Season Two, Episode Four — “Down Will Come”
By Jarrod Jones. Dixon’s down! And… it looks like he’s not getting back up. The lone dark horse in Nic Pizzolatto’s stable took a pretty severe headshot during that 50% exciting shootout sequence, and so, it would seem, did half of the city of Vinci. Our main three True Detectives proved their mettle (True grit? Nah…) by surviving episode four’s prolonged action sequence, but where the hell are they going from there? Even the episode seems to give up by stilling the last frame for a few beats before fading to black, almost as if to say, “look, all that was a lot. Give us a week, huh?” So, yeah. Go take seven, True Detective. Remember to hydrate.
WHAT WORKED: Look, I can’t just jam an entire episode into the “What Didn’t” section (as tempting as that can be sometimes), and for the most part, that final shootout doesn’t belong there anyway. But in true True Detective fashion, there’s a whole lot of shenanigans to filter through to find the visceral reactions Pizzolatto wants us to feel. Chiefly among them is the continued marginalization of Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), who ends up keeping cover with the world’s smallest knife during the long final moments of the shootout. She starts strong, sprinting after a packed SUV filled with bullet-spilling vatos with her pistol blazing, but the nic-of-time save ultimately goes to Paul. Feh. As if Ani’s life isn’t complicated enough, now she has to suffer the indignity of being the most worst shot in all of California.
Corrupt officials, sinister doctors, Hollywood weirdo bullshit: True Detective is derivative noir through and through, but if that’s the hand we’re dealt, it’s best we focus on the positives. Ani and Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) get a sit-down with the hooka-puffing daughter of Mayor Chessani (Emily Rios), and we get a bigger picture of the long-standing conspiracy of graft and corruption straight from the mouths of babes. Maybe Dr. Rick Springfield convinced his mayor buddies’ wife to hang herself? Shiver me timbers. And widening the intrigue further was the reveal that Daddy Bezzerides (David Morse) also had dealings with Mayor Tony (Ritchie Coster). An empire built on an ancient foundation of money, vice, and secrets? I want more of this.
WHAT DIDN’T: Pizzolatto likes to dabble in metaphor, but none of his fumbling attempts at it have ever been more insipid than the parallels between Frank Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) dried-up avocado tree and his discovery that Jordan (Kelly Reilly) might be, um. Barren. *cough* How could anybody interpret that as anything but insulting? And to make matters worse, Frank’s incredulity over his wife’s hints that a botched surgery might have closed the door on any chance for a legacy (“Of course you can have children; look at you“) only furthers the thick-necked sentiment.
Ani’s sis-down with Athena Bezzerides (Leven Rambin) is True Detective at its navel-gazing worst. “Why do these memories stay so vivid when I can’t even remember stuff from last week?” Athena asks her hard-as-nails sister, who cooly responds, “Those moments, they stare back at you. You don’t remember them, they remember you.” Pee-yew.
It appears that Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) took his boozy night at the club (seen last week) to the next natural level by calling up his ol’ war buddy (Gabriel Luna) for a much-needed snuggle sesh. But all we get is the fallout (and the hangover). “I just don’t know how to be out in the world,” Paul confesses to Ray, who’s so far up his own ass that he doesn’t realize Paul meant every word he just said. “Look out that window. Look at me. Nobody does.” *forehead slap* Good thing he got that pregnancy news, because the only other thing Paul could latch onto in a world like this would be the bumper of an oncoming bus.
“Ooh, the Mayor of the Shitberg Landfill is gonna get me?” – Ani, petulant as ever.
“Y’know what? I could give a shit.” – Dixon, sweet Dixon. “I don’t think there’s any confusion about that, Detective.” – Ani.
“I guess I love you too.” – Ashley. Well, shit. Put a ring on it, Paul!
“You must have had hundreds of lives.” “Well, I don’t think I could handle another one.” – Ray.
BEST MOMENT: The biggest aura anyone’s ever seen. It’s a surreal thing to see David Morse play as comic relief, but maaan. I actually chuckled during True Detective, y’all. The Morse made me smile during a generally joyless hour of television, and that, my friends, is something to celebrate. He should have been wearing that wig years ago. (Imagine Dancer in the Dark with a long-locked Morse singing off key next to Björk. Do it.)
EPISODE’S MVP: Ehh. Everyone Trued the best they could, but I couldn’t favor anyone this week. Ani’s thematic subjugation has her in way over her head, Frank’s a sexist fuck, Paul needs a shower, and the only thing Ray’s good for is creeping on his wife’s lawn late at night. Nope.
– I feel like we’re missing out on a bigger piece of the puzzle here. Four episodes in, and what is up with that sad woman on stage? Is she driving away business for the bar? Is this the last week before the owner’s had enough of her mopey shit and sends her and her guitar packing? Does she own the bar, and make what little patrons who bother coming in listen to her awful poems set to music? Fuck’s happening here?
– “I never lost a tooth. Never had a fucking cavity.” Frank should have kept going, to get that point driven home. “My dentist says I’m his favorite patient. Gives me candy after. Whaddaya think about that.”
– I hope Paul and Ashley are putting money aside for their baby’s future. That kid’s going to need years of therapy.
– Hey! Ray’s shaving the ‘stache for next week’s custody hearing. Makes you realize how much real estate exists between Colin Farrell’s nose and upper lip. #copstache #rip