From True Detective Season Two

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 5: “Other Lives”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 5: “Other Lives
Directed by John Crowley (Boy A, Closed Circuit)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Church in Ruins” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Down Will Come” – click here
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The aftermath of the shooting at the end of Episode Four has begun to fall over everyone like the ashy snow of an atomic blast.
Ray’s had enough of being a cop, or at least he thought so anyways. Ani is stuck in departmentally mandated therapy and thrown in the basement looking after evidence. Paul faces scrutiny about the Vinci shootout and his time in Afghanistan due to the microscope over him concerning his trouble from the First Episode: the actress who accused him of soliciting oral sex in order to forego a moving vehicle citation. So, the shooting has spread out, touching them all in different ways, even Frank is affected.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.58.08 AMThis week’s episode begins a little ways down the road after the climactic shootout during the final minutes of “Down Will Come“. In the first scene, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) looks jaded, frustrated, as if he doesn’t have the words anymore; not for himself, not for his wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly).
Frank is beginning to be severely disrespected by Mayor Chessani (Ritchie Coster). Great scene where Frank leaves the Mayor’s office while the charismatic comedy of Vaugh comes out of Frank’s personality.
One good thing for Frank is that it seems he and Jordan do have things under control. For now. They’re almost as much like competitors, adversaries, as they are lovers, husband and wife. Either way, they seem to be on level ground for the time being. It’s clear they’re in love, but the stress of Frank’s old life keeps pressing on the new one they want to have, the new life they want to give. Though, Jordan is settled for now with the idea of maybe not being parents.
There are a couple real good Frank lines this week:
“The enemy won’t reveal itself, Raymond[…] it’s like, blue balls in your heart.”
(to his wife Jordan) “I was born on the wrong side of a class war, so fuck that gangster shit.”
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.02.47 AMMeanwhile, Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) has quit the Vinci Police Department; he’s working security for Frank full-time now. He looks clean cut, shaved, and even sober – though the last, not so much. Unfortunately, he’s getting booted out of the house he lives in because it’s reserved for municipal employees, which Ray is no longer.
Turns out Ray’s doing more than just “security” – he’s collecting money from slum apartment complexes for Frank. So, though he finds himself out of the grip of his masters in the P.D, Ray is clearly under the thumb of Frank; forever, and ever. Or is he?
Frank is peeling back the layers of the onion which is Ben Caspere’s murder. He asks Ray specifically if the Mexicans did Caspere, to which Ray replies in a wishy-washy way that there’s all kinds of wrong about what had happened, a messy situation.
Ray tails one of Frank’s men to try and tie up loose ends. He watches as there are some girls picked up from who looks like Dr. Irving Pitlor (Rick Springfield), they are then delivered to Osip Agronov (Timothy V. Murphy).
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.58.20 AMAni Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) is being forced to undergo sexual harassment therapy, or some other such program. She clearly has no time for it, making a mockery of the group meeting talking about how she loves big dicks: not simply length but the girth, and says “I really wanna have trouble handcuffin’ the thing”.
But it’s also bullshit why she’s there – and clearly it shows how much of a male problem the harassment is within those few moments (not to mention the fact Ani is being blackballed by the whole department in the first place). We see more of Ani and her sister, which is good because it feels like they’re coming together. Perhaps it’s Ani’s own current life situation that makes her feel more sympathy for her sister than we saw in Episode One.
