True Detective “Other Lives” Review (2×05)

20 Jul


“It’s never too late to start all over again.”

It’s been 66 days since the shootout at the end of episode four, and we’re now at a point in the story where we’re seeing both the ways these characters have changed and have stayed the same. We’re also at a point where they just want everything out in the open, things laid bare and cases solved even if “nobody [else] fucking cares”. Things have been dragged on for far too long, and many of them simply want it to all end. Interestingly enough, though, they have to dive back into past waters in order to attempt to put an end to things, and that raises the question of whether or not they can ever truly find peace. In a city filled to the brim with corruption, will they ever get exactly what they want? Or, is it just all a fantasy?

For example, Ray’s wife tells him that “this fake story where [they] made a family needs to end”, and Ray is told that if he solves the case, he’s going to get to keep his son. It sounds like they just want things to return to “normal”, and yet, it seems like they’re still caught in a never-ending spiral of disappointment and loss and exhaustion. Earlier, they might’ve been able to keep up some semblance of a fantasy in order to push on through the days, and now, it’s all crashing down around them as they sit on opposite sides of the table during their custody case. “What does that even mean?” Ray asks at the end of their first scene together, and Dena reciprocates at the end of the episode when she says: “I don’t even know what that means, Ray.” Everything’s full of uncertainty at this point, and as Ray muses earlier on: “Loyalty’s important, but also painful…Pain is inexhaustible. It’s only people who get exhausted.” Add onto that the fact that Ray finds out he’s not the biological father of his child and that the rapist was just caught, and you’ve got one pretty exhausted dude. What does his loyalty to Frank mean now?

Speaking of Frank, his scenes with Jordan are still extremely clunky and pretty poorly written, but for a reviewer like me, they’re pretty much a thematic gold mine. First of all, Jordan states that they’re “both out in the open”, and second of all, their scenes are all about the idea of parenthood. Pizzolatto’s been writing that theme into pretty much every storyline of the season, from Paul and his mother–“I carried you!”–to Paul and his own kid to Ray and Chad to Ani and her father to Frank and a possible adoption. And here, the dialogue emphasizes the lingering effects of your relationships with your parents. As Jordan tells her husband, she wishes that as a kid, someone had looked out for and cared for Frank, and later on, she states: “We both could have used different parents.” The parenthood decisions Frank makes now can be deeply influenced by the painful past he had, by the thought of possibly saving someone from what he himself had to endure.

“It has to be about something more than this,” Jordan urges her husband midway through the episode. In the end, though, there most likely isn’t going to be a monumental shift in the grand scheme of things. It’s about pushing through to the next day, about finding comfort in the people around you, about finding a purpose and sticking with it. The past and reality can be ugly things, but what matters is how we deal with them.



– “I try to limit the people I disappoint, and I try to know the difference between my obligations and someone else’s.” Ties in a bit to the Frank-Jordan conversations about “somebody else’s problem”.

– “I didn’t ask for this world. I took it.” The tagline for this season is “We get the world we deserve”.

-With all the talk about ‘designs’ in this episode, I wish Frank just ended the conversation with “THIS IS MY DESIGN.”

– “For a place you hate, you never got that far away.” I enjoyed seeing Ani talking to the people she distanced herself from earlier in the season. I also enjoyed that sexual harassment circle scene.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

One Response to “True Detective “Other Lives” Review (2×05)”

  1. JustMeMike July 20, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Good review PB. And good analysis as well.

    I watched this beginning at 11:30 PM last night – then had trouble sleeping as my mind kept trying to create the opening for the review I would write this morning. Ultimately I settled, in my head, something along the lines of – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Then I find that this is how you began your review. I’m heading back to the drawing board. Not to change my opening but to finish the review.

    Here’s a thought – Frank had been played and used by Frank – so Pizzolato gives us another mini-cliff-hanger with Velcoro at Frank’s door. I’m thinking this won’t end violently (at least immediately) because Ray will remain likely becuase he will end up being used again – by the State Attorney, and Frank will have to deal with his man Blake, among other things.

    Nice to see Saundra Santiago on board as Em’s Mom. Long ago, Saundra was a key lady detective in the long running Miami Vice series.

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