True Detective: Omega Station
August 10, 2015 5:40 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Matters come to a head, confessions are heard and deals made in the finale to season 2.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (272 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This season has been rocky and unfocused but it managed to pull itself if not together, then at least better than it has been. Like a disheveled, hung over man straightening his stained tie. It doesn't really fix anything, but he gets points for trying to clean himself up with the few tools he has.

Ray, Ani and Frank finally became people, not just characters, the plot mostly made sense and a few questions were answered. Can't say I'm pleased that both Ray and Frank bought it, while sending their "womenfolk" off to safety in the flawed trope of nobility, but it sounds like something they'd both do. Their deaths were pretty idiotic, but both of them could be pretty idiotic at times, so it fits, even if I'm not thrilled about it.

Ani got the truth out, but it's doubtful a difference will be made. It's not the world she, or the others, deserved, but it's a world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:53 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you're bargaining with a Mexican cartel in the middle of the desert, make sure that the ride back is part of the package BEFORE you give them the money. Come on Frank, this can't be your first rodeo.
posted by codacorolla at 6:42 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh good the independent and sexually abused female cop ends up in a Venezualan hidey hole with the beatific mobster's wife, raising Velcoro's baby without either of their men.

Because that is the totally predictable ending, and who even cares about Ani's sister, Ray's other son, Ani's father, or hell why revisit Paul's mom and pregnant girlfriend when we can dedicate a mile of highway to him instead??

*angrily flips every whiskey-stained table in Tropeville*

No TD season 3 for me, thanks. If I want that kind of trite shite for entertainment I can burn a copy of Reader's Digest and cobble together the still-legible bits into a script.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:46 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Bits were sort of fun, bits were confused and frustrating in the manner we've grown used to, and mostly it felt a bit arbitrary and difficult to care about. But I didn't feel like I was grudgingly hate watching it as much as I did with some recent episodes, so there's that, but it's not really turning my opinion of the show's rushed and poor writing around.

No big moment for Ani, she stopped being a protagonist as soon as she'd got stabbing a mook off of her bucket list.

My general feeling is that if they had taken the whole mess they had and, I dunno, done a second pass on the script and tightened it up a bit, got rid of some of the more cliched bits, dropped some of the bits that drag for time with some of the "who the fuck is that?" characters, etc... they could have gotten something good out of this. They had the leads, they had the right feel, the gems of an idea were there, but they went to camera with a first draft.

Nic P could maybe do with some conversations with actual humans as well.

Bar singer had a second song, that was a surprise. And got in a random shot walking somewhere, rounding out her character. Character find of 2015.
posted by Artw at 6:47 AM on August 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Was it just me or did the two grown-up diamond kids look nothing like their photo? I know the girl dyed her hair but still.
In general the whole diamond sub-plot was (one of) the weakest things about the show. The other weak thing was.. everything else. (But I guess they win since I watched the whole thing)
posted by starman at 6:49 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


If you're bargaining with a Mexican cartel in the middle of the desert, make sure that the ride back is part of the package BEFORE you give them the money

Why would a guy who's shorter than Frank and presumably making good money suddenly decide he wants THAT particular suit? Why would his boss that's totally fine to do? How the hell did they even find Frank?

Oh that's right, the plot gods demanded all of this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like pretty much everything else, the feud with the Mexicans probably needed to have been set up as a bigger deal before it became a major element.
posted by Artw at 6:58 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, I thought it made "sense" that the Mexicans were pissed that Frank blew up the casino/club/whatever and messed up their deal, and I did think that the dispute had been adequately set up such that it didn't come completely out of nowhere. That said, to me they were basically Chekov's Mexicans who were very crudely stuffed into the show as a seemingly vestigial plot until the final showdown, which felt sloppy and unsatisfying rather than clever and surprising.
posted by gatorae at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


It was kind of a boring finale, I thought.
posted by mullacc at 7:26 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like the episode title.

Nic P's pretentious episode title game has been strong this season, at least.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It was interesting enough, I thought, for what the season has been. The explanation for Caspere's death was a little bit stretched for my liking. It didn't quite ring true. I like a lot the deaths of Ray and Frank, not because I wanted them to die, but because it humanized them in a way that made the season feel worth it. Loved the shootout with Ray. Loved the walk through the desert. Those were good scenes. It took me awhile to figure out that Frank didn't give up his suit because he had the diamonds in there, not because he was worried about his dignity. Although he was a man in which dignity was always important, so it kind of works both ways. But at this point, reuniting with his wife was the most important thing on his radar, and he couldn't do that without money.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I decided that Jordan was breaking the 4th wall when she told Frank "You can't act for shit."
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2015 [23 favorites]


If you're bargaining with a Mexican cartel in the middle of the desert, make sure that the ride back is part of the package BEFORE you give them the money. Come on Frank, this can't be your first rodeo.

It was pretty clear they were just rolling him and leaving him to die. He saw that, the whole 'ride back' request was Frank snarking a bit, which earned him the opportunity to be stripped of his dignity even further before being left to die. Whereupon Frank gotta be Frank, punchy stabby, ten minutes of heavy handed 'talking to the ghosts of his past'.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


It took me awhile to figure out that Frank didn't give up his suit because he had the diamonds in there

I remembered the diamonds but it seemed like he could've slipped them out like he was retrieving his wallet or whatever. But now I'm nitpicking.
posted by mullacc at 7:42 AM on August 10, 2015


But at this point, reuniting with his wife was the most important thing on his radar, and he couldn't do that without money.

Both Frank's and Ray's death and/or the circumstances leading to them felt in character. Ray was always emotional, much like son, and so he HAD to see his son one last time, forgetting the obvious that someone would be watching for that. Because as the chief said, Frank wasn't used to being competent.

Jordan would have been fine with 100k or nothing, as long as Frank was alive. But he wouldn't have been fine with that, couldn't let things go and it got him killed.

Both of them made the fatal mistake of being classically macho and sending their partners to safety, even though both Ani and Jordan had saved them both previously and would have saddled up for anything. Hell, Ani pointedly ignored Ray's instructions, which is the only thing that saved him at the airport. Yet he still couldn't ask her for help in the end. Frank, who made himself something from nothing, couldn't face being "nothing" again, despite Jordan always thinking he was something. That's pretty deep for Nic, I guess.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 AM on August 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


This episode managed to feel both rushed and overlong. It felt like they spend fifteen minutes of screen time showing Ani get on the boat but blew through five or six story threads in the last three minutes.
posted by octothorpe at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Last week someone pointed out that Paul didn't die because he was closeted; he died because he lacked situational awareness, thinking he was home free and in his subsequent rush to use his phone to reconnect with someone, presumably Ray and Ani but possibly Emily.

That's how Frank and Ray die too; Frank forgets about the Mexicans so they take him utterly by surprise. Then he's so intent on making it back to Jordan with the loot that he won't give up the suit and/or can't figure out how to pocket the diamonds first (unless the suit request is code for they plan to execute him anyway, but still). Ray dies because he has to go see his son, even though it's obvious the school would be staked out by both legit cops and the bad guys... and then somehow doesn't think to steal a nearby tracker-free car or figure out a way to trade the money. (As an aside, I guess he knew it was a tracker, but I thought it was a bomb and kept hoping he would just abandon the money or shoot the car to make it explode.)

Never mind.
posted by carmicha at 7:56 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Both Emily and Ani magically feel it when their men die.
posted by carmicha at 7:57 AM on August 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


As an aside, I guess he knew it was a tracker, but I thought it was a bomb and kept hoping he would just abandon the money or shoot the car to make it explode.

I thought it must be a bomb too. Because why would a modern GPS transponder be so big and have a big red light on the top?
posted by mullacc at 7:58 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


You know, I never really bought into the idea that I was supposed to sympathize with Frank. He takes his anger out on his girlfriend, and he frigging tortures people. However, by the end of it, I wanted him to survive simply because I loved Jordan and wanted her to be happy. No idea what she saw in Frank, but she seemed like one of the few unquestionably sympathetic characters in the entire show. I guess in the end it's okay, because she deserves a better man than Frank, and she will no doubt find one.
posted by panama joe at 8:01 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like Pizzolatto took all the criticism about how he treated women characters last season and contrived an ending to this one where he can say the women win (sort of).

That post-ring toss scene with Frank and Jordan was painful (cringeworthy) to watch.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:04 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given the big red light on the tracker I suspect an actual bomb would be a round thing with a fizzing fuze and the word "BOMB" stenciled on it.
posted by Artw at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


Kenny Herzog, Vulture:
Pizzolatto really got every cliché, climactic action-movie scene out of his system in this one.
Jeremy Egner, NYT:
Sunday’s finale also served as a sort of microcosm for the entire season. The scenes of thrilling action, suspense and emotional heft were offset by moments of ponderous torment and emoting, like Jordan and Frank’s repetitive last scene together (as sentient humans). “You can’t act … take it from me,” Jordan said, to what I’m guessing was the sardonic delight of many viewers.
Emily L. Stephens, AV Club:
Ultimately, season two of True Detective can’t decide what it is: California noir, lurid pulp, modern mythology, religious allegory, urban fairy tale? It aims to be a pastiche of all these influences, and like Hansel and Gretel in the forest, it loses its way somewhere in the forest.
Todd VanDerWerff, Vox:
I'm all for breaking the rules, because stories that break the rules are the most thrilling of all. But you have to be really good to get away with all that rule-breaking. When you're not, things tend to fall apart in your hands.

That's exactly what happened to True Detective season two, and when the people behind the show realized it, they bet heavily on smoke and mirrors. But at the end of the day, those smoke and mirrors were hiding exactly what they're always hiding — a distracting trick with nothing at its core.
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
Pizzolatto very badly needed someone to tell him to go back to the beginning and either streamline the narrative or find a much better way to establish the players and the moves, to write material that played to his actors' strengths, to give the audience reason to care about why any of this was happening, and perhaps to find a few intentionally light moments so that the whole thing didn't come off as funnier than he wanted it to be.