I just love Ani Bezzerides. Nic Pizzolatto writes her well – she’s tough and takes no shit, but also has her flaws. In closing: she is a human being. She’s allowed to cover the entire spectrum of humanity, from good to bad, not relegated to the land of character stereotypes. This episode went well for Ani in terms of character because I found her more interesting; keeps me on my toes, never knowing what type of attitude she will bring into a scene. Good stuff on the part of Rachel McAdams, she’s a great talent.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.00.31 AMDetective, formerly Officer, Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) is in the legal hotseat over the woman from the First Episode who tried bribing her way out of a ticket by offering him a blow job. Her lawyers bring up Woodrugh’s past: the days in Black Mountain Security, how many people he did/did not kill in the big Vinci shootout awhile ago from the previous episode. I can just feel Paul fraying at the edges in almost each scene.
We see more of Paul and his mother, clearly a dysfunctional relationship. There’s no telling what the history truly is between mama and Paul. Although, it’s clear she has her own issues, aside from those which plague Paul, but I’m not exactly positive what those might be.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.01.04 AMAt his mother’s place, Paul looks for $20,000 he brought back from Afghanistan. His mom tells him “I thought it was something you left for me.” Paul is torn apart that it’s gone. But money is the least of Paul’s worries in life. It’s not hard to see she resents him; she tells Paul he ruined her life. Furthermore, she knows that Paul is gay and is denying it – she talks about all his “good friends”, “the boys”, she says “I know about you, Pauly!” So there’s tension galore.
I’m starting to wonder if maybe Paul does have some sort of history of violence towards women, judging by the torn relationship with his mother and how aggressive they both are with one another, verbally and physically. But who knows, he could just hate her guts for the way she has obviously treated him, like a burden. Another reason I find Paul Woodrugh so interesting. I think Pizzolatto does a fantastic job at juggling so many characters. Last season, there was so much centred focus on the two main detectives – this time with three, plus the addition of Frank and his wife, there is a ton going on. Yet Pizzolatto does well, I think, in fleshing them all out. Just so happens, for me Woodrugh is one of the most interesting. Hard to choose, though, when they’re all rich characters.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.01.49 AMRay meets with Ani in the little bar where he usually met with Frank. They’re both damaged from the shootout. Ani clearly knows there’s more to the Ben Caspere case than the P.D determined; she says “a bunch of people got shot to shit and nobody cares.” Obviously, Ray knows what the deal is, at least partly, and he was forced to keep with a certain version of events. His best advice to Ani is: “I try to limit the people I can disappoint and I make sure to know the difference between my obligations and somebody else’s”.
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Bezzerides, Velcoro, and Woodrugh are being recruited to go deep and figure out what really went on behind the Ben Caspere case, what truly happened. Essentially, they want Velcoro to be a man on the outside, as he is now no longer a member of Vinci P.D. yet he knows how the greasy guys at the top operate.
District Attorney Katherine Davis (Michael Hyatt) offers Velcoro a deal – help her to uncover everything, she makes sure Ray is able to keep his son around. Also, she reveals that the man who raped Ray’s wife is not dead, he was recently picked up on a string of unsolved rapes – this leads Ray into a frenzy, looking for answers. Not only did Ray’s relationship with his ex-wife become a ruin due to her believing Ray had the man killed, he was also lead to believe the man was dead – now we know, Frank had him kill an innocent man just to keep Ray in his service. This ignites a fire in him that flames high; all directed towards Frank.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.03.28 AMA couple awesome scenes happen in this week’s “Other Lives”.

