Tagged Kelly Reilly

The Never Ending Terror of Eden Lake

Eden Lake. 2008. Directed & Written by James Watkins
Starring Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Tara Ellis, Jack O’Connell, Finn Atkins, Jumayn Hunter, Thomas Turgoose, James Burrows, Tom Gill, Lorraine Bruce, Shaun Dooley, James Gandhi, Bronson Webb, Lorraine Stanley, & Rachel Gleeves. Rollercoaster Films/Aramid Entertainment Fund.
Rated R. 91 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★
POSTER There are many city v. rural films out there in the thriller genre. From Deliverance to any number of backwoods horror movies, such as the Wrong Turn series and plenty others. But not all of those have the effect of James Watkins’ Eden Lake.

Before Michael Fassbender broke out big time and in the days prior to Kelly Reilly’s huge break, Watkins crafted an equally pulse pounding and disturbing horror-thriller with these two in the lead roles. Aided by a script with some sharp teeth, as well as the tense action which keeps the film’s pace quick, Eden Lake will linger with you afterwards. This one boasts a terrifying finish that lets you get no rest, no matter that the rest of the film is brutally intense and shocking.
However, there’s no shock for shock’s sake. Rather, we get a glimpse into the world of misled youths whose lives were likely influenced into running down the drain by their equally nasty parents. Not everything is completely tight in the screenplay from Watkins, but he makes up for those bits with interesting writing and two (or more) lumps of tragedy stirred in.
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Heading into the bush for a weekend getaway, Steve (Michael Fassbender) takes his girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly), a nursery school teacher, for some swimming and a bit of camping. They lounge on a nice freshwater beach enjoying the surroundings, the warm weather. After a little time, some young hooligans arrive with their loud music, their big dog, and start to make things less pleasant. Led by the crass Brett (Jack O’Connell), they get on Steve’s nerves, especially when the dog gets a little too close to Jenny. Soon the kids leave, then Jenny and Steve enjoy their time alone.
The next morning, turns out the kids broke a bottle and punctured one of Steve’s tires. He chases them in town after seeing them on their bikes, and later finds one of their houses. But this is only the beginning. When the couple encounters the crew again and the situation turns ugly, Brett’s dog is accidentally stabbed and killed by Steve, in self defense. This prompts an all-out war between the couple and the teenagers.
Steve and Jenny may not make it home from their trip after all.
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The first thing we see in Eden Lake is Jenny at the school where she teaches. There are little innocent kids, who play child-like games, they laugh and fool around. Jenny’s obviously good with them, comfortable in her career. So to see everything get juxtaposed here with the situation not long after with the older kids is interesting. We go from little innocent children to big bad teenagers who, somewhere along the line from then to now, grew up from being kids into becoming full-fledged monsters. Also, I love the transformation Jenny undergoes as a meek, mild-mannered teacher who later is forced to become a warrior and survivor. Particularly – SPOILER ALERT – once Steve is dead, Jenny is left to her own devices. Even before he dies, she’s got to take care of herself, and him due to his awful injuries. There’s this long line of character development in a short time. Leading up to the serious confrontations, Jenny appears as quiet, reserved, someone who doesn’t want to rock the boat. The tragic events which unfold throughout the film mold her into someone fierce and assertive, and somebody not afraid to defend herself at all costs. For the handful of really dumb moves by Jenny and Steve, there are enough instances of well-written characters and the main parallel between Jenny’s occupation/where she ends up to justify Eden Lake as a solid thriller. Late in the film, Jenny is made to commit a terrible act – another one of self defense in this plot – but it is devastating, for us and for her. This is probably the pinnacle of the parallel in her character.
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Even from the small supporting roles of the teenagers we get solid acting. Above them all stands Jack O’Connell. Recently he’s done amazing turns in films like Starred Up, but in 2008 this was a performance to watch. He is a terrible young man capable of extremely vicious violence, his personality a sick and turgid cesspool. The depth of depravity comes out, especially in a scene that comes just after the one-hour mark; his enjoyment is far too evident, which makes the character so powerfully menacing. This film could have had any number of young people take the role of Brett. With O’Connell, the performance is disturbing and forceful and you hate Brett to the core. Note: in the last moments with his character, you can almost see a twinkle of something in his eye, but largely I believe it’s not regret; it’s the same twinkle people like Ted Bundy and other killers would get in their eyes, holding back their real selves just behind it.
Fassbender does well with his role and it comes off naturally. Although, it is ultimately Reilly whose talent sells Eden Lake into its suspense. We’re often taken by the danger of a thriller when it’s a woman in danger, simply because she’s a woman, men are after her, et cetera. Yet Reilly brings a life to Jenny. Again, she’s a timid sort of lady, though, as time progresses this timidity wears off, and her battle-face shows. The vulnerability of her character always shines through, most scarily in the last scene. But she commands your attention to the presence of her character, and you truly feel for her every step of the way, despite some of the dumb choices (fault of writing; not her performance).
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The ending still leaves me in shambles. Really puts the cap on things as far as determining whether or not the behaviour of the teenagers has been ingrained in them over time.
A 4 out of 5 star film, indeed. There are certainly a few spots where Watkins needed to tighten up some things, such as a few truly strange choices the characters made. But none of that ruins what is an effective, violent, and edgy thriller. This one will take you to the brink. Then, just when you’re sure the lead character and you have each had enough, Watkins piles it on to leave us with that grim taste in the mouth. Trust me. Eden Lake is a keeper, and if you can forgive a few blemishes this will really hit the spot if you’re looking for a horror-thriller to damage you.

