Tagged Black Mountain Security

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 3: “Maybe Tomorrow”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 3: “Maybe Tomorrow”
Directed by Janus Metz Pedersen (Armadillo)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Down Will Come” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Night Finds You” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.13.38 PMAs many of us predicted, this week found Detective Ray Velcoro [resilient Irish bastard Colin Farrell] alive and well after seemingly meeting the heavy end of two shotgun blasts – one at midrange, the other close range in the gut and chest. I thought he was wearing a vest, but to my surprise he was not; the rounds were riot shells, the non-lethal sort police use. Velcoro smiles slightly out of the side of his face as he relates that last part to his new partner Detective Ani Bezzerides [Rachel McAdams].
The opening of the episode was perfect. A lot of people are saying today that it was campy. Yeah, right. It’s a dreamy sequence, which happens between the time Ray is shot in the last episode and when he wakes up in this one. This scene shows how Twin Peaks is absolutely a running influence on both Nic Pizzolatto since the first season and the directors of the show in this new season.
Things are slowly heating up for Ray. He meets with Frank Semyon [Vince Vaughn] to discuss the recent events. Ray drinks a glass of water instead of the usual booze and cocaine cocktail. When Frank asks about the water, Ray replies: “Booze tends to take the edge off, I wanna stay angry.” There’s a shift happening in Ray Velcoro, as if he is now truly realizing the forces with which he is dealing, even after all the terrible things I’m sure he has seen, and done. The change is evident as Frank gets ready to head out and the bartender asks what happened to Ray. “Somebody murdered him,” Frank tells her as he pays up and leaves.
Velcoro is experiencing further aggravation in his family life, as his ex-wife offers him money to essentially walk away and not contest the custody of their boy. This, of course, as we’ve already seen is certainly not an option Ray even cares to think about.
I’m really interested in Ray generally, especially when it comes to his whole personal situation, because it’s absolutely wild, and it is such a tough situation all over that I can’t imagine where things will lead by the end of the season.
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.15.56 PMMeanwhile, poor Frank is having troubles with his wife Jordan [Kelly Reilly]. She tries her best to help him get a bit of semen into a plastic cup, but ole Frank just can’t get the job done. The tension of Frank’s business life is clearly working its way into him, every way possible. Later in the episode, one of Frank’s cronies is found dead, his eyes wrecked like the dead catalyst of the season Ben Caspere. This seems to really set Frank off. One thing is for sure – he is getting deeper and deeper into the criminal mud than ever, no telling whether he’ll sink or crawl out on top. I just see the fire simmering low under the surface of Frank and his poised exterior, like he is trying hard to wear a certain mask even if it doesn’t fit quite right.
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.16.15 PM I’m not sure if there’s anything really interesting going on with Vaughn’s character, though, I am still interested. Mainly it’s the way Vaught plays Frank Semyon with a quiet sort of demeanour that intrigues me, and I’m anticipating down the road we’ll end up seeing some intense moments that will pay off; I see something explosive in Frank, waiting, brewing to a head. Or who knows – maybe Semyon will be disappointing in the end as a character, someone cliched and stereotypical of the businessman-turned-gangster we’ve seen so many times around before.
We do get a glimpse into Frank’s physical aggression, as he faces off fist-to-fist with Danny Santos, a gold toothed gangster associate. Frank not only beats the hell out of Danny, and fairly quick, he then proceeds to pull out the gold fronts in Danny’s mouth. Vicious. Yet I feel there is only more to come on that front.
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.17.04 PM“Maybe Tomorrow” brought a new bit of mix with the characters, as Detective Ani Bezzerides and Officer Paul Woodrugh [Taylor Kitsch] went out on the job together, questioning people in connection to their case, which in turn really gets under the Mayor of Vinci’s skin. I liked their exchanges, especially in the car early on. Ani starts to ask Paul about the case which took him off the bike – the young lady and her ‘offer’ from the First Episode – which sets Paul off a little. She goes on to assure him it was only brought up because Ani wondered if it would affect him doing street reconnaissance. I liked this moment particularly because it paints Ani again in a light that doesn’t always go for female characters; from the beginning, she is a take charge woman but does not suffer from being portrayed as uptight or hung up in any way. Whereas other shows might have Ani chastise Paul or make a snide comment now that they are saddled up together, Nic Pizzolatto opts to have her either be slightly understanding or not really caring at all and only worried about the job in front of her. I don’t think Pizzolatto is pushing towards having McAdams play a female character such as Bezzerides simply to pander to those who say there were no good, strong female characters/roles in the first season – I think he is genuinely writing a solid character. Ani could’ve worked as a male character, easily, however, it adds a better dimension having her as a female police detective here. I think it really flows well with the other personalities of the characters involved in the investigation.
