“We deserve a better world.”
Season two of True Detective seems to counter season one’s final line: “If you ask me, the light’s winning.” Yes, the story’s being told, Paul gets his own highway, and a new child is born, but there’s a cloud of darkness still hanging over these characters’ corrupt world. The cycle’s just going to continue in this city, beating people down into the dirt as others jostle for position in the ladder of society, and what this finale wants to make clear is that people who deserve a better world may not necessarily get one. What matters is how you deal with what’s placed in front of you, how you stay true to yourself and what you care about, how you can possibly avoid getting caught up in the wave of darkness.
Frank “actually not a bad guy” Semyon is chest-deep in that darkness, but he certainly stays true to who he is until the end. “I didn’t live my life to go out like this,” he tells Ray as he turns toward his huge supply of guns, and he ends up getting killed by his own pride later on. It’s true that one of the Mexicans literally inserts the knife into his back, but it’s clear that Frank could’ve gotten out of his situation alive….if he were willing to take less money. That’s not him, though, and the diamonds in his suit lead to his eventual downfall. Now, as for the long desert walk itself, it’s simultaneously a beautiful image and a silly sequence, but it gets the job done in terms of killing Frank off and emphasizing his past demons.
Speaking of the past, onto Ray and Ani, who begin the hour opening up to each other about their painful pasts. A key idea that comes up here is the idea of blame, of whose fault it is that certain things went down. The thing is, there’s a larger point the show is making here about the widespread corruption permeating the environment; for example, although it’s revealed that Len killed Caspere, this season hasn’t exactly been a classic “whodunit” mystery. Everyone’s involved in some way, tied up into this case whether they like it or not. Everyone’s infected, if you will.
Then again, there’s a more positive spin that can be taken on this idea. As stated in the finale, “relationships are important”, and it’s something that we’ve seen be confirmed throughout the season. Our main characters all save each other’s lives at some point, Ani and Ray find a connection, Frank does a lot of what he does for his wife, and Ray just wants to be close to his son. And even though Frank and Ray both end up dead, they go out without taking the safe route into the darkness. Ray’s battle with Wifi not working out for him isn’t as bad as it initially seems, as he does get to share a salute with his son; it’s also revealed later that he is in fact the father.
In the end, we listen to these characters talking about who’s “better” than whom, about who “deserves better”, about who is in a “better place”. In the world they live in, it can sometimes be difficult to say who is “better” (or less worse), but what’s important is that these feelings result from strong connections. Even if it may not work out in their favor, they want what’s best for the people they care about, and they’ll do anything to carve out a hole filled with light. So, as Frank Semyon stumbles through the desert, clutching his bleeding wound and taking his last breaths, he’s asked: “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?” Does he deserve a better place? A better world? Maybe, maybe not. However, he answers in the only way he can, in the only way many can.
“Just makin’ my way.”
SEASON GRADE: B
– “You can’t act for shit.” In hindsight, I still think Vaughn was shaky at the beginning of the season, but you can certainly look at the seeming change in acting quality as a character shift instead (i.e. here’s a guy who was trying to be a person he wasn’t at first). Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure: Vaughn delivers some hilariously awesome lines in this finale, from “Are you fucking dense?” to “KGB kike motherfucker”.
-Holloway’s death was pretty funny, I have to admit.
-Frank and Ray taking out Osip and McCandless together is a pretty badass moment.
-I still don’t understand a lot of this season’s plot.
-Ray’s cowboy hat and sunglasses. I like it.
-Enjoy Friends, Chad.
-Real MVP of the season is Nails. The short scene between him and Frank here does a good job of highlighting an important aspect of Frank’s character: even though he can’t quite go “legitimate”, he’s still done some good things in his life. He’s still helped others, and that ties into the relationships theme I mentioned above.
-Frank dying in the woods–in a callback to his father’s scene in episode three–comes across as less poetic than Pizzolatto wants us to think it is.
-Who do you want to see in season three? I’m still crossing my fingers for some Jessica Chastain, but they could pretty much pick any of the following and I’d be happy: Jake Gyllenhaal, Edward Norton, Walton Goggins, Christopher Meloni, Marion Cotillard, Emily Blunt, Michael Keaton, Oscar Isaac, Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, etc. etc. etc. And yes, I just listed a bunch of my favorite actors. Your move, True Detective.
-Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: HBO, True Detective