“The world will turn, uncaring of our struggles.”
At the beginning of this episode, Vince Vaughn has a nice try with a monologue about his character’s painful past, but ultimately, it’s clear that the uncomfortably long scene is sorely lacking a McConaughey presence to sell those lines. Vaughn simply doesn’t fit in with the dialogue he’s been asked to deliver, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the main strengths of season one lay in the performer’s hands more so than the writer’s. And that’s not to say that Pizzolatto’s necessarily a bad writer; rather, it’s that his style can sound stilted coming out of one person’s mouth and gloriously complex coming out of another’s. It’s also not a knock against Vaughn, who’s seeming a bit more comfortable outside of the opening scene; in fact, he has his best scene of the series here when he’s threatening someone by the side of the road.
Nevertheless, once you get past the hit or miss dialogue, you start to see the season’s thematic threads take form in intriguing ways. It seems like this is a case dominated by lack of care, by people who don’t really give a crap about whether the case is actually solved. It’s just a distraction for these people, something that keeps them going in the monotonous drone of life, and it’s clear that they all have to deal with the crushing weight of their painful pasts and shattered presents. Sure, someone like Paul may want to avoid taking responsibility–he tells Emily that he “didn’t do this”, ‘this’ being a breakup–but the sad truth of the matter is that “we get the world we deserve”. We create many of our own problems, after all, and we end up building upon a pretty flimsy foundation.
For example, it’s exactly what Frank recognizes at the beginning of the episode. He’s all about leaving that long-lasting legacy for the history books, but the problem is that his legacy right now is like papier mache. He realizes that with one push, it can all fall over, and there’s no doubt that he’s deeply scarred by his basement experiences with those rats. There’s still some of that scared boy in him, and that’s the type of complexity that Pizzolatto and Vaughn are attempting to strike at.
The most interesting characters right now, though, are still Ray and Ani. They strike up a dynamic in the car that looks to be the Rust-Marty of season two, and McAdams and Farrell play off each other extremely well when Ani explains the reasoning behind her knife-carrying and Ray avoids talk of his corruption. So, color me surprised/disappointed when Ray takes a few bullets at the end of the episode, as I definitely don’t want one of the more interesting cast members to be offed this early on. Then again, it’s entirely possible that he somehow survived that, but we’ll wait to see what happens.
If you think about it, though, it’s a fairly logical thematic conclusion to his storyline in this hour. “Everyone’s got the one option, you want it bad enough” he says earlier in reference to suicide, and this is coming after his ex-wife shows up and tells him she plans to file for sole custody. “You’re a bad person,” she spits at him, and the words clearly slap Ray right across the face. He cares about his son, but he knows just how much of a hand he had in this situation. He’s struggling, but the world will just keep on turning.
– “It’s too close to sucking a robot’s dick.” “I support feminism, mostly by having body image issues.” “Sometimes a good beating promotes personal growth.” Ray Velcoro with the constant one-liners.
– “Hi, I’d like to be the live singer at this bar.” “Good, just remember to have your demeanor match the pervasive sadness surrounding you, and sing songs that apply to the bar customers’ lives.”
-We meet Paul’s creepy mother in this, and it’s clear that one of the season’s major ideas is the deep effect of parenting. We saw some of Ani with her dad and Ray with his son last week, and this week expands on those threads.
-I cannot take Serious Masuka seriously.
-Everyone, watch Rectify. The gorgeous and talented Abigail Spencer (who shows up as Ray’s ex-wife here) is brilliant in it, and it’s tied with Hannibal for my favorite show on TV.
Photo credit: HBO, True Detective