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 8: “Omega Station” ends with beauty & tragedy

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 8: “Omega Station”
Directed by John Crowley (Boy A; previously directed the episode “Other Lives” this season)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” – click here

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU’VE NOT SEEN IT – FILLED WITH SPOILERS! WHY WOULD YOU BE READING THIS ANYWAYS? EITHER WAY, BE PREPARED.
IMG_0763This final episode of Season 2 starts in bed with Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) after their steamy night together. Ani recounts what happened to her back in childhood, the abuse she suffered at the hands of the man from her visions in Episode 6 at the weird sex party. It’s clear the two of them bonded; it wasn’t simply two people having sex together, they were trying to forget, at least for awhile, together.
There’s no doubt Ani is a damaged woman. She blames herself for the abuse, saying “I got into a van with a stranger“. She doesn’t understand that feeling proud her abuser thought she was pretty is a symptom of abuse, a symptom of mistreatment at the hands of men. Unfortunately, this didn’t only cloud her when it comes to judging herself, it clouded Ani completely in terms of men; from her father, to her boyfriends, to her partner and all the men in the Vinci P.D.
What’s great about this opening is that Ray also talks, he opens up to her. So it’s not simply Ani pouring her guts out. Ray confesses to her that he killed a man he thought to be his wife’s rapist, and that it made nothing better; it made everything worse. Ani says she doesn’t blame him for any of it, even saying other cultures would understand, it’s a human thing to want revenge. But Ray reveals that it was not him, that he found out who the real rapist was, so we’re seeing this beautiful opening up between the two damaged characters of Ani and Ray. The way it all comes off is wonderful. There’s this peace about the two of them together.

Ani: “Trees. A little place in the rock, in the trees. A cave, is how I remember it. It was like a fairytale.
IMG_0767 IMG_0766 IMG_0768 IMG_0769Sadly, as they rolled around in bed together, Detective Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) got shot from behind, then had his brain blasted out all over the pavement. Seeing such an incredibly powerful, emotional, beautiful scene, knowing what lays beyond those motel doors – it’s tragic really.

Back to Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) trying to tell his wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly) she doesn’t have any choice but to get out of town. Frank’s trying to drive Jordan away, but it is not because he doesn’t love her. Jordan knows the difference. A great bit of the scene is when they throw their wedding rings away – Jordan is a strong lady, she takes off her big diamond, to Frank’s dismay, and tosses it into the street like he did with his, too. I thought this was excellent. Shows how badass Jordan is because she does not care about the money; she clearly loves Frank. She doesn’t abandon him, no matter what, even after seeing the damage Frank inflicted in the last episode. Some critics have said the relationship between Frank and Jordan has been stale, or whatever; I completely disagree. They’re a trouble couple, and I think each of them plays it well. The chemistry between Reilly and Vaughn works, in my opinion. Vaughn does a good job playing the businessman trying to shake his ‘gangster’ roots while she does a great job portraying a torn woman who loves her husband, wants to get away from the crime, but won’t let him go no matter the price.

