“I Wanted Privacy. My Hope Being That We Could Resolve This Situation. Just The Two Of Us…”
With the previous two episodes of True Detective successfully managing to bring the heat of the drama to almost unbelievably levels of white knuckle tension, one could be forgiven for heading into the hotly anticipated finale with a stubborn mindset that something majestic and groundbreaking was set to fall upon us. In the case of “Now Am Found” however, whilst Season Three’s extra long conclusion did manage to squeeze in an enormous amount of plot and narrative resolutions, the real overarching tone at the heart of the episode was a delicate balance between melancholy and optimism as the chapter widely seen as a much needed return to form finally closed its’ doors. With the penultimate episode leaving the audience with the sight of 1990’s Hays reluctantly head into the back seat of a vehicle belonging to the mysterious Hoyt, the introduction of Michael Rooker looking more Michael Rooker then Rooker himself as we witness his character swing on a bottle of bourbon whilst accompanying Hays to the outskirts of nowhere, resulted in a delicious back and forth battle of dialogue heavy wills as Hoyt suggested both took the time to confide in each other by swapping their more hidden and secretive confessions. With Hoyt being moved swiftly off-screen with just enough screen time to make a worthy impact, the horror inflicted sensibility of the series warmed up nicely as we finally saw old man Hays and West discover the remains of the Hoyt estate, and with a ripe genre soundtrack on full thrusters in the background as the purpose of the “pink room” was established, such a set piece sought to remind in an uncanny fashion a very similar set piece during the first season’s finale regarding the final confrontation with the Yellow King.
Whilst Hoyt was the obvious candidate to be Mr. Exposition in regards to the central mystery, this role instead went to the now identified Julius, the one-eyed black man from the caravan park and disruptor at Amelia’s book signing, who casually bloated out and finely tuned the cause of both the Purcell child’s death and the reason behind Julie’s long-standing disappearance. Whilst I’m all for plot resolutions, particularly when it comes to a series with so many questions, and I understand that not every show is going to be as damn confusing and mind-boggling as Twin Peaks, the five minute sequence in which every single element is rather nicely tied up did seem a tad flimsy, particularly when one of the strongest points of writing this season was the certain oppressive nature in which there always felt a underlying notion that not everything ever seemed particularly right. With other points clarified and others left seemingly abandoned, the finer narrative points of Series Three still left some questions remaining, but with a really well executed final set piece in which Hays’ continual memory problems really came around to haunt him, “Now Am Found” effectively made an immediate lasting impression, carrying out both the standout acting and interesting writings which have made True Detective‘s latest series a real treat to digest, dissect and review, and whilst many thought the series had died a disappointing death thanks to the divisive nature of the show’s second season, Pizzolatto has successfully managed to put the show back on its’ rightful course with eight hours or so of excellent, intriguing and compelling small screen drama.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
Overall Season Score: 8.6/10
TV Review: True Detective – Series Three Episodes Six and Seven “Hunters in the Dark” and “The Final Country
“Hell Of A Day When A Gunfight Is The Second Most Exciting Thing To Happen To You…”
With the effects of the Woodard shootout still lingering in the forefront of the 1980’s timeline this week, it very much seems that whilst the season’s definitive action set piece seemed at the time to be no more than just a glorified, if well executed, gun fight, in reality, the death of Woodard and the discovery of particular elements pertaining to the Purcell case seems to have been the kickstarter for a much deeper and dark hearted conspiracy, one which became more evident throughout the two unbelievably addictive hours of television in this ever-improving chapter of a True Detective. With HBO’s latest flagship show not only blossoming thanks to a much needed return to form, the decision to return to the almost psychological horror aspect of the show’s debut season really makes the drama tick as we attempt to string together the wailing dots in order to come to some sort of amicable resolution come the final episode. With episode six coming to terms with the definitive notion of Julie still being well and truly alive, the tables all turned towards Tom as the lead candidate for her brother’s murder, whilst the return of the now drug addicted Dan O’Brien and the first, more low-key interrogation of Officer James seemed to nod towards the opening of previously locked doors which pointed to a much ominous overarching explanation. With a full-on, nail biting sense of oppressiveness throughout, the tone of the episode felt comfortable in being able to resort back to the spine-tingling and wholly unnerving sensibility which the first season managed to get so spot on, and with creepy monologues from incidental characters both ambiguous and crucial to solving the many riddles at the heart of the central mystery, “Hunters in the Dark” also featured the discovery of the infamous “pink castle” and the creepiest conclusion to an episode this season by a considerable distance.
