I Welcome Judgement: True Detective Season 2 Episode 8 “Omega Station”


Dramatis Personae

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.

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Review:

Well we’ve finally reached the end of the road. After an uneven season that featured both highs (the cowboy-esque shootout with the Mexicans/the orgy house) and lows (Frank and Jordan’s endless discussion about their attempts to get pregnant/Taylor Kitsch’s mostly horrible acting), “True Detective” redeemed itself by finishing with three strong episodes.

In a season where the suppression of sex and violence was paramount, the aftermath of Velcoro and Ani’s lovemaking was particularly fascinating. To see how both characters viewed each through the silent cut scenes of observing the other sleeping, rather than creepy, came across tender.  Moreover, the frank discussion about their individuals pasts created a catharsis for the both of them.  One of the lines Velcoro utters in the first episode of this season (which also happens to be the name of my segment) was “I welcome judgement.”  Yet here there is no judgement between the two characters just understanding.  I always felt Farrell and McAdams had chemistry from a law enforcement perspective, but I never imagined the chemistry would carry over to the bedroom.  I credit them both for making the situation tender and plausible.

Far more important than Ani and Ray’s romantic involvement however:  WE FINALLY FIND OUT WHO KILLED CASPERE!  Turns out it was Lenny the brother of Laura, children of the store proprietors murdered by Burris, Dixon, and Holloway back in ’92.  One of the questions I posed several times over the course of the season was, was Caspere’s murder personal or part of a larger plan?  Turns out it was personal but resulted in unintended farther reaching side effects.  The great fantasy author Terry Goodkind refers to his famous protagonist Richard Rahl as “the pebble in the pond.”  Lenny certainly fits that description as he set off a chain of events involving Frank’s demise, the meeting between Paul, Ani, and Ray, the hidden land deals involving the fast rail, and the orgy house.  More importantly Caspere’s murder resulted in other deaths including Dixon, the Mexicans, Mayor Chessani, Dr. Portlow, and ultimately Velcoro and Frank.

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What makes “True Detective” such a fantastic show is that, aside from a few instances, you never quite know what direction the story is heading.  Never was that more apparent than in the season finale.  Take for example that scene in the train station.  Here we are thinking that Velcoro is getting Burris to admit to everything while being recorded, when suddenly Lenny’s ragetastic reaction upon discovering his sister is Caspere’s illegitimate daughter, sets everything on its head.  The recording is ultimately destroyed, Lenny and Burris both die, and Velcoro and Ani barely escape.  My heart dropped into my stomach when that recording bit the dust.

Though this was a strong season finale, several things seemed either contrived or cliché in this final episode.  As awesome as it was to see Frank and Velcoro throw down on Osip, Catalyst, and the rest of the former Black Mountain guys, it’s a bit unrealistic.  I mean come on! Two guys are going to take on a whole group of ex-special forces guys and walk away without a scratch?  For an elite security group, those guys looked more like the Stormtroopers from Star Wars.  In other words they couldn’t hit jack squat and went down easier than Jenna Jameson on her third apple martini.  Furthermore, what about Ani’s ultimate fate?  Granted it was a nice wrap up to have her provide all the damning info to a reporter, but the fact that she got pregnant by Velcoro and bore his son?  Come on!  That’s just a little too convenient for me.  And was it me or was the part where Velcoro pulls off the highway to see his kid one final time ripped off directly from the movie Heat?

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Convenient circumstances aside, I loved how each character’s fate played out.  One thing I noticed was that Ani, Frank, and Ray all met their respective destinies in three distinct geographic settings.  Ani’s was the ocean, Frank’s was the desert, and Ray’s was the forest.  I don’t know if this fact has any revelatory meaning, but as planned out as this show is, I doubt it had no significance.  Going into the season finale I had a gut feeling that both Ray and Frank were going to bite it and Ani was going to get away. I wasn’t wrong.  As much as I loved Velcoro going down in a blaze of glory (how heartbreaking was it that the final message to his kid didn’t upload?) Frank’s exit was even better.  Frank’s character has never been one to lay down and die, and Frank continues that trend even with a mortal wound.  Every step through the desert, every drop of blood spilt from his abdomen, every shade he faced in his plunge toward death; all were a defiant cry into the hurricane of blackness.  Even though the Grim Reaper’s sickle was at Frank’s throat, all Frank did through his actions was to piss in Death’s face and shout “Fuck you!” as he fell.

The second season of “True Detective” definitely had its peaks and valleys.  After a phenomenal first season, the sophomore effort was bound to be a bit of a let down and it was.  But like I say to most of my friends, even a bad episode of <fill in HBO show here> is better than 95% of the refuse on network television.  (Except for “John From Cincinnati” that program was a giant shit show).  The acting performances of McAdams, Vaughn, and especially Farrell, were enough to keep me coming back for more, even if the story was somewhat convoluted at times.

Although the second season didn’t live up to the lofty heights of the first, it had enough elements to be fully entertaining and enjoyable.  Here’s hoping that the show runners learn from this season and step their game up for season three.

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Best Line:  “There’s us and everything else is in the gray.”  –Jordan to Frank when he tries to send her away

Best Scene:  When Velcoro sees his kid at school through the fence.  They have a silent moment and Ray realizes his boy is going to be just fine.

Rating:  On a scale of 0 to 10 Colin Farrell mustaches this episode rates a 9.

*I hope you’ve enjoyed this weekly review of “True Detective.”  In the months ahead I’m planning to review other shows weekly as well.  If there’s a show out there you’d like me to review please let me know in the comments section.  Bear in mind that I have a ten month old son, a wife, and a full-time job so unfortunately I can’t watch and review every show, but if you have a suggestion I’ll take it under advisement.  In the meantime be sure to check back next month as I begin my weekly review of “Doctor Who” Series 9.  The segment will be called Timey-Wimey Talk. 

 

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