Basically, this season needed someone who was willing and able to say, "No. This isn't working." And there wasn't.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


After the post-S1 buzz about having a True Detective season with two female protagonists, I want to see the adventures of Ani and Jordan kicking ass as a family unit in South America, without men to drag them down. Bonus points if the baby grows up to learn to respect women and their own agency thanks to his moms, and then becomes the writer of an in-universe show called "Real Detective" that actually knows what to do with its female characters.
posted by Eideteker at 8:06 AM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


"I thought it must be a bomb too. Because why would a modern GPS transponder be so big and have a big red light on the top?"

Didn't it look like there was a pool of gasoline beneath the car, like they had cut his fuel line to make a big kaboom, too?
posted by Eideteker at 8:08 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Basically it needs to get back to being about swamp wizards.
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Didn't it look like there was a pool of gasoline beneath the car, like they had cut his fuel line to make a big kaboom, too?

I took that as some car fluid that got knicked when the bad guys hastily put the transponder on the car. That same car which proceeded to run just fine without said fluid.

The transponder had a red light on it so Ray could see it and then we could have scenes about what to do. It also squarely marks Ray as dead, because if they know he's alive, they'll get to his kid. So he cowboys up, because damn if he isn't a hero in the end.

God forbid he call Ani and Frank for backup, 'cause they're all in this too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on August 10, 2015


So Ray heads out to the woods to divert attention and it's where he can be alone, like Ani was with her abuser, but has shitty cell service, so...fuck, I don't know anymore.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I have to say I do feel a bit "leave Britney alone" about S2 of True Detective. It's a pastiche of LA Noir tropes, which is exactly what I liked about it. This is driven home in episode 6, where they use classic noir horns-and-all music to score the end of the sex party scene. I mean come on, that music is straight out of Double Indemnity. Seen as a work of genre entertainment, I think S2 of True Detective totally wins. But I guess that's the thing about genre entertainment; it's only great if you love the genre. Otherwise, you're all like "what is this hokey shit?"

Obviously S2 suffers in comparison to S1, which was definitely a genre work (I mean come on, the show is called True Detective) but had allusions to all kinds of other things. It was a pastiche with more ingredients than just noir. Plus, McConaughey and Harrelson had absolutely irreproducible chemistry. We expected lightning to strike twice in the same place, and it just didn't. But on the whole, S2 was entertaining, and sometimes that all I ask for from my entertainment.
posted by panama joe at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


Pity Ray didn't have access to a rifle of some kind with which to make his last stand.
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on August 10, 2015


Ray was so doomed that it's almost a little strange that he bothered to kill those couple of Ares guys, let alone bring more fire power.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:23 AM on August 10, 2015


But he had to buy time to send his message after he'd driven to an area guaranteed to have no reception.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's a pastiche of LA Noir tropes, which is exactly what I liked about it. This is driven home in episode 6, where they use classic noir horns-and-all music to score the end of the sex party scene. I mean come on, that music is straight out of Double Indemnity. Seen as a work of genre entertainment, I think S2 of True Detective totally wins. But I guess that's the thing about genre entertainment; it's only great if you love the genre.

Eh, I liked Chinatown and I love The Big Lebowski, and I get that this season was supposed to be all LA-Noir-ish, but it just didn't gel for me. The plot doesn't necessarily have to make sense (there's really hardly any plot to speak of in Lebowski), but I often just didn't buy the character's motivations, or the scenes seemed orchestrated to be a certain preconceived kind of thing rather than to really fit the narrative.

Overall, I think the acting was generally pretty good, and I caught the meta-commentary by Jordan on Vince Vaughn, but I think he did fairly well this season aside from the clunky water-stain/trapped in the basement dialog earlier on. Was that all just so his dad's ghost would walk beside him at the end? That's the kind of overly contrived thing I mean.

And the whole diamonds thing wasn't really satisfying, like they needed some extra motivation for guys who were already doing really shady stuff, had "diamonds" as a placeholder and never really got around to figuring out something that actually worked.
posted by LionIndex at 8:27 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Eideteker: ""I thought it must be a bomb too. Because why would a modern GPS transponder be so big and have a big red light on the top?"

Didn't it look like there was a pool of gasoline beneath the car, like they had cut his fuel line to make a big kaboom, too?
"

No, it was just water from someone watering the lawn or something but it was plot device let him see the reflection of the LED. Now why a super secret gps tracker would have a giant shiny red LED is another question.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2015


Probably would have been better for Frank if he'd called the Mexican guys after getting bought out by Osip. If Osip doesn't honor the deal they had with Frank, Frank's got a new set of allies. Or at least doesn't get kidnapped.
posted by LionIndex at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


When did the Mexicans put their tracker on Franks car, anyway?
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on August 10, 2015


It was lame that Frank let himself get taken by the Mexicans so easily. He's driving a high-powered BMW that he bought as a getaway car but just sits there at the light while they box him in and then get out of their cars and stroll up to his window?
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


It was lame that Frank let himself get taken by the Mexicans so easily.

Yes and no. That particular setup I saw coming, but Frank has consistently underestimated them, so it makes some thematic sense that they show up like a ghosts from a forgotten memory.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


A question for the panel: did any two characters on True Detective S2 have chemistry with each other?

I ask this from a position of basically liking all the principal actors, and feeling like they did good work with the material they had to deal with. Yes, even Vince Vaughn. But that Cohle/Hart chemistry that was mentioned above, there was not even a dull watery echo of that. I did not buy the sudden lurch towards shipping Ray/Ani (True Romance!). Jordan/Frank was probably the closest this season came, for me, but really Jordan was supplying all the chemistry and Frank was basically just an inert substrate. The one pairing that should have been fucking electric -- Ray confronting Frank about setting him up to kill the wrong guy -- just fizzled into dull portentousness as usual.

What did we think about Caspere's killer? Did anyone still care who killed Caspere by the time this episode rolled around?

I remain annoyed that magic diamonds became a major plot element. I guess it's deliberately noir-tropey in and of itself, but it still felt like $MACGUFFIN_PLACEHOLDER to me.

The big red blinking tracking device that could not be pried off the car with the instruments of mortal men was hilarious. I did find Ray's final moments suspenseful, because I felt like there was a chance they weren't going to systematically off all the male leads. In the end, though, Chad Velcoro is probably better off having his last memory of his father be that distant salute, rather than his turgid cri de coeur voicemail. What the hell was up with him toting around his heirloom lucite block at school, though?
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:10 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


The post-coital dialogue was basically worst-of-season so I'm saying "no" on the chemistry question.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


What the hell was up with him toting around his heirloom lucite block at school, though?

I have to imagine Chad painted numbers on each side to use as his lucky D6
posted by trunk muffins at 9:23 AM on August 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


He used to be just a stereotypical loser... Now he's a loser with a badge.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some thoughts I had this episode:

Frank got a scene with Ani -- yay! Everybody had a scene with everybody!

Who dug that hole for Frank? Why not make him dig it? For that matter why not just shoot him and leave him in the desert to begin with? Why salt flats and not some abandoned mine shaft in the Mojave? (Other than it made for better cinematography.) Or are there just pre-dug body-sized holes all over, in case of need? Wouldn't they show up on Google maps eventually? And hey, where did the vultures go? Isn't the dead body what they came for? The vultures are the true winners of True Detective!

Ray, why don't you just shoot the transponder? Or drive to a hardware store and buy a hammer? Or go to a shopping mall and steal a Prius so you can out-mileage your pick-up-driving pursuers? These guys are not rocket scientists, after all; Paul managed to off most of them pretty easily.

Whose baby is this? Did Jordan have a miracle baby? Oh that's right, Ani says "I owe it to his sons" plural.

Venezuela looks like a fun place. Hey, why didn't Jordan dye her hair?
posted by tempestuoso at 9:33 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was sad to see that Ray is one of those guys who stands on escalators instead of climbing the steps.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:35 AM on August 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


In my rewrite Ani would at minimum get to stab a junior senator.
posted by Artw at 9:43 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hey, why didn't Jordan dye her hair?

She didn't have an APB with law enforcement looking for her. She also probably didn't get there on a smuggler's boat.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:43 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hard to believe that this was from the same people who brought us Season 1.

Where S1 was cool, original, edgy, funny, tight, and overall excellent, this season seemed like it was done by a bunch of college students.

Very disappointing all around.
posted by eas98 at 9:46 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ray, why don't you just shoot the transponder? Or drive to a hardware store and buy a hammer? Or go to a shopping mall and steal a Prius so you can out-mileage your pick-up-driving pursuers?

Because then the bad guys know he's alive and can get to his son. It's much better to lead the bad guys into a trap where your backup can help take them out with minimal loss of innocent life.

Ray was not smart.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:47 AM on August 10, 2015


Ray's primary stat was eyebrows.

Hard to believe that this was from the same people who brought us Season 1.

Only one of them.
posted by Artw at 9:50 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


There were a few other things that I liked about this episode:

1. Ray's paternity results, although we guessed that. Also, when he saw his son at school, his son was in a good place. He obviously had a circle of friends and seemed content. He's probably not being bullied any more, even though Ray's methods were misguided to make that happen. His son was proud of his family and his heritage. He will remember the last memory of his dad saluting him. That felt good.

2. Ani's meeting with the reporter gives hope that unresolved details can possibly be reconciled and will perhaps save Ray's reputation, and also Ani's sister and father, who are probably still in hiding. That's the kind of loose-end ending that makes some sense, or at least doesn't totally ignore the loose ends.

3. Ray is obviously not the kind of person who would show up in the mall for that kind of set-up and show-down. They've made that point more than a few times in the episodes. So you could feel the tension between Ray being the kind of person who was somewhat incredulous to be included in this thing at all, and also the necessity of having to play the tough detective guy. That was some pretty stellar acting.

