True Detective Recap: Crazy Eyes, Broken Hearts, Can Lose

True Detective Season 2

Anyone else getting the feeling that the kindest thing the men and women of True Detective can do is douse Vinci in gasoline, strike a match and leave the cesspool of a city to flame out of existence?

Because the more Ani, Ray and Paul try to solve Ben Caspere’s murder, the worse things get — professionally and personally at first, but then bloody and brutal at the end of the hour. And no one really thinks that the town manager’s murderer died in that shootout, do they?

We got a lot of Frank begging for money and Ani looking irked this week, but there were some important-seeming bits of info mixed in, too. Well, that is, until the gruesome battle that brings the episode to a close (and makes Bezzerides’ previous raid-fail look like something off a Pinterest page).

Read on for the highlights of “Down Will Come.”

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POOR PAUL | Let’s start with Paul, who wakes up in the bed of the guy he shoved to the ground in last week’s episode. Though Woodrugh is fuzzy on the details, apparently all of those drinks he downed at the club made him think it was a good idea to meet up with his Army buddy and do a little late-night reconnaissance in their boxer briefs. Poor Paul is incredibly upset with himself when he realizes what’s happened, and he cries in the backseat of a taxi on his way back to the bar to pick up his bike.

His bad day gets worse when the bike’s been stolen, and an attempt to walk back to his hotel lands him in the middle of a pack of reporters wanting to know about the actress he allegedly boned and the Black Mountain business we still don’t know much about. Out of options, Paul calls Ray, who gives him a ride, a hangover cure and a pep talk. “You’re a survivor. Everything else is just dust in your eyes. Blink it away, man,” Velcoro says… not knowing what awaits our war hero when he has coffee with his kinda-ex-girlfriend, Emily.

She’s pregnant, and she’s keeping it, she informs him. Get ready for the worst idea you’ve ever heard in 3… 2… “I want you to, and I think we should get married,” he says, going on to tell her he loves her while sporting some truly crazy eyes and grimacing in what I think he thinks is a smile.

“This is the best thing that could happen,” he says unconvincingly as they sit side-by-side in a diner, looking less like newly engaged lovebirds and more like a couple who’s just been told their luggage was lost.

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DESPERATE TIMES | Semyon still needs money, so he continues his this-is-really-beneath-me tour of former business contacts and menaces them into tossing a little cash his way. I forget, Frank, was it “You never want to look hungry” or “You always want to look hungry and exude a desperation so strong people have to Febreeze after you leave the room?” Because, dude, you’re doing the latter.

Jordan still wants to board the baby train with him, their failed clinic visit notwithstanding, and she’s willing to talk adoption. “I don’t do somebody else’s time,” he replies. Charming.

ANI ARE YOU OK? | Fine, fine — you guys were right: The car that was set on fire in the last episode was the Cadillac that transported Caspere’s body and not Ray’s own ride (like I thought). Next time we’re all at that dingy bar with that maudlin singer, drinks are on me! Ray warns Ani to back off her interest in Vinci Mayor Chessani, saying that the entire investigation isn’t intended to yield any real results and that she and Paul (and possibly himself) are likely to be sacked at the end of it as part of the state’s deal with the city.

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Ani takes all of this under consideration for about two seconds and then does what she wants to do, anyway: She and Ray question the mayor’s daughter, Betty, who mentions that her dead mother hung herself in a mental institution and that Dr. Pitler — the weird-looking psychiatrist Caspere was seeing — was the doc in charge of her care. A trip to see Ani’s dad at the retreat reveals that Pitler, the mayor and Eliot Bezzerides all ran in the same circles back in the day. A final point of interest comes when Ani visits her sister, Athena — she of the webcam masterpieces — and she mentions that she’s not a hooker and she’d never do “one of those parties” she’d heard about. But Caspere sure liked those parties, right? (Side note: I am not well versed in these things, but isn’t “I’m only doing this until I have enough money for college” a frequent refrain heard among the exotic-dancers-and-such set?)

Back at county sheriff’s headquarters, Ani’s superior lets her know that Steve, the guy she dumped last episode, has filed a harassment complaint against her. And that, coupled with the fact that she slept with her partner — “Once!” she growls — means she’s not allowed in the building until the department’s investigation into her conduct is concluded.

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BLOODY HELL | So by the time Caspere’s pawned watch lead to a pimp suspected of the murder, everybody needs a win. Ani leads a raid to grab the man, Ledo Amarilla, but a sniper with a machine gun sees them coming and ambushes them. What follows is a long, harsh, violent sequence in which part of a building blows up, many police officers (including the slovenly cop who saw Paul with his friend at the bar) die, an SUV crashes into a city bus and then even more civilians perish before Ledo himself is taken out. Though Ani, Ray and Paul survive, they’re all quite messed up about it afterward. And all I can think of through the entire gunfight is that the series’ first season — with that long, gorgeous single shot in Episode 4 — did it better.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Thoughts on why the first episode of the season started with a shot of those stakes in Fresno? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. JP says:

    The season is getting better.. However, still nothing compared to season 1. Don’t know if it’s the writing/acting/ or trying to duplicate season 1, but the season feels flat. I keep watching hoping that I’m wrong, but I’m afraid this season will not have its “time is a flat circle” or Rusty cole in a wheelchair deciphering his meaning of existance.

