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. You’ve been warned.
The third episode of this season was sure to convert those who are on the fence about this go around of True Detective. It’s bizarre, violent, and surreal. There are a lot of things going on here and some big reveals for several of the characters. Most importantly, perhaps, was that Ray lived through his brutal encounter at the end of the episode two. Tonally, the first few minutes of episode three were about as different from the stark nightmare of episode two as can be.
We started off with a vision of sorts. It wouldn’t be fair to call the (rubber) bullet wounds that Ray suffered a near-death experience, but they certainly seemed to trigger an out-of-body experience. That vision was weird, funny, and strangely prophetic. Ray’s dad told him, in no uncertain terms, that Ray would die in a hail of bullets while surround by trees. Now, I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I’d say this is our “gun” in act one that has to be fired in act three. Ray survived the episode two encounter, but the odds that he’ll survive the season aren’t good.
From there, we grind the procedural route. Ani and Paul – Ray is “taking the day” to recover – continue to piece together Casper’s life and death. We don’t find out much, other than the fact that Vinci is a very weird, weird place. The wagons of the various precincts have circled and nobody trusts anybody. Ani, Ray, and Paul just want to be cops and solve a crime, but the political a personal baggage continued to pull them down.
On the personal front, the biggest revolution was for Paul. We knew he had issues, but this episode clearly spelled out his refusal to accept who he is. We learned that he had homosexual experiences while away at war and that he was deeply ashamed of it. Paul is broken, obviously, and is deeply trying to present an image that is not his true self. His violent and aggressive actions are a front that nobody seems to believe. What this means for Paul is hard to say, but he seems like a ticking time bomb.
That said, this week’s best moment had to go to Frank. We mentioned last week that Vince Vaughn had more to prove than any other actor in this series and this episode proved that the same was true for his character. After the death of one of his close associates, it became clear that somebody is coming after Frank. It’s personal. So, he rounded up all his peers and underworld connections to let them know that it won’t stand. When one of the thugs tells him, “You ain’t that thing no more, what you used to was” Frank shows us just how serious he can be. The ensuing beating was fast, one-sided, and ended with Frank pulling out the thug’s grill with a pair of pliers.
The episode ended with Ani and Ray realizing they are literally knocking on the right doors as they discover the presumed killer was following them. An intense foot chase followed and ended with the bad guy narrowly getting away. All the pieces don’t add up yet, but it was clear this week that our detectives are on the trail of the killer or killers. They may not know who it was they were chasing, but the guy was and is right on the horizon. If they can survive long enough, they just might catch him.
For me, this episode, which was titled “Maybe Tomorrow,” was the all-in point. I’m now officially hooked on the characters and I want to see their story play out. I’m more and more sold on Vince Vaughn with each passing week, and while McAdams and Farrell are running circles around the rest of the cast, Vaughn and Kitsch are starting to close the gap. For my money, this is just good television.