An ongoing question I have is whether Ray expected the knife attack, or only invited the photography guy to listen in so that he could know what happened in the past (and used this as a selling point to keep photography guy from following through on his initial attack). I'm pretty sure the attack and shoot-out wasn't the end-game. Was Ray trying to negotiated their way out of this, and it got out of hand?

Last week, I'd said that I'd be happy if there was some redemption for Ani and Ray, and we also see a tragic end for Frank that further humanizes him. I feel enough like we got all of that, and I'll tune in for season three. I guarantee that as much as this season has been lambasted, it's going to be taken to heart by everyone involved in writing and production. We'll see more of the season one formula again, probably.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Another huge steal from Ellroy with the shootout at the cabin. One of Ellroys major characters across multiple books (Pete Bondurant) has his most defining moment when he sets a cabin on fire and shoots everyone as they run out.

I may just be a film nerd but everything I've seen of Pizalloto is just constant thefts from other creators. In this final episode, the way they box Frank in is from Training Day (even happens under a bridge in that, also). The "gotta go do one thing before I take off with my lady" is from Heat... just over and over again.

And sure, these things exist in many things -- but... though they seem like just minor things -- and any one of them by themself would be nothing -- when you have 30 or 40 minor things in one season. Oy vey.

Hard to believe that this was from the same people who brought us Season 1.

I don't agree. Season 1 was shit, too. Incomprehensible, convoluted garbage plot and overwrought dialog. Nic's a Johnny Half-note.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:55 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


When Frank briefly tries to get Jordan to leave by pretending to hate her, that was obviously stolen from the scene in Harry and the Hendersons when Lithgow attempts a similar gambit on the titular Harry.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:59 AM on August 10, 2015 [36 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: How the hell did they even find Frank?

I think the Armenians sold Frank out and called the Mexican gang after he picked up his passport.
posted by bluecore at 10:03 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


For all the major plot points that go by in two seconds they have these throw-away details that get repeated 5 times ("Two weeks! Or less!").
posted by starman at 10:09 AM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


An ongoing question I have is whether Ray expect the knife attack, or only invited the photography guy to listen in so that he could know what happened in the past (and used this as a selling point to keep photography guy from following through on his initial attack). I'm pretty sure the attack and shoot-out wasn't the end-game. Was Ray trying to negotiated their way out of this, and it got out of hand?

I had a real hard time reconciling the ritualistic torture-murderer who killed Caspere with the mysterious crow man who nonlethally shot Ray with the crazy unhinged stabby revenge kid who flipped out on Holloway.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the Armenians sold Frank out and called the Mexican gang after he picked up his passport.

Any particular reason? After all, they another $500K coming to them from him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:14 AM on August 10, 2015


Was Ray trying to negotiated their way out of this, and it got out of hand?

I think Ray had photography guy recording their conversation on his cell phone for evidence against Holloway, which is why he winced when his phone was crushed in the chaos. And it got out of hand just after the guy found out his sister was Caspere's daughter -- he knew she had been sleeping with him, and that pushed him over the edge.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:15 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


And it got out of hand just after the guy found out his sister was Caspere's daughter -- he knew she had been sleeping with him

They really did ransack Chinatown but good didn't they
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think the Armenians sold Frank out and called the Mexican gang after he picked up his passport.

Any particular reason? After all, they another $500K coming to them from him.


I think that's what happened, too. Or at least makes the pieces come together best. I think they knew that if he was heading out of town while handing off a ton of cash, he probably had the money on him, and most certainly more. Or the Mexican gang could figure out where it was with some pressure. Money in hand, and probably more than promised, is better than hoping it will come in the future.

Also, do the Armenian brothers have a reason to stab him in the back? Did his promise to the Mexican gang undercut Frank's previous commitment with the Armenians to distribute drugs in his club?
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


For all the major plot points that go by in two seconds they have these throw-away details that get repeated 5 times ("Two weeks! Or less!").

God, this.

About 40 minutes in, my wife and I were debating what in the hell they were going to use the extra 30 minute runtime for, and the only conclusion we had was the upcoming gunfight (Frank's big plan). And then that flew by in like 3 minutes tops. Meanwhile, I joked but turned out to be prophetic that we'd get one last visit at the bar for one more sad sad song, and then was like OH GOD I WAS JOKING WTF NOOOOOO....

Bluntly, this was not a good season, and this was not a good finale. There are bits and pieces that were alright, but as a whole, it is a total mess, right down to them needing an extra 30 minutes for the last episode, and then using it for long periods of completely useless shit.

(Also: Deus Ex Mexicans, wtf?)
posted by tocts at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well, I liked Season 1 but it's not like that wasn't all stolen too - dude is a magpie.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


More time was spent laying out the fifty odd guns than on the gunfight.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: Any particular reason? After all, they another $500K coming to them from him.

SpacemanStix: Also, do the Armenian brothers have a reason to stab him in the back?

In the desert, the leader of the Mexican gang said, "Where did the Armenians get their supply, what they gave to you?" which I guess was a rhetorical question implying the Mexicans were the true suppliers with the Armenians just the middle men, so I guess the Armenains would want to preserve the relationship which could be worth more than $500k in the long run, or they figured Frank would never send the $500k once he was safely away, which is probably true.
posted by bluecore at 10:47 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked the shot of the diamonds embedded in Prank's wound.

It was a great finale to a decent season. Plenty of cribbing from other sources like people have noted but that's not surprising.

And it got out of hand just after the guy found out his sister was Caspere's daughter -- he knew she had been sleeping with him, and that pushed him over the edge.

Ray steered the conversation to that point when he noticed Burris and realized he was trapped.
posted by edeezy at 10:52 AM on August 10, 2015


I had no idea that was a rhetorical question.

Ok, I guess that sort of makes sense, kind of.
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2015


Deadsion.com: True Detective Season Two Lines, Ranked
posted by bluecore at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Where did the Armenians get their supply, what they gave to you?" which I guess was a rhetorical question implying the Mexicans were the true suppliers with the Armenians just the middle men

Huh, this didn't occur to me. I thought it was a legit question.

But if that's true, why did the Mexicans hassle Frank for access at the club? If it was their supply anyway, you'd think they could just tell the Armenians to cut Frank off. Or, if Frank's clubs were doing well, why mess with a good thing?
posted by mullacc at 10:54 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


But hang on... That means the Mexicans were super pissy about Frank buying from them, instead of buying from them?
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, they were pissy about the clubs getting burned down so they have no market.
posted by LionIndex at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2015


Artw: But hang on... That means the Mexicans were super pissy about Frank buying from them, instead of buying from them?

My guess is maybe it was a play to get a better deal, which they ended up doing? (Thursday, Friday, Saturday-- no cut for a year.) But right before that Frank said, "The clubs burned down. What was I supposed to do? Armenians, Russians-- this is their thing." So maybe they knew the Armenians didn't do it because of their business relationship, and they knew the Russians didn't do it because they were trying to take the club, so they knew Frank was the one that burned down the club and they were pissed he screwed him on the deal.
posted by bluecore at 11:03 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right, but the prior bad blood would come from them trying to muscle in on themselves?
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on August 10, 2015


I'll add my voice to the chorus of folks who found this season disappointing. Shambling, disorganized, oddly paced. As mentioned earlier, it had potential but needed a thorough rewrite.

You know how sometimes a person makes Thing 1 and you think it's great, but then that person makes Thing 2 and it's not so good, so you question whether Thing 1 was actually good or not? Last couple of weeks, I rewatched TD Season 1. Still great. The difference, I think, is that it was so, so much tighter. Pretty much everything is there for a reason, and helps propel the plot or the characters. There are some interesting asides, of course, but they are never belabored. It moves from one episode to the next with a deliberate pace, very little feels too rushed or too slow. This season seemed to get stuck on unimportant, uninteresting points, and then moved too quickly through the actually dramatic moments.

Best case scenario for next season is if Pizzollato sends someone a 100-page novella and then they turn it into a tv show.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2015


For all the major plot points that go by in two seconds they have these throw-away details that get repeated 5 times ("Two weeks! Or less!").

I actually said to myself, "If they say 'two more weeks' one more time..."

And then Jordan held up two fingers and silently mouthed 'two.'

Argh. That still counted.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:23 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Since (Warren) Oates is commenting in this thread -- did anyone else catch the Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia poster tacked to the wall in what's-her-name's place?

I don't remember much about the movie except that the main character was a drunk, desperate character having a violent adventure, so it seems appropriate.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife and I had re-watched the entire season to prepare for the finale, which was a worthwhile exercise.

One thing that the show nailed is beautiful, holistic imagery of California geography. The opening credit sequence especially could be a Center for Land Use Interpretation promo video: Pumpjacks, freeway interchanges, rivers, solar power plants, salt ponds, Owens Lake, cell towers, abandoned microwave relay, nighttime LA, central valley agriculture. It's beautiful.

(A little more info at the "Welcome to Vinci" podcast site).

I didn't like the Leonard Cohen song at first, but by about 4 episodes in it really grew on me.
posted by jjwiseman at 11:34 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


And it looks like that poster is worth € 200.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2015




I thought this finale brought things to an end in a satisfying way. I've long since given up hope for perfection, and instead I've just appreciated the slow burn, the loopy dialogue, and the unique, absurd atmosphere. It's a maddening, infuriating, but somehow, kind of not bad? season.

There was a wonderful sustained tension and atmosphere throughout these final 90 minutes. I bought Ani and Ray realizing they have feelings for each other. These are two utterly broken, unquestionably screwed people who can find solace in each other's brokenness.

I like that Caspere's killer ended up not being particularly important. And the fairly anticlimactic way that revelation and confrontation went down. You end up figuring that taking down Holloway and Burris is a noble goal and the killer was on the side of good - in a sense, he was one of the only pure characters not motivated by personal gain. It ended up coming down to the machinations of corrupt, greedy individuals, and the layers of corruption were so thoroughly intertwined with every facet of the Vinci government, law enforcement and elite society that our detectives found themselves in deeper waters than they could handle.

