It seems likely that “Down Will Come,” like “Who Goes There,” which was slotted into this place last season, will largely be remembered for its explosive final act. The extended shoot out that ends the episode is good stuff, artfully choreographed by director Jeremy Podeswa, and shot with a smart sense of the varying spaces throughout which the fight takes place.
Browsing: True Detective
The opening sequence of “Maybe Tomorrow” is aimed right at one of my biggest sweet spots, with Ray Velcoro trapped at a way station between life and death, finding himself in a spectral dive bar with his father and a performer lip-syncing Conway Twitty’s “The Rose.”
“My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.”
Two episodes into most seasons, there’s plenty of breathing room to get things going, to put pieces in place for later payoffs“My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.” Two episodes into most seasons, there’s plenty of breathing room to get things going, to put pieces in place for later payoffs
The best and worst thing True Detective season two has going for it is that it is not its predecessor, and is, in theory, completely unburdened by the expectations that went along with that season.
Let’s talk about endings. There is a tendency, I think, in our evaluation of all art, to over-value its conclusion. This is especially the case in long-form storytelling like television, where that ending is often years in the making. A show like The Sopranos is lauded as a high-water mark for the medium, and yet by far the most discussed aspect of the series is its ambiguous final scene. The critical reputation of Breaking Bad has yet to settle, but when it does, I would not be surprised to find it is somewhat lessened by an underwhelming finale (if the show had ended with “Ozymandias,” the exact opposite might be the case). There is an argument to be made that endings should be less emphasized, seen as no more essential than any other aspect of the series. In fact, the more stories you hear in your life, the more art you consume, the more likely you are to anticipate and ending or to develop expectations that will not or cannot be met.
“After You’ve Gone” is an hour of filler in a season that long seemed lean enough and tight enough to avoid such a thing. It moves the narrative pretty much completely into the show’s present, though it feels the need to track in some unnecessary flashbacks if only to avoid abandoning its structural oddities entirely. It loses a lot of True Detective’s hypnotic power, to the point where even that long final shot didn’t capture me or strike me with the sense of dread it should have. Instead, it was just the end to an episode that felt about as interesting as Marty’s frozen dinner, a low point for the series to date.
Karen Vick calls the gang together to announce that she’s taking a better job in San Francisco. She then gives Carlton a recommendation to take her place as Chief, but the Mayor has no interest in placing the head detective in that position. Desperate to take the vacant slot, Lassiter leads a round-the-clock investigation into the death of the Mayor’s uncle, reporter Archie Baxter, to butter him up. Lavish flashbacks tell us all about Baxter (played by Tim Omundson), who stakes out a nightclub in the hope of breaking a story about major corruption within the SBPD. Though the chief (Kurt Fuller) refuses to listen to Baxter’s evidence, he decides to prod deeper into the foul goings on at the Limelight, a club owned by police-connected gangster Rodney Caruso (James Roday) where he spotted two police officers getting drunk while on-duty. There, r&b singer Myles Velour (Dule Hill) performs and he – under threat of blackmail thanks to a gambling problem and a secret affair – is Caruso’s secret stooge. Caruso’s icy girlfriend Scarlett Jones (Maggie Lawson) is the club’s all seeing, all knowing eyes – and once she gets a bead on Baxter’s true purpose for being at the club the real trouble starts.
True Detective trains you to watch it. It sticks in your brain until it virtually alters your chemistry, until it gets you on its level. It’s easy to say the show forces you to think like Cohle, that it pushes you into your darkest corners and makes you take a look at the monsters you keep hidden under your mental bed, but that isn’t the whole story. It also trains you to think like Marty. From the moment we watched Cohle pick up that Devil Catcher in the abandoned school at the end of “The Secret Fate of All Life,” what followed in “Haunted Houses,” where we track him in a downward spiral until the case forces him off the force and into estrangement from his girlfriend and his partner was inevitable. But similarly, The second I saw Beth, I saw her like Marty did, and saw what must be coming. There’s a reason that “Time is a flat circle” monologue from last week has stuck with me. There’s a reason it has remained so hypnotic. There’s a reason why, when all is said and done, I’m likely to remember that just about most of all when I reconsider season one of True Detective.
When we’re in it, time feels almost impossible to perceive. Even if you’re staring at your clock, literally watching the seconds tick away, it can be difficult to perceive anything beyond a permanent now. But the past recedes from us, like tide from the shore. Years seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye. Eras of our life slip away into the past. When you look back, time is a sea you are sailing on, and the distance you’ve traveled feels unimaginable, even if you can almost grasp at every second. The future is unknowable, to the point that it is nothing, at least nothing concrete; but the past, the past can drown you, if you let it.
Near the end of this week’s episode of True Detective, we see Rust board a riverboat that slips silently out into the night, into a darkness we can’t even imagine. It feels almost as if we’re watching a scene from Apocalypse Now, that Rust is Captain Willard traveling deeper and deeper into enemy terrain. But Rust isn’t Willard, not really. Rust is Colonel Kurtz, the broken husk of a man preaching his gospel to a world that won’t ever hear it. And he isn’t journeying into that jungle, searching out his prey. No, he’s the predator, back, finally, on his home turf.