Frank: “Wear a white dress
Jordan: “You wear a white suit with a red rose in your jacket
Frank: “I’ll wear a red rose in my jacket
Jordan: “I’ll see you coming out of the crowd, head higher than everyone else.
Frank: “At first I worry, I can’t see you.
Jordan: “But then you do.
Frank: “I see the white dress.
IMG_0764 IMG_0765Ray Velcoro gets the news about Woodrugh straight from the killer’s mouth – Lieutenant Kevin Burris (James Frain). Everything is coming down on Ray’s head, on Ani, on their little investigation. Even worse, there’s the fact the P.D and their players know about Paul and Miguel, so the higher-ups see Woodrugh as an outsider. Naturally, Ray and Ani are devastated about Paul’s death and plan on trying their hardest to expose whatever is left to bring out into the light, and hopefully salvage their careers, or at the very least their lives. Ray says, worst comes to worst, he knows a way for them to get out of the country.
Big things are at play now.

Lt. Burris: “Why do you care? You know the guy was a fag, right?
IMG_0770 IMG_0772Following up on some further leads, Ani and Ray finally come across the lair of the Raven-headed man. The mask, the shotgun and blast rounds, as well as a woman cuffed to a pipe in the living room. We get more revelations about the people involved with Ben Caspere from the handcuffed girl – Laura Osterman. This has to do with her brother, Leonard. They’re the reason Caspere ended up in such a state, because apparently Lenny lost a little control, went extreme. The whole acid bit was meant to scare him. I guess Leonard went further than scaring Caspere.
We met Laura back in Episode 3, very briefly. She was known as Erica – Caspere’s assistant. And so the plot thickens.
IMG_0773Nice poster for Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia in the background of one scene. Good stuff!
IMG_0774For those who aren’t following much of the plot this season one major thing to remember ultimately is: corruption due to the impending build of the new railway.
The company Catalyst are intricately involved with high-ranking members of the Vinci Police Department. This is why Woodrugh was killed, this is why the Caspere murder is being covered up. The murder is being covered because all those high-ranking members of the PD had a hand in the robbery-murder which set off the entire Caspere situation – the murder of Laura and Leonard Osterman’s parents. Plus there’s all the land and everything entailed with the railway deal, yadda yadda. You get the picture.
IMG_0775So Ray, with the information he now has, ends up meeting Police Chief Holloway (Afemo Omilami), hard drive in tow from the care of the Osterman kids. There are only so many plays left for Bezzerides and Velcoro, they’re trying to get as much traction as possible before everything hits the fan.
Then it does hit the fan once Holloway reveals the Osterman girl was illegitimately the child of Caspere. Lenny, who is nearby, hears this and attacks Holloway, prompting Lt. Burris out of his hole to open fire. Luckily, Bezzerides and Velcoro make it out alive.
IMG_0776There’s a TON of tension and suspense in this finale. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Basically the two of the remaining detectives are greenlit, by Vinci P.D, Catalyst, and everyone else who is locked up with them in all the god damn corrupt madness.
What I enjoyed most was how this season of True Detective has brought the detectives together with the criminals.
Amazing scene between Frank Semyon and Ani Bezzerides, the first introduction. Frank is now helping the two of them try and escape with their lives still in tact. They’re all heading down south somewhere.
Also, Ray finally discovers that Blake (Christopher James Baker) was the one who actually set him up, not Frank. In a way there’s honour in Frank, even though things don’t always come out the way they should. Either way, he made up for it by just really brutalizing Blake.
IMG_0778Frank: “We met? You’re a cop, right? Lady cop.
Ani: “What gave me away – the tits?
Frank: “I meant you’re a lady, you have dignity. You like Ray? I like Ray.
IMG_0781Frank (to Ray): “I did not live my life to go out like this… you?