Burris still being alive at the end is a great touch. This has always been about forces that will crush you if you have the nerve to provoke them. They've been watching you from the beginning, they know more about you than you even know about yourself, and they will use all of your weaknesses to their advantage. There's a real vein of hopelessness shot through the season from beginning to end.

I appreciated the way the camera moved through the scenes in these final moments, and the way that forlorn singer is still ringing in my ears. Something elegaic and inevitable about the way everything went down. We sensed Ray and Frank were dead men a long time ago, in retrospect. This was just a winding down of everyone's characters, the only way it made sense.

The parting scene of Ani and Jordan going out into the crowd, Ani tucking the knife into her boot, was really pretty cool. We don't know where they're off to, and they probably won't succeed, but they have to go out this way. It's completely true to their characters.
posted by naju at 11:55 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think the biggest mistake was abandoning the supernatural subplot. That was what brought obsessional viewers to Season 1; everyone was talking about the Yellow King and Carcosa. It lent resonance and an eerie atmosphere to everything that happened as if the Elder Gods really did have a hand in the crimes and tragedies of our world.

This season was just a boring, crooked land deal (with diamonds!) in Cali like a pale imitation of the works of Ellroy or Chandler.
posted by nikitabot at 12:03 PM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm going to go with actually bad: it's unfinished feel seems less some stylistic tic and more a result of not actually being finished.

There's so much about the writing and filming of this I would like to know, but my guess is they ran massively late on writing for whatever reason and just filmed what they had.
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like I've said before, even though this felt like a Russian director pumping out TRUTH DETECTOR for the Asylum over the course of 3 weekends, I still liked this season. It was B movie quality noir pastiche, but hey, that presses all of my buttons.

Regardless, I was thinking this morning about things you might do to keep the basic storyline, but trim down and focus what's there:

-- The really compelling aspect of the series is a masked killer. The bird man costume was a great visual element that was essentially wasted. I actually like the orphans as the killers, but they get lost by the end of the season because you also have a sex cult, Russian gangsters, Mexican gangsters, the Vinci PD, and the attorney general all competing for top villain billing. I get that it's supposed to be a complicated web of intrigue, but this is just too much. Therefore, make both the brother and the sister work as a team to kill key elements of the Vinci higher ups. The meat of the first half of the season is uncovering the diamond heist aspect, and the orphans' stories alongside it. With them being brother and sister and similarly slight in build you can also do fake-outs. Still have Velcoro get plugged with non-lethal rounds, but have him seemingly cornered the bird man, move to arrest him, and then have the other sibling shoot him from off camera.

-- In a similar fashion there are just too many things people are trying to get. Land deals, hard drives, diamonds, cash, blackmail, etc. etc. Way too scattershot. Have the first half of the series be about getting one thing (like the diamonds, for example), only for the characters to realize it's actually about something more important: the rail corridor. You can still have Caspere be a pervert, and you can still have a shadowy sex cult, but make these more incidental details to the larger narrative that is focused on a single thing at a time.

-- Keeping up with the cuts: cut Vince Vaughn. Roll Frank and Ray's characters together, and make Ray an enforcer for a much more distant and less important Frank character. Frank acts as a father figure for Ray, who has been promised a stake in Frank's legitimate empire. That empire goes up in smoke when Caspere is killed, and it motivates both of them to find the killer. Ray has to go back to his old life as an enforcer as Frank becomes increasingly desperate and moves back into organized crime to rebuild his empire. Still, we get the POV mostly from Ray, and only occasionally is Frank in the picture (mostly as a way to establish Ray's past life). Ray can still have his paternity woes, Blake can still be a louche turncoat, and Frank can still have angst about going back to crime, but this is all told through Ray's perspective and Frank is moved to the periphery of the story.

-- Make Ani the co-main character. Cut Paul's character altogether. You can still get at ideas of secrets ruling your life, trying to work within the harsh confines of a chauvinistic organization, and concepts of redemption. This gives you an opportunity to work with a compelling but untouched aspect of the show: new-age hippy utopian thinking, and communitarian living. Since Ray is no longer Vinci PD, have Ani go in as a special investigator for the state and being forced to cooperate with Dixon. Ray and Ani cross paths because Frank is getting back into crime, and he's nervous about Ani poking around. The Vinci brass make it clear that Ray needs to work to hinder the investigation, but he's increasingly suspicious of what is happening, and eventually reaches out to Ani because he wants to solve the case (you can put in the betrayal about his wife's assailant here to motivate Ray's turn).
posted by codacorolla at 12:26 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's so much about the writing and filming of this I would like to know, but my guess is they ran massively late on writing for whatever reason and just filmed what they had.

I looked up some details, and the first episode of season one was written in 2010, with pre-production starting in late 2012 and post-production in 2014. Between the end of season one and now is a lot less time for writing and everything else. I'm sure the writing for season two could have started a bit earlier, but it seems that there was a lot less development opportunity overall this time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:30 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The really compelling aspect of the series is a masked killer. The bird man costume was a great visual element that was essentially wasted.

Yeah that was a disappointment, because that was something the show did right; that look was cool and striking and worked so well. It hinted at the the kind of supernatural, or at least creepily occult, elements that made the first season entertaining, but it just got kind of dropped beyond being a visual. Wasn't there a large bird on a billboard in one scene in this episode, too? But it didn't feel like it was there for any reason, it was just a motif dropped randomly into the show. Which is a shame, because it feels like with a little more editing and time it could have been a good and interesting element.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:38 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the biggest mistake was abandoning the supernatural subplot. That was what brought obsessional viewers to Season 1;

THIS, ten times this.
posted by Pendragon at 12:40 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


They certainly wanted to make very sure we noticed the crow mask when Ray and Ani finally found the orphans' bungalow. Look through window, HOLD ON CROW MASK, OMINOUS MUSIC. Look through window again: CROW MASK, OMINOUS MUSIC.

It's like the director digging you in the ribs "see, see, CROW MASK."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:42 PM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


I get the impression that they got spooked at the idea of being too associated with weirdness and that means they shelved a bunch for this one.

Or the occult history of the transportation network thing could have been horseshit.
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


My favorite part of that scene was Ray and Ani following the voice crying out "Len? Len?" and then when they made their way into the kitchen and Erica could see them, she goes, "Oh, it's you."

LOLOLOL

"Oh, bleh, you guys that I saw once in my life, maybe?, months ago."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:44 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone:
The show's anthology model requires a full reboot every year, and that in turn necessitates a level of trust in the filmmakers alone, independent of continued attachment to characters or cast. It's difficult to see how that trust can be recaptured now, no matter how promising the setting or storyline or how intriguing the actors. They could announce tomorrow that TDs3 will star Tom Hardy, Tilda Swinton and Taylor Swift and still be met with a shrug.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:46 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wired: We Mapped True Detective’s Wildly Implausible Road Trips. "Time and time again, these people defied the laws of man and nature, driving up and down the coast of California – the tallest state in America – as if it was Rhode Island."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember hearing about the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system. Like artw said, is it possible that there was a really interesting, weird script written out, but it was scrapped at the last moment? And what we've seen was the hasty replacement? I don't know anything about how the production went down.
posted by naju at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think the success of Season 1 had much to do with supernatural/occult stuff. Watch it again, knowing that there isn't any of that stuff at all. Even without that element teasing you, it's still really solid because the heart of the story is development of the two leads. I tell you, I feel like that entire season is about the lead up to Marty's wife and daughters coming to visit him in the hospital and the little face he makes when he chokes on his words. That has nothing to do with bogeymen; or I guess, you could say it's about how you can slay the bogeyman and save the day, but it still won't fix the things you've done.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:49 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Tom Hardy, Tilda Swinton and Taylor Swift

Holy crap, that would be phenomenal. And I could head over to fanfare after each episode to read about how much everybody hates it.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:49 PM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


So Blake raped Ray's wife? Why?
posted by fuse theorem at 12:54 PM on August 10, 2015


One key problem baked in from the outset is that a perverted, corrupt old city official makes for a terribly unsympathetic murder victim. Who cares who killed him?

And the murderer turns out to be not the least bit menacing, and the only other person on his hitlist is another corrupt, villainous figure. So, um, you go, little angry jewelry store kid? What did we truly detect here, anyway?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:55 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'll not be watching TD3 as it airs, that's for sure. Maybe if it gets good reviews I'll check it out someday.
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2015


So Blake raped Ray's wife? Why?

No.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Did we get clues as to where Ani and Jordan were headed at the end? I just heard one of them say it would be a long journey. Back to the US?
posted by JenMarie at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2015


I'm reading recaps of True Detective that are more entertaining than the show itself. Next season? Be bold. No episodes, just recaps.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I actually think a third season that wasn't as bad as people think this season was (which was better than the tenor of this thread, if still not actually good) would restore confidence pretty quickly. This season started with unreasonable expectations so a season with too low expectations could be a success.

I actually think this season would have been a fine movie (not the most original or compelling, but not bad), but even the eight episodes was a bad format for the story. Maybe that's the key: each season is a new format. The third season is a radio drama, the fourth season is a performance art piece where Nic Pizzolatto sits in a chair and people berate him for having disappointed them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:58 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Look through window, HOLD ON CROW MASK, OMINOUS MUSIC. Look through window again: CROW MASK, OMINOUS MUSIC.

It gets even worse than that.

After beating the audience over the head with the crow mask, the director apparently didn't believe anyone realized what that meant. So, upon entering the house and looking around, Ray and Ani first come across a shotgun (CROW MASK, SHOTGUN, REMEMBER?!) and then, I kid you not, a literally magnified (via desk magnifier) view of a box of non-lethal bullets (HEY REMEMBER THAT CROW MASK GUY WITH THE SHOTGUN AND THE NON-LETHAL BULLETS??).