Also, I think the small portions of the relationship between Ani and Steve is good stuff. She is a tough woman, not without flaws, and putting Steve in the position of being the inferior is interesting. The first season we got enough of the women flinging themselves after the men, desperately looking for love; this time around Pizzolatto opts to show the other side of the coin where the men get their feelings hurt and they lash out. And that’s part of why I’m enjoying the second season – it has those existential elements, slightly less than in the first, but it stands on its own, and offers a different perspective than we got in the first. I didn’t want a repeat, I wanted something different, and Pizzolatto has enacted enough change so far that I’m pleased. Ani is one of the best parts of those changes, I think adding a female detective, or any female lead character such as her, is really a benefit to the whole season.
75There’s a great scene with Officer Woodrugh and a soldier friend of from their “time in the desert”. It offered enough insight into Paul as a character to confirm everything that has been setup in the first two episodes. Clearly we already knew Woodrugh was wrestling with his sexuality at some point, and still is, and this became even more clear with the scene involving his friend – a friend who is more than that, someone who still thinks about “those three days”. They have a small altercation and Paul leaves.
What piqued my interest even more was the end of the scene where Detective Teague Dixon [W. Earl Brown] – the other cop on the case who already seemed to catch a vibe off Woodrugh in the Second Episode – can be seen watching Woodrugh walk away from the confrontation with his friend. I’m waiting to see where this development goes. Either Dixon might be interested in Paul, long shot, or he may be interested in the blackmail opportunities that could arise should he discover anything concrete about his fellow lawman. We shall see.
Plus, a great little bump in a club between Frank Semyon and Officer Woodrugh, who is there trying to collect information, which doesn’t really foreshadow anything, I just like that the cops and the criminals are sort of navigating a world where they literally bump shoulders. You can never really tell where the edges of the law begin, where they end, like a big cesspool where everything touches and everybody wades in up to their waists. Very cool moment.
true-detective-2-03-paul-bumps-into-frankBasically, for those who have been complaining the second season is slow, that it doesn’t really have much story, “Maybe Tomorrow” truly delivers. We get some more secrets, little chunks of backstory and character/plot development falling out here and there. It was really a piñata-like episode, packing a good punch for the naysayers. Sure, I’ve no doubt they are still out there and will continue to be. I just think season two is giving the goods. It is a different beast than the first. We really seeing the beasts inside everyone, not only the criminals, but all the people in the city of Vinci from the cops to the criminals, the men, the women, and it’s like humanity spilling its guts. The first season of True Detective was all about the dirty side of humanity, however, the main characters of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart were good guys ultimately, even with all the skeletons in their personal closets; they were on the right side of the law, even when they were on the wrong side of it trying to find justice near the end of the season. This new season is all about what happens when the detectives on the case aren’t exactly good, honourable people, or at least it’s about the bad, sometimes terrible, choices good people make when the chips are down.
Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.13.11 PMThere are no bells and whistles on this season, so far, like there were in the first. I think that helps. Rust Cohle was awesome – so damn cool – but we have great characters developing here, especially in the three lead cops Bezzerrides, Woodrugh, and Velcoro. The end of this episode was not near as crazy as “Night Finds You“, but the whole thing was stellar, and I’m looking forward to more progression in the next, along with plenty other secrets and who knows what else. I feel certain things were settled in this episode – Frank and his need to release some form of aggression whether through fists or sex – and some things have only started – the budding situation between Paul and Teague – and the titular line of the episode near the end when Frank says, “Maybe tomorrow”, to his wife only hints at something big for the next one titled “Down Will Come”.
See you next Sunday!