Ray: “I owe these filth. I owe Woodrugh.
Ani: “Would you run? Now, if I asked, would you?
Ray: “I might. I just might.
IMG_0779One thing I couldn’t get enough of in this episode was the music. I mean, it was just ominous! Really great electronic sounding, deep, dark score. Drove things along with the subtle, quiet action that was happening. I honestly think they pulled out all the stops on this finale. “Omega Station” fired on all cylinders.
There’s more of that under the cover of darkness stuff. Ani is in Dr. Pitlor’s (Rick Springfield) office, looking for whatever information she can, while the doctor is found with his wrists slit. Meanwhile, Ray and Frank are sneaking around in the woods and they make their way in, descending upon Osip Agronov (Timothy V. Murphy).
I loved this bit. Frank and Ray together is like the Dream Team. Each of them with all the right gear, the weapons. Frank is merciless, too. He goes in there probably expecting to death, maybe half hoping to, and he just blows away whoever is in his destructive path.
IMG_0782 IMG_0783Osip: “I saved you. You’re like my son.
A sweet line right before Frank shoots him in the face a couple times.
Incredible. The tension mounted a nice bit up to this point, which felt great, as the action was swift, it wasn’t a massive scene, and it came off so slick. I think True Detective as a series overall has done some great work with action scenes.
IMG_0786Now that everyone is cutting ties and taking off to some southern dreamland, Ray decides to head back and try reaching out one last time to his son, Chad (Trevor Larcom). Seeing that the boy has still held onto the present – Ray’s father’s P.D bage – Velcoro leaves to head on and get going. Back at his car, he notices a leak underneath, so of course he is being followed everywhere, closely. Someone is still watching; there’s a tracking device on his car.
He calls Ani, tells her to go without him, and that he’ll follow along behind.
IMG_0787 IMG_0788Again I can’t say this enough times concerning Season 2, Colin Farrell has done a spectacular job. It has been worth the time just watching Ray Velcoro’s character arc play out through the episodes. The way he internalizes everything, making the gestures of Velcoro mean so much, one after the other, building this tension about him and canning it in, until things are ready to explode. Love the performance. It is a television character I hope that will go on to be a classic. I’ve loved Farrell’s acting every step of the way.
IMG_0784 IMG_0785Ani: “I’m gonna talk to you again, right? We’re gonna see each other again.
Ray: “You kidding? You’re gonna need a restraining order.
Ani: “No. No, I won’t.
IMG_0789When Ani hands the phone over to Felicia (Yara Martinez), Ray immediately tells her: “I’m not going to make it
I thought this was so incredibly tense, it blew my mind. I did not expect it, honestly. Even though it looked as if Ray was in hot water, I still did not expect this and it hit my chest with a thud. Excellently suspenseful few minutes in that scene between Ani, Ray, and Felicia.

Ray: “You turn here, you turn there and then it goes on for years.. becomes something else. I’m sorry – for the man I became, for the father I was. I hope you got the strength to learn from that, and I hope you got no doubts how much I love you, son. And you’re better than me. If I’d been stronger, I woulda been more like you. Hell, son.. if everyone was stronger, they’d be more like you.
IMG_0791The last 20 minutes of this extra long finale, I could not let go of my grip on the couch. Great, tense stuff. I know I keep saying that, but it’s true – this entire episode has ratcheted up the tension. Everything is coming to bear at the end of Season 2, here at the fittingly titled “Omega Station”.
Frank is brought out into the desert and there, things get terribly rough for him. Though, I’ve got to say, Frank Semyon does not go out like any punk. He takes an awful stab in the guts, then his former ‘colleagues’ leave him there next to an open grave dug into the sand. Instead of laying down to die, Frank walks on, bleeding, towards an uncertain future against the vast, open desert in front of him.
IMG_0792 IMG_0795At the same time, Ray Velcoro is running for his life through the woods, Lt. Burris and a bunch of armed men on their way after him. It’s so amazingly suspenseful. I couldn’t stop leaning in towards the screen, wanting to just jump right inside the television. Ray is like a scared dog, but he keeps his wits about him, taking down who he can through the trees, running, running. Burris is constantly calling out “Where is Bezzerides?” and before jumping out, only to be cut down viciously, Velcoro mutters to himself: “In a better place”. Just wow. I expected at some point Ray might meet a terrible fate at the hands of his own kind, but this was rough. So close to getting away and making it to that better place with Ani. He just couldn’t go the whole length.
Even worse, his last speech for Chad didn’t go through before he was killed – the final nail in the existential coffin of Ray Velcoro.
IMG_0793A lot of great tension, but also there are great bits such as Frank’s hallucinations in the desert. He’s seeing his father, blaming him for all their problems, calling him everything from faggot to the reason your mother left. Then he has more hallucinations of a bunch of black guys harassing him; no doubt another early memory of his days living in a bad neighbourhood, one of the only white boys around. It’s a wild little moment thrown in there, which I thought worked well. You can see Semyon pushing and pushing, willing himself to move, every inch of his being wanting to go on and keep living another day.
Powerful imagery when Frank sees Jordan out in the desert, white dress on, standing radiant in the middle of nowhere. I loved this, yet at the same time it’s a sad image.