    • Part of it is the larger amount of major players. Since Frank’s story offers relatively little to the plot at this point it’s really hard to give a damn, and honestly the character isn’t as compelling as some other mob boss types we’ve seen on television this season. No knock against Vaughn per say, just that the character, so far, feels like a waste of time which is hurting the chance to really get more into the other characters. Plus before tonight we didn’t really have an epic set-piece.

  2. John Davis says:

    I feel so bad for Paul. I mean, I know this feeling. I was a closeted gay man once, and it’s really sad. I spent so many years of my life hating myself and ashamed for who I was, that I understand what Paul has been feeling. Plus: the caracther is so real! The way he never looks in the eyes of other gay caracthers in the show… You guys ever noticed? He was always looking to the ground when he was talking to the male hookers on last week’s episode. Nic Pizzolatto is a genius.

  3. NOPIX says:

    This gunfight was just as intense as the season 1 tracking shot. You season 1 fanatics are really something….

  4. m3rcnate says:

    This show doesn’t have that special, unique, mind blowing nature about it like S1 did, but its pretty good. If i had to describe it i would say S2 so far is a good detective show on HBO, but S1 was a unique masterpiece mystery thriller with some of the most unique characters on TV.
    That shoot out was intense and epic by basically any other shows standards, but as you said compared to S1’s insane shootout with Rusty while undercover it was just alright. That special intense heart pumping shiver down your spine feel you get when watching The Raid or TD S1 or Daredevil in the hallway….that’s just not here (yet).
    Personally every time a show is set in LA i can’t help feel like its because Hollywood is in LA. LA is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO overplayed that recent shows being set in other places has been quite refreshing (Vikings in Europe, TWD in Georgia, etc).
    Personally I wish this season would have been set in NYC, specifically detectives (or special investigators for the FBI) that police Wall Street. So they would be going up against huge banks and billionaires and people like in “Wolf Of Wall Street” and “Wall Street” (Gordon Gekko) and the crazy sick stuff they are into like S1 did with the southern hillbillies.

  5. Paul and Ani continue to be my favorite characters. Ray is fine enough, just I find the other two more interesting. Something about Paul’s turmoil at always wanting to do what he’s told and such versus what he wants, not to mention his denials and such despite clearly being gay, it’s really fascinating stuff. Ani meanwhile definitely stands out, her issues and persona better defined.

  6. James says:

    True Detective is becoming just another cop show, perhaps the lack of charisma displayed by the chosen actors doesn’t help but there’s no sense of pure evil that imbued season one from start to finish, the visual psycho props are also missing, the damage done to the characters is not realistic enough to make viewers feel as repulsed by the obvious flaws of human nature depicted and the gay imposition now almost compulsory in adult shows nowadays comes across as being almost gratuitous.

  7. I disagree- I thought the shootout was good – I was on running on heightened adrenalin for the first time in the 2nd season, which though interesting has been more annoying than anything else. You cannot compare it to the 1st season’s gun duel as it was a different feel altogether – and we now know these California police cannot aim and shoot worth a diddlydo – how many shots did they fire that missed – uncountable. Ani is still the most riveting character portrayal – when she is on screen does anyone look at anything else ? Figure her sister is a goner for sure because anytime someone says “I”ll just do it for a couple of months” , you know they will not come out the far side.

  8. Saluzzo says:

    Yes, this isn’t S1, but it shouldn’t be – and doesn’t anyone else remember that S1 sort of unravelled as time went on, and ended disappointingly? I’m enjoying this season, and I think that Ray, Paul and Ani are interesting characters. Frank seems to be a less compelling character, and, honestly, Vince Vaughan doesn’t seem to be well-cast. Hopefully, Frank will start earning his keep in the story, because as much as I love the atmosphere in those dive bar scenes, Colin Farrell may as well be talking to the wall (or that terribly depressed singer) for all that Vaughan’s character brings.

  9. Sheldon W. says:

    While I’m enjoying TD Season Two, it’s nowhere near as good as Season One.

    For purposes of comparison, if Season One was Dashiell Hammett with a splash of Jorge Luis Borges, Season Two is pretty much slo-mo Mickey Spillane with a hint of Dr. Phil – we’ve pretty much gone from pulp as literature to pulp as pulp. Still entertaining, but nowhere near as layered and gonzo.

  10. Diane says:

    I am one of the few who did not watch season 1, but I am enjoying season two. The firefight was intense. I do agree that some of the dialogue falls flat, especially the dialogue between Frank and Jordan from last night.

  11. biggio7 says:

    We get it–Season 1 was better, no argument here. Four episodes in, can we FINALLY get over that fact. Instead of constantly making the unfair comparison between the two series’ let’s focus on this season on it’s own. It is after all, a stand-alone season.

  12. kate says:

    I thought Paul hooked up with one of the male prostitutes. I didn’t think it was the army buddy. Was I wrong on that?

  13. cryptic says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that the ambush was a setup and not by the killer of Caspere, but someone else; perhaps someone working on behalf of the mayor?

  14. Henry Nine says:

    Great shootout! Reminded me of the heist shootout in “Heat”.

  15. DeButleir says:

    How come the police didn’t call for backup once the first cops were shot?? They didn’t seem to have a radio of any type.