With such a dramatic discovery, it wasn’t exactly surprising to see that the first act of episode seven was to see the lengths certain power-hungry figures will go to in order to keep the now solidified conspiracy under wraps and as far away from both Hays and West as humanly possible, with the death of Tom and his convenient suicide note one of the less effective narrative twists so far due to an alarming sense of inevitability. As pointed out by Sarah Gadon’s Elisa, the nature of the conspiracy almost uncannily becomes quiet after a sudden act of violence and the discovery of a dead man, and with the elder Hays clearly misdirecting and misremembering her particular line of questioning, the “bad thing” involving Hays and West is finally revealed, with the accidental death and subsequent attempt at removing every trace of Officer James the enormous elephant in the room and potentially a deciding factor in Hay’s penchant for mental illness and memory confliction. Add into the mix the return of the one-eyed black man and joyous, if slightly off-hand, link to the Rust/Hart investigation from the first season, and the cards heading into the finale all begin to slightly stack up, concluding with a long-awaited meet-up with the ambiguous figure of Mr. Hoyt, whose telephone conversation could not hide the fact that the man on the other end of the line was Yondu himself, Michael Rooker. With the tension unbearable, the tone now full on Wicker Man style oppressive and questions still remaining, next week promises to be either an enormous and jaw-dropping hour of television or a complete cop-out. We shall see.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“Tell Him To Leave Me Alone. I Know What He Did. That Man Pretending To Be My Father…”
After commenting this time last week on a distinct lack of standout action set pieces within a series renowned for breaking the rules of what is allowed upon the small screen, this week’s episode of True Detective was undoubtedly the most proactive and efficient hour of storytelling since the opening episode, blending together a narratively crucial and well executed resolution to last week’s cliffhanger and playing its’ hand in terms of answers to the widening array of key questions much quicker than before. Concluding tantalisingly with the prospect of a full blown massacre last week, the attack on the Woodard household not only ended in exactly that, resulting in the death of not only his attackers, but police officers too, but also put to bed the question of the original conviction regarding the Purcell case, with key evidence including burnt clothing and one of the missing children’s backpack being conveniently found in the household of a now dead but understandably suspicious leading suspect. With the 80’s timeline of the narrative strictly limited to the Woodard set piece, the majority of the action this time around once again lands deep in the 90’s timeline, with the hunt for the missing Purcell girl well and truly afoot, resulting in the continuation of the clash of heads between Hays and West who seem to have their own individual notions of how most effectively to deal with the biggest puzzle piece so far. With Tom caught up to speed in the doings of his once presumed dead daughter, her potential involvement within a “family” of runaways and continued search for her missing brother results in a live witness appeal, a particularly interesting scene which brings to light the strong sense of bad blood from many regarding the original case, with the conviction of Woodard seeming considerably rushed and overly fraudulent.
