Tweetable Takeaway: “Maybe Tomorrow” is the season’s best episode so far, but still fails to live up to season one’s excellence. Tweet
Airtime: Sundays 9 PM, HBO
By: Paul Gulyas, Contributor
I’m happy to say that this episode of TRUE DETECTIVE’s second season is by far the best so far. After an uneven and scattered feeling first two episodes, “Maybe Tomorrow,” the third episode in the season, tells a more coherent story and transitions from character to character more organically. That’s not to say that it has returned to the greatness of the first season. And it’s also not to say that if you hated the first two, you will definitely be on board now. But, it’s an improvement.
At the end of last week we saw Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrel) get blasted in the chest by a masked stranger with a shotgun, point blank. All week long there was speculation (and justified skepticism) over whether or not Colin Farrel was really done after only two episodes. The answer wasn’t quite clear off the bat in episode three. We open on an Elvis impersonator crooning a tune at Ray’s usual dumpy haunt, to find Ray alive and well facing a man we hadn’t seen before. When it’s revealed to be his father, who we don’t know is alive or dead, it might appear that we’re catching a glimpse of Ray entering the afterlife. Or perhaps in some sort of weird coma dream, a la Tony Soprano, in which we’d ultimately see Ray miraculously pull through, only to be on the mend for the rest of the season.
Nope. He’s fine. He was shot with rubber bullets. He has some bruising on his chest and ribs. Why? It’s not clear. And we don’t get the answer this episode. But I wasn’t as frustrated by that as I anticipated I would be, for a simple reason. The story moved on and it moved on in interesting ways.
For starters, the introduction of Ray’s father, (who IS still alive although seemingly couch-ridden sipping whisky with shaky hands and smoking Indica his son brings to him), was a great way to kick off an episode that ultimately paused to examine our main characters’ relationships while still moving the plot forward.
It’s not surprising that Ray’s dad is an alcoholic ex-cop who pines for the days when police could “do their job” (before O.J. he states). But seeing Ray take care of his pops rounds out his character nicely. He takes his father’s old badge from the trash (dad had thrown it away) and next week will give it to his son Chad.
Whether Ray’s ex-wife lets the kid keep it or not will be another story, after she tried to bribe Ray this week to stop the custody hearings and move on. She also warned Ray that somebody came around asking about him–if he has had violent tendencies. Presumably this is in regards to her rapist, whose fate we aren’t quite clear on. It’s enough to scare Ray into pleading with partner Ani Bezzerides to tell him what the state has on him.
Speaking of Ani, we get an interesting glimpse into her love life again, when the cop we first saw her with in episode 1 returns for some loving, only to be rejected. The scene doesn’t have much substance, but it’s there just to remind us that she’s a single woman who is quite okay with being on her own. I may be crazy, but when Ani made a comment about Paul using his good looks to get information, I found myself wondering if there was going to be something between these two.
But alas, it is revealed that Ani is not exactly Paul’s type. And it would seem that his traumatic wartime experiences are not the lone cause of his sexual impotency with his extremely hot girlfriend. Drunkenly staggering out of a sporting event with an old army buddy, Paul’s friend puts a hand on him and asks if he “misses it” and if he’d ever “return to it.” And he doesn’t mean combat. This results in a physical altercation between the two, and Paul leaving in a fury. The rest of Paul’s story this episode has him interacting with prostitutes, some male and gay, who may know something about the deceased Casper. Will Paul indulge in his true sexuality? It’s a question you’d never expect on a season of True Detective, but is an interesting creative choice.
As for Frank Semyon, we see a bit less creativity. The trope of the gangster who wants out and finds himself unable to escape his criminality has been done to death, and with greater actors than Vince Vaughn (a young man named Pacino not the least notable). Frank is incapable of performing sexually as well (with Ani’s ex-boyfriend this makes three men this season so far, presenting an odd choice in theme from Pizzolatto).
Now feeling emasculated after being unable to get it up, we soon see Frank strong-arming a man into extortion, and later beating up and taking the golden grill off the large Mexican cartel boss Santos. Even after all this, in the end he is still too afraid to talk about his inadequacy with his woman, saying “Maybe tomorrow.”
Overall, the delving into the characters’ relationships enriched the story for me. So if you weren’t enjoying this season, this episode may have at the very least been a step in the right direction. If not… maybe next week.
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