What follows is an examination, recap, and review of the third episode of True Detective season 2. As such, it contains spoilers for this season and discussion of sexual abuse as that factors heavily into the episode’s plot.
“Church in Ruins” really upped True Detective‘s game. The episode propelled the story in a big way and helped to make sense of the various plot threads. As we expected, it is all one big web of deceit; everything is connected. Sure, there are plenty of things that don’t seem like the warrant much attention – talking to you, stupid blue diamonds – but the overall story of this season has finally come to ahead. Maybe.
The episode had started with a resolution – of sorts – to Ray’s confrontation with Frank. Ray was furious over the notion that Frank had fed him the wrong name of his wife’s rapist. Ray had killed a man based on Frank’s information and was obviously not too happy knowing that the guy he killed was not the one who had hurt his wife. The two faced off over coffee, guns under the table, and had a tense conversation. In the end, Ray seemed to believe that Frank did not knowingly give him false information. The scene had some of the episode’s best dialogue as the two men slowly decided to trust, at least tenuously.
This episode also focused on Ray’s mental decline. His life in ruins, the self-destruction ramped up big time. He can’t connect with his son anymore and knows that he is one paternity test away from losing the right to even see him. This led to a drug-fueled night of hard rock, crying, and destruction in which Ray seemed to completely unravel. He even smashed the models he so proudly displayed around his house; the models he had built with his son. It’s not looking good for ol’ Ray.
The big moment this week was the party. Well, it was more of an orgy, but I guess an orgy is still a party. Throughout the season we have been peppered with rumors of high-end parties for rich important men and expensive, specially tailored women. Ani went undercover and infiltrated the party, which allowed Ray and Paul to break in to the mansion hosting the event and steal some documents. While at the party, Ani was forced to take drugs and that, combined with the sea of graphic sex that surrounded her, lead to a flashback of sexual abuse Ani suffered as a young girl. This abuse was new information for us and one that will no doubt be the source of heavy debate for the season.
In escaping the party, Ani finally put her knife skills to use and dispatched a large guard that attempted to choke her. It was fast and bloody, definitely one of the coolest moments of the entire episode. So, the gang escaped with a bunch of documents and a drugged-up girl that they had previously been a missing person case Ani was looking into. What does this get them? What mystery does this all solve? We don’t know. They might be the keys to everything or it might just be another useless dead end. This season has been full of those, so it could go either way.
This was one of the season’s more interesting episodes, but True Detective has a long way to go to capture that magic of season one. The dialogue in “Church in Ruins” was some of the sharpest we’ve seen so far, and the acting was topnotch. Story wise, there is still plenty to question, like the inclusion of sexual abuse in Ani’s past. I’m not convinced this is needed or will payoff, but the season isn’t over yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.