Well, that happened.
If you were holding your breath, hoping that True Detective Season 2 Episode 7 was going to raise the stakes and lead us into one hell of a finale, you were sadly mistaken.
It was a swing and a miss this season, drama fans. We already knew that, but it's in our nature to hold out hope until the final inning, isn't it? Sorry, waiting for the finale isn't going to cut it. This was the make it or break it installment, and since they were still introducing new elements of the "mystery" that only made things more confusing, I'm cutting my losses.
We're still talking about this hour, and we'll still be here next week, but the facade is over. So much talent wasted. Can you even believe there was an entire scene of pretty much nothing?
Ani: You're not a bad man.
Ray: Yes, I am. Do you miss it.
What in the hell?! I'll go ahead and field the question. Yes, Ray Velcoro. I miss something. I miss a story that matters, a mystery that intrigues and characters that make you feel something other than ambivalence.
We knew two things going into these two final installments: that Paul would somehow be interwoven into the main storyline and one of the four main characters would most likely die. As it turned out, Paul was the key to both issues. Neither thread was particularly compelling.
The overarching mystery coming back to diamonds and a double murder leading back to 1992 is all kinds of disappointing. It takes "I don't care" to a whole new level. Was it possible to care any less about Caspere and the goings on in Vinci? Apparently.
Paul being blackmailed by his sex buddy as the tie-in to the overarching case? OK. There is no more Black Mountain (whatever that was), as their sole client is now the Catalyst Group. There's obviously some information missing between Point A and Point B, but who cares? I'm not sure it matters. If Paul hadn't been closeted, they couldn't have "made" him and...I'm not sure why he was being made in the first place.
Oh. They wanted their contracts back. Buy sell deals that transferred Caspere's shares of land to them upon his death. It didn't take long for those people to put together a plan to frame Paul, as the contracts were only stolen the night before. Was something else in the works before they were taken? Who was the group in the tunnel? Somehow connected to Vinci given who killed Paul, but we'd never seen them.
An internet theory was Lt. Burris was the birdman who killed Caspere. I don't remember their reasoning, but I guess we know it now. He was most likely the guy who killed Katherine, too. Poor Katherine. I just wish I cared about government conspiracies.
This was really Frank's hour to shine, though. He decided he was getting out, even if the Russians were going to try to keep him in.
True Detective Season 2 has been a bit of a race to determine when Vince Vaughn would come alive in his role, and while that was unfair, for the first time he was truly at ease with his performance when he was allowed to embody the bad guy.
When Frank brought in Blake for his final conversation, to drag out of him what he knew about Ray's past and who killed his man, Stan, the stick fell out of Vaughn's ass. As it turns out, he has no problem playing a convincing bad guy. He just has a problem playing a convincing bad guy who waxes poetic and uses words like apoplectic in casual conversation.
God bless him, I can only guess it was torture playing against his true nature up until that scene. Oh well. At least we got to see him get a little bit of enjoyment out of the role, which continued throughout the remainder of the hour. Vaughn's got his groove back.
You know, I'm not going to lay this wreck on a season at the feet of the actors. They were given a messy script and clunky dialog. I'll go ahead and guess this season made a lot more sense on paper and even finished before the editors had a go. If editing made it better, then Nic Pizzolatto needs to revisit whether it makes sense to take on another season. At the very least, he has to whittle down the number of characters and the scope of his mystery.
Will everyone die before the credits roll next week? There aren't a whole lot of people on the side of Ani and Ray, that's for sure? Frank is burning bridges (ha). Can he fence the diamonds and get away from the Russians? Can they get it all done in 90 minutes (yes, True Detective Season 2 Episode 8 is extra long)?
Where do you stand? Still slogging along? Hit the comments as we roll into the final hour.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic 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.