With discoveries of missing evidence, the complete lack of basic forensic awareness and the potential planting of key items at the original crime scene, 90’s Hays too begins to wonder whether the death and subsequent conviction of Woodard felt perhaps too timely and ideal for the true murderer who potentially may have had all the time in the world to dispose of crucial evidence, and with a strange, oddball question regarding the disappearance of a local detective at the time of the second investigation, does the confliction raging inside Hays point towards something much more disturbing than one might originally believe? With his absolute refusal to speak about the case outside of the confines of work, an awkward dinner conversation seemed to hark back to the first date between Hays and Amelia by showing how far and how disillusioned the couple have become due to just one case, and whilst it has always seemed that Amelia’s eagerness for the finer details regarding the Purcell investigation has always seemed to be her own way of dealing with the trauma, this week seemed to offer up a darker, seedier alternative regarding her true motives surround both Hays and the Purcell’s. With this seed firmly planted, the heartwarming reunion of the now aged pairing of Hays and West was hampered by Hays’ memory regarding the pair’s last meeting, and with the death of Amelia as far as I’m aware not exactly being cleared up completely, this week’s episode of True Detective thoroughly enjoyed being able to tease and play with an audience which was once again treated to a riveting and thoroughly entertaining hour of damn good television.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“Justice Is Not Ours To Deliver. Justice Is Not In Our Power, It Is In His…”
With the fourth episode of True Detective’s debut season reinventing how stylish and powerful particular levels of drama upon the small screen can ultimately become, with the famous and unbelievably tense one-shot biker gang escape laying the ground for familiar set pieces in the the likes of Game of Thrones and Daredevil, this week’s episode of HBO’s crime series understandably fails to feature anything as majestic or jaw-dropping, instead continuing to prolong a sense of quieting and growing desperation as the many strands of the central investigation continued to both confuse and intrigue. With most of the action switching between the 1980’s and 90’s this week, “The House and the Day” did manage to tick off a solid amount of unanswered questions presented in previous weeks, with the origin of the creepy, The Wicker Man inspired dolls being revealed alongside the background regarding the young Purcell’s rather spooky hand gestures when his body was found back in the opening episodes. With religion seemingly the go-to answer behind such mystery, the visit to the local church and priest of course had to involve a overarching off-kilter vibe, with the leading notion behind the main suspect relying on their attendance to the local parish not exactly seeming to bother such parish’s leader who felt more inclined to speak in riddles than genuine answers. Elsewhere, the visit to the local caravan park in order to identify the black male seen in the out-of-place sedan both reminded of the tension which True Detective is ultimately renowned for whilst bringing to the forefront more than ever before the notion of the underlying racial politics which Season Three has embraced, with both Hays and Roland understanding the nature of a society where cops are more likely to shoot a white man in a moment of tension rather than feel the heat of shooting their black brothers in arms in the same exact instance.
With an episode which was determined to build as much character development as humanly possible, the moments away from the central investigation involved a sombre, heartwarming first date between Hays and Amelia, the beginning of an unbreakable bond between Tom Purcell and Roland, with the latter attempting to save the former from his trainwreck emotional and mental state, and even a chance for Lucy to partially redeem herself during a total emotional release in front of Amelia before resorting to her true, monstrous nature by coldly screaming racist slander after being convinced of Amelia’s attempts to woo her into sharing secrets she is clearly unwilling to spill. With the beauty of the beginning steps of Hays and Amelia’s relationship being contrasted with the complex manner of their family life in the 90’s, Hay’s return to the Purcell investigation results in a complete change of personality, proving that the angst and depressive state he was in was undoubtedly due to a feeling of uselessness and inadequacy, and even with the added emotional response to Amelia’s focus on her book detailing the case which has transformed both his career and his life, the unbreakable bond between two people very much in love is one of the more upbeat notions of a series dripped in melancholy and regret. With old man Hays admitting that the Purcell case is the only thing keeping him fresh and alive, his attempts at locating both Roland and new facts about the case from Sarah Gadon’s crime reporter seem to emphasise the fact that no matter how far down Hays digs, the truth may still never come to light, and with so many answers still floating around in the world Pizzolatto has built this time around, Season Three’s conclusion may be the most compelling one yet.
Overall Episode Score: 8/10
“Why Aren’t You Out There Looking For Her? That’s Where She Is, Out There. She’s Alive…”
Teasing the oh-so loyal True Detective audience with a full-on two hour mystery headrush last week, Season Three of HBO’s latest big talking topic returns to the much milder sixty minute dose of stylish drama this week, continuing the many dangling plot threads and cancelling already a high proportion of particular online theories which made for rather compelling, and at times hilarious, reading through the past seven days. With the three different timelines now clear, concise and most crucially, rather simple to follow, the layout of “The Big Never” shifted focus ever so slightly, moving further away from the central mystery somewhat with no real jaw-dropping findings, and more into the aftershocks and toll the investigation has taken on many of the key players at the heart of it. Transitioning the 1990’s deposition timeline from Hay’s viewpoint to that of Stephen Dorff’s Roland West, the state detective turned Lieutenant, particular questions began to arise regarding elements of the original investigation, whether it be the sloppiness of the original search or the involvement of a newly sourced suspect in the form of a rather out-of-place luxury brown sedan. With the now family ridden 90’s version of Hays coming off as a groggy, moody and rather annoying sod, the effects of the Purcell case result in both a strange jealous treatment of Carmen Ejogo’s Amelia during the opening publishing stages of her non-fiction observations of the case in question, and onto his children too, with an over-the-top, knee-jerk reaction to the sudden wanderings of his daughter a real testament to the shivers which the case which has defined his life sends down his normally calculating and cool spine.
