I Welcome Judgement: True Detective Season 2 Episode 5 “Other Lives”
Colin Farrell as Detective Raymond Velcoro, Vinci Police Department
Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon criminal and entrepreneur
Rachel McAdams as Detective Antigone “Ani” Bezzerides of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Taylor Kitsch as Officer Paul Woodrugh of the California Highway Patrol
Season Plot: Upheaval ensues when city planner Ben Casper disappears just days before he was supposed to present plans for a multi-billion dollar light rail project. When he’s later found murdered by the side of the road, his eyes chemically burned out, the crime brings together a disparate group of characters including a corrupt Vinci city detective, a highway patrolman with a tormented past, a career criminal trying to go straight, and a County Sheriff’s department detective with a gambling problem.
I liken this season of “True Detective” to the hot girl from high school you were always in the Friend Zone with. Deep down you knew there was no chance of ever hooking up with her, but like an idiot you kept doing her homework and writing her term papers. That’s how I feel when it comes to this season.
“Other Lives” once again subjected me to a less than stellar episode with just enough crumbs at the end to keep me going. At this point, despite my desire to do so, I’m too fully invested in this season to bail. I need to know who killed Caspere, who’s pulling the strings, and what the ultimate end game is. If it wasn’t for the brilliant performance this year by Colin Farrell I would have rage quit the show already.
Is it just me or was there this much melodrama last year when it came to domestic issues? Yeah Woody Harrelson’s character had his issues with affairs, his wife, and his daughters, but at least it was compelling and added to the character’s story arc. Not so with this year. I have zero fucks left to give when it comes to Frank’s domestic life. Over and over and over it’s all about Frank and his wife not being able to have children. Two months after this shootout they’ve both descended into alcoholism, and Frank is a full-on gangster again. (Which for some reason he hates to be called, even though it’s the truth.) Frank’s lamentations about how he was born on the wrong side of the social spectrum comes off as petulant whining. It adds nothing to the story or his character and it has become beyond tiresome. The only compelling thing about Frank in this episode was that he’s been tasked to find the hard drive that could lead to Caspere’s real murderers. Get that hard drive and Frank gets the land development deals back and secures his future.
The hard drive is one of the few crumbs I referred to earlier. I firmly believe that this is crux of all the nefarious dealings that have gone on this season. The implication being that the hard drive incriminates multiple high society people, including many prominent politicians. The mayor’s son wanted to get into high-class pimping to advance his political aspirations (although that makes ZERO sense), Caspere used his connections with Osep the gangster to traffic the women, Doctor Pitlor turns “8s into 10s” ( the fact that Pitlor is both a psychiatrist AND a plastic surgeon not only seems ridiculously coincidental but at professional odds with each other), Caspere then sets up these high-class sex parties, and presumably that’s where he brokered the land deals for Catalyst and Frank. All this is connected to the missing Hispanic woman who was wearing Caspere’s earrings. Said earrings being found by Detective Dixon before Ani and Velcoro found Caspere’s safety deposit box. This obviously proves the whole Mexican situation was a clear scapegoat. To quote Robert Shaw in The Sting, “Ya folla?”
Not for nothing but could this storyline get any more convoluted? I consider myself an intelligent man but I have to take copious notes each episode and rewind several times to make sure I follow everything. Don’t get me wrong I like shows that make me think (that’s the whole point of this show after all) but my God my brain hurts. As my friend pointed out though, that may be the whole point of this season. To point out that life is more complicated than it seems? If so it’s an extremely belabored metaphor.
Rachel McAdams continues to impress. She doesn’t let her temporary demotion to evidence handler stop her from gathering evidence on the seemingly closed Caspere case. I love her tenacity. What’s funny is that the disappearance of the Hispanic woman seems her clear motivation for wrapping up the Caspere case. There’s a correlation between saving her and saving her sister Athena. Also it ties in to her obvious hang-ups with sex. This is further exemplified in the hilarious scene at her sexual harassment course early in the show. (“I mean what can I say? I just really like big dicks.” Classic). I’m intrigued to see how things play out next week when Ani goes undercover at one of these parties.
The same cannot be said for Paul. Taylor Kitsch is just a horrible actor in this show. The scene with him and his Mom in her trailer might as well have been ripped right out of an episode of “General Hospital.” Again yet another person who’s domestic issues I couldn’t care less about. His character of Paul is so bland and vanilla that he could have been murdered three episodes in and this show wouldn’t have been the worse for the wear. In fact it may have been even better.
The only compelling character that still stands out is Farrell’s Velcoro. Now HIS domestic problems revolving around his son actually add to his character’s development. Ray is a guy who’s driven by rage and pain. It’s odd that Ray’s ex-wife is using rage and pain to get him to back off. All it seems to do is drive him more. It’s no surprise that his love for his son (even if it isn’t his) is what prompts him to join the task force. Also not surprising is that Ray killed (?) someone who wasn’t his ex-wife’s rapist. The reveal that her rapist has finally been caught and the look on Ray’s face….devastating. I can’t wait to see the confrontation between him and Frank next week. But will anything come of it? Frank’s got him so entangled in his web that Velcoro might as well be a fly.
Although this was the most disappointing episode so far this season, I’m glad the big picture is starting to fall into place. With three episodes to go, let’s hope the writers make this a strong finish.
Big Scene: The beat down Ray gives Dr. Pitlor
Best Line: “Pain is inexhaustible. It’s only people who get exhausted.”
Rating: 5/10 Colin Farrell mustaches.