{TB Talks TV} True Detective Review: “Church In Ruins”

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true-detectiveseason-2Tweetable Takeaway: Paul, Ray and Ani work together in the best episode of the season so far 

Airtime: Sundays at 9PM on HBO

By: , 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. 

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I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that it’s the other characters that bring the entire piece down. Your  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.

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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.

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Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite 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
Twitter: @paulgulyas
Tumblr: paulgulyas.tumblr.com

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2 Comments

  1. Revealing that Ani had suffered abuse was just a huge cliché. Wow, what a surprise. Because you can’t possibly be a strong woman unless you’ve been raped! YAWN.
    The show is put together like a couple of college kids shot it. And why couldn’t Ani have gotten into the party by joining the catering team? I mean… Yeah. It was the best episode so far, but that’s not saying much. Colin’s dialogue in the prison scene was laugh-out-loud funny. At this point you guys are just trying to polish a turd. Good luck with that.

  2. Ani’s flashback to her molester didn’t advance the story or her arc.

    If she flashed back to her molestation AND this led her to a realization that helped her escape, save the girl or crack the case then it would have been an active beat. As of now, it’s just a piece of backstory. She was molested as a kid by the creepy spiritual cult led by her dad who we already know is creepy and we already know she hates. Great.

    We already know she comes from a screwed-up upbringing and is self-destructive. So she was molested as a child. Surprise?

    Speaking of pointless scenes, how about Taylor Kitsch’s trailer park mom. Did you know his mom was a terrible mother and is white trash who blames him for ruining her (no doubt spectacular, I’m sure) dancing career? No? Okay then here’s three more scenes of her and him yelling at each other, in some cases literally repeating the same lines twice in the same scene (like when she says she carried him for 9 months twice)!

    And just when you didn’t think these scenes were going anywhere, here comes a really logical plot point: Taylor hid a bag of money for FOUR YEARS in the top shelf of the one closet in a small trailer home and then was SHOCKED when he found the bag was empty! How could his upright, moral mother have found it? How could she have spent it, full well knowing it was his and he planned to claim it in 4 years?

    The story decisions made this season are absolutely baffling. Screenwriting 101 being ignored in every episode.

    Ugh.

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