“Do you want to live?”
The past weaves its way throughout the narrative of True Detective‘s second season, leaving indelible marks on all these characters as they attempt to deal with its effects. It can be a nasty thing haunting you at every turn, or it can be something full of moments you long to recapture. The people we’re witnessing at the moment seem to be stuck in a middle ground of sorts, one that lies between life and death and past and future; not everything’s working right now, but Pizzolatto and the actors seem to be grasping ahold of their characters a bit better.
For example, even though Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon can unintentionally bring about a few chuckles from the audience, he’s growing slightly more interesting because the story around him is beginning to take form. He recognizes the fact that he’s stuck in a static state at the moment, that someone’s out to get him, and he responds to that by taking out his anger physically on Danny “Fuck You Teeth” Santos. As satisfying as it may be for Frank while he’s doing it, though, we can see that he’s still shuffling through life without moving in any particular direction. “Maybe tomorrow,” he tells his wife when he arrives home, and then he shuffles away. Maybe tomorrow, something will change. There’s no telling whether it’ll be for the better or for the worse.
For someone like Paul, the past is showing up in the form of an old war friend who was more than just a friend. I’m still not drawn in by Kitsch’s performance or character yet, but the thematic point is nevertheless clear here: the past is something he wants to avoid, yet simply can’t. He wants to just get on that damn motorcycle and have his cheeks flap him off into the night, but he keeps getting drawn into things that remind him of his past.
Ray, on the other hand, wants to recapture the happiness of the past–explaining him continuing to make model planes–but everyone around him just wants to move on. His wife shows up with an envelope full of $10,000 to try and get him to not fight the custody case, but he refuses to do that because it would mean letting go of his son. And speaking of father-son relationships, the episode brings in Fred Ward to play Ray’s father, someone who immediately makes an impact in that dream sequence early on. It’s easily the most fascinating sequence the season has produced thus far, and it takes us into the mind of Ray Velcoro and further shades in his character. Although the season is full of flaws, the inclusion of a strange, yet interesting, scene like this is a promising step in the right direction.
-The bit at Chessani’s house is also really interesting, and the foot chase scene at the end is well shot. New director is Janus Metz Pedersen.
-The song at the beginning is “The Rose” by a Conway Twitty impersonator.
-So, Ray’s alive. It’s a bit of a cheap cliffhanger in retrospect, but I’m glad one of the interesting characters isn’t killed off so early.
-The Ani-Ray dynamic continues to become more intriguing, especially with the cross-cutting between two different conversations about working the other over.
-So there’s the Cary Fukunaga dig critics were talking about (with the movie director).
Photo credit: HBO, True Detective