Ray Volcoro lives!
The opening scene of True Detective Season 2 Episode 3 was probably one of my favorites so far. So much about this season feels surreal, and Ray's experience as he was knocked out from the rubber buckshot (riot gear) fit right in.
Forgive me if I'm thick, but I cannot for the life of me figure out in what direction the case is going. Some of the dialog is disturbingly comical and throws off the scent of the big picture. However, it felt like we were given a better understanding of why Ray and Ani were chosen to be leads on the case, whatever it may be.
Was the explanation of how Ray survived good enough for you? I loved how he was so scared he wet himself and it became a big thing. Who wouldn't have in that situation? He was even driven away from booze, which was certainly a switch.
Of course, now that he has this new lease on life, the State is coming after him. It's really odd that they're so focused on him in particular. While I said I'm thick when it comes to the case, his connection to Frank has to come into play, which would lead me to believe Casper's connection to Frank is what got him whacked. Will it all come down to Frank?
Ani being chosen as lead investigator because she is a woman who can lead Ray down a sexual path is just...wow. When that woman had the nerve to tell Ani to use sex as some sort of weapon against Ray, I figured they must have done some due diligence on Ani and her proclivities, as well.
I like that even in the short time they've spent together, Ani and Ray are starting to realize they aren't as bad as their superiors want them to think they are. Ani calling Ray a burnout was her way of sweeping him under the rug as incidental to keep him safe. Ray asking off the case was his way of ignoring the see you next Tuesday line of questioning about Ani for the same reason.
Ray is even pulling back on his dealings with Frank, which is peeving Frank off a bit. He's not in a good place, Frank. His little world is crumbling down around him. Did he anger the Russians so much they want to crush him? If so, why not just kill him and be done with it? It seems too simple for all this extra activity.
Let's talk about the silly dialog for a second.
Frank: There's a certain stridency at work here. I'm gonna put it off to you gettin' blasted.
Ray: Aw, frankly, I'm apoplectic.
Frank: I'm feeling a little apoplectic myself.
Are we supposed to listen to them talk like that and take them seriously? The thing is, Frank talks like that constantly. It's not working for me. Vince Vaughn doesn't seem comfortable. His line delivery is off, and that's rare. His lines aren't rolling off the tongue, and Vaughn can normally deliver anything without hesitation.
If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm not feeling him in the role, full stop. Not when he's being a gangster, or a husband or waxing poetic. He's not pulling off his role, and I'm disappointed. Is anybody else feeling that?
I'm also having an issue with the Paul Woodrugh character. We can now glean that for three days in Black Mountain he had some sort of sexual encounter with his friend during combat. He's obviously struggling with his sexuality, and instead of talking to somebody about it, he's decided to stuff it away and be all broody.
The soldier having a sexual experience during war time and questioning everything as a result is too cliche for me. The manly man who cannot handle what may or may not be the truth of his nature. It's not interesting. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but the inability to look into the eyes of the male prostitute and questioning the other one about sleeping with a girl (in a pinch and with the right medication), tells me I'm right.
I'm not sure what new ground introducing Paul and his struggle into this chapter of True Detective will hold. Maybe I'll be surprised, but it seems superfluous and titillating for that purpose only. I really don't want it to tie into Casper's strange fetishes at any point. Please.
What was mildly interesting was TD following Paul and snapping photos while he was visiting with his friend. That was him, right? Up in the stands. That Dix is an interesting character, a wild card. What's he really doing in the mix, anyway?
Ani and Ray came face to face with someone in a mask, Ani screaming "That was him," with a lot of authority. Him who? Him the killer? What would lead her to that impression? He who torched the car, sure, but assuming he was the same guy who killed Casper is a stretch.
Oh! I can't believe I didn't even mention the mayor of Vinci living in Bel Air and his weird wife, huffing and cutting out magazines and his son tossing chicks out of second story windows. What was the point of that scene? When I look back at the episode in its entirety, I can't figure out why it was even included, other than to chuck in another surreal moment.
I'm not sure I care about the case. I've grown to care a lot about Ani and Ray and their burgeoning, unexpected friendship. Where do you guys stand at the moment? What's working and what isn't? Do you have any idea what's going on with the Casper case and how all the pieces will tie together, or is it just too early to tell?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.