Jordan: “What’s a guy like you doin’ in a place like this?
Frank: “Just makin’ my way baby.
IMG_0797IMG_0798 IMG_0799 IMG_0801 IMG_0800 IMG_0803Personally, I don’t think there is any way this season could’ve ended better. There’s a totally pessimistic ending where Velcoro turns out to be the actual father of his child Chad, but then the P.D pins everything on him. There was plenty of action, suspense, and tension going on. The final few minutes show all the corruption still going on, further and further, becoming worse with every step.
I really love how Ani has kept on with everything, she is showing the evidence off now after the fact to someone whom I would assume to be a journalist of sorts. This is a great, real life-feeling situation. In the time of Edward Snowden, such a piece of crime fiction is welcome, as we see Bezzerides dealing with the aftermath of a huge scandal. Of course, Pizzolatto did model parts of Season 2 after the real story of corruption in a city called Vernon, which I believe is actually in California. Maybe I’m mistaken on that last part. Either way, this has such true to life tones that I think that’s one of the reasons I ultimately loved the storyline this season, all the subplots and everything.
IMG_0804Ani: “We deserve a better world
IMG_0805 IMG_0807People will hate me, but I do like Season 2 the best of the two. You can read my review of Season 1 – I have nothing bad to say. Simply, it’s a case of enjoying the characters more, their arcs, and how real the investigation felt. I have nothing but love for Season 1, and I will always say it’s one of the best seasons of any show, ever. There’s a special place in my heart for this season. The end was true tragedy, in the best sense of the word.
It’s my belief Nic Pizzolatto made a great, grounded crime drama with this second season and proved that it didn’t have to be all whimsical conversation at the hands of Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle. These characters were incredible and I could not get enough. This season went out beautifully and I hope to the stars Pizzolatto will do another season, at least one more, and give us another few detectives onto which we can latch.

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 7: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 7: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”
Directed by Daniel Attias (Ray DonovanBloodlineMasters of SexHomelandThe Killing)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Omega Station” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Church in Ruins” – click here

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS SPOILER FILLED! BIG TIME! HUGE EVENTS GET SPOILED AT THE END SO IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS DON’T READ IT ALL OR ELSE YOU’LL BE RUINED!
IMG_0254 IMG_0255In the penultimate episode True Detective‘s polarizing second season, Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) is coming down off the Molly she was given at the weird sex party last episode. She’s in a motel room with Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), as Detective Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) is in another with the missing girl they retrieved from the fucked up white rich guy orgy.
Ray: “Want me to roll a joint?
Ani says she might have even went looking for it – killing that man with her knife – that she’d been waiting her whole life for something like that.
While trying to shake the buzz off, Ani relapses back to the trauma when she was young. She mentions that ‘they’ found her as she came out of the woods. Ray is confused. Then Ani gets in his lap and starts kissing him, rubbing him up, but Ray tries to be a big man.
Ray: “You’re too far out of my league anyway
I love it because even in the most serious of moments, Ray tries to tone things down with humour. Juxtaposed with the scenes between him and Ani later, this is Ray making a good decision not to pursue things any further; not only is it a bad idea, to make matters worse Ani is still under the influence of the drugs.
IMG_0257 IMG_0258 IMG_0260Things get going pretty damn quick. No letting up from the last episode and its tense action sequence at the end.
Now Woodrugh is receiving texts with pictures of him and his old army buddy, the one he’s sort of sweet on but won’t admit. He’s clearly shaken out of the blue, Ray knows there’s something not quite right. I’ve been waiting for pictures of Paul’s extracurricular denial to start coming out – ever since Detective Teague Dixon (W. Earl Brown) was snapping with his camera when the whole subplot with Paul/his friend began.

