He Lives: True Detective Season Two, Episode Three

I had a sad realization this week. Covering True Detective has forced me to pay closer attention to it than anything I’m actually enjoying on TV right now. Like Elise, it’s rare that I watch TV without multitasking. I spend most of UnREAL browsing Hinge despite the fact that I’m truly invested in what’s happening onscreen. But because I have to take effing notes on this trainwreck, I can tell you more details about Colin Farrell’s mustache than names of contestants in So You Think You Can Dance’s Top Twenty. You’re all welcome.

Anyway. Let’s say what up to our buddies.

Detective Ray Velcoro

Yup, not dead. DOI EVERYONE. Of course he’s alive. If this season of True D has proved anything, it’s that the long shadow of season one has made it scary for the show to take risks.

Besides being alive, Velcoro is sort of boring this week. He has daddy issues, and he refers to weed as “grass,” which, no. If the character was black, Pizzolatto would probably have him call it a “jazz cigarette,” while playing the trumpet.

Sidenote: Has Farrell been wearing a bolo tie this whole time? (A quick image search says: “Yes.”)

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Frank Semyon

“It’s unnatural. Don’t feel right,” Semyon says upon failing to pop a boner in the IVF sample-collecting room. (Sorry, Red. You can take your v generous bj and scram.) Vaughn even sounds stilted dropping the subjects from his sentences. Please. For the love of McConaughey. Stop giving him these ridiculous lines. He cannot do them. He is doing a bad job.

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“I want to sex it up, but I’m so, so sad.”

One of Semyon’s toadies describes someone as “half anaconda, half great white” without irony. What?!? That sounds like exactly zero humans that exist.

Frank is impotent all over the map in this episode. He can’t get it up at the doctor’s, and he doesn’t have any pull with his old buddies from the underworld. Actually, the latter dynamic piqued my interest. He’s lost his cache from trying to go legit. When he needs his #squad, no one’s having it, and in his frustration, we see more of the Old Scary Frank. He certainly seems more at home threatening people, or pulling their teeth out, as it were. If his desperation leads to more of his inner thug shining through, then I’m all for it.

Detective Ani Bezzerides

Maybe it’s my unmitigated love of Rachel McAdams, but I’m coming around on her just a little. She’s a capable cop, perhaps the most capable of our motley crew. She and Velcoro are forming an unlikely bond, too. It’s unclear how genuine it is, but even a fake connection between the two is a relief.

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She has a touch of “Be Like a Man to Be an Interesting Woman” Syndrome, but that might be the best we can hope for in a female on this show. She dumps Motocrossed without ceremony, and he’s the one that has a stereotypically-feminine meltdown. “You started this!” he exclaims incredulously after she tells him it’s done. Oh, buddy. You’ll learn in time to play it cool. And instead to express such sentiments to your closest fourteen friends via text.

Officer Paul Woodrugh

I KNEW HE WAS GAY, I KNEW IT I KNEW IT. And the gay hustler at the end is my favorite character in the entire season so far. Oh, look! A smile! And the heavens parted, and God said, “it was good.”

In case you haven’t heard, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams are reportedly dating, combining two of the greatest Canadians exports into a hockey-playing, Drake-listening supercouple. When they’re driving together to the mayor’s gaudy mansion, all I can think is “THEY ARE FALLING IN LOVE RN, AND WE ARE WATCHING.” She backhandedly compliments his looks, and he smiles, and PROBABLY TAKES IT PERSONALLY AND CONTINUES ON THIS ROLLER COASTER JOURNEY OF HAPPINESS.

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[Insert heart-eyed cat emoji here.]

And if that’s the only good thing to come out of True Detective this season, I’ll take it.

—Alison

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

Hard Pass: True Detective Season Two, Episode One

The further I get from Sunday night’s second season premiere of True Detective, the more my fog of confusion is burned off by “WTF?!?!” rage. The tone of the season two opener was grim, and it’s hard to see how the show will be able to escape the dreary world it’s built. The episode introduced us to four disparate main characters with little to no relationship to one another—so it’s fitting to present a character rundown in much the same way:

Detective Ray Velcoro

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Colin Farrell gives us his best Difficult Man, but instead of delivering the character in shades of gray, he’s a complete garbage person. Our friend the flashback teaches us that he was once a noble sheriff, but then his wife was beaten, raped, and impregnated with a ginger son of questionable paternity. Then, they got divorced. These days Velcoro spends his time getting lit with Vince Vaughn and beating the shit out of reporters while wearing a ski mask (a desperate callback to the meth-cooking masked man from season one, crying out “Remember last year? Remember how much you loved us? Let’s do that again.”).

