We Get the World We Deserve: True Detective Season Two, Episode Two

Episode three of True Detective‘s season two airs tonight, so let’s catch up with our characters, shall we?

Frank Semyon

Episode two opens on Semyon philosophizing in the middle of the night to his wife. (So many redheads this season!) “It’s like everything is papier mache,” he pontificates to two water stains on the ceiling. Turns out his father left him locked in the basement with rats, and he’s bad with money! Coolcoolcool. I ask again, how did this guy get so powerful?

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Pizzolatto is clearly trying to lay his metaphor-laden language on Vaughn this season, but the actor can’t quite carry it off like McConaughey did. It was a novel part of Rust Cohle’s characterization, but now in season two, it’s a tool we’ve seen employed before (and more effectively, at that).

Officer Paul Woodrugh

OMG IS HE GOING TO FUCK HIS MOM? (Cool cold sore, lady.) She is v into it. They’re like the Darmodys of the SoCal trailer park world. Hopefully, it will remain subtext, unlike Boardwalk Empire BLECH.

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Is he going to turn out to be gay? I hope so, if only to semi-justify his offhand story of a “fag” at the bank. (Cool homophobia, bro.) But between that and his moody gay-prostitute-spying at the end of the episode, it also feels a little…obvious.

Detective Ray Velcoro

Update: he’s still working for the bad side, which now includes the shamelessly hammered mayor.

We meet his ex-wife, whom we’ve seen before as “Big Hair on Legs” in Rectify and Burning Love. She meets him in front of Buffalo Wild Wings (gimme that Asian Zing!) and demands that his visits with their son now be supervised because of his violent and inappropriate behavior. He is, somehow, shocked. America, on the other hand, is not.

In the car, he tries to joke around with Bezzerides about feminism, but since it’s the first humor we’ve seen all season, it doesn’t quite play.

He ends up back at Sad Bar USA with the scar-faced waitress. We will almost certainly see her naked before the end of the season.

Then someone in a bird mask shoots him at close range in a sex safehouse. It looks like this is also the place where Caspere (season two’s resident dead guy) got his dick shot off. It’s all very David Lynch. But there’s no way Colin Farrell dead, right? Structurally, we’ll lose all direct connection with Semyon, and he’ll die an almost irredeemable character. I’m not buying it.

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Detective Ani Bezzerides

Despite her pretentious High Horsing with her sex worker sister in the first episode, she’s very absorbed by her internet porn research for the case.

I do appreciate that she calls Velcoro out for being crooked in the same episode she receives the information. His silence, deciding whether or not to be honest with her, is much more interesting than her sitting on that knowledge until midway through the season.

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Nice e-cig, gf.

Let’s see what they get up to tonight!

Alison

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Leave It All On The Drums

What was the tensest, best-acted, most electrifying movie you saw in 2014? Birdman?

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 Guardians of the Galaxy?

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The Imitation Game?

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If any of these was your answer, you didn’t experience the twisted pleasure of the indie gem, Whiplash, and that is a sincere shame.

When I walked into the theater, I had almost no idea what I was getting myself into. It was my first Saturday morning free in four months, and despite a pretty serious hangover, seizing the day felt necessary. “The world is your oyster! Go treat yo’self!” my culturally-appropriating hangover told me when it woke me up at 8:30 am. So, obviously, I went to the movies alone at 10 am.

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I know, I’m really hitting this hangover thing hard.

I went on the recommendation of a friend, who said Whiplash was the best movie he’d seen all year. I hadn’t seen the trailer, and all I knew was that the film was about drumming and that JK Simmons was really good in it.

Whiplash was, in short, incredible—tightly paced, superbly acted, and surprisingly visceral. It was by no means Black Swan, but it had its hard-to-watch moments. A half-second shot of a spit valve being released is particularly burned into my mind.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and not just the icky parts.

Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, some other garbage movies) plays the lead—a drumming student at a prestigious music conservatory, quietly arrogant and hungry for greatness. JK Simmons (Spiderman, Farmers Insurance man) is a formidable conductor, who has plucked Teller out of relative freshman-obscurity, only to berate and abuse him as he does his other band members.

