that he can recover his money.  Frank also poses as a witness, and has his people beat a man who owes him money.

Ray also begins to come unhinged.  He meets his ex-wife at his son’s school, and is refused visitation of his son by his ex-wife.  Ray’s ex states that she no longer wants their son to spend time with his father, and threatens Ray with supervised visitation.  Ray nearly breaks down in tears, and tells his ex that he will burn the city down for his son, if that is what needs to be done.  Ray’s ex also threatens him with a paternity test, implying that her son may not actually be Ray’s son.

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Paul travels to see his troubled mother, who almost acts like Paul’s jealous lover.  Paul then breaks up with his girlfriend, as she feels she does not know the man inside.  Paul is upset, but pays a visit to what appears to be a club that caters to gay men, and appears to have interest in the patrons.

Ray speaks to the mayor of Vinci, who states he wants the case solved, although the mayor does not seem serious.  Ani and Ray again chase leads, with Ani driving the car.  The conversation between Ray and Ani is awkward, but Ray admits most of the rumors about him are probably true.  In particular, Ray admits that his ex-wife was a rape victim, and that he is probably responsible for the death of her rapist.  Ani reveals that she feels the constant need to fight (and to keep a knife on her at all times) because she is one of the few women on the police force.  Ray also tells Ani that he thinks that there are people out there who do not want them to solve this murder case, as solving the case may expose some truths in regards to the city of Vinci, which has always been mysteriously prosperous.

Frank and Ray meet in a club.  Frank tells Ray that Caspere actually owns another house, which should also be investigated.  Ray’s exhaustion is apparent to everyone, including the cocktail waitresses employed by the club.

Ray pays a visit to Caspere’s second home.  However, his investigation is cut short when he is shot by a masked man a few minutes after he enters the house.


 

My Thoughts

Before I get into anything else in regards to this episode (and believe me, there is plenty to get into in regards to this round), I would like to give a shout out to the theme song.

Yes, you heard that right.  The theme song.  Mostly, I fast forward through those, via the magic of DVR.  But this theme song is actually worth listening too, as it is a Leonard Cohen song!  And Leonard Cohen and this show are a match made in heaven (or is it hell, considering how dark both can be?)  Whatever the case is, the choice of a Leonard Cohen intro song is brilliant, and I commend whoever made that choice.

See the first paragraph of this post.  Yes, this episode was eventful, and not just the cliffhanger of the ending.  I saw a few turning points to the story, so let’s attempt to break some of them down.

First of all, I thought the opening scene was brilliant.  And it made me think back to my childhood art classes!

Seriously, covering a balloon with a sticky newspaper concoction, popping the balloon and painting what was left was really fun!

In all seriousness, the opening scene accomplished a lot.  For one, it was creepy.  There were no visuals, as we had to rely on the storytelling of Frank, but the story still managed to be creepy.  Actually, when aren’t rats creepy?  I immediately thought of a story by HP Lovecraft.  And we know this show has (in the previous season, at least) made a few references to HP Lovecraft.  Probably this is just coincidental, but maybe not…

I also loved the “papier mache” reference, and the musing that perhaps we are all just dreaming, and that like papier mache, life is fragile and can fall apart at any moment…quite beautiful, really.  That one would have made Rust Cohle proud.

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And then there is the matter of Paul.  At first, I thought he was a pretty boy.  And he still is a pretty boy (Taylor Kitsch is easy on the eyes!)  but his character seems to be a bit more complex than that.  Complex as in a guy who is questioning his sexual identity but is still a pretty boy.  And did I mention that he may have some major mommy issues?

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Somehow the singer of Jessie’s Girl is really creepy and unsettling.  I don’t know how Rick Springfield has accomplished this, but a)  he needs to keep it up and b)  we need to see more of this character!  And I have a funny feeling that we will see more of this character, as the connection to Ani feels a bit too coincidental.  Is it too much of a stretch to imagine that the good Dr. Pitlor is somehow involved in the murder?  Maybe not, but I am sure we will find out soon.

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Ok, enough of the pleasantries.  We all know what really needs to be discussed today.  And that would be Ray Velcoro, although I may start calling him the Schrodinger’s Cat of the series…

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Well, I am sure the fate of Ray Velcoro will be solved with use of something slightly less complex than quantum mechanics.  Even after his apparent “murder” by one of these creatures:

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However, the show (in just two episodes, to boot) has spent a lot of time and energy developing the character of Ray Velcoro, especially with this episode.  The beat down of the bully and bully’s father was epic enough, but this episode added to the emotional landscape.  Ray is not a nice guy, but he is still somehow sympathetic.  I really did tear up a little during the scene with his ex wife, as that scene revealed the love that Ray has for his son, even though the boy may not be related to him in a biological sense.  Ray is also a sharp detective, and I could practically see him putting the pieces together, especially when he tells Ani that he believes that there are people who do not want this murder solved.  It would also be interesting to see just who set up that shooting:  was it Frank, Ray’s true boss, or someone else?  Could Ray’s earlier statement have been clairvoyant?  Fascinating questions, and I can’t wait to delve into the next episode and hopefully get some answers.

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Well, that is it for this week’s dissection of True Detective.  Tune in next week, where we open Schroedinger’s box, and find out the true state of the cat Ray Velcoro!

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True Detective Recap and Review: Season 1, Episode 1

Have you ever got sucked into something, whether it be a book, a movie or TV show, so much that you forget to do stuff?  And I’m not talking about forgetting minor details, like forgetting to do the dishes one night…

No, more like forgetting to do the dishes for three nights.  Or forgetting to cook dinner.  Or forgetting that you need to eat dinner, for that matter.

Yes, there have been a few TV shows and books that have caused me to neglect my real life, because….well, because the world in those shows and books was just so much darn cooler than my real life!

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That’s right, Dark Tower series, Sons of Anarchy and Arrow!  You guys are responsible for many a neglected chore, and I thank you guys for that…I am just a sucker for a good story!

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I can also add the show True Detective to this list.  I had heard good things about the show on some fan site or another, and had birthday money to burn.  So I bought the series, and began to watch it almost immediately.

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And never regretted spending money on that series.  I never regretted one single dime.  In fact, I was so impressed that I bought my dad the series for his Christmas present.  And the man who can take years to watch a single season of any show had finished watching it by January 15th, and sent me a text message saying how impressed he was.

So yes, the first season of True Detective was impressive.  It was really impressive.  In fact, the only bad thing I could say about it was that it wasn’t returning for a second season…

Well, our beloved Marty and Rust were not returning for a second season.  True Detective is an anthology show, where none of the seasons are related to each other.  In other words, each season will have different characters, a different setting and even a different mode of storytelling.  We get to start over from scratch, so to speak.

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So, it was a bit of a bummer…I loved Rust Cohle so!  And I loved the setting, and the tie ins to HP Lovecraft.  That setting in particular just made all the events on the show that much more plausible.  But we get to start over with a new cast and a new story line…kind of like a new school year, where your slate is clean and all things are possible!

Well, I’m not sure about the slate being clean…with this show, that slate is more like another dirty slate, but a different kind of dirt.  After all, we are dealing with murder, corruption, sex, crooked cops, bullies and sex, if I didn’t mention that part before.

So, lets get ready to look at our new slate…here is my recap and review of True Detective, season 2, episode 1!


 

Synopsis

The show begins with a man dropping his son off at school.  The son is obviously troubled, but the man tries to reassure his son that all will be well at school.  The man is revealed to be a cop by the name of Ray Velcoro.  Ray learns that a city manager, Ben Caspere, has disappeared, and is assigned to investigate the case.  Ray searches the man’s apartment, but only finds evidence of an interesting sex life.

The story switches over to the perspective of Paul Woodrugh, a California motorcycle cop.  Paul is falsely accused of soliciting sex from a woman he pulls over and is placed on administrative leave by his superiors.  Paul also enjoys riding his motorcycle at high speeds on the California highways.

We are then introduced to Ani Bezzerides, who is a detective for Ventura county.  Ani investigates what she thinks to be an illegal porn business that her sister is involved in, but can find no cause to arrest anyone.  Later, Ani and her partner investigate a missing person report, which leads them to a commune, where Ani’s father is a leader.  Ani and her partner question her father and other employees about the missing woman, but don’t turn up any leads.  Ani also argues with her father about her sister, whom she feels is on the wrong path.

Frank Seymone is then introduced.  Frank is an entrepreneur with ties to organized crime.  Frank is also tied to Ben Caspere, who is a business partner of his.  Frank and Ben are involved in a project to build a new system of transportation for the city of Vinci.  Frank is also tied to Ray, in that Ray takes care of some of Frank’s nasty business.  For example, Ray brutally beats a reporter who tries to publish an article that Frank dislikes.  Ray and Frank are shown to have extremely close ties, but it appears Ray is conflicted about the relationship.

Ray learns that his son is being bullied at school.  Ray finds out the name of the child and his parents, and pays them a visit.  Ray then threatens the child, making him promise to leave Ray’s son alone, and then beats the child’s father in front of the child.  Afterwards, Ray flees the scene, leaving the child’s mother to assist her husband and son.

The episode ends with the discovery of the body of Ben Caspere.  The corpse is discovered by Paul, was was out on one of his motorcycle rides.  Ani and Ray are also called to the scene, signalling the beginning of a murder investigation.


 

My thoughts

For the record, I am trying my best to not compare the second season of True Detective to the first season of the season.  Trying really hard…

But I can’t help it, I’m human.  And when I watched the show, I did see some things that reminded me exactly what show I was watching.  For example, I did notice the lighting.  The first season showed shots of dim lighting, and so does this season.  This is a trick that works to the show’s advantage (in both seasons) and effectively sets the mood.

Speaking of mood, this show is one of the moodiest I have ever watched…I would hate to see what color its mood ring would turn, if the show wore one.  The lighting, the music (you can’t get much moodier when you have a Leonard Cohen song as a theme song), the ariel shots of the highways…to me, all of the above are supposed to make the viewer feel unsettled.  And if unsettled is what the writers, directors and producers were going for, then they should consider themselves successful, as the vibe I got was dark and downright creepy.

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Another interesting thing about season 2 of True Detective is that one of the main characters is female.  The female characters in season 1 were not central characters, and were either used to add twists to the relationship between Marty and Rust, or were victims of the serial killer.  The viewer only saw these characters through the eyes of Marty and Rust, and these characters were never fully developed.  However, this is not the case this season.  Regina George Ani is a character who is not (hopefully) used for the advancement of the male characters in the story.  I am already fascinated by her…she may have some daddy issues!  And her sister, what is going on with that, and how will that tie in to this murder mystery?  And why is she so at odds with what appears to be everyone?  These questions have sparked my interest, and the only way (maybe) to find out is to keep watching!

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And let’s talk about Ray Velcoro.  Like I said before, I am trying not to compare this season to last season, but sometimes even I fail.  But I just have this funny feeling that Ray Velcoro may be this season’s Rust Cohle.  We didn’t actually see a lot of Ray in the first episode, but I think it was enough to know that he will be this season’s most intriguing character.  Who beats up the father of his son’s bully, right in front of the bully (although naming your kid Aspin should get you beat up, I mean really?!  Really?!)  And working for the mob…I almost thought we were in Gotham for a minute!  Ray seems so angry and so heartless…he has no problem hurting anyone, even a kid (although said kid was a bully but still).  I am intrigued to find out why Ray is the way he is (like I was intrigued with Rust last season), and I have a feeling the back story will be an interesting one.

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My only complaint thus far is the character of Frank Seymone.  Vince Vaughn is a fine actor, but seems to be struggling a bit in this role.  The character comes off as a little two dimensional, and a character like his deserves justice.  However, I have only watched one episode.  There will be seven more episodes, and I am optimistic that his character will be developed more in future episodes.

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So that’s it for this week’s recap and review of True Detective.  Tune in next week to explore more in the world of corruption, crooked cops, high speed motorcycle chases and murdered city officials, when we dissect episode 2!

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