Season Two, Episode Eight — “Omega Station”

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via HBO.

By Jarrod Jones. Grab whatever dulls you best and pour one out for Mayor Austin; it’s time for the second season of True Detective to finally wrap it up. Turns out it wasn’t a question of how Frank and Ray would die, but when, as the amount of time it took for both men to meet their maker was approximately FOREVER. But hey. That’s just how HBO and Nic Pizzolatto do it, at least this year anyway.

Say what you want about its meandering storytelling, its lifeless leads, or even its absurd descents into Lynch-ian territory: True Detective stayed consistently convoluted throughout, even when the long road offered so many exits towards a more streamlined, satisfying finish. And even though the mystery was ultimately nowhere near as fascinating as it could have been, it maintained a semblance of inevitability throughout, if not for Paul or Ani or Frank, then especially for Ray. “I’m not your suicide ticket,” Frank says to Ray earlier on this season. No, no he isn’t. Turns out Ray was waiting for just the right hail of bullets to take him out. There’s a country song in there somewhere.

So it’s done. As an exercise in strained patience and lofty expectations, True Detective‘s second season was also a study in bloated television excess and phony macho posturing. It didn’t matter if you legitimately cared or if this was a show you just loved to hate watch, True Detective had something to offer each week. (Except that one week when it didn’t.) How am I feeling about the prospects of more True Detective? Well, as Jordan and Ani learned way too late in the series, it’s best not to trust in the empty promises of proud men.

WHAT WORKED: Man, that just never stops being funny.

WHAT DIDN’T: Whoo. Where do we begin.

For some misguided reason, HBO felt it needed 90 minutes for its lackluster True Detective finale, which really only meant that we had to wait an extra half-hour for Last Week Tonight. (Still worth it.) 90 minutes? You know what that means: padding. There were many instances of narrative padding last night, where sequences were stretched so far beyond their use that mindless Twitter scrolling became the only sane thing to do. (Not from me mind you, but from the room full of people who shared in last night’s taxing experience.)

But none of last night’s padding was more egregious than the bed sequence at the beginning of the episode. Ani and Ray show off their emotional scars in post-coitus while director John Crowley attempts an artful interspersion of images that led these two to mopily tug at each other’s booze-soaked clothes. Lots of incomprehensible dialogue — most of it coming from Colin Farrell’s whiskey-scorched throat — made the whole daunting sequence completely skippable, which sucks all the more because Ani and Ray’s backstories were finally given room to spread out, only to stutter and fall apart.

So I was kinda right, and totally wrong: wasn’t Laura who killed Ben Caspere, but her nitwit brother Len, whose own personal psychoses deflated all of his “me against the world” chutzpah before any of us even knew who he was. (You mean to tell me this kid wouldn’t get hassled by transit security? Guess there wouldn’t have been much of a sequence if they had. Pizzolatto!) Turns out Len was also Birdman, so my guess that it was Burris might have been wrong, but you can’t accuse me of being off (it would have made perfect sense for Burris to have been the Birdman — even with this sudden turn of events — considering how labyrinthine this damn show actually was). No matter what, this eleventh-hour plot twist not only didn’t work, it pulled our True Detectives even further away from this conspiracies’ Ground Zero.

A turn here, a turn there, and it goes on for years. Becomes something else.” Ray sure knows how life can play out, enough to explain it to his freaky kid anyway, but that doesn’t stop him from being a victim of his own, impulsive nature. So he promises his shrill, awful ex-wife that he’ll never contact their son again, he’s barrelling down the highway towards Ani and freedom while sitting on millions of dollars, and what does he do? Stops to see his kid. There’s no reason to believe that Ray and Ani were going to get a happy ending out of this, not in Chinatown True Detective anyway, but sweet jeebus, if there was one final forehead slap left in this show, Nic Pizzolatto pulled out the red carpet for Ray’s biggest bonehead play of all. Enjoy oblivion, Ray. It was educational.

BEST LINE(s):

You can’t act for shit. Take it from me.” – Jordan, to Frank.

Honestly, Ray, nobody had any idea you were this competent.” – Holloway.

BEST MOMENT: Never say die. Frank’s stranded in the desert, bleeding out from some nameless matón’s blade (the jerkface even went to the trouble of twisting it in Frank’s ribcage). He’s out a million dollars, and he’s at least a hundred leagues from the woman he loves. So naturally he picks himself up and begins the long walk towards his lady in white. Nevermind that the sequence gets really silly (he gets a Dickensian visit from three different ghosts), and forget that it runs far too long (so long, in fact, that carrion birds show up either from production or manifest), just look at the determination on his face. That single look is precisely why Frank Semyon is…

SEASON’S MVP: Hands down, Vince Vaughn’s caustic, fork-tongued, don’t-wanna-be gangster was this season’s standout, if for no other reason than he could handle the wacky, neo-Chandler dialogue better than most anyone else. And every once in a while, he got in a couple of real killers. (Frank’s Best Line of the Season: “I did not live my life to go out like this.”) Vaughn’s lumbering presence was the real reason to punch in each week, most importantly, because he was the one lead in this show who could keep a damn promise. (“When the lights go out? That was me.” Twelve hours later: click.)

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via HBO.

GATHERING EVIDENCE:

– Pinning a poster of a Sam Peckinpah film (here, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) ain’t gonna make your dipshit detective yarn any cooler, Nic.

– Why, oh why was Len carrying around a butcher knife? “I am the blade and the bullet.” Oooh. That’s why.

– I love that bit when Ray is on the horn with Ani when a smile creeps on his face. He shuts it down so fast that the following expression on his mug screams, “how in the hell did that happen?”

– If only Pizzolatto was as obliged to his story as he was to his sponsors: Johnny Walker Blue makes its final appearance on the show, just before things get hairy.

– “Hey, kid, what’s with your freaky badge-box?”

– Somewhere, Emily and Cynthia are still waiting for Paul to come back, bickering during the commercial breaks between “Maury”.

So that does it! What were your favorite moments from True Detective’s second season? Or were there any? We wanna know! Tell us all about them feelings of yours in the comments section below.

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