This is in the same episode where the major turning point for one of the primary characters was some minor characters from like 4 episodes ago showing up with zero priming for who the fuck they were (heard at my house as Frank is taken captive: "wait, who the hell are those guys?!").

Par for the course for this season -- the stuff that could actually use some explaining is completely missed, while the blindingly obvious has to be gone back over a third time.
posted by tocts at 12:59 PM on August 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


Hey, it's Nails? Remember Nails everybody? Nails, what a guy!
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


The entire show hinges on the fact that Caspere's body is found where it was by Woodrugh, a guy out on a random motorcycle ride. But the CHP guy found it in Ventura county and Vinci PD took an interest because it's their guy. That's why Woodrugh, Bezzerides and Velcoro meet.

So, what was the killer's rationale for dropping the body there?

There literally wasn't one.

OK, the fourth major character is Frank. What did the killer have to do with Frank?

Nothing. The killer's motive had nothing whatsoever to do with Caspere's dealings with Frank. The motive predated Caspere even meeting Frank.

In other words, everyone dies for literally no reason at all.

That's a great act. What do you call yourselves?
The Aristocrats!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:09 PM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


So Blake raped Ray's wife? Why?

No.


Okay, I wasn't paying full attention during that scene when Frank told Ray that Blake gave him the name of the rapist. What was the point of making the kid a redhead? Red herring?
posted by fuse theorem at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a side note, did Chessani's son look like a Barack Obama impersonator to anyone else? Is this some political statement, with Chessani Sr. having so many GWB pictures around his office, only to be replaced by the new, young blood who's just as corrupt?

Altogether the corruption and political intrigue was sort of cartoonishly handled. You have a rich cabal that seems to be evil simply because they're rich, while having one of the most poorly thought out evil organizations of all time. "Oh yeah, let's have big orgy parties with sex slaves where we can easily be blackmailed by anyone with half a brain. That's a good thing for us, billionaires with a lot at stake, to do."

It's a shame, because a ghost town set up seemingly to do nothing but facilitate criminal graft is a GREAT setting. And yet most of our time is spent in anonymous office space, car interiors, and generic urban backdrops. There are a couple of interesting scenes, like the chase through the drifter camp, but mostly that sort of thing is relegated to interstitial air tracking shots.
posted by codacorolla at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Red hairing.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 1:15 PM on August 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


while the blindingly obvious has to be gone back over a third time.

Ha, I have to admit I think I needed all those clues to catch on to the crow mask. I couldn't exactly make out what he was looking at through the window, and I missed the magnified bullets. I'll have to go rewatch because it sounds hilarious the way you've described it.
posted by JenMarie at 1:15 PM on August 10, 2015


Okay, I wasn't paying full attention during that scene when Frank told Ray that Blake gave him the name of the rapist. What was the point of making the kid a redhead? Red herring?

Yep, and also to distance him from Ray. In the end there's a shot of a paternity test confirming Ray is actually his dad, which I guess is supposed to be an extra nut-punch on top of everything else.
posted by codacorolla at 1:16 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess the genetic test that revealed the real rapist and seemed like a weird setup wasn't a weird setup?
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


From what I can tell, the guy Ray talks to in prison is actually the rapist. Ray gets his answer, and there is no deeper meaning. It is just a terrible incident that he allowed to rule the remainder of his life.
posted by codacorolla at 1:18 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Artw: Right, but the prior bad blood would come from them trying to muscle in on themselves?

In theory maybe they weren't trying to muscle in on themselves so much as cut out the middle man?-- i.e. Maybe they had an alliance from the Armenians and supplied them drugs at wholesale prices, which the Armenians marked up in the clubs, but the Mexican gangs wanted to sell directly at the clubs and keep the pure profit. I'm not sure why the Armenians would go along with this and help them find Frank unless there was the threat of losing access to the entire supply for other ventures, or maybe the Armenians were unaware of being cut out of Thursday through Saturday at the club because the timeline was so compressed at the end before Frank burned the clubs. Or maybe the Armenians saw it as a cost of business for having Frank take the Russians out of play in Vinci? I'm hopeful for an official explanation that clarifies it.
posted by bluecore at 1:18 PM on August 10, 2015


You wonder if the actors didn't ever stop in the middle of a scene and ask, "OK, who the hell are these guys again? 'Cause I read the whole script and I still can't remember who's who here."
posted by octothorpe at 1:25 PM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Anyway, congrats to Ray for turning out to be the True Dadtective.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm wondering if the Los Angeles setting was the big mistake?

S1 used its Louisiana setting very effectively to build an atmosphere that felt constrained and oppressive: it felt like Rust and Cohle were oversized fish trapped in a small pond.

By contrast, S2's Los Angeles settings felt sprawling and unconnected: Vinci's supposed to be a corrupt little fiefdom but there wasn't really any sense of it having a geography of its own. There's no landscape; just a series of rooms in which characters have interminable conversations. And that's before the many trips up the coast.

I'm also wondering: did Pizzolatto choose the setting first and then fall into doing all the film-noir tropes? Or did he decide on noir first and then pick L.A. as the most trope-y possible setting for it? Because I think "noir pastiche" here is really damning it with faint praise: often a pastiche is a slight imitation.

For me, the announcement to watch for S3 is not who but where.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


You wonder if the actors didn't ever stop in the middle of a scene and ask, "OK, who the hell are these guys again? 'Cause I read the whole script and I still can't remember who's who here."

Those repeated shots of characters looking confusedly at one another was all cinema verite footage of the actors doing table reads.
posted by codacorolla at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the biggest mistake was abandoning the supernatural subplot. That was what brought obsessional viewers to Season 1

I applaud them for not resting on their laurels and going in a different direction. Introducing supernatural elements would taint the show and make it a bit hokey if every season is supernatural. I just wish this season had been better focused and more put together. I thought there was going to be lot of scenes of the detectives riding around LA and commenting the city and its people. But no, just a recurring joke about e-cigs.

I'll definitely check out season 3, see how it goes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, congrats to Ray for turning out to be the True Dadtective.

It was Ani, not Ray.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:31 PM on August 10, 2015


Would have happy with an LA-set non-supernatural story that didn't have garbage scripts, TBH.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


did Pizzolatto choose the setting first and then fall into doing all the film-noir tropes? Or did he decide on noir first and then pick L.A. as the most trope-y possible setting for it?

I think it likely started with the L.A. Times articles about Vernon, the inspiration for Vinci. Not a bad place to start -- a city hidden within a bigger city, where everyone is corrupt, top-to-bottom.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:35 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


And the murderer turns out to be not the least bit menacing,

Besides being the guy in the crow mask, was the kid ever in the show besides this episode?

Also, who was the person that Ani and Ray chased and lost crossing the highway? It's a foggy memory, but didn't he set fire to their car or something? If so, why?!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:39 PM on August 10, 2015


Also, who was the person that Ani and Ray chased and lost crossing the highway? It's a foggy memory, but didn't he set fire to their car or something? If so, why?!

It was that guy and he did to make you ask questions!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:41 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


He was on the mad max style movie set? I guess? I don't really remember. For some reason I was thinking he was the same guy as the Mayors kid, so *shrug*.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on August 10, 2015


I reckon Crimer did it.

"Crimer!"
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


them needing an extra 30 minutes for the last episode

We're at minute 16 before we leave the Ani/Ray bedroom / Ray/Jordan mall conversations. So, you know, time well spent.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Besides being the guy in the crow mask, was the kid ever in the show besides this episode?

Also, who was the person that Ani and Ray chased and lost crossing the highway? It's a foggy memory, but didn't he set fire to their car or something? If so, why?!


He was a photographer on that film set they visited in . . . maybe the 3rd episode?

The person they chased was almost certainly Len/Raven Mask. They were investigating a car stolen from the film set that may have been used to transport Caspere's body. They interviewed some random patsy who knew nothing, and who was probably being hastily and poorly set up by Len/Raven Mask once he realized he was in pretty deep. The car burned so there was no evidence, and they saw that it was a random dude in a weird mask, so suspicion went off of the guy they were there to interview and the whole thing turned into a dead end.

From the perspective of the larger story, that was pretty solid evidence that whoever murdered Caspere was much more connected to that film set than to the sex parties.
posted by Copronymus at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, Crimer had satisfying story arcs that made sense.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the perspective of the larger story, that was pretty solid evidence that whoever murdered Caspere was much more connected to that film set than to the sex parties.

Of course, in true True Detective fashion, they let the film set thread drop completely, instead of pursuing it any further as would have been the logical next step. Good times!
posted by naju at 1:52 PM on August 10, 2015


By contrast, S2's Los Angeles settings felt sprawling and unconnected: Vinci's supposed to be a corrupt little fiefdom but there wasn't really any sense of it having a geography of its own. There's no landscape; just a series of rooms in which characters have interminable conversations. And that's before the many trips up the coast.

What about all the shots of highways? The long shots of Southern California highways were definitely a landscape and a fairly striking one at that. I think setting in that landscape was actually really good; it's a terrible and depressing human made landscape to contrast with the more natural landscape of season one. Season one ends in a literal maze of plants and trees, season two could have ended in a more figurative maze of highways and industrial plants. I don't think the show did much with it, but I think there's a lot of potential there. If anything, I think the ending going out of its way to venture out of that landscape into salt flats and forests was a mistake.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


We don't know anything about Ani's sister and father, correct? It didn't seem like that was addressed, but maybe somebody coughed out the story of their fate and I missed it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2015


it's a terrible and depressing human made landscape to contrast with the more natural landscape of season one. Season one ends in a literal maze of plants and trees,

Well, what I remember most about season one were the mega-industrial backgrounds for almost every scene. I'd really hesitate to call the setting natural. Even the ending is basically an abandoned fort decorated by a nutjob.
posted by LionIndex at 2:03 PM on August 10, 2015


For me, the announcement to watch for S3 is not who but where.

