TV

True Detective Recap: Pour One Out For The Dead, But Save Most For Yourself. You’re Gonna Need It.

With one episode left, big things are happening (but you might need to be Colin Farrell-level wasted to appreciate them).

This is a recap of the seventh episode of True Detective’s second season. Spoilers.

Hey, you. Yeah, you — the one who has spent the last seven weeks patiently waiting for things to get good on True Detective. Go pour yourself a drink. I don’t care what time it is. Your boss is watching? Tell them it’s apple juice. Hell, I’m going to have a drink. We deserve it.

All set? Let’s put it all in perspective. There’s no point in whining about the major plot points of the season being condensed to one motel room conversation, or a man spilling his guts figuratively and literally all over a casino office. We shouldn’t dwell on the fact the show’s wasted time on boring stuff when it could have gotten into something more interesting. What was Paul actually doing in Afghanistan? What even goes on at Dr. Pitlor’s dodgy clinic? How notorious were the three detectives after the Vinci Massacre? It doesn’t matter.

What’s done is done and wishing it had gone any other way is akin to drilling yourself another orifice. There have been solid moments wedged between the implausible, but largely season two has been messy and inconsistent. Take another sip.

‘Black Maps and Motel Rooms’ is the second-last episode of the season and therefore, had a lot of information stuffed into its whiskey-soaked interior. If you still don’t understand which baddies did what thing, don’t worry, you’re not a dummy. There’s so much to take in that Slate have had to compile an “excruciatingly clear plot breakdown”. When Ray tried to relax Ani by asking, “want me to roll you a joint?” he may as well have been talking to all of us.

1

“But I still don’t know who Stan is.”

In short: during the ’92 riots, Police Chief Holloway, Lieutenant Burris (tall skinny cop) and Dixon probably stole those diamonds with Chessani and Caspere (who was working at the Vinci PD at the time), which helped to make them all rich. Caspere was a dodgy guy who was blackmailing his friends through those orgy parties and also, always planned to screw over Frank in the land deal. Still, no one knows who killed Caspere, but Ani and Ray suspect that his assistant Laura/Erica might know something; particularly as she attended the parties and matches the description of a child orphaned during the diamond heist in the riots. Also, the Vinci Massacre was a set up by the police and now Davis is dead, there’s really no one to report that too.

Pour yourself another drink, I’ll wait.

Apart from everyone making obligatory WTF faces at each other, the major theme of this week was our protagonists trying to save the “victims” around them, whether they wanted to be saved or not. Nic Pizzolatto loves writing stories in which women are rescued, almost as much as he likes to write about “the shadow of our best intentions” throwing everything in darkness. Lol.

2-(1)

Being saved is so much fun.

Ani’s saviour complex is perhaps tied to her awful childhood, something that she has spent her “whole life” planning retribution for. We know that she’s very judgmental of her sister’s web porn and of Caspere’s porn art, even though she’s not above cruising a little late-night porn herself. This judgment leads her to believe that taking Vera away from the Vinci escort business was an unequivocally fantastic idea. Too bad that Vera, aka The Exposition Machine, didn’t actually want to be saved.

“Maybe you were put on this earth for more than just fucking,” Ani says, before warning Vera that if she goes back, her blood will paint the same cabin her friend was tortured in.

With saviours like these, who needs enemies!

3-(2)

V: “EVERYTHING IS FUCKING.” A: “Okay, so I’m guessing you’re a Samantha.”

Vera’s only choice is hanging out with her sister and her sister’s gross husband, so she tells Ani that the photos of her with Caspere were taken by her friend Tascha for blackmail purposes — the one who “fucked up” and was murdered in that rustic blood hut.

“She was Hungarian, but she had plans,” she says, making me wish this show were all about Vera and her mysterious turns of phrase.

With help from her former-partner in law/the bedroom Elvis, Ani sends Athena and their father to a safe place where the police and Vinci’s baddies will never find them — Oregon! They seem pretty relaxed about leaving town with less than a day’s notice, particularly her dad who confusingly tells Ani that she’s “the most innocent person [he] knows”. Maybe they’ll be happy in Oregon. Maybe they’ll open a bookstore.