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This script actively alienates us from Velcoro. He threatens to spank his chubby, victimized son in front of the kid’s classmates and stepfather. He uses brass knuckles to beat the crap out of a suburban dad and tells that guy’s kid to cut the bullying or else he’ll “come back and buttfuck [his] father with [his] mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.” He drinks himself into oblivion in the saddest bar in America, but then, Jimmy McNulty-style, miraculously drives himself to the crime scene where the episode ends. Frankly, this episode tried to buttfuck us all.

Detective Ani Bezzerides

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She has a couple things going for her. First of all, flawless haircut. If I had Rachel McAdams’ jawline, I’d go get it right now. She also does some kinky sex stuff (seemingly backdoor-related) with the guy from Motocrossed, fulfilling the dreams of early 2000s pre-teens everywhere.

BUT her full name is Antigone (whyyy), so named by her hippie guru father. A tip about a missing girl takes her and her partner to her dad’s “institute,” which is essentially a mansion/commune. It clearly will be relevant to the crime storyline this season, providing Ani with ample opportunity to work out her daddy issues on the clock. How convenient. Even more family problems: she completely slut shames her sister Athena (oy, no, I refuse) after busting the sexy webcam house where Athena works.

It pains me, but Ani is a textbook frigid bitch. Thank you, Nic Pizzolatto. We almost forgot that you’re halfway trying to make up for a whole season of television that used women solely as props for sex and violence. Pro tip: you’re not off to a great start. Oh, and she’s a drunk, too. Le sigh. I wanted so much better for you, Rache.

Officer Paul Woodrugh

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Oh, Taylor Kitsch. You so pretty. I remain unconvinced you’re not Tim Riggins IRL, and the Friday Night Lights people weren’t like “Well, we have to give you a different name in the show,” and you were like, “Ok, but it’s still just me, right?” and they were like, “Yes, just say whatever you want, and we’ll make the show around you.” You’ve got like four faces, and they’re all variations on a theme.

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I’m troubled, you see.

Just substitute Ruddrugh’s war crimes and impotence for Riggins’ daddy issues and alcoholism, and we’re in business. Also, he’s got a death wish: that helmetless motorcycle ride in the pitch-black genuinely scared me.

WWRD? What would Riggins do? Probably tell Paul to stop being a little bitch, but then secretly cry because he’s got a heart of gold. Texas forever.

Sidenote. This seems unfair, IMDB:

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Frank Semyon

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I totally zoned out during all Vince Vaughn’s parts, and I’m not rewatching this episode just to gather little nuggets of comedy gold for you monkeys. This is what I gathered: he’s a (former? attempting to be former?) mob boss. He and his wife are going to try IVF. He’s involved in a high-speed rail land development deal (zzzzzzzzz), but it’s not going well? He’s very insecure about his choice of venue for the big party. Vince, there’s no way you got to the top of the crime food chain or whatever by second guessing yourself. Fake it til you make it, Señor. But whatever. Do what you want. I don’t care about you at all because you were very boring.

Also, he supposedly helped Velcoro track down his ex-wife’s rapist back in the day, which is why the detective is so crooked now. He owes Semyon. But hello, everyone, Vaughn’s character has a weasle-y ginger crony that is 100% definitely rapist material. Calling it now: that guy is the father. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. [Note: I could not find a picture of the guy, but…just trust me.]

Welp, that wraps up the rundown. I got through each of the four leads without even mentioning what promises to be the dominant mystery of the season, which speaks volumes for the writing. I want it to get better. I really do. But even keeping in mind my high expectations, season two is like a flat (circle? heh) version of season one. Regardless, 100% I will be hatewatching the rest of the season. I’m nothing if not a masochist.

—Alison