Criticising True Detective season two has become a bit of a blood sport. It’s too slow. It’s too complicated. It’s not as good as season one.
I stand by those criticisms. Every last one of them. It was frustratingly slow and complicated and not as good as season one.
It’s taken until episode four, but we’ve finally seen the sort of ‘action’ that energised the original series. And it’s no co-incidence that creator and show-runner Nic Pizzolatto had some involvement in the scripting. Perhaps he should have intervened earlier.
For eight minutes, True Detective EXPLODES in every sense of the word. It’s nail biting. It’s tense. There’s a high-body count.
But before we reach that crescendo, we get a few more ‘coincidences’ that help bring the story together, add a few layers of murkiness and lead us to the Mayor of Vinci, Austin Chessani.
It turns out, he has a connection to Ani, beyond wanting to bring her down for daring to darken his doorstep. It’s a family thing: his father was involved in the New Age Cult run by her father, Elliot (David Morse).
That connection also extends to Rick Springfield’s Dr Pitlor; the psychiatrist who was treating Caspere. He was also involved in the cult and also just happened to treat Chessani’s first wife.
How’s that for complicated family relationships?
Ani’s life gets even more complicated when she’s placed under investigation for sleeping with a subordinate. Her gambling problems are also exposed and after Ray warns her to tread carefully, she naturally assumes Mayor Chessani has made good on his threat to bring her down.
Woodrugh, meantime, is having a succession of his own crises. He wakes up in a strange bed after seeming to have spent the night with his army buddy/lover Miguel. Then, he’s hassled by the media over an ‘incident’ in Iraq, before being rescued by Ray.
And THEN, his ex-girlfriend reveals she’s pregnant and she’s keeping it. After his night with Miguel, Officer Woodrugh pops the question, telling her “this is the best thing that could happen”.
Frank has been busy. He’s continuing to shake down past acquaintances as he rebuilds his empire. He’s back being a stand over man, looking after ‘loans’ and is mixing it with drug barons in a bid to supply his club.
Amongst all this is some police work and we have a prime suspect: pimp Ledo Amarillo. One of his girls ripped off Ben Caspere and took his stuff to a pawnshop. Ray passes this little tid-bit to Frank, but before he can unleash his henchmen, all hell breaks loose.
Ani, Woodrugh and Ray move in to arrest Amarillo, not expecting for what’s about to hit the fan. It’s an ambush and gang members, armed with machine guns, begin firing on the taskforce.
The body count is high. Innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire. Friends and colleagues are gunned down. Eight minutes later, Ray, Ani and Woodrugh are the only ones left standing.
As I said, it was an intense end to an episode dramatically better than the previous three.
We may be no closer to knowing who’s responsible for Caspere’s death: the Mexican pimps, Chessani or Josip the Russian, but True Detective season two has gone some way to redeeming itself.