When Paul starts getting anonymous picture messages of him making out with Miguel, he hides his fiancé Emily and his mother in a motel. Did I think that Paul’s mum would go loopy and start a fist fight with Emily? Yes. Yes I did. Was I disappointed that they just ate pizza and watched Splendour in the Grass? Kind of. Emily is left to cry happy tears in the motel room, perhaps blocking out the fact her fiancé’s only reason for asking her out in the first place was to “be a good man”. Good men trying to do good things and bad men trying to deny their badness. Men bad men good men men bad etc.

Frank too saves Jordan by sending her to Venezuela before the shit hits the fan, but he’s also trying to save himself face. Frank thought he was being “gangbanged by forces unseen” but really he was being gangbanged by people he knew: Blake was the one who gave Frank the false name of Ray’s wife’s attacker, he has been working with Osip, who is working with Chessani Jnr. and now Frank doesn’t have anything left except the offer of management positions at the bars and casinos he used to own. Osip has been planning on taking Frank’s spot the whole time.

“THIS IS FOR STAN!” Frank says, while shooting Blake and watching him bleed to death. I think we can all agree, Stan is the best and most complex character in television history bar none, goodnight.

5-(1)

“FOR STAN!”

The real kicker is that the couple we’ve all been waiting for, the best ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ since Ross and Rachel, finally sealed the deal! No, not Ray and Frank — Ray and Ani! Oh, wait, you weren’t actually waiting for this couple to get together? Funny, NEITHER WAS I. After Ray rebuffed Ani’s sad MDMA advances earlier in the episode by telling her she was out of his league, an important question popped into my mind: is Colin Farrell hot?

6-(1)

It was around this time that he made a sex tape. Let that soak in for a minute.

Regardless of that, this hook up is very strange. I don’t know if mutual sadness is a one-way ticket to compatibility? Or the fact that Ani’s refusal to discuss trauma is one of the things that Ray “admires” most about her? Their courtship conversation reminded me of a bleak European arthouse film/or something made by Barney Gumble or Kirk from Gilmore Girls:

“You’re not a bad man,” Ani says seriously.

“Yes, I am,” Ray says seriously.

“Do you miss it?” Ray asks, frowning.

“Miss what?” Ani asks, frowning.

“Anything,” Ray says with a straight face.

I half excepted Cossacks to burst through the door at any moment, and my boyfriend who was watching beside me asked in earnest if these people even knew each other.

7

The sexual tension is ELECTRIC.

While Ani and Ray engage in the most breathy and tortured make-out session I’ve seen since the Year 9 social, Frank was efficiently taking money from his club and casino, filling them with gas, and watching them burn from the hillside. I think the ‘individuals burn the establishment’ thing was meant to make us think of the ’92 riots, but unfortunately I don’t give a shit about Frank’s story soooooooo bon voyage, I guess?

And farewell to Paul! We hardly knew ye. Like seriously, who the fuck was this character? Paul was such a non-event that it’s feasible people didn’t even know that he’d been in the show for seven episodes.

LOOK AT THE DATE.

After some great police sleuthing including reading contracts, pushing ‘enter’ on a computer and saying, “motive!” at the right time, Paul met his maker at the hands of Burris, the one who kicked Ray out of his house and who I suspect gave Irina the diamonds. Miguel had played him (also, that “SEE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN OPEN” was poorly timed, player) and led him to Police Chief Holloway, who wanted the contracts. The Black Mountain company Paul was formerly a part of, now works private security for Catalyst, so cool, I guess?

“Also, welcome to Vinci’s secret underground tunnels,” said Holloway. “They are completely secret, run under the whole city, and can be easily accessed by this warehouse.”

Unlike Ray earlier in the season, Paul is absolutely dead. I know this because a) why else would they bother? And b) there was string music playing in the background. The closing scene assumed an emotional gravitas that I just couldn’t muster. It’s hard to feel like the building is crashing down around you if it was never built properly in the first place. Maybe there were just too many competing flavours in this cocktail.

Well, with one week to go and our big bad guy basically revealed, I’m going to pour myself a whiskey. It’s what Paul would have wanted.

True Detective airs on Foxtel’s Showcase every Monday at 3.30pm (express from the US), before being re-broadcast at 7.30pm.

Sinead Stubbins is a writer from Melbourne who has done stuff for Yen, frankie, Smith Journal and Elle. She tweets from @sineadstubbins.