– We watch Ray devolve a little after initially it seems he might be turning over (some kind of) a new leaf. He falls into that fugue of anger he began in at the start of the season. Ray goes back to see Dr. Pitlor and beats some information out of the man, donning leather gloves and a heavy blackjack with which to menace the doctor, and while it’s thrilling, you can see how quickly Ray slips between the two men existing within him: the man he wishes to be and the man who he is, the one he cannot escape.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.04.26 AM– The scene with Paul and his mother worked excellently and Kitsch was fantastic. I’ll keep saying it, over and over, I think he is a great actor when given the right material. Plays the character of Woodrugh very well.

– Ani and Paul find a creepy little shack in the woods with a chair at the middle and arterial blood spray across one of the inner walls. Brief, not too much, but added some tension. Plus, I really like how Ani and Paul are together. Good dynamic. Then again, I also think Ani and Ray are a good team. Mainly I think that’s because the character of Ani is such a no bullshit, no nonsense type of woman, she basically calls the men in her life out on their shit whenever she can, quick as possible. So she almost corrals these male detectives, not in a motherly way just simply the way a leader needs to in order to get the job done.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.05.15 AM– Finally…
My favourite scene of this episode is at the end when Ray goes to see Frank. It is just – WOW! There’s not much to it at all. A banging on the door, again, again – Frank gets pissed and tells them to shut the fuck up. He looks through the peephole and relaxes: it’s Ray. But it’s the look on Ray’s face, the eyes gently quivering, a subtle force bottled up inside him – just blew me away. He tells Frank they’ve got to talk and then… cut to black.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.05.51 AMSo again, I keep telling people: Teague Dixon. We already have a scene in this episode, a couple actually, referring to Dixon. Woodrugh goes to a pawn shop for some information, only to find Teague had been there weeks before. In fact, he’d been there before the others had officially know about evidence which would’ve brought them there.

I guarantee there’s more to Dixon’s character, and I still know there will be some sort of plot involving those pictures he took of Woodrugh a couple episodes ago.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.04.51 AMThe biggest thing going is that Frank knows there’s something not right about the official word on Caspere’s murder, he needs Ray to fill in the blanks. But now Ray knows that Frank set him up from the get-go. Ray’s life is in absolute shambles and Frank is responsible for so much of that. That ending really promises a confrontation between Frank and Ray that could lead to tremendous consequences.
Next week we’ll see what happens. I think there are going to be some big revelations in the next episode. This was a great one, in my opinion. They’ve all been a lot of fun. The small time jump from the last episode to this one worked, and it also helps to add a little depth to the story. Only about six or eight weeks, but just enough time. It seemed like everything was starting to smooth out, except now the chaos is creeping back further into Ray’s life, Paul too, and Ani has never been free of it for a second. With Ray at his door, I think Frank is about to understand the meaning of chaotic.
Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.05.59 AMNext episode is titled “Church in Ruins”. After that, only two episodes left: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” & “Omega Station”.
The detractors, I’m sure, will still compare this second season of True Detective to the first season. They are highly different. I do prefer the first, absolutely. However, I’m still a big fan of this second season. Can’t wait to see how these last three episodes play out! Stay tuned. I’ll see you next Sunday.