I agree. I'm betting on somewhere in the upstate New York/Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine area.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2015


I'd love to see season 3 set in the Badlands. Or Mars, I'm not picky.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:09 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would be awesome if S3 took place in another country, and used tropes common to their culture and folklore.

I nominate ... Russia! Maybe some postindustrial Siberian wasteland?
posted by panama joe at 2:12 PM on August 10, 2015


I feel like the main character here was supposed to be California itself. It got all the beauty shots the leading lady would normally get. In the end all of the characters had their 'last stand' in a very California place: the redwoods, the desert, the ocean. And the thing about California is that it has all these good intentions (hippie communes, high speed rail, immigrant workforces) that always end up really corrupt and horrible in their implementations. Which made it so frustrating that they'd have these characters running all over the state at the drop of a hat. Those are not drives you make casually.

It's one thing to want to do an homage to other styles at the expense of your own coherent storyline but you have to really do them well and they need to be on point every time and most of these were a mess. By the end I was just watching it for Colin Farrell which is not something I thought I'd ever say.
posted by marylynn at 2:15 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Something I did appreciate about the season overall is that it slowly made it clear that Frank is a buffoon who was completely out of his depth. He's sitting in his office giving bizarre speeches to his crew about never seeming hungry or whatever, and they've all, to a man (other than Nails) been bought and paid for by Osip already. He really, truly thinks of himself as a slightly rougher Michael Corleone, and he can't even keep a whiny shithead like Blake in line. The only responsibility Caspere and/or Catalyst ever entrusted him with was to run a phony toxic waste cleanup company that probably did nothing since the site probably wasn't ever polluted, and for this service he expected that they would treat him as an equal. When they didn't, he was shocked that men in suits and ties who work in office buildings could possibly have ripped him off. Even at the very end, when he won, he got captured by people he'd casually blown off weeks ago and pissed off for no real reason.

Some of that is probably inevitable for a gangster, but it's one thing to be invaded by an outside force and another to be betrayed by people you trust. Osip he could (and did) deal with, but at the very end, who did he still have on his side? His wife, the bar owner, and Nails. That's what actually got him, being forced to put all of his trust in people who had no reason not to give him up to the highest bidder, and he got there by alienating all of the people who he ordinarily would rely on to protect him from that kind of thing. If Frank's goofy dialogue made him come off as a pretentious nitwit, I think the other characters in the show also saw that and saw it as a sign of a man who thought he was a lot smarter and more capable than he was, and they exploited it.

It's not quite the Season One twist where you start to realize that the funny, laid-back guy is actually an enormous asshole and the twitchy loner who won't shut up about nihilism is the only one who actually cares about these missing women and children, but it was at least something.
posted by Copronymus at 2:15 PM on August 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


There's a very slight (and retrospective) hint of supernatural at the beginning of Episode 3: in the dream, Ray's dad describes how his son will actually die (The tree are like giants, men are chasing you... they kill you) .
posted by elgilito at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Ray basically got to choose the site of his death, and he chose one that matched his dream. So there's are pretty easy non-supernatural explanation.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


If Frank's goofy dialogue made him come off as a pretentious nitwit, I think the other characters in the show also saw that

I bet Tommy Wiseau approves of this read of Frank, but otherwise I think otherwise the show's creators were as unaware of Frank's flaws as he was. They played everything else way too shallow and straight.

It would have been a lot more interesting if Jordan, who they originally showed as being involved in the business, was twigging to something being wrong, or truly angry that the business was slipping, trying to compensate for his blind spots, or get him to up his game. Think about the interesting conversations they could have had, instead of the slow reduction of her to helpless angel vessel wife, and him to doomed macho stud.
posted by nom de poop at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


For next season's location:
- Can't really do the PNW because they already played the Twin Peaks card pretty heavy this time. I don't know if they can manage a murder mystery that goes off on tangents without an unfavorable comparison there, but it didn't stop them this time around so...
- Fargo already seems to be handling the upper Midwest quite well, thank you.

I'd kind of like to see something Rocky Mountain-ish, Desert Southwest, or maybe set in Appalachia. I think in those cases, you're maybe looking at only one cop, possibly with some help that's not officially "the law". Like, build on something around the Lost Dutchman mine or something, have one AZ state trooper or sheriff working with Apache law enforcement. I don't know if I trust Pizzolato to handle that with the appropriate sensitivity, but I'd at least be interested in that show.
posted by LionIndex at 3:23 PM on August 10, 2015


They really need to go back to Southern Gothic motifs. There are plenty of avenues to explore there that are quite different from Season 1.
posted by naju at 3:30 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Set it in a rich suburb. A planned community. True Detective in Irvine, Calif. Tanned lawyers with gold watches hiding the bodies of dead business partners in the sand traps of private golf estates.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:39 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


or maybe set in Appalachia.
Nope, because the show's lack of humor and dull writing would make comparisons to Justified super unfavorable.
posted by TwoStride at 4:28 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


True Detective Season 3 should be all about FIFA and the awarding of the Russia and Qatar world cups.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


They could go more Winter's Bone. Get J-Law in!
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


TD S3 should be in Mos Eisley
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:39 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair:
"The best thing going this season was Rachel McAdams. And though her character Ani Bezzerides gets both the first (“Trees”) and final (“You O.K.?”) words of the episode, she spends most of the finale on the bench. After rescuing Ray’s bacon again in the confused shoot-out at the train station, Ani gets shut out of the action. Ray and Frank raid the cabin in the woods while Ani discovers Dr. Pitlor’s body. And then she is relegated to that action-film cliche: the worried girlfriend on the other end of the phone. The extra 30 minutes of the 90-minute finale are dedicated to protracted death scenes and heroic come-to-Jesus moments for Frank and Ray, while Ani is shuffled off on a boat to Venezuela where she feels (psychically? emotionally? intuitively?) the exact moment when Ray bites the big one in a picturesque redwood forest up North."
The character of Ani was one of the few aspects I was interested in, and they squandered it.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:39 PM on August 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


yeah so I liked how they filled the extra half hour with pointless walking and handshakes. So many handshakes.

And the hyper competent Mexican kidnappers who I only recognized by the short one with the cowboy - thought they were the Mayor's kid and some underlings at first.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2015


I find it hard to believe that Ani knows Ray is being tracked and decides to get on the damn boat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


At least it got interesting the last 30s... really want to see the adventures of knife cop and ex-moll and Nails.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everyone loves Nails!
posted by Artw at 4:48 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that Ani knows Ray is being tracked and decides to get on the damn boat.

She has to go have a Verger baby!

Wait, wrong show.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


... and then they lezzed up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That sketch still isn't on YouTube, dammit.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well I stuck with the whole thing, and now that it's over, I say: fuck this show and its shitty last episode.

Comments making a halfhearted attempt to defend it sound like the folks trying to find something good to say about Star Wars episode 1 (or whatever the hell we're supposed to call it. You know which one I mean) shortly after it came out.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:16 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The titles were nice!
posted by Artw at 5:17 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I kinda hope season 3 is exactly like season 1 because it will be hilarious to read all the "this season is too much like season 1, they're just pandering" articles.
posted by dogwalker at 5:35 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a very slight (and retrospective) hint of supernatural at the beginning of Episode 3: in the dream, Ray's dad describes how his son will actually die (The tree are like giants, men are chasing you... they kill you) .

And that's what he was thinking about at the end when he looks up into the trees and they tower in the sky, and he softens and decides to step out and take on the remaining three with the shotgun. I think he gave himself up to the inevitable rather than actually trying to fight it out at that point.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:49 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was imagining the last three guys would all walk up to his tree then turn their backs to it like the first two did.
posted by nom de poop at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


They went out of their way to highlight that Velcoro's recording for his son failed to upload. Sheesh, kick a man while he's down...
posted by isthmus at 8:43 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


DID YOU GUYS SEE THE TEASER FOR WESTWORLD HOLY SHIT!
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:04 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'll totally admit that I've been hatewatching it since at least halfway through. I was hoping the ending would be good and make it worthwhile, but it didn't do it for me. I did like the Thelma & Louise vibe of Ani and Jordan, though. I always liked Jordan. I'm glad that it didn't turn out that she was double-crossing Frank.

I normally don't mind tropes, but the shot of Len's darkroom with all the telephoto shots hung up was too much. Anyone who is actually snooping around taking pictures of people like that is not going to be taking the time to develop them in a darkroom! Come the fuck on.

I also thought it was a huge stretch that they figure out who Laura was from someone saying "I think her name is Laura" (not an uncommon name!), and making the connection with her brother because she talked to him at the movie set. Really?

FWIW, I also thought the transponder was a bomb and the liquid was gasoline. I realized that the liquid was a plot device so that Ray would see the big red light.
posted by radioamy at 9:10 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Since this season was a busted "Fellowship of the Ring", I think Season 3 should be "Nails: There and Back Again"
posted by Chitownfats at 11:01 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


My friend Marc really nails the weird conflicting feeling I've had about this season throughout the entirety of its run:

"I definitely don't think it was good, in the sense that ... well, that's where it gets complicated. In many ways I liked it more than the first season, but in many other ways I liked it... well, then it gets more complicated. I really can't think of another show I kept watching with such anticipation despite not really respecting it. I feel like there's now a genre of TV that's called 'quality television,' and this was in many ways like a heap of touchstones of quality television employed by someone who didn't really understand why they had become associated with quality, like someone who picked a lot of stuff off a rack of designer clothes without really knowing why the designers had accrued the respect they had over the years. Even that's a failed description on my part. The show leaves me somewhat sputtering to explain how I both enjoyed it and disrespected it. I keep thinking about it, which is something. At its best, it mastered the terse Los Angeles diction of James Ellroy and the psychic otherness of David Lynch. At its worst it was like an Ellroy/Lynch homage by someone who didn't really like Ellroy or Lynch but had been handed a long list of things that made something Ellroy-like or Lynchian and then proceeded to build a house of cards out of them."
posted by naju at 11:02 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel like there's now a genre of TV that's called 'quality television,' and this was in many ways like a heap of touchstones of quality television employed by someone who didn't really understand why they had become associated with quality

I'm not sure about True Detective, but I think this is a pretty good description of The Killing. What's awful about The Killing is how it seemed to inspire some other shows like Broadchurch, Witnesses, Five Days, and I'm going to throw in Top of the Lake and The Fall. All are all crime/cop shows that don't have all that much interest in crime/cop things, but have a lot of interest in family drama. BAD family drama that's 90% dads, maybe 10% women who are alone and grumpy. (Probably thinking about their dads.) The thing is they're bad at it. Their cop stuff sucks, their family drama sucks, they are just sucky, shambling messes of shows, always groping and grasping at emotional payoffs they never actually earn.