Whilst at times the mumbling, overly thick area defined accent from Ali results in a quick swoop for the subtitle button, his performance in what is essentially a trio of different central roles, is still quite remarkable, aided by the choice of Pizzolatto to move away from a wide range of leading characters as used in the previous seasons to simply one standout performance, and whilst “The Big Never” attempted to bring depth and substance to the likes of West and Scoot McNairy’s Tom, the real magic undoubtedly happens every time Ali appears back into the picture. With the dangling hints of the Purcell case occurring mostly in the 1980’s timeline, it is here where of course the most dramatic sections of the story ultimately really come together, with particular nightmarish findings, including a picture book entry with a very familiar pose, and an overriding sense that not everyone seems to be telling the truth, resulting in the most atmospheric portions of the story, aided once again by the thunderous, Blade Runner esque musical store featuring echoing bellows and thunderous heart beats. Whilst the third episode of what continues to be a must-watch season of True Detective was always going to struggle to keep up the high levels of intrigue set up by the opening two chapters, “The Big Never” still managed to be an expertly crafted hour of drama television, a chapter low on action but one which felt comfortable in its’ decision not to rush into anything and show its’ hand too early, and with the show already at the halfway mark next week, things continue to look up for a show which delights in keeping the audience guessing away.
Overall Score: 8/10
TV Review: True Detective – Series Three Episode One and Two “”The Great War and Modern Memory” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
“You Ever Been Some Place You Couldn’t Leave, You Couldn’t Stay, Both At The Same Time..?”
First hitting the small screen a whole five years ago now, HBO’s anthology flagship crime drama, True Detective, finally returns after a three year hiatus in which the critical and public divisiveness of the Colin Farrell/Vince Vaughn led second season threatened to derail the series into a complete dead end. Brought back from the dead by long-term showrunner Nic Pizzolatto, the third season of the American’s hotly anticipated series once again offers a fresh new cast, story and setting, this time led by the superbly talented and now Academy Award winning graces of Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Luke Cage) in a bid to return to winning ways in the eyes of many, even when personally, Season Two really wasn’t anywhere near as bad as many people made it out to be. With the opening two episodes dropping at the same time, what a relief it is to say that True Detective wonderfully returns to the atmospheric eeriness of the acclaimed first series with an entire new complex mystery to work with, and whilst at times the similarities may seem a little bit too uncanny, Pizzolatto does ultimately know how to create a world filled with substance and depth and rightfully seems unfazed in being able to write what he believes is the right path for his series to take. Set across three separate time periods, Season Three sees Ali as Detective Wayne David Hays as he recollects the events of the so-called Purcell case and its’ impact within the years of 1980, 1990 and 2005, and with a familiar central setup to the first season, the storytelling delightfully jumps throughout each decade with enough space at a time to keep the tension building and the big questions rightfully unanswered.