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 4: “Down Will Come”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 4: “Down Will Come”
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa (Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Other Lives” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Maybe Tomorrow” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.48.35 AMPoor Frank (Vince Vaughn). He not only can’t deliver a child for his wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly), his avocado farm is having a rough go of things. Frank seems to be struggling, though, he hides it well beneath the calm exterior; in a weak moment, he slips into quasi-racism and berates one of his gardeners before Jordan tells him to stop.
One thing with Frank is, starting with Episode Three, we’ve really begun to see the animal side of him come out. The fight with his gangster buddy in the last episode was intense, so were the moments afterward when Frank collected the gold teeth out of the guy’s face. I hope Frank rages on, honestly, because I think he’ll become a force to be reckoned with.
I like the whole idea of dirty and semi-dirty cops versus the character of Frank, who is trying to go legitimate. Jordan argues with Frank about how they’re “back to this”, referring to the old ways of being a street-made man. He tries to instil the concept in her that present situations require serious measures. It’s clear, regardless, that Jordan and Frank have a lot of tension between them, from the hopes of having a baby to Frank’s business dealings. Still, their relationship is strong, yet nothing is ever rosy in the world of True Detective.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.47.38 AMI knew right from the beginning Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) was closeted. It could’ve simply been erectile dysfunction for all I knew, but that first scene we saw him in during Episode One where he couldn’t stay hard with his girlfriend spoke volumes. Just in the way the camera closed in on him; he was concentrating, trying his best to stay interested and keep an erection. Now with this episode, Paul wakes up at his old army buddy’s place in bed. They’ve had a passionate night. Paul flees in a cab and then scolds himself on a city sidewalk – the pain of what’s going on inside him rages, and it’s actually painful (in the right way because of Kitsch’s acting) to watch.
Even worse, as Paul yells at himself and seems to fall apart right in front of us, then reporters swarm him asking about allegations against Black Mountain Security, and one reporter actually shouts out at him wondering if he has a history of violence against women. Very, very interesting stuff. I was interested before, but this episode really brought some heat for Paul’s storyline. I think Taylor Kitsch is doing a great job so far, though, I’ve liked him since seeing The Grand Seduction last year.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.48.05 AMI thought the scene between Kitsch and Farrell early on in the car was fantastic. Two good actors playing off one another. Especially because Woodrugh reveals so much to Ray Velcoro, in a way. The whole angle of Paul’s sexuality doesn’t come out, so to speak, but Ray can see the pain inside the younger cop. First, Ray offers some hair of the dog for Paul to cure the hangover. Then Ray recognizes that Paul has “seen some shit”, and tries to lend a little support. But Paul is cracking at the edges, he tells Ray: “I’ve been listenin’ to them so long I don’t know who the fuck I am”.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.48.51 AMMy feeling is that Paul represents a particular generation of young men nowadays, much like any young men from any time. Young men who have been fooled into believing everything the government tells them – be a good student, be a good soldier, be a good cop, be obedient… but most importantly, be obedient and be what we tell you. Young men who’ve been lied to, told they’re fighting for one thing when it’s really another; they are military men, young guys, going overseas fighting for causes to which they have no allegiance, for politicians sitting at home on their asses while real people die everyday in a desert on the other side of the planet. As Paul says, he’s listened so long that he has no real idea who he is, no true sense of identity. He is denying himself every step of the way and there’s maybe something dangerous brewing inside.
Furthermore, Paul and his girlfriend Emily (Adria Arjona) meet. They talk about how things were left between them. Then Emily reveals she is pregnant and is against abortion, so she plans to keep the baby. Paul, denying his true self worse than ever before, abruptly asks her to get married, to keep the child. There’s no telling what repercussions this will have throughout Paul’s storyline the remainder of this season.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.49.13 AMWe get lots of Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) hovering around her family in this episode. She talks with both her sister Athena and her father Eliot, the enigmatic cult leader. I like the juxtaposition of Ani’s family members; she wants to keep tabs on her sister, but does not like Eliot, they’ve been estranged quite some time. However, the case is bringing her into contact with her crazy dad, as well as with her sister – one simply business, the other personal and business simultaneously.

Now, Ani also faces heat at work for her relationship with the hurt cop. I can see how Ani has become a fighter. She lives in a man’s world, and having to become more like the men around her has lead to becoming more wreckless just like the other lost souls – Velcoro and Woodrugh. If anything, Ani stands to show men and women are no different; we all fuck up, we are all reckless.