Paul’s pregnant, soon-to-be wife Emily (Adria Arjona) received a call saying “Ask Paul about the pictures“.
Emily: “Why did you get with me? Why did you ask me out?
All Paul can muster up to say is: “I was just tryin’ to be a good man
Emily: “Well you don’t try right
IMG_0263He’s got his mother and his pregnant fiancee in a motel room, pretending that it’s all got to do with beef over an undercover job he’d been working. There is a scary feeling to all of this with Paul. He is frenzied, cracking up like the masks he keeps putting on, so many of them, are all getting bound up, twisted, and ready to fall to pieces.
IMG_0261 IMG_0262All the while, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) is playing cards with himself. Of course he’s the dealer, all the invisible people being dealt hands are just being controlled by him. It’s a perfect metaphor for how Frank’s life is, or at least how he would like it to be/seem. His wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly) makes an obvious poker assertion that pertains to their life: “We could just walk away from the table“. The two of them are still rocky, but she is always there for him; loyal as ever, though, every bit stern.
Then Ray shows up: “I, uh… had a bit of a strange night.
IMG_0264Of course, Ani used her sister Athena’s (Leven Rambin) name at the party, so the people there might possibly come for her. I knew this would happen as soon as Ani gave the name Athena before she got on the bus last episode.
Ani: “Maybe – and this is just a thought – maybe you were put on this Earth for more than fucking
Vera: “Everything is fucking
Though Ani wants to help her, the previously missing girl that she found at the party Vera (Miranda Rae Mayo) seems to not want any help at all. She says she has a good life, and doesn’t need anybody talking to her condescending-like, acting as if she needs to be saved. Ani struggles against it, but yet there seems to be a glimmer in her eyes, or a dulling more like it, that believes what Vera says.
IMG_0266Frank and his once main man Blake Churchman (Christopher James Baker) – the one Ray followed to find he was helping Dr. Pitlor (Rick Springfield) pimp girls out over to Osip Agronov (Timothy V. Murphy) – have a real rough confrontation. It’s clear, though, that Frank is a much tougher piece of work than meek little Blake. A bit of blood and skin later, Frank has a few answers. Only a few, though. Frank needs, wants, answers about Caspere, but nobody seems to know who did him. Outside of that, Frank discovers that people are trying to take everything away from him essentially. He’s just about been a lone wolf the whole time, outside of a couple helping hands; those are few and far between.
IMG_0267 IMG_0265At first, Blake is allowed to live for the time being at the mention of money. That doesn’t last long: Frank gives Blake the ole Reservoir Dogs gutshot and lets him bleed out on the carpet. Pretty vicious on his part, but as he said he wanted to watch Blake’s lights go out.

Modern medicine man, or 1960s Encino Man, Eliot Bezzerides (David Morse) shows up again.
He and Ani have a serious chat about who took her away – Eliot says he wandered the forest four days after what happened to her. We get some tiny bits of background about Eliot, little pieces. Nice to fill in at least small cracks here. We don’t need a huge amount of exposition. I think Nic Pizzolatto really does well with these sorts of things; wet the beak, don’t give us too much but enough we can chew on.
Eliot: “God damn everything
Ani: “That’s what I say
IMG_0269 IMG_0270Because of the last episode and the events at the party – as well as Ray finding the contact for their little off the books investigation District Attorney Katherine Davis (Michael Hyatt) murdered in her car – Ani and the rest are going into protective mode. Everyone in Ani’s family is going into hiding. There’s an epic sense to things, as if the air is electric, and the tension has really started to mount. I predict the last episode will be highly explosive and thoroughly satisfying. That’s just me, who knows.
She, Ray, and Paul close in more on the diamonds in the pictures they found, from the pawn shop, the ones tied with Dixon somehow. They start to sew up some things involving Ben Caspere and Mayor Chessani, the whole lot.
IMG_0272 IMG_0273 IMG_0274Paul meets his friend from the army Miguel (Gabriel Luna), the one from those torrid night(s) together, and it turns out things with Black Mountain, or a bigger group, are the reason they’ve run into one another again and gotten back in touch. He leads Woodrugh to a stairwell, down into the darkness, then they’re gone for the moment. The tension gets thick.
Once Paul is brought downstairs, out comes Police Chief Holloway (Afemo Omilami) who explains they found pictures in Dixon’s apartment after he died, and they know Paul has documents they need. Incredibly sinister moment, I found. Perfectly executed. I didn’t see this scene coming, though, loved every last second.
Paul begins to try and get himself out, giving up Ani and Ray saying he couldn’t give a shit about them. That’s disappointing to say the least. Only he grabs Holloway, wrestles away his gun and puts it to the man’s head. Woodrugh manages to get away through the underground tunnels, darkness covering all in sight. The military men that were with Holloway and Miguel follow him, trying to make sure he does not escape.

Frank: “Here we are – under the bright lights
There’s no doubt, after this scene between Frank and Jordan as she witnesses the dead body of Blake on the floor in her husband’s office, that the two of them are as close as they can possibly get. She affirms “I love you” and asks what she can do. Frank, like Ani, is sending those he loves into hiding.
He is preparing himself – for fight, or flight?
IMG_0271Frank – apparently – is setting fire to the casino. Because why not? he’s got some ideas about what to do now that he knows everyone is out to get him. He looks calm, collected as he walks away from the smoking building. Slick, badass stuff from Frank.
Turns out, he’s setting fire to it all. Everything. As far as Frank is concerned, his whole life is going up in smoke anyways. Might as well set fire to the lot of it.
IMG_0277 IMG_0280My favourite scene of this episode is just about at ten minutes left, when Ray and Ani are talking with one another at the motel. They’re both trying to talk anyways, but not every little thing comes out. Though, Ray does acknowledge he knows that something happened to Ani, somewhere along the line, whatever it was – she replies that she doesn’t like to talk about it. He tells her it’s what he admires most about her. There’s just such an incredible exchange between two gifted actors. So much ability going on that it blows my mind. Such subtly passionate, quiet moments without any real physical contact outside of the touch of their hands; I was just WOW’d by the scene. Powerful stuff, in my opinion. Both Farrell and McAdams have been doing spot-on jobs this season with their characters. I hope, regardless of how others feel about the story/plot, people recognize how great the acting has been all around.
These are two broken souls trying to find someone as broken as themselves to whom they can reach out.

