TV Review: True Detective: Season 2: Episode 6
Season 2, Episode 6: Church in Ruins
SUMMARY: Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) goes undercover at a drug and sex fueled party to find a missing woman with info on Caspere's blackmail tape.
REVIEW: Even the most pessimistic True Detective fan (or former fan) has got to be coming around on the much maligned second season by this point. The end of episode four set the stage for a few really dynamic episodes to come. While last week's was – until now – the best overall episode of the season, this week's installment kicks things up to the point that the show is arguably now operating on a level equal to season one.
Last week's cliffhanger set the stage for a dramatic confrontation between Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Frank (Vince Vaughn) but luckily no bullets were fired and neither of the guys would up checking out just yet. Frank's arc was probably the most uneventful part of the episode as once again he finds himself getting deeper-and-deeper into the gangster underworld, winding up in bed with a gang of dangerous Mexican drug-runners. Things are not going to turn out well for poor Frank. He is humanized to a certain degree when he visits the family of his dead underling Stan, sharing a moment with his son and hinting at his need to eventually become a father – not that it looks like he'll ever get the chance.
One thing that's absolutely shocking is that for the first time since episode two, there's no face-to-face in Ray's favorite dive bar, with a torch song being sung by Lera Lynn. This episode is paced so tightly there's just no time. Velcoro tries to make nice with his son this week, but after an awkward meeting when he realizes his son probably really is better off without him, Ray goes off-the-rails in a big way, visiting his wife's rapist in jail and promising to castrate him, before going home to snort about a pound of coke and wreck all of his sons model planes.
Things get insane in the second half when Ani goes undercover at Mayor Chessani's son's sex party, where the mob imports girls for the town's richest men to have their way with. This whole sequence is amazing, with director Miguel Sapochnik (director of REPO MEN) expertly staging the Brian DePalma-style set-piece at the party, with the tension being ramped up to an almost intolerable level. I was literally on-the-edge of my seat, helped by McAdams' wired performance as Ani's drugged and starts to hallucinate that the man who molested her as a child is stalking her, while having to fight off armed bodyguards (with some nifty knife work). The shooting, editing and – especially – the T. Bone Burnett soundtrack here deserve top marks, and I think I even preferred this set-piece to the shootout in episode four. It was absolutely masterful.
I really think that by this point in the season, you're either on-board with Pizzolatto's new story or not. If not you might as well just check-out now, but for the rest of us it can't be denied the show getting to the point where it could end on-par with season one. It's not there yet, but it wouldn't take much to get to that next level.