With the 1980’s Hays coming across as a young, broke, cocky detective with recent memories of his part in the Vietnam war, where his nickname “Purple Hays” followed a reputation for his skills as a ruthless tracker and hunter, we are soon taken by the hand into the disappearance of the Purcell children, the son and daughter of Scoot McNairy’s (Gone Girl) Tom Purcell, a resident of the local Ozark community with a domestic-heavy marriage to his unfaithful and absent wife. With a familiar mystery-heavy setup in regards to the opening missing person search, it becomes abundantly clear quite quickly just how well True Detective manages to make even the most basic of storytelling matters so darn stylish and sharp, with the buildup of atmosphere and tension expertly handled thanks to some dark, brooding cinematography from Germain McMicking and a faint, eerie musical score featuring ghoulish howls, growls and the constant incision of a bass heavy heartbeat. Aided by Stephen Dorff’s (The Iceman) equally growling and rugged, Roland West, whose saddened expression at the death of Steve McQueen naturally indicates a lightened respect for the strong, silent type of hero, the investigation swiftly results in the discovery of death, supposed cult-inspired worshipping and the potential for the small-town community to quickly implode in a similar manner which made the likes of Twin Peaks and Broadchurch so utterly compelling, and with a clear tonal approach which focuses on the grounded, dirty realism of the events at play, the intrigue and desolation of the South immediately reminds you why the series is loved so much by so many.
As we move away from the 1980’s and into the year of 1990, we see a now desk-bound and family-tied Hays awkwardly the subject of a deposition after new evidence regarding the case comes to light, a particular narrative function which obviously pays homage to the show’s first series, whilst the latter day and now retired 2015 version of Hays sees him being interviewed for the aptly named show, “True Criminal”, led by Sarah Gadon’s (Enemy) educated television director. Whilst the 1990’s timeline supplies the intrigue from the central mystery sense, the 2015 timeline is undeniably the more crucial period regarding the series as a whole, with Hays’ penchant for memory loss forming a The Great Gatsby inspired notion of unreliable narration as we look back on events as they happen, a particular idea emphasised by startling moments of fourth-wall interaction and most crucially, the second episode cliffhanger in which an entire scene is intercut by a lone and confused Hays wandering the darkened streets in his nightwear. With the first two episodes directed by the rather excellent hand of Blue Ruin and Green Room director, Jeremy Saulnier, the tonal similarities between the American’s handling of the material and upcoming Bond director, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s, work on the original series, is equally as impressive and makes a case for why Saulnier doesn’t continue behind the character going forward, and with a clear subtext regarding the tension of race relations in an area dominated primarily by a white population, Season Three of True Detective begins in deep, intelligent fashion which demands a constant and keen eye throughout, and with Ali blessing the series with a trio of superb differing performances, HBO’s most conflicted televisual baby finds its’ mojo once again.
Overall Episode Score: 8.5/10
A Truer Detective?
This week brought an end to the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s highly addictive crime sage True Detective, a show that this year has been rife with criticism and finger-pointing with many arguing that aside from being wholly unsubstantial to its’ predecessor, it has also been an utter disaster with many being critical of its over-elaborate plot, cliched characters, and the ability of lead-writer Pizzolatto who has come under much scrutiny for this season’s attempt to diverge from the occult-ridden themes of the first and move into a noir-fueled epic, featuring a bundle of new characters and a range of different plot threads in order to make up its’ eight episode run. In terms of my own personal viewpoint on this season of True Detective, I am seemingly one of the few in believing that this series offered the opportunity for Pizzolatto to expand his horizons in regards to what can be achieved with such a format that True Detective holds, resulting in a season that yes, did have a wide range of flaws and weaknesses, but was also highly enjoyable with moments of sheer greatness which distinguished itself from anything else on TV at this particular moment of time. And I salute it.
In a rather ironic sort of way, “Omega Station”, the concluding episode of this years’ series, pretty much epitomised everything that True Detective stood for this time around, with the beautiful cinematography, including the wonderful overhead shots of California’s vast landscape, and heart-pounding scenes of tension, particularly in regards to Velcoro’s tragic last stand, being the highlights of the episode. These particular highlights were traits that although were absent slightly from the first three episodes of the series in which time seemed to go rather slowly with not much actually happening in regards to the overall plot, came to form the basis of the second half of the series in which the story finally managed to take a step forward, resulting in the last three episodes of the series being undoubtedly the best in a string of episodes that began with a drag yet concluded with an almighty band. And what a bang it was. If Frank and Ray’s raid on Agranov’s cash deal wasn’t thrilling enough, “Omega Station” left us with a range of memorable scenes, ranging from Velcoro’s redemption to Semyon’s hallucinatory last-breath, something of which was straight out of the Lynch-school for dramatic weirdness.