Ray: “Do you miss it?
Ani: “What?
Ray: “Anything?
IMG_0281 IMG_0282SPOILER ALERT! HERE THERE BY SPOILERS!
Paul ends up blasting his way out of the tunnels, his friend and gay lover Miguel is shot in the process. This was an awesome action scene, with a lot of suspense. Finally, we get to see Woodrugh climb up out of the tunnel and away from the gunfire, back to some semblance of safety. For awhile there I honestly did not see him coming out of that sticky situation. He has some true guts. I was sure, even when I first saw Miguel waiting for him, there was about to be something nasty happen to Detective Woodrugh. Glad that I was wrong on that part.
IMG_0283A great piece of music from the score in Season One comes back here, as we see brief images of Ray and Ani together (nothing gratuitous – tasteful stuff I must say), Paul running away from the scene behind him.

Then the kicker….

MORE SPOILERS! HUGE HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Heroic Paul Woodrugh is gunned down, from behind no less, then shot dead by Lieutenant Kevin Burris (James Frain) who runs off into a car, speeding away.
IMG_0284 IMG_0285 IMG_0287 IMG_0288 IMG_0289 IMG_0292 IMG_0291 IMG_0295Unlike Ray Velcoro’s apparent death at the end of “Night Finds You”, this one is not like that at all. Paul is completely finished. Done for. Goodbye, Woodrugh. Even though he was so knotted up as a person, I cannot say I wanted to see him go. Especially not like that. It’s so sad that he was on the phone with Ray before Miguel brought him down to that basement. Right on the cusp of telling Velcoro everything, maybe to get some help with it all. True tragedy.

Not only that, we glimpse how deep the law enforcement rabbit hole truly goes with the murder of Paul Woodrugh.

What a hard hitting episode. Solid writing, lots of tragedy, heart, and just tons of movement in the plot. Dig it – hard.
Next week, we’re going to see “Omega Station”, and this will truly be the beginning of the end.
I can’t wait to see what will happen after the fallout from Detective Woodrugh’s death, where Ani and Ray will go as professionals after their night together plus how they’ll punish themselves no doubt for not being there for Paul, and how Frank is going to react/what he’ll do to those who have been taking his lifeblood away from him.
Stay tuned and we’ll see how everything goes down in the finale of True Detective Season 2!

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!

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!

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 1: The Western Book of the Dead

