True Detective — Black Maps and Motel Rooms
That True Detective episode gave us a lot to digest, but strangely, not a lot to talk about.
Before we get to the calamitous events at the end, let’s get the bullshit out of the way. Because last week I said there was bullshit writing in a bullshit episode, and there was more bullshit this week. I like Ani and Ray’s relationship. It makes sense to me. It built real slow, it came together at a time and place that made sense. Except that scene where still-stoned Ani tried to come on to Ray and he rejected her.
In a vacuum, that would work. She’s out of her head, already has some kind of feelings for him, and with her inhibitions down she jumps the gun a little. Problem is it happened immediately after she blurted out something about being molested as a kid (“When I came out of the forest.”). So it felt, once again, like Pizzolatto couldn’t let Ani have her own sexuality. No, once again it had to be drawn from the well of her past trauma. Bullshit.
Ok, onto the non-bullshit. The big conspiracy really unfolded itself this week. I won’t rehash all the details, but the important thing in general is that it’s a massive, sprawling conspiracy. There are no good guys, everyone is blackmailing everyone else, people are being murdered, the cops are crooked, Frank’s own people are playing him, it’s a mess. And even the state investigator gets murdered, and Ray framed for it — it must go pretty high up. The best part of all this is looking forward to Frank’s vengeance trip finale next week — I hope the show goes full Tarantino. Why was Jordan so interested in how much cash he could put together on short notice? Did she really just want to run away and manage an Applebee’s?
That leaves us two things to talk about. First, what is this season really about? Because the conspiracy thing is wrapped up. There’s no way Ray and Ani find some happy ending where they give the evidence to the FBI and all the bad guys get indicted. It’s an endless cycle of corruption that will go on forever, the only question is if those two come out of it any better than Paul. There’s a good chance they find a reason to be at the money exchange so all our main characters (well, the ones who are still alive) can all actually be in one place at the end.
This brings me back to my hippy death cult theory. Ani’s dad was evasive about his connection to everything back in the 70s, then seemed to feel a deep, sincere regret. About the events that lead to her abduction? “God damn everything.” Notice how concerned he was that she was beginning to remember specifics about what happened. That’s the big secret, and it’s really what makes Ani the central character of the show (Ray is the love interest, Paul the sidekick, Frank the subplot). But I have no idea what the secret is, or what it has to do with anything, or if any of it will matter in the end.
Here’s a closeup of Ani’s ring. I can;t make out what it is, but the camera lingered over it in several shots.
Well, I guess we’re close enough to the end that I can collect on my winning bets from earlier in the season. Caspere’s office assistant, who randomly turned up at the movie set, is in the blackmail photos from the sex party. Hey, I said something was up with her! If you make predictions vague enough they’ll probably come true!
Did you get a feeling of dread when Ani’s ex-partner headed off to follow dad and Athena to Eugene? She has to rely on someone for help, but there isn’t a human character on this show that I trust. I’m sticking with my original call — Ani’s dad is bird-head guy.
What’s the second thing I want to talk about? The opening credit sequence. Someone noticed (I can;t find the original article for the life of me) that this week’s sequence was changed again, with subtle cues suggesting both Paul’s death and Frank murdering his lackey. It’s nothing you’d see and somehow know those things were going to happen, but they were there. What’s the significance? Now, we’ll all be paying very close attention to the credits next week, for the final episode. Could be something there to watch for.