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Simmons is, rightfully, getting a lot of press and awards for his turn here. It’s a role he was born to play (although he seems super nice IRL). The character is an asshole, but like an ogre, he’s got layers. He loves music so deeply that he lusts for perfection, and he needs his students to strive, nay bleed, for transcendence. His performance is crisp and mercurial. I hope this leads to a lot more Simmons in our future.

This film could easily go the clichéd route of, say, Mr. Holland’s Opus—tough, unconventional teacher eventually softens as scrappy, hard-headed student(s) make him incredibly proud in final number at Regionals (Or whatever. I’ve actually never seen Mr. Holland’s Opus, but I assume I’ve fucking nailed it). But Whiplash never strays down that path. Teller and Simmons have a predictably turbulent teacher-student relationship, but every time I thought, “Oh, here’s where he’ll win the old man’s approval” or, “Here’s where they’ll really pull it together, against all odds,” the movie yanked the rug out from underneath me. I basically had an ulcer when I walked out of the theater because I was so stressed the whole time. Again, this is a movie about jazz drumming.

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PSA: You don’t need to be into jazz to be into this movie. My music taste is one part folksy sadness, one part electronic dancey, two parts Beyonce, and like ten parts terrible pop. I halfway considered getting into jazz after seeing Whiplash, but then I realized I was talking crazy, and turned on Nick Jonas. (Was “Jealous” out at that time? Probably not. But damn, that song is good.)

Simmons is favored to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, as he’s been cleaning up all around town this awards season. The movie probably won’t win anything else, but the fact that it garnered at least 5% of votes to get the Best Picture nomination is win enough for me. In a season of snubs, this was one nod that felt both surprising and deserved.

Some internet nutter left a Youtube comment on the trailer saying that he had walked out after half an hour because the movie was predictable garbage. I was devastated for that man. In the last fifteen minutes, I literally gasped out loud. The end was the BEST PART, GUY!!! Don’t be that like that dude. Sit through this entire movie. Please. For me. And if you hate it…never tell me. We won’t survive it.

—Alison

In Defense of Assholes

In Aaron Sorkin’s creative middle age, his new work has garnered a bad reputation. It’s pretentious and condescending. It romanticizes White Men with Ideals. Every woman is engineered to be a female, fuckable version of Sorkin himself. And, re: his latest venture The Newsroom: a cable news show is a less-than-inspiring setting to explore Big Ideas. As much as I love Keith Olbermann (and by love I mean, I’ve watched a couple videos posted around the ole FB, and he seems cool), I don’t really care about what went into making his MSNBC show. Twenty-four hour news networks exhaust me and are, ultimately, unnecessary. If there was actual, worthwhile analysis happening, that would be one thing.

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But I’m pretty sure a re-run of Revenge would do more good than this breaking story.

Oh, did I mention that I love The Newsroom? Because I really do.

I see its flaws. Aside from the typical Sorkin bullshit highlighted above, it has the serious problem of tackling the news with the benefit of hindsight. How could the characters not come out on top after their coverage of the Boston bombing? The writers had over a year to tackle the issue. And last Sunday’s episode had a stodgy plotline about old vs. new news that sounded as if it came straight from the mouth of your grandfather at Thanksgiving. (You know, “All these kids and their tweets.” That sort of thing.)

Whatever, I’m still into it.

The Newsroom plays on my emotions, and I 100% let it. Everyone makes paragraph-long speeches about justice and love and America. The music swells at all the right moments. Everyone is good at their jobs, and it’s sexy.

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This is true of Sorkin’s other work too. The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men: They all feature single-minded, stubborn assholes. But these assholes are on the noble side of complicated issues. They’re on the side of truth and equality, where weaker people might founder. And everyone is so fucking well-spoken. I eat it all up with a spoon, gladly.

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It’s unlikely Sorkin will ever make another West Wing, and we’re all worse off for that. In the White House, people “doing the honorable thing” actually deserves the warm fuzzies of hope that flutter through my heart. America! But I’m not ashamed that I buy into the same cheesiness when I watch The Newsroom, despite its weaknesses. It makes me feel GOOD, ok?! It inspires me to work harder at what I love, and reminds me what passion in the workplace looks like. It makes me want to take big risks, in life and love and work. It moves me to read the actual news. Frankly, for me, it does everything that Sorkin sets out to do with his writing.

But no way would I ever say that to his face. Wouldn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

– Alison