TV Review: True Detective: Season 2, Episode 7 (SPOILERS)
Season 2, Episode 7: Black Maps and Motel Rooms
REVIEW: Another week – another True Detective. With the season quickly drawing to any end, the predictable Twitter backlash against “how bad season two is” is in full-spew as I write this. Despite all this, I'm proud to be one of the few few critical voices of dissent who've found season two of True Detective to be – if undeniably inferior to the first season – quite solid on its own merits. Last week's installment, with the Brain De Palma-style denouement was the best yet, and this penultimate episode manages to nearly match it in terms of tension.
As the season's gone on, the two characters I've become most invested in has no doubt been Velcoro and Bezzerides and their undeniable chemistry comes to ahead this week when Ani, still high on molly, makes a pass at Ray, who turns it down on principle. The mutual respect the two share has been surprisingly affecting, with it being interesting in that the “bromance” shared between McConaughey and Harrelson in season one got turned into a literal (if conventional) romance for season two. This has been a long time coming, and while people might be peeved to see both of them go down such a traditional path its believable considering the extreme situation they've found themselves in – with both being hunted by the cops.
It's interesting that Ani's slaying of the bodyguard last week – done in self-defense – is leading to her downfall with her being sought for murder. More interesting still is that the girl Ani rescued turns out to have been a very willing participant in the Chessani Jr's prostitution/blackmail ring. In the end, Bezzerides and Velcoro both seem to realize the futility of their illegal operation – an interesting contrast to season one where Cohle and Hart's avenging was portrayed as ultra heroic.
Running an extra few minutes, this is a packed episode with tons of plot jammed-in to lead up to the next episode. One valid criticism is that considering how much exposition and plot is blown through here, maybe Pizzolatto could have paced the season out a little better by toning down on the tough guy posturing of Vaughn – who's really turning out to be a peripheral character (for all his screen-time) and sticking to the detective heroes.
Meanwhile, this episode turns out to have been the last for Taylor Kitsch as Woodrugh, who's betrayed by his mercenary lover, with his former black ops crew now being on the Vinci payroll. He gets to go out with a hell of an action scene as he shoots it out with his former crew, only to be eliminated by Vinci cop Burris. It's a satisfying end, although the whole aspect of him being closeted didn't really have the payoff I thought it might.
As for Vaughn's much-maligned Frank, I'll say this. Many have complained that this season was too reminiscent of a James Ellroy novel called The Big Nowhere. I've never read it. However, I have seen the movie The Long Good Friday and Frank's story-line seems heavily inspired by that, especially with him now planning a big strike against his betrayers. If this ends with him and his wife being killed just after they thought they've succeeded I might put a little more stock into some of the criticism of Pizzolatto – saying he borrows too liberally from other works.
At any rate, I'm still being consistently entertained by this season of True Detective and while people love to beat up on it (yet they keep tuning in – with the ratings being excellent) I'm still convinced that if this didn't have the name True Detective attached to it people would love it. I'm anxious to see how this all turns out next week.