We had to wade through a lot of emotional angst, dark looks and procedural plot points before getting to the explosive last few minutes of True Detective Season 2 Episode 4.
I'd say it was worth it.
Everywhere you go on the net, there is controversy about True Detective Season 2. Critics can't seem to agree: some believe it's deep and compelling, while others find it boring and dull.
I'll go on record and say: let's wait and see. We are only four episode into this 16-episode series. I think we were much further along in True Detective Season 1 before the plot and characters began to coalesce and make sense.
Still, it needs to be said: some of the dialogue comes off as corny sometimes. Some of Frank's bon mots are insufferable. Like this quote:
If I don't come up with a new play, the dead trees, the present from the stork...aren't going to be what they call moot pointsFrank
"...what they call moot points." Really, Frank? That comes off as almost tortured. Does anyone speak like that?
On the other hand, there were bits of dialogue that had me grinning. Like this:
Elliott: Excuse me. You have one of the largest auras I've ever seen. Green and black. It's been taking up this whole room. I just...I had to say something. You must have had hundreds of lives.
Ray: I don't think I could handle another one.
Getting back to Frank for a moment: I love Vince Vaughn, and I think he's doing a very good job with what he's being given. His understated anger leaves you bracing for his next violent choice. You don't feel relieved when he chooses not to vent; you just wonder who's going to bear the brunt of his rage further down the road.
I believe Colin Farrell's Ray too when he slumps around with the weight of his worries so visible to all. His gift to his son seems to foreshadow his sense of futility: he clearly feels he's doomed for some reason. I'm not sure we're supposed to know why just yet.
In previous episodes, we've seen Ray's uncontrollable violence...and we're pretty sure he's killed someone. (Or else Frank would have no hold on him). So why is he now acting so defeated? It's quite interesting.
A big surprise (other than the ending) was finding that Ani had been charged with sexual misconduct. She openly suggested she was being targeted because of her focus on the mayor in her investigation. My thought is that maybe someone wants to pressure her into finding some dirt on Ray. Or it could be just that Steve Mercer – the cop who laid the complaint – was just being a pig because of her rejection of him. I'm curious as to how that will turn out.
There's a wall of misogynists within the department, all looking forward to Ani's downfall, not the least of whom is Ray's partner Dixon. The sea of dark looks sent her way would have intimidated a lesser person, but Ani has balls of steel and doesn't let any of it affect her. I like that about her.
Speaking of Dixon – does anyone know if he bought the farm? We saw him get hit in the head by a bullet, but it was hard to tell if it merely grazed him or took his brain to pieces. The angle didn't show it clearly.
Now we move to Paul – the man who is panicking at the thought he might be gay. (The phrase "might be" is just a fantasy at this point). His relief at hearing that he might be a dad was sad to see, as was his girlfriend's half-hearted expression of devotion to him: I guess I love you too.
World's worst proposal scene ever.
I've grown to love three out of the four main characters in this series.
Ray, because of his loyalty and support of both Paul and Ani.
Paul, because he's a tortured soul just struggling to become self-aware. He seems like a stand-up guy at this point, and truly wants to do the right thing, if only he knew what that was.
And finally Ani – a woman who just doesn't seen the type to rat out anyone, much less Ray. She's been given a raw deal and has learned to deal with everyone through being tough. Somehow I think that stance doesn't serve her in every instance, as we saw in her exchange with her partner Elvis.
There's just no telling where any of these folk will end up. I think that's where the show wants us to be, as viewers: coming up with the real questions which they'll take the rest of the series to answer, just as they did in Season 1.
As for Frank: the only future that seems possible for him is defeat. He's burning quite a few bridges in his scramble for financial safety, and he has yet to learn who his sabotaging enemy is.
Do we really think it's Ledo Amarilla – the pimp whose girlfriend hawked Casper's watch? Hard to believe it could be that simple: there's been too many other variables at play.
And now we get to the final scene, with that brutal gunfight. The action was surprisingly raw and relentless. Even when the good guys remained standing at the end, it was hard to determine just who won. I mean, the shooters shot a lot of people including cops and innocent bystanders.
I have no idea if Ledo Amarilla bought the farm at the end, nor do I know if he was even there in the mix.
What happened with Frank's goons? Did they get to Ledo before the task force?
Why did the task force get such a reception? Seems like overkill just for a thieving pimp.
No, there's still more here than meets the eye.
What did you think? Are you any further ahead in the plot line?
If you're as unsure as I am, you can always watch True Detective online again and try to parse it out.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.