Let’s play a little game: Which True Detective character is going to bite it first?
Forgive me if that seems a bit morbid — even for a show that this week introduced us to a murder shack liberally painted with “arterial spray” (thanks, Ani) — but at least one of these people has to die before the rapidly approaching end of the season, right? (After all, not everyone can have Rust Cohle’s Carcosa-surviving unkillability — though the invisible bubble that protected Ray, Ani and Paul from all the bullets last episode certainly seems to come close.)
After this week’s hour, my money is on Frank. And I’ve got reasons. Read on as we highlight the action in “Other Lives.”
FRUSTRATING FLASH FORWARD | We open on the immediate aftermath of last episode’s gun battle, then jump to more than two months later. Attorney General Geldof is now running for governor — cashing in getting/killing Ledo for the murder of Ben Caspere — and he has a huge war chest that kinda came out of nowhere. (This’ll be important later.) Ray is working security for Frank. Paul is a detective working insurance fraud. Ani got demoted to manning the evidence locker; she also has to attend sexual harassment awareness classes populated by mouthbreathing misogynists. Bottom line: No one’s having a good time.
THE SOFTER SIDE OF SEMYON | Meanwhile, Frank and Jordan have hit a rough patch, and they’ve had to downsize and move. They’re also not really talking to each other, though that changes when she confronts him about being a de facto pimp and drug dealer by allowing girls and product to flow through his club and casino. He questions whether she’s still in it for the long haul, then she tells him that she actually had three — not one — abortions in her 20s and her doctor thinks she probably can’t ever get pregnant again. “So who loves who?” she asks.
She then brings up adoption again, (astutely) saying that she thinks he’s so against it because he wants to distance himself from the lonely, neglected kind of kid he was. The thought makes Frank almost cry, and it seems to cause some kind of change in his thinking: They go home, they sip tea on the couch, they make love for fun instead of procreation and they cuddle. All of a sudden, Frank is every guy in every Nicholas Sparks novel?
And that’s why I think Semyon might kick it first: He is the only character in this grimy little tangle of people who has any semblance of hope. He has a “design.” He eventually wants to go legit. And True Detective loves nothing more than taking its big, seedy boot and quashing all the goodness it can find. (And yes, I’m grading that “goodness” on a curve.) Plus, there’s the fact that lots of people want him dead, he was outright threatened at the beginning of the episode and he ended it with a very angry visitor at his door.
MURDER VIA MISDIRECTION | That visitor is Ray, who learns that his ex-wife’s rapist has just been picked up and connected to six unsolved attacks from the past, including Gena’s. But what about the guy Ray killed, the one Frank handed him all those years ago? That’s the impetus for the episode-ending pop-over.
Earlier, however, Ray asks his new boss for some extra shifts to help pay legal bills: Gena wants sole custody, and she’s going ahead with the paternity test. Frank tasks the ex-cop with following up on “the hot feeling I got in the back of my neck” and finding out what shady dealings his associate Blake is up to. (Snap poll: Could anyone have pulled off that “blueballs in your heart” line? My money is on nope.)
DIXON’S DIRTY, TOO | Meanwhile, Ani follows up with that woman whose sister went missing; the woman has new photos from her sister (they were sent to her old address) showing blue diamonds (like the ones that went missing from Caspere’s safe deposit box) and people at a party. Ani recognizes one of the men as a state senator and theorizes that the pictures were taken at one of those high-end bashes Athena mentioned a while back. A little more digging on Paul’s part uncovers that the blue diamonds haven’t shown up, but Teague Dixon — the drunk cop who got gunned down last week — had already been around asking about them… before Ani & Co. even knew they existed. Interesting.
For his part, Ray finds out that Blake is taking girls to met Olsip and Dr. Pitlor. When he confronts the doc, he beats him up until Pitlor confesses that he does plastic surgery on the ladies (who are then likely trafficked), and that Tony Chessani (the mayor’s son) and Caspere would throw the parties as a means to get blackmail evidence on some very influential people. Pretty soon, Ani is asking Athena to help her find the next party. And when Bezzerides and Woodrugh go to check out a location up north that showed up on Caspere’s GPS, that’s where they find a big house… and the blood-spattered cabin in the woods behind it.
MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL | But wait! Frank’s got his own mystery now, too: He realizes that the waste management company he sold years back has been dissolved — after poisoning all of the land the central rail line conveniently bought up (at a lower price, thanks to the poison) — and that the new owner died in suspicious fashion. When he mentions as much to Catalyst’s Jacob McCandless, the company rep suddenly makes a deal: If Frank can find Caspere’s hard drive of “films” (ew), the mobster will get five parcels of the central corridor land for free.
DRAG $20K THROUGH A TRAILER PARK… | Paul’s storyline is, as usual, as depressing as coffee-flavored Jell-O. He’s still dealing with that stupid actress, he’s drinking heavily just to get through dinner with his fiancée and future mother-in-law and he’s out $20,000 of cash he brought back (stole from?) Afghanistan, thanks to his nasty mother and assumption that the funds were at her disposal. Oh, and she knows he’s gay.
So he’s probably the most happy to hear that he — along with Ray and Ani — are being pulled back into the Caspere murder investigation. State attorney Katherine Davis (or, as I like to call her, Blink-and-You-Think-She’s-Merrin-Dungey) assembles the trio in private and says she wants to prove that there was collusion between the suddenly politically rich Geldof and the law enforcement bureaus that so easily accepted Ledo as Caspere’s murderer. Though they’ve all been removed from the case, she’ll secretly authorize them to do the deep digging this mess so sorely needs. So, back to work, everyone!
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!