{TB Talks TV} True Detective Review: “Night Finds You”

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true-detectiveseason-2Tweetable Takeaway: “Night Finds You” could have made a statement about what this season could be. Instead it just did more of the same.

Airtime: Sundays 9 PM, HBO

By: , Contributor

Bang!

That’s the sound of Nic Pizzolatto potentially shooting himself in the foot in the last few seconds of last night’s True Detective. It’s also the sound of the shotgun that was fired almost point blank into the chest of Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro, who happens to be the only character that has actually done anything on screen besides just “silently brood.”

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As predicted, if you weren’t into the show last week, there’s not much more for you to cling to here. This episode was a slower crawl than the premiere, and again had the only actual plot development happen in the episode’s final moments.

It kicked off with what could have been a moving soliloquy by Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon if the shot of him laying shirtless in bed looking troubled didn’t immediately bring me back to the scene in Wedding Crashers where, tied to his bed, he gets sexually assaulted by multiple Cleary family members, most memorably the strange goth brother. Not what Justin Lin was hoping for in his vision for the scene I’d imagine.

The rest of the episode is a series of melancholy vignettes that don’t lead into each other or particularly go anywhere. There’s barely any plot to follow here. We see highway patrol officer Paul Woodrugh in an uncomfortable scene with his trailer trash mother, rife with odd sexual energy (reminiscent of Jimmy Darmody and his mother Gillian from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire… the two couples even kind of look like each other).

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Paul also in a later scene makes a point of dropping some homophobic remarks to his detective coworkers, only to stare longingly from a balcony at some men on his Hollywood street below. He tells his girlfriend that as part of this new case he’s working, he’s got to move, and they ultimately break up because of that. But then we never really see him working the case. Isn’t there a murder to be solved here or something?

We also see Rachel McAdams’ Ani Bezzerides in a short scene where she falls down an internet porn clickhole. This at the very least is something I think we can all relate to.

But seriously, Ani does get a little more interesting this episode. While following up with dead guy in question Casper’s therapist, we learn she grew up on somewhat of a “commune” of people called “The Good People.” And as it’s hinted that she may have been abused and/or sexually assaulted there, it doesn’t sound like they were exactly that. She also tells Velcoro while driving around with him, as detectives are wont to do in such detective shows, that she carries a knife with her, so that any man who attacks her will “bleed out.” I’m hoping this is one of those “if you introduce a gun in the first act…” scenarios. I wanna see Ani kick some ass. ESPECIALLY if McAdams is now taking the reigns from Farrell as the least terrible casting on the show.

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That is IF Farrell is really gone. Besides being the top billed actor, Velcoro is the show’s most (see: ONLY) compelling character thus far. Could Pizzolatto really take him from us so early on? Would Farrel really commit to this show knowing he would only be in two out of eight episodes? It’s been noted on the Internet that IMDB still lists Farrel for all eight episodes. The actress introduced as Velcoro’s ex-wife last night (who threatens to have a paternity test in order for Ray to have monitored visits with the kid) said in an interview that future episodes will delve into hers and Ray’s troubled past.

So is Farrell appearing in flashbacks? Perhaps Ani suddenly becomes a medium and he guides her through the mystery as a ghost? Or worse, does Velcoro somehow survive that gun blast and make a recovery in time to be integral to the plot again? This would be completely unbelievable. The “I was wearing a vest!” also would feel like a terrible cop out and completely betray all the trust Pizzolatto has built with his audience as a commanding authority on interesting narrative.

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I’ll reiterate that I didn’t appreciate last season of True Detective until about episode 3 or 4. So I have to give this season until then to hook me. But episode two could have really made a statement about what this season could be after all the set up in episode one. Instead it just did more of the same.

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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
Twitter: @paulgulyas
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Keep up with all of Paul’s reviews of True Detective here.
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