True Detective “Church in Ruins” Review (2×06)

26 Jul


“That’s what pain does. It shows you what was on the inside. And inside of you is pure gold.”

The world of True Detective season two is a bleak one, to say the least. It’s dark and corrupt and suffocating, and it grabs ahold of you from the beginning, never letting go as you attempt to move toward a brighter future. There are glimmers of hope and optimism here and there, but those are just rest stops along the way as you get caught in the same cycles over and over again. “I would’ve been different,” Ray tells Frank in a scene reminiscent of those earlier bar conversations. He is, of course, talking about the fact that he killed the wrong guy all those years ago, and we can see the pent-up frustration about to blow here. But as he points a gun at Frank from under the table, the response he gets is about the “lies people tell themselves”, about “excuses”. He hates the fact that he got screwed over by Frank, but he just continues the cycle by making another deal. It’s easy to say what would’ve been, but this season has been intent on highlighting the idea that expectations don’t mesh with reality.

For now, though, maybe it’s necessary to point out the importance of pain to some people. This is clear with the episode’s contrast between the Frank-Stan’s son scene and the Ray-Chad scene, which both underscores that idea and furthers the season’s fatherhood themes. “If you use it right–the bad thing–it makes you better,” Frank tells the boy next to him. “It makes you better. Stronger. It gives you something most people don’t have.” On the other side of things, after going on a how-the-hell-is-he-still-alive-after-that coke binge, Ray calls his wife and begs her not to tell Chad the truth. This is an understandable motivation for Ray, but it’s also a case of him avoiding “the bad thing”, the “pain”; paradoxically, he actually confronts the rapist who was just caught. Farrell does a great job with the intensity during that scene, and he also does well by his character’s interactions with his son. His performance is the most layered and affecting of the season so far, so kudos to him for selling it.

Now onto the big final sequence of the episode, one that’s definitely the most visually interesting several minutes of the season. There’s a pervasively eerie mood around Ani as she stumbles through the mansion, and her drug-induced state adds to the sense of unease governing the orgy. It’s not just an unsettling sequence, however; it’s also a location in which many of the season’s avenues–highways, rather–converge. There are people we recognize there, Ani uses her knife-wielding skills to kill someone, and it’s clear that the main plot is kicking into high gear.



– “That’s one off the bucket list: a Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” I’m finally starting to feel Vaughn’s performance. He does a great job throughout the episode, and while it’s far from the best acting in the world, he’s fitting in nicely now.

– “Sometimes a thing happens…splits your life. There’s a before and an after.” Maybe the before and after are the same thing.

-More parenthood themes: through flashback, it’s suggested that Ani might have been molested by a guy at her dad’s hippie commune.

– “You might be one of the last friends I got left.” “Wouldn’t that be fucked up?”

-Every line of dialogue should be followed up with a “K” and a pizza bite.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

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