Come to think of it, True Detective S2 does probably belong in with the rest of that crap.

And so I wouldn't say that it was a bad pastiche, but rather a case of someone trying to dress something up as something else, trying to follow a formula that doesn't work in the first place. Soap genre. Whodadit.

One thing about cop/noir stuff is there are almost never any kids. How many pre-teens lived in Twin Peaks? Were there any kids at all in To Live and Die in LA? True Detective S1 had kids, yes, but kids were also the victims, and Harrelson's kids grew up halfway through and seemed to fit in with a theme of past abuse. And the main character, Cohle, didn't have kids or any super special affinity for them or anything. Season 1 seemed to mostly be aware that the crime being truly detected is actually the center of the whole shebang, and not, like, a mere premise you drag out and shake every now and then in between loving sketches of dad-centric pain.
posted by nom de poop at 4:12 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cohle, didn't have kids or any super special affinity for them or anything.

Rusty had a daughter, her death is what lead him to leave his wife and join the narcotics/undercover unit. I would say it defined his character.
posted by xqwzts at 4:21 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


AND WHILE I'M AT IT I'll say one of the most annoying behaviors of those shows is how they seem to think their characters are inherently interesting, and they like to just "check in" on them for no reason. A common feeling for the viewer watching these kinds of shows is, "Why the fuck are you showing me this? ... Well, that was pointless."

Rusty had a daughter, her death is what lead him to leave his wife and join the narcotics/undercover unit. I would say it defined his character.

Eh well, the roots of failure were there. In S2 something like that would have been 2 hours of screen time.
posted by nom de poop at 4:24 AM on August 11, 2015


We get our green-eared-spaghetti-monster with Ray remembering witnessing a brief conversation between two people he barely knew two months ago, so that must mean the set photographer is the killer. Disappointing that the sister is yet another passive female character than can do nothing but sit by as men do things to other men. Why not have her be equally eager to kill those responsible for her ruined life?

Two of the many, many unanswered questions:
* How did Burris get Caspere's watch to give to Irina to pay her to pawn to falsely implicate Amarillo in Caspere's murder in order to lure the Taskforce in to a gunfight so as to tie off the investigation? That Caspere wasn't wearing his watch when he was murdered but left it at his main house and it was Burris who ransacked Caspere's main house and took it doesn't work, because Caspere's main house was found ransacked before he is known to be murdered.
* What was Birdman doing for two months? Twiddling his thumbs? Practicing handcuffing his sister to the radiator? Trying to guess the password to the hard drive?

Cohle, didn't have kids or any super special affinity for them or anything.

As mentioned already, Cohle had a daughter who died in a tragic but unspecified manner. Cohle's love and pity for children is a consistent theme throughout the first season: he was forced into undercover after he killed a junkie in response to them injecting their kid with meth, he takes valuable time to make sure a kid is a little safer during his disastrous undercover op with the Iron Crusaders, he is particularly brutal to the Marshland Medea after she confesses to killing her children, etc. Showing and not telling.
posted by kithrater at 4:48 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


How did Burris get Caspere's watch to give to Irina

Maybe Len and Laura had Caspare take his watch off when they were torturing him. It was placed somewhere in the Hollywood house and Burris took it when he showed up in the morning after Ray was shot.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:34 AM on August 11, 2015


Top of the Lake

Too far!

And assides from Having Scully in it the Fall is more standard issue Britisj crime drama.

Confession: I actually liked The Killing season 3 quite a bit, a lot better than TruDec2 at any rate. Season 4 was garbage like 1 and 2 though.
posted by Artw at 5:54 AM on August 11, 2015


/have not seen proper Danish The Killing.
posted by Artw at 5:56 AM on August 11, 2015


The bird man costume was a great visual element that was essentially wasted.

When Ray goes back to Ceasare's sex pad he sees a whole row of masks with one empty hook on the end, suggesting that the shooter just grabbed the disguise randomly because it was handy. But that's not really true, because we know that the bird head was on the seat of the movie set car when shown presumably being used to transport Ceasare's body, which in turn means Len thought it was appropriate attire for hard drive hunting. Maybe Len was trying to return the bird mask when Ray surprised him... but he left with it anyway even after Ray was incapacitated. Well, sure, it's evidence... but he saved the mask, even though it's incriminating. And when Len torched the car, he wore a different mask. So Len likes masks, even the one that belonged to the evil perv who killed his parents. A mask that may well have difficult associations for Laura.

So why? Was it to torment/criticize Laura for having sex with Ceasare?
posted by carmicha at 6:52 AM on August 11, 2015


Or just to obscure Len's identity in the event that he couldn't find the hard drive, but it recorded his visit and someone else might decipher it? But still, why keep it?
posted by carmicha at 6:59 AM on August 11, 2015


Len was a bit nuts, so...yeah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 AM on August 11, 2015


"Of course, in true True Detective fashion, they let the film set thread drop completely, instead of pursuing it any further as would have been the logical next step. Good times!"

There was a film set?

And man, "Caspere" pronounced "Casper" and "Catalast" pronounced "Catalyst", WTFTD????
posted by Eideteker at 8:09 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Main thing I remember about the film set is it was pretty heavily based on old Mad Max just as new Mad Max came out.
posted by Artw at 8:17 AM on August 11, 2015


True Detective: What Went Wrong
posted by Artw at 8:32 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I would've done differently:

While you don't really want to retread the first season in a way that sets a limiting precedent for your anthology series, there's also a certain sense where you (as the creator in this sense/instance) want to view each prospective season in moderate isolation. While the supernatural elements certainly attracted a certain strain of viewership (which I would suspect has a heavier-than-average correlation with MeFi membership than mainstream viewers), one of the touchstones of the first season was the supernatural made mundane.

There certainly were supernatural elements; as said, the death/dying dream, prediction of Ray's demise, and Frank's shamble through the desert (I did like how that was done; you knew right away what it meant when he stopped stumbling).

So I think I would've kept the virility cult angle, and played it up more, only to show over time just how 'impotent' these men who control everything are. Show how their need for control acts as a counterpoint to their frailty; the banality of evil. That there truly is nothing supernatural about the evil men do to men (and women, when they remember to include any), and just how human inhumanity is. All that needs to happen for evil/corruption to triumph is for weak men to follow the path of least resistance and greatest venality. In the end, when we see the sex orgy (in my version), we see it for how pathetic and sad it is, but without diminishing the horror of what these worms of men do in the name of power/out of the fear of death (and fear of impotence, esp. as it ties to 'immortality' through succession, as with the Chessanis and not with Frank).

One of the most important things any creative work can do is act as a mirror to the problems that are destroying its parent society. Crafting the perfect pastiche of "hey, remember this from that thing" moments, not so much. But I think it's possible to use those moments in service of casting light on just how we end up with a world as corrupt as the one we live in; how sad and empty it is underneath the posturing and bravado and land deals and stock trades. It's all just men trying to get their dicks wet, and retaliating fearfully against anything that threatens the shattered, fragile hierarchy that keeps their individually transient power in place.

We end on the visual of a raft of ants floating down the L.A. River, each ant struggling to crawl above its siblings, to keep from drowning, however briefly, by keeping everyone else's head below water.
posted by Eideteker at 8:37 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


We start with a mysterious Chevy Malibu...
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really, really want S3 to be about investigating the crimes against the viewers by the series itself.

That, or Elsa's "Chick Titzolatto" female-gaze version of the series. Let's fail the reverse-Bechdel test!
posted by Eideteker at 8:40 AM on August 11, 2015


So, when people in this thread talk about the supernatural elements of Season 1, what exactly do you mean? There was a weird backwoods family that was into ritualistic performances/killings, and there were Rust's drug hallucinations, but those weren't supernatural. Everyone seems to acknowledge that Season 1 was all about the supernatural but I just... well, I don't, I guess. Rust pontificates on the nature of the supernatural, I suppose... is that what you all mean?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:43 AM on August 11, 2015


We start with a mysterious Chevy Malibu...

The life of a true detective is always intense.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:46 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get that either. There ended up being nothing supernatural at all, beyond some rednecks making up their own death cult, and one nutty guy from the family kept it going longer than anyone else just because he was nuts.
posted by LionIndex at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


In universe it wasn't really supernatural elements so much as occult elements, with everything dripping with cults and symbolism and weird symbology.

Out of universe it was that way because it was hovering up great globs of Riberth Chambers, Thomas Ligotti and other writers associated with the Cthulhu Mythos, so some folks interested in that kind of thing were expecting maybe a shoggoth to show up at the end.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


* "There certainly were supernatural elements" to Season 2, that were overtly supernatural, as opposed to the crypto-supernatural of S1.
posted by Eideteker at 8:49 AM on August 11, 2015


Ok, thanks Artw. So essentially, when people say "Season 1 was about the supernatural" they're saying "I was expecting Season 1 to have supernatural elements"? Would that be fair to say?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:50 AM on August 11, 2015




I'd say people expecting a Cthulhu at the end didn't get one and probably weren't expecting one this time (or didn't show up), but I'd also say the occult elements have the show a certain time outside of that which maybe people miss.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on August 11, 2015


Okay. And I agree with that. The occult/ritualistic element was certainly heavy in S1, but that struck me as Southern Gothic turned up to 11, not as something "supernatural." That element was definitely hinted at this year with the animal masks in the Hollywood apartment, but nothing much more than that. Well, I guess the Santa Muerte stuff was in the mix as well, but again just tangentially.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2015


There was also Rust's hallucinations before it was made clear these were his drug damaged brain not woo (or were they... ?)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:14 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]








The Winners and Losers of True Detective Season Two

The biggest winner of all was Cary Fukunaga.