One great bit happens while Ani and Ray are visiting her dad. Eliot looks over for a moment and says Ray has the biggest aura he has ever seen, that it “fills the room”. Then he tells Ray: “You must’ve had hundreds of lives.” Ray replies: “Well, I don’t think I can handle another one.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.52.08 AMI won’t go into lengthy details about the main plot’s path. Mostly, I think it’s pretty solid. Another sordid tale of sex and perversion and murder, with a few steady dashes of confusion to spice things up.
The element I enjoy about the main plot, concerning the investigation into the death of Ben Caspere, is how Detective Ray Velcoro truly straddles the middle of the line – he and Frank regularly meet, Ray gives over the information required, and at the same time he is still being bent under the thumb of the police department heads, forcing him to do what he does not want to do. Problem is, Ray is the reason Ray ended up where he is, ultimately. Though, I feel he sees some light at the end of his tunnel.
I still hope to see him break free of the ties which bind and I want to see Ray get some form of redemption. Maybe he’ll have to die by the time it’s all over. I think it’s heading steadily towards that conclusion for ole Detective Velcoro. He certainly doesn’t have much to live for – his own son, possibly the genetic son of his wife’s rapist, is slipping through his fingers. Ray meets with his son, out in the shadows of his ex-wife’s backyard, and gives the kid his own father’s police badge, set in an ornamental case after the old man’s retirement; the sadness in Ray is evident, as he backs off into the shadows while the boy’s mother calls him inside.
I imagine a world where Ray does get what he deserves – I like him, but I think the man has done extremely questionable things along the way believing they are true justice. He knows it, we know it. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out. Either way, I think Ray might intentionally throw himself into the fire for a good cause in the end simply because he is craving so badly a taste of redemption.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.51.08 AMThe last ten minutes is a pretty thrilling bit of action. Detectives Bezzerides and Velcoro, along with Officer Woodrugh and other cops, go on a raid which quickly flies south. Gangsters with automatic weapons begin blasting out the windows of mid-sized building; soon, the gunfire makes the building’s top floor explode, sending everyone outside to the ground and no doubt killing everyone inside. More gangsters light the streets up, as Woodrugh, Bezzerides, and Velcoro each try to clear them out. It’s intense, and several cops take bullets – plus a bunch of criminals. As a gangster moves towards an ammo-less Bezzerides, Officer Woodrugh pops a couple rounds into him an takes the guy down.
I really enjoyed the climax of this episode because while the detectives and officer are all on different wavelengths, this massive shootout almost bonds them together. They’re all shocked with the end results, no doubt a departmental investigation will begin to sort out everything that happened, and as the episode fades out there’s nothing but a little awe; the frame freezes, the black crowds in and a song plays over the credits.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.52.19 AMBasically, the aftermath of this shooting will cause some things to happen.
Velcoro is going to pressured into making it look like they’ve got their man in the big rampage at the episode’s finale. However, Frank is still going to know better than to believe that line of bullshit. So we’re going to see the criminal really step up and become the lead in the chase towards an answer to who killed Caspere, and who killed Frank’s man in the same way.
Rolling Stone has already criticized the ending’s freeze frame. I dig it, totally. Part of what I love is how Bezzerides, Velcoro, and Woodrugh each stand around baffled at what has happened – then the frame sticks, fades out. It’s perfect, it captures that moment and literally snapshots it, making it stick. Because you know it’s going to stick to each and every one of them. Certainly Woodrugh, no doubt he has seen enough while with Black Mountain Security to last a lifetime. Can’t wait to see the next episode.
There’s also something else Rolling Stone got wrong – keep this in mind. Detective Teague Dixon (W. Earl Brown) took a shot to the head. Now, the Stone would have you believe it doesn’t matter, as if Dixon was totally inconsequential. That is not the case. Do you remember when Woodrugh was first leaving from meeting his army buddy, back in Episode Three? Teague was sniffing around, even making a comment before that, and had been taking pictures clearly from a bridge above where Woodrugh and his army friend/lover were together. Could we perhaps have reason to believe maybe Detective Dixon was following Paul again? Maybe he followed Paul to his old buddy’s house – of course Paul wouldn’t know anyways, even if Dixon weren’t sneaky, because he’d clearly been wasted before heading over to have some secret sex with his friend.
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.49.50 AMWhat I’m wondering is: now that Dixon is dead, will someone find his camera, and if someone does will there be incriminating pictures of Officer Woodrugh on there? We shall see. I mean, it’s clear that Dixon looks at Woodrugh with a sense that he can see through that outer mask – he can tell Paul puts on an air of false masculinity, almost trying to overpower his true self, his true sexual orientation, by being foolishly macho and clearly pretending. I can’t believe that Nic Pizzolatto would lazily have Dixon being suspicious, even with his looks, and then doing all that secret detective work on Woodrugh without it leading somewhere.
Don’t forget – in the very First Episode, as Detectives Dixon and Velcoro quietly investigate Ben Caspere and visit his home, Dixon tells his partner that if anything happens to him, to go and clear his stuff out quickly. Right there and then, I’d wondered if that would have any significance. I think now, it really does.
Will Ray Velcoro go to Teague’s place, remove anything possibly damning, and come to find the camera – complete with pictures of Paul, possibly in compromising photographs?
I can’t wait for whatever happens. Next week should be wild with the fallout of the shooting and the deaths therein.

It seems like the title of this episode implies a few things – just like “Down will come baby cradle and all”, down will come everything on top of the heads of criminals, cops, and everyone in the path of the destruction unleashed.

See you next episode!