What follows is an examination, recap, and review of the second episode of True Detective Season 2. As such, it contains spoilers for this season as well as the first season of the show. It also contains discussions of sexual violence and abuse, as these subjects play heavily into the story of the show.
“Night Finds You,” the second episode of this season’s True Detective, started with a long, whispered monologue from Vince Vaughn’s character Frank. He talked of his troubled childhood (yes, it’s disturbing, this is True Detective, after all) and we got a clear sense of how directionless he feels. Vaughn does a great job, although it still feels strange to see him in a non-comedic role. The rest of the cast is brooding and dark, but we expect that from them. Vaughn, you could argue, has more on the line. It’s only two episodes in, but so far he is killing it.
This episode also made it clear that this season is about a tangled web of politics and corruption. Ray, Ani, and Paul are all pawns of bigger, more connected players. Their roles in the investigation merely work to serve the larger political stakes. All three cops look tired, worn out by the game they are being forced to play. Ani, in particular, feels world-weary and dark. She also is officially the first person ever to make smoking an e-cigarette look cool.
It would probably be fair to not compare this season to the first, but comparisons are inevitable. It’s worth noting that this season seems to be following a fairly linear, straightforward structure. There are few flashbacks, and no jumps forward and backwards in time. Again, it’s only the second episode, so it’s unfair to call it now, but it looks like this season is more of a procedural than the first. This in no way diminishes this season. It’s just own more way that True Detective is proving that you can never be comfortable. We’ve said it before, but Season Two is its own beast.
This episode leans heavily on the procedural structure. Our investigators started off with a trip to the morgue – a gruesome, brutal scene – followed by a visit to the crime scene. They dug into evidence and questioned people of interest. The emphasis is on detectives here, less on existential musings. Ray and Ani are the central players, it’s clear neither of them think much of their role in the investigation or of Paul. Ray, in particular, seems to know that this is a case that they are never meant to solve.
The other thing this episode made clear is that this season is exchanging the strange cult world of Season One for a bizarre, twisted world of sex. In one scene, Ani told Ray “I don’t distinguish between good and bad habits.” Moments later, she was in her hotel room intently watching hardcore porn. The victim in this case had his penis blown off with a twelve-gauge shotgun. Paul appears to be hiding homosexual feelings, and Ray spent the final moments of the episode in the victim’s sex den – my words, not the show’s – which features soundproof walls and a collection of animal heads.
Speaking of those final moments – this is a spoiler with a capital S folks – it appeared that we witnessed the death of Ray. Given the stuff we have seen in previews and photos from the season, it’s probably safe to say that Ray survives this attack, although it’s also possible that he is only present for the rest of the season through flashbacks. Either way, the episode ends with a figure dressed in black and wearing a crow mask unloading a shotgun into Ray’s belly. It’s violent and comes out of nowhere and the attacker’s appearance is downright scary. It’s exactly the sort of thing we expect from True Detective.
What did you think of Season 2, Episode 2 of True Detective? Let us know in the comments below!