TV Review: True Detective: Season 2, Episode 5
Season 2, Episode 5: Other Lives
SUMMARY: Two months after the Vinci shootout, Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) have all moved on with their lives, but none of them can ignore the cover-up that's going down in their respective departments.
REVIEW: Last week's episode of True Detective ended with the season's most electrifying set-piece to date, a huge-scale shootout that drew many favorable comparisons to Cary Fukunaga's famous tracking shot from last season. While a shootout is nothing new – even for True Detective – the scale of the carnage was something to behold. Even if this season has lacked one strong directorial voice, it can't be denied that show-runner Nic Pizzolatto still has a few tricks up his sleeve. While it can't be denied that season two isn't on par with season one, this was a very satisfying way to mark the season's halfway point, and even the most critical True Detective viewer was likely eager to tune into this week's episode to watch the aftermath.
Right away, we see that we've jumped ahead sixty days, during which time the city machinery managed to pin the Caspere murder on the shooters from Vinci. Now that the case is closed, we get to see Ray, Ani and Paul and how they've managed to move on in the wake of the shooting. Despite being hailed as heroes, all three have been hung out to dry by the department. Paul is promoted but working a desk job, while Ani is forced to take sensitivity training and work out of the evidence room. Even more striking is what happened to Ray, with him having quit the force to become Frank's (Vince Vaughn) full-time bag-man – albeit a sober one and slick one (having shaved off his cop'stache).
Not too much time is wasted before Pizzolatto manages to pull our three heroes together again, through an off-the-books investigation that sees Ray pulled in as a private investigator, while Ani and Paul work for their former supervisor. While up to now the Caspere case has been unfolding at a snail's pace, in episode five we get more information on the circumstances surrounding the killing than in the four previous episodes combined, giving this a fast-paced feel. While there are no huge set-pieces, there are loads of memorable bits, including Velcoro issuing a violent beating to Rick Springfield's Dr. Feelgood-style shrink/surgeon, who it turns out is running a blackmail/prostitution ring – in which Caspere was intimately involved.
Of everyone, Velcoro gets the most screen time this week, with several bombshells being dropped, including that the man Frank had him kill was not the man who raped his wife. Ani and Frank take a backseat throughout, although Ani gets the week's obligatory Lera Lynn- bar scene, where she has an exchange with a newly sober Velcoro.
Otherwise, most of the episode goes to Vince Vaughn, who really comes into his own here. Many have complained about his oddly stilted performance, but I firmly believe this is exactly what Pizzolatto's asked of him, and its interesting to see how much of an act that all was as Frank starts to let down his guard when it becomes clear his wife (Kelly Reilly) has had enough of his bad-ass gangster posing. They have some really strong scenes together, and a revelation from her, where she admits she can't bear children due to too many abortions, has a refreshing atypical outcome, allowing us to really invest in their relationship, even if the final scene makes it doubtful either will emerge from this unscathed.
While I doubt there's anything here that will win over the hardcore season two haters, for those of us that have allowed ourselves to get invested this was another strong episode. Farrell's continuing to give a performance that's on-par with anything from last season, while Vaughn may finally win over some of the naysayers. With only three episodes to go, I'm more eager than ever to see how all the plot strands are going to come together by the time season two comes to an end. Whatever happens, I doubt it will all have as happy an outcome as season one did.