"Let me tell you why my directing price just went up: Season 1 was with me. Season 2 was without me."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


The biggest winner of all was Cary Fukunaga.

That film he's done for netflix looks off the hook
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


In praise of ... True Detective season 2 (Jessica Reed, The Guardian)

I don't agree with all the points made (the theme music was cheesy because it felt like hyper-noir, and Nick Cave's lyrics were also pretty cheesy), and I laughed at this bit:
Season two took it further with episode six’s masterful sex party scene, even though a colleague rolled his eyes enough to fall off his chair when I told him it reminded me of Mulholland Drive. What can I say?
I can say your colleague has a taste similar to mine? Anyway, there were points that I did agree with. The scenery shots were wonderfully bleak, and it's interesting to know more about the aerial shots. I liked a significant portion of the acting. B
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2015


Cohle had a daughter who died in a tragic but unspecified manner.

His daughter was hit by a car while playing near the driveway/street in front of their house. IMHO it's very heavily hinted in the manner of Cohle's recounting that HE had hit her, which is why he holds so strongly to the 'it's better she die than live in this meatgrinder of a world' bit... a forlorn attempt at absolving himself from the fact that sometimes it is his own hand on the crank of the grinder.

As far as the 'occult' elements of this season, it's clear that they had a whole bunch they wanted to use as seasoning and then had NO idea what to do with it afterward. The animal masks, semi-ritualistic killing, mystic communes, Eyes-Wide-Shut wannabe parties, Santa Muerte gangbangers, whatever the fuck was in Caspere's punchbowl, etc... all just dressing around the fact that nothing is more mysterious than businesses stealing land and diamonds being nothing more than money. In S01 the occult is revealed to be a symptom of the poisoned Fin de siècle culture of the entire modern age - Carcosa is twofold, both the physical/mystical location of the final showdown, and a reflection of the entire toxic state of humanity. The occult wasn't concealing some deeper truth, the world was concealing the truth of the occult. In S02, the occult is literally just props and Scooby Doo masks.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


...Nick Cave's lyrics ....

Leonard Cohen.
posted by Pendragon at 12:56 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


The scenery shots were wonderfully bleak, and it's interesting to know more about the aerial shots.

That was my favorite part of the show. Nothing says California to me more than those images of giant highway interchanges.
posted by octothorpe at 2:22 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


That film he's done for netflix looks off the hook

Woah! Thanks for that link. A friend of mine was on crew and has seen a cut. He says it's..... extremely intense. (And Netflix bought the rights to distribute after the fact)
posted by starman at 4:46 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]




I have a lot of respect for that Slate writer. Also either she is a genius or a TD savant.
posted by radioamy at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pendragon: ...Nick Cave's lyrics ....

Leonard Cohen.


Sorry, I was referring to the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis song “All The Gold In California." My wife and I laughed at the lyrics, they were so trite. "Trying to be a hero, winding up a zero.... Everything that glitters is not gold, it is not gold" Oh Nick, just stop, you're not helping us take this show seriously.


codacorolla: Altogether the corruption and political intrigue was sort of cartoonishly handled. You have a rich cabal that seems to be evil simply because they're rich, while having one of the most poorly thought out evil organizations of all time. "Oh yeah, let's have big orgy parties with sex slaves where we can easily be blackmailed by anyone with half a brain. That's a good thing for us, billionaires with a lot at stake, to do."

It's a shame, because a ghost town set up seemingly to do nothing but facilitate criminal graft is a GREAT setting. And yet most of our time is spent in anonymous office space, car interiors, and generic urban backdrops.


I took that as a mix of the powerful thinking they're invincible, and the banality of evil.


naju: I remember hearing about the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system.

True Detective: Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
Finally, HBO’s long-rumored look at the shrouded inner workings of transport oversight—including one subcommittee chaired by the mysterious Rep. Tuttle T. Tuttle. (Could he be one of those very same Tuttles?, episodes two through seven wonder.) Pizzolatto uses several narrative elements, including congressional-hearing voiceover, guys pinning pictures of roads to a bulletin board, and a rousing, high-speed chase of a rogue Maryland painter, Yellow Spaghetti—whose crime-scene signature is wiggly yellow lane-dividers.
Just one of the theories put forth by GQ when the whole "occult transportation" bit was promoted back in March 2014. I get it now - government deals are sources for corruption and graft, especially huge projects like the actual California High Speed Rail project, which is currently supposed to cost $68 billion. That's a lot of room for money to disappear. But the "occult" thing it was not (despite the raven head being taken from Caspere's place, that was the only real sign of something weirder than the orgies for the Rich and Powerful Men).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:21 PM on August 11, 2015


I'm surprised no one referenced the two weeks scene from Total Recall.

So, this was the Grand Finale Everyone Dies episode, after a visit to So Subtly Tying Up Loose Ends Real Quick-Like-Ville where the mystery is finally solved! And in terms of superliminal messages, there was the boat that Ani and Felicia got on, which was called ... Great Escape. (But in terms of slightly more subtle messages, I like the fact that Mayor Austin Chessani was taken by the Kraken (rum).)

And what's with the Larry Bird jab from the hallucination of the young hooligans harassing Frank in the desert? Whatever it was, "Oh babe, you stopped moving way back there" now THAT is a fucked up hallucination. Your own imagination of yourself fails to see you have collapsed, or your imaginary girlfriend/ wife/ moll tells you that your imaginary body gave up 20 feet back.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


And what's with the Larry Bird jab from the hallucination of the young hooligans harassing Frank in the desert?

I think it's just a reference to how tall Vince Vaughn is, just that some time in his character's past people picked on him because of it.
posted by edeezy at 10:47 PM on August 11, 2015


And what's with the Larry Bird jab from the hallucination of the young hooligans harassing Frank in the desert?

Larry Bird is a famous white player in a sport largely played by black players. I think the intimation is that he grew up in a predominately black neighborhood where he was given shit because of his race.

I thought it was out of place and weird, since Frank has so many demons the viewer knows about - why are new information at that stage of the game?
posted by codacorolla at 6:17 AM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anyone notice a lot of similarities between Vince Vaughn as Frank and Vincent D'Onofrio as Kingpin in Daredevil? The characters' current situations and back stories are pretty similar, their performances have a lot of parallels and the actors have have that awkward outsized physicality in common. The difference is of course that D'Onofrio is 10 times the actor and the role is much better written.
posted by octothorpe at 7:25 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyone notice a lot of similarities between Vince Vaughn as Frank and Vincent D'Onofrio as Kingpin in Daredevil?

It's also interesting to note the differences. Kingpin is successful, the shot-caller, whereas Frank was not. But even though Kingpin is the kind of guy Frank wanted to be, Kingpin wears his vulnerability on his sleeve (at least as played by D'Onofrio). He's a huge man, but still a man-child. Not comfortable in his position in life, in his clothes, in his relationships. He seems always on edge. Contrast with Frank. While the character of Frank of is supposed to be in over his head, unsure of his surroundings, paranoid, the performance of Frank is often one of assuredness. I don't fault Vince Vaughn here. He's tall, slender, attractive, and confident. I mean, he literally has "movie star good looks." That's just who VV is; he can't act opposite that. But it just doesn't fit the character of Frank. Imagine someone like D'Onofrio as Frank, and the character makes much more sense. Hell, imagine someone like Paul Giamatti and it makes even more sense. The scared but tough kid who clawed his way out of the basement but could never make it all the way to the top. Who, when slighted, decides to burn the whole thing to the ground.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:40 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday is another parallel character too and a much better performance because Bob Hoskins.
posted by octothorpe at 7:56 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fuuuuu now I'm imagining a young Bob Hoskins as Frank and my god, that would have been almost too perfect.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:58 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Red hairing.

You're welcome.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:27 AM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not too long ago I was thinking about how Frank & Jordan's relationship wasn't unlike that of Harold (Hoskins) & Victoria (Helen Mirren) in The Long Good Friday. The gangster who wants to get into property and go respectable, and the loving, supportive but takes-no-crap wife. Kind of fitting since Kelly Reilly was a kind of protegée of Mirren.
posted by El Brendano at 8:57 AM on August 12, 2015


Jesus, if screenplagiarism is the new hotness in Hollywood I need to make a few phone calls...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:11 AM on August 12, 2015


Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday is another parallel character too and a much better performance because Bob Hoskins.

There's probably a Trope for it.... the character who is master of his domain, until a much big predator enters his domain, or he tries to deal with villains who he does not realise are whole orders of magnitude more vicious / capable / power than he is ...thinking Frank Sobotka in The Wire. Also compare and contrast Marlo who is the alpha predator and concques all the lies befor him but rising to the 'rarefied atmosphere'... and then finding himself lost.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on August 12, 2015


Heck, Stringer Bell is almost a direct 1-to-1 comparison with Frank.
posted by LionIndex at 10:31 AM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]




Vince Vaughn has an unfortunate case of the Jim Belushies and this part did him no favors.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


In S01 the occult is revealed to be a symptom of the poisoned Fin de siècle culture of the entire modern age - Carcosa is twofold, both the physical/mystical location of the final showdown, and a reflection of the entire toxic state of humanity. The occult wasn't concealing some deeper truth, the world was concealing the truth of the occult.

Yes, this. The tease of a supernatural/occultish element was exhilerating in S1, but the truth of what it turned out to be was