In typical noir-esque fashion, the fate of our three heroes in this years’ season, as well as Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon, was rather depressing to say the least, with only Rachel McAdam’s Ana Bezzerides coming out alive, albeit on-the-run from the corrupt power structure that has overtaken our beloved heroes’ home, following the now-famous Game of Thrones policy that sometimes that bad guys have to win. In regards to out main band of heroes, it was obvious that Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro was indeed the most interesting of the bunch, with Farrell’s acting being on top-notch from the start, whilst Vince Vaughn must also take credit for embodying a role which so easily could have gone majorly wrong due to Vaughn’s capacity for cringe-worthy comedic acting, yet ended up being one of the better points of this years’ season resulting in a true sense of redemption for an actor so easily laughed at for his involvement in a string of rather questionable movies more recently. So, where did it all go wrong? In my own opinion, most of the backlash in regards to this years’ series simply came from people jumping on the True Detective-bashing bandwagon, with it seemingly being hip and cool to add to the growing list of haters for this years series, whilst many simply couldn’t deal with the fact that this years’ series was nothing at all like the first, something of which I was impressed by, with this season offering a truer and more down-to-earth take on the crime genre than the occult-ridden themes of the first.
But in all my fondness for the series, there were noticeable weaknesses and missteps, no more so than the ear-gratingly bad dialogue that our characters spoke at particular moments of the season, with our heroes’ hatred of E-Cigarettes being a personal favourite whilst Semyon’s attempt at being his own personal Gandhi with cringe-worthy anecdotes and “inspirational” speeches being draining at times, highlighting that perhaps all the critical praise Pizzolatto received first time around slightly going to his head. Also on the weaker side was the rather messy plot lines that although were rather hard to follow at times, also resulted in a sense of hollowness during the revelation of Caspere’s true murderer, which, in the end, was wholly anti-climatic and had only a slight relevance to the messy plot lines regarding corrupt police officers and business officials which Pizzolatto felt compelled to tell us about. But hey ho, I’d rather watch a series with flaws and weaknesses than anything else if that particular series has as much entertainment value as True Detective undoubtedly has. At the end of the day, Nic Pizzolatto’s crime sage may not have been for everyone this time around, but for me it was wholly refreshing and gave me a reason to wake up early on a Monday morning, and for those reasons alone I am going to miss it. I can only hope for Season Three this time next year.
Episode Score: 9/10
Death ‘Til Us Part
With the complex and sometimes baffling plot threads, questionable dialogue, and a desire to try and out-class its’ critically acclaimed predecessor this season, True Detective Mark II has had a wide range of detractors and naysayers, yet this weeks’ episode proved that when done correctly, True Detective has the fundamental genetic makeup to be a true great within the already brilliant HBO lineup whilst having the potential to match and rival anything on TV all across the globe. This weeks’ penultimate episode featured everything that made True Detective what it was last year with an increased level of threat and danger towards our main three heroes, solid acting from all involved, and twist and turns that solidified my anticipation for the concluding episode next week in which we are set to tie together the many loose ends that have been left by the complex nature of the overarching plot-line regarding the death of Ben Caspere. This week also handed us the first taste of death for one of our “True Detectives” with Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh violently biting the dust at the hands of Ray Velcoro’s police chief. Lieutenant Burris, after narrowly escaping a confrontation with his blackmailers, all of whom seem to be privy to the events of last week’s drug infused orgy in the hillsides.
With Kitsch’s Woodrugh off the payroll, one man who took the lead with some panache this week was Vince Vaughn, who although at times hasn’t had the best writing to work with, particularly in regards to his sometimes ear-grating dialogue, has proven to be one of this highlights of the season with this week’s episode allowing him to fully embrace the deceptive and seedy nature of Frank Semyon who once again escaped from bleeding out entirely and instead remained firmly on the ropes after destroying his two clubs after acknowledging the power struggle between him and Russian gangster, Osip Agranov. Following suit, Detectives Bezzerides and Velcoro also felt the heat this week by both turning to the other side of the law after a turn of events in which their one trusted source within the law department was found dead in their car with the blame firmly placed in the lap of Velcoro. With the walls falling in around our three remaining leads, next week’s conclusion of this year’s season of True Detective is one that shouldn’t be missed. See you then.
Overall Score: 9/10
Due to an enormous level of work and cinema constraints (Damn you Inside Out!), my rather punctual review of the week’s episode of True Detective has annoyingly come two days too late, but nevertheless, such a time period has allowed me to fully digest “Church In Ruins”, an episode in which events within the personal and overall plot-lines of our main heroes and heroines took a step up in an attempt to ready us for the roller-coaster ride that hopefully will be the series’ two concluding episodes. If one overall positive thing is to be taken away from this years’ series of True Detective, it is undeniably going to be Colin Farrell, who’s performance as troubled cop Ray Velcoro hit top-notch this week, particularly during the scene in which we relentlessly witness his descent back into drugs and drink in order to fully accept the notion of losing his son once and for all. On the opposite side of the law, Vince Vaughn continues to impress as Frank Semyon who continues to try and progress in his own investigation into the death of Ben Caspere whilst once again feeling the pressure from the depths of the criminal underworld with the return of the eerie, if rather out-of-place, sombrero wearing Mexican.
As for Detective Bezzerides, wow. The concluding scene in which we witness one of the weirdest undercover operations ever was not only difficult to watch in some places, but also brilliantly executed within all the madness and endless sexual intimacy that was presented on-screen. Kudos too to Bezzerides’ for her ninja skills in the inevitable, yet rather cool and badass knife-attack in which we finally see her expert knife-wielding tactics being but to good use. Oddly enough, with all the attention firmly on Velcoro and Bezzerides this week, Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh decided to take a step back this week from the limelight and oddly enough, brought about a much better episode, with his own personal storyline definitely being the weakest of the trio’s throughout the series so far, yet his looming one-two of marriage and fatherhood may be the cause for his troubles to have finally stopped. This week’s episode of True Detective therefore definitely produced a high watermark for the series, propped up by Farrell’s magnificent performance and a scintillating final scene in which the bones of the overall storyline just got a little bit juicier.
Overall Score: 8/10
With the bloody, gunshot ridden conclusion that rounded off last week’s episode of True Detective, this week’s venture into Nic Pizzolatto’s noir-crime drama was bound to deal with the consequences of such, particularly in regards to the surviving trio of Velcoro, Bezzerides and Woodrugh who witnessed first hand a barrage of death and destruction. After a weird and ambiguous change to the show’s theme tune to start us off with, such consequences of the shootout are swiftly distinguished within “Other Lives” with Velcoro and Bezzerides seemingly ending up with the short change, with the latter now working under Frank Semyon and the former ending up in storage, whilst Woodrugh has seemingly taken all the plaudits and rewarded with the opportunity to have a go at being Detective. Of course being only halfway through the series, the fact that both Velcoro and Bezzerides are now out of the main picture, it has given them a chance to establish, low key, other inquiries into the ever-confusing death of Ben Caspere, much to the enjoyment of every True Detective fan with this particular episode diving deeper into the seedy backstory into his death, including a rather nasty looking hut with a rather bloody look to it in a scene that bears similarities to that of the first series.
Elsewhere, Frank Semyon attempted to reconnect with his human side in an attempt to rekindle his relationship with Mrs. Semyon whilst Velcoro was asked to look into his personal staff in an attempt to detect the blame in regards to his loss of finance which followed the death of Ben Caspere. With Velcoro well and truly under the thumb of Semyon, the rather shocking twist regarding the true fate of his wife’s rapist brought the episode to a mouthwatering close, in a confrontation that will ultimately have heavy repercussions heading into the final few episodes. With all the negativity regarding the snail-esque pace of this season’s main storyline, “Over Lives” fought back with a bang and offered a chance to delve deeper into the lives of all four of our main protagonists whilst moving forward with its’ underlying through point regarding the death of Ben Caspere at a rate which finally is leading Season Two of True Detective into a direction it deserves to be heading in.
Overall Score: 8/10