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 1:
“The Western Book of the Dead”
Directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Night Finds You” – click here
Picture 2To start, this is NOT a repeat of True Detective True Detective Season 1 – the show is trying to do a new story, new characters, the whole shebang. Of course the whole thing is still very existential, regardless if Rust Cohle is not spouting out Nietzsche rehashes and what not [which I loved but come on – they weren’t anything groundbreakingly new outside of philosophical circles]. I mean, Colin Farrell’s low-down-and-dirty Ray Velcoro already gave the beauty line “We get the world we deserve” in the second episode of this season, so there is definitely still an existential element kicking around inside of Nic Pizzolatto’s second season. However, this time around there’s much of a demon-within type of vibe going. Whereas the police detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart were truly trying to serve justice for the sake of the victims, all those poor young girls taken and killed by vicious, hateful men, the second season of True Detective seems to be focusing on how some of those same police get lost along the way, how they bend the law to work for them, and even though they’re ultimately trying to do good, they end up doing a lot of bad along the way.
Picture 1Starting off, we get to see Ray Velcoro [Farrell]. His tale is a rough one – his wife was raped, they never found the attacker, and neither she nor her now ex-husband Ray know if their boy is his or not. Certainly Ray does the true blood thing to do: he raises the kid as his own. He doesn’t want to know anything about DNA, he just wants his son to be his son. Problem is ole Ray has vices – the drink and the drugs – and his temper is fierce. Like anyone, Ray wanted revenge for what happened to his wife, and as an officer of the law, he naturally felt stuck when even the law let him down. In comes Frank Semyon [Vaughn] who facilitates the revenge Velcoro needs by tracking down the man responsible, which coincides with Ray’s wife and her statement. This puts Ray deep in with Semyon, who uses him as a man on the inside, and as Ray climbs the ranks to detective, of course Frank reaps the benefits.
I think Ray is going to be one of the most interesting of the bunch in this season. There’s a scene involving Ray and a kid who bullies his son at school, plus the boy’s father, which really takes you from “Okay, Ray is a normal guy in a bad situation” to “Wow, Ray is a bad dude”. Even while you side with him, he takes things much too far. Not hard to see the booze and the cocaine, and the more booze, doesn’t help his natural temperament. At the end of the tunnel, for Ray I see a bit of redemption. Now, whether or not Ray will have to die for this, it is way too soon to tell [even in light of Episode Two’s events]. We will see.
Picture 3Next is Rachel McAdams as Detective Ani [Antigone] Bezzerides who has more than her fair share of issues, as well. First, her estranged father Eliot [David Morse] is a New Age guru-type who runs a sort of 1960s style institute or commune, and clearly is a narcissist. Then her sister, Athena, is a webcam girl doing porn who is off her medication and living free. Not to mention the fact their father named both her and her sister Antigone and Athena. So, Ani drinks, gambles, and raids houses to find out where her sister is when she feels like it. Also, her boyfriend is not exactly the sexually adventurous type when Ani clearly surprises him with something in the bedroom he couldn’t handle straight away. She is a dominant woman; she carries knives all over her, making clear in the next episode this is because she has no illusions about certain female-male situations where she will be physically smaller than a larger man in which the knives will come more than in handy. There is no doubt the years living in the cult with daddy brought on issues, most likely from some kind of abuse, but we can never be sure. Perhaps she’s just a smart, cautious woman who has seen too much. Either way, I’m excited this season has a lead female character and one who is also in the police. Offers a great new perspective for the show.
Picture 9Officer Paul Woodrugh [Taylor Kitsch] is another interesting character. Clearly Paul is a troubled man. He worked for Black Mountain Security in Iraq, obviously mimicking a similarly named military contractor, and has issues from what he calls “the desert”. It isn’t hard to see Woodrugh has issues with his sexuality; he sneaks a blue pill while claiming to be showering and taking far longer than necessary before trying to have sex with his girlfriend, then when she is going down on him Paul looks off into space as if troubled, maybe trying to concentrate so that he’s able to get an erection. This becomes even more clear in the second episode with a comment he makes to another detective. Furthermore, Paul obviously has deeper issues – he speeds out on the highway on his motorcycle, flicking off the headlight and rushing through the darkness, almost daring death to come and get him. I can’t wait to see more of him. Kitsch is a talent, and I don’t care what anyone says. Given the right material with this character I can see Kitsch doing excellent work this season.
Picture 4Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon spit out the worst line by far of the entire show since the first series began, along the lines of “don’t do anything out of hunger – not even eating”. Now I’ll give it to you – some of Rust Cohle’s lines, which personally I loved, were equally batty, but Matthew McConaughey was able to let them roll off his tongue and out of his mouth like they were natural to that character. Vaughn is good, I dig him, even as Semyon. I just didn’t dig that line. I can buy Vaughn as that character, totally, because he isn’t an outright psychotic gangster type like something out of Goodfellas with Henry Hill’s outbursts or the violence of Joe Pesci – I buy Vaughn as a collected, calm business sort of crook, and sure, he’s a big guy, I bet he can lay hands. Mainly, I think his attitude suits the part. However, that line in his mouth sounded like garbage. Moving past that point, Vaughn was great, and he does the dark/brooding thing well. Given more time the character of Frank will grow on people, I believe.
Picture 5Mainly people need to lay off this season, and forget about the first, in the sense that this is an anthologized show. There is no continuity other than it involves police work; that’s it. Once again, there are existential themes at play here, heavily. We just need to keep in mind – existential doesn’t mean that people have to constantly spout philosophical musings. That was a character Pizzolatto used, and it worked. This season is different. Existentialism has to do with human beings, the experience of existence and reality, and the touch of humans on existence. So we’re going to see how human beings deal with their terrible inner demons, and this season we’re going to see more about the abuse of power from the perspective of those abusing it mainly instead of solely from the perspective of those outside and looking in. The police here are good police, but they toe a dangerous lines, more so than anything Rust Cohle did in Season One. I can’t wait for the next episode.