True Detective Season Finale Recap: WHODUNNIT? Oh, Those Guys. Okay.
It was full of honourable men, dutiful women, and the distinct rush of air as the world rotates backwards on its axis, but there's a good reason we stuck around this season.
This is a recap of the eighth and final episode of True Detective’s second season. Spoilers.
IT WAS MAGGIE SIMPSON ALL ALONG!
Well, two Maggie Simpsons. Laura/Erica and Lenny, the two orphaned kids from the diamond heist of ’92, were the ones who iced Ben Caspere. Some much-needed clarification: Laura was Caspere’s assistant. Lenny was the set photographer from the movie. Reddit picked it, but don’t worry, they were the only ones who bothered to keep track.
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) August 4, 2015
Now, to echo Frank, stranded in the desert and surrounded by enemies with a flimsy motive: “Why?”
Caspere was involved in the heist that killed their parents and resulted in them both leading terrible lives, which for Laura meant reluctantly becoming a sex worker to survive (there was also an implication that she was messing around with Caspere). He had also had an affair with Laura and Lenny’s mother, who “knew too much”, and was secretly Laura’s actual father. It only took eight-and-a-half hours, but Pizzolatto managed to sneak some accidental incest in there. Bravo!
If over the course of the last eight weeks, you wondered they spent so much time talking about boring diamonds, that is why. But I doubt if even the most dedicated Who Killed Caspere viewer was interested after the big baddies were revealed 20 minutes in.
This finale did not need 90 minutes of airtime. It could have worked if they had dedicated half of that to the antics of Mayor Chessani and/or Dr. Pitlor, but instead, True Detective had its two most refreshingly eccentric characters die unceremoniously via fake suicides. If you love/hate this show for the schlocky murder mystery, then you were probably on Instagram for the second half of the episode.
Can't believe that all along the true detective was you and me.
— Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) August 10, 2015
Redemption was definitely in the air this week, for the show and for its characters, but it didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps because the characters’ actions often seemed straight-up nonsensical. Why didn’t Ani and Ray just leave town as soon as Paul had been murdered? Why did they feel like they needed to do any more, when they didn’t end up with much more evidence than they started with? Why did Frank stay when Jordan fled? Surely he knew that staying in Vinci for another day was a death sentence and that by going to Venezuela he at least had a chance? What was Betty Chessani’s significance in all this? And what evidence is there that Chad Velcoro is strong? Is he like, abnormally physically strong? #Chad4SeasonThree #ChadDetective
Can we watch Friends now? #TrueDetective
— Chad Velcoro (@ChadVelcoro) August 10, 2015
Ani and Ray did the sex, and boy was their post-coital pillow talk juicy. Ha, just kidding it was incredibly depressing and awful. Ani discussed her four-day-long abduction as a child, with a pretty despicable piece of dialogue that posited that it was her vanity that allowed her to be molested, effectively assuming that a child’s brain works the same as an adult’s and she was somehow complicit. Ray comforts her, she comforts him and then she tells him she could tell he was “making up for lost time” in the bedroom. Don’t worry Ray, there are pills for that. I’m sure Paul has some extras somewhere.
When Burris mockingly told Ray that Paul was dead — because at that point, the baddies didn’t seem to give a fuck that our true detectives knew they were baddies — Ray and Ani grew very somber and started eulogising the plank of wood man they barely knew.
“He was better than us,” said Ani. (Ah, no he wasn’t). “He deserved better,” adds Ray. (Better than being shot in the back? Well, sure, we all do). They both decide to stay and solve the crime, as they’re not used to running away. “Woodrugh wasn’t,” Ani said solemnly.
Wait, what? Woodrugh LOVED running away! You all loved running away! Hours and hours of this show were dedicated to how much you all love running away.
Argh, whatever. Ani let Laura go free and she and Ray tried to stop Lenny killing Holloway in a setup ‘diamonds for hard drive’ deal. Poor Lenny. You think you have the perfect plan, bring your victim a blank hard drive, prepare lines like “I am the blade and the bullet”, find a really big knife, and some schmo in a cowboy hat comes and fucks up your revenge narrative.
At least we can all agree that Ray is really good at flying under the radar, totally incognito.
Before he was shot, Holloway very helpfully explained the entire plot of the show effectively acting like the Slate of this world. Ray and Ani then ran away in slow motion and joined Frank in the secret illegal immigrant room in that depressing bar. And guess what — Frank owns that depressing bar! And, guess what else — Waitress With Scars gets a name and backstory! Her name is Felicia and she was saved by Ray and Frank. What a rich, complex universe.
Anyway. I think the heist-centric half of the finale (otherwise known as Turtleneck Detective) can be summed up by this classic love song:
“I would do anything for 10 more years
We should have met when we were young
We said we wouldn’t forget the past.”
Oh wait, that’s actually verbatim Frank and Jordan’s parting words to each other.
Vince Vaughn finally settled into this character in the final two episodes, but it’s scenes like these that prove that he was never given a huge amount to work with. I don’t know what they were going for, but Jordan’s goodbye at the train station could have been condensed to this:
“No, not without you!”
In the end, Frank may have had his revenge on Osip in the end, but he forgot about another ethnic minority he had offended: the Mexicans! RIP Frank. Your random bigotry, daddy issues and admiration for lady cops will not be forgotten. At least you went out with a bang: hallucinations, a blood trail across Death Valley and a ‘you’re already dead’ epiphany? That’s one hell of an Emmys reel.
And RIP Ray! Just as he had procured the money to prematurely send Strong Chad to Yale, had found peace in his limited role in Chad’s life (the classic ‘I Love You Son, Let Us Salute, Don’t Tell Your Mother’) and had found… love? Well, at least something to smile about. Just as Frank’s dignity was his undoing, Ray’s devotion to Chad was his falling into a trap and dying among the giant trees just as his Dream Dad predicted.
As Ray lays on the ground like Christ, his ex-wife discovers that he was Chad’s real father all along. How dare that treacherous wench keep that drug-addicted, abusive criminal away from his rightful son! And Ani? Well, she’s kind of shunted to the side and becomes yet another concerned women on the phone. She cuts her hair like Demi Moore in Ghost and can physically feel exactly when Ray dies… like Demi Moore in Ghost.
In the end the crime was solved, but the baddies still won — until that journalist from episode one blows the story wide open, of course. Tony Chessani is the Mayor of Vinci, Geldof celebrates the corridor sale and Burris is now the Police Chief. Ani and Jordan are Thelma and Louise-ing around Venezuela, seemingly, the joy capital of the planet. And oh yeah, Ani gave birth to Ray’s child.
BUT WHERE’S THE MOUSTACHE OR RED HAIR?
And there it is! Women looking after children, just as god intended. We are reminded that all men must die with honour and all women must do their duty, and in the distance we hear a distinct rush of air as the world rotates backwards on its axis.
So why did we stick with this season of True Detective? Because you just never know where the next magic moment of TV might come from. You know: picking up Leaves of Grass in the dunny, discovering your best friend is an FBI informant through a dream sequence, seeing your favourite TV family murdered in a particularly bloody wedding. We like to feel like we’re part of a global conversation about TV, so we stick with shows that we trust — or hope — will be worthy of our dedication. Being able to share in collective shock or dread or joy is so exciting, that often it’s worth watching hours of not-so-good TV just in case. Meh, maybe we lost out a little with this season, but at least we all lost out together.
As a wise man once said: never do anything out of hunger.
Sinead Stubbins is a writer from Melbourne who has done stuff for Yen, frankie, Smith Journal and Elle. She tweets from @sineadstubbins.