Tweetable Takeaway: Paul, Ray and Ani work together in the best episode of the season so far. Tweet
Airtime: Sundays at 9PM on HBO
By: Paul Gulyas, Contributor
It’s fair to say that, for those of us who haven’t given up watching, this past episode of TRUE DETECTIVE was the best so far. The reason for this was that finally the main story line clashed with genuine character moments, upping the ante for the audience in a way that it previously hadn’t.
We open with a tension filled scene where Frank and Ray have coffee over guns aimed at one another. Though you couldn’t really believe that this would truly be the end of either character (how anti-climactic would that be?) Colin Farrell is such an able actor perhaps he made you briefly question it. This is one example of a slew of scenes in which Farrell nailed everything this episode, from awkward monitored visits with his “son,” to a scene in a prison where he for the first time faces his wife’s ACTUAL rapist, to an insane coke and booze binge, to a phone call promising he’ll leave them alone forever if his ex promises never to tell Chad he’s not his real father. This was all greatly executed, entertaining stuff.
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that it’s the other characters that bring the entire piece down. Your TV show is only as strong as your weakest principal character. Fortunately for this episode, McAdam’s Ani Bezzerides was given a lot to work with and she pulled it off. The knife introduced in the first episode finally got its pay-off when Ani infiltrates one of the mysterious elite’s parties as a call girl and ends up knifing a couple guys, killing one, in her attempt to escape with her missing person, Vera. It’s in this scene, where she is having trippy flashbacks (induced by a very pure form of MDMA) of a creepy bearded fellow (one of The Good People, surely) luring her into a van to molest her.
This is the kind of stuff that was lacking in earlier episodes. We needed to tie these character’s personal flaws into the main conceit of the season: the Caspere disappearance/murder. Before this episode, it felt like all the character details (Paul’s masked homosexuality and weird relationship with his mother, Frank’s impotence, Ani’s webcamming sister) were all big dead ends as far as fleshing out the mystery, and so were tough to sit through. But when you bring character moments INTO the main story, THAT’S when things start to get interesting.
As a side note, a great of example of this from last season was how Cohle and Hart ended up not speaking for years after Cohle slept with Marty’s wife. This allowed them to be distracted, lazy, and to not realize the true Yellow King was still out there, a free man. When new clues pop up decades later, it’s so much more exciting to see the two forced to mend old wounds between them while simultaneously trying to solve the case and save lives. Revealing Ani’s childhood trauma in the midst of her working her most dangerous point along the mystery’s trail thus far was a solid storytelling device.
It was also just fun to see Paul, Ray, and Ani working together at the end like a well-oiled machine, succeeding in saving the girl, getting new crucial evidence, and getting away unscathed. With only two episodes left, I hope the series stays with the good of the episode, and leaves the meandering fluff in the dust, like Ray left the party’s gun-firing security cards in the episode’s final moments.
Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite TV shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store). Check out the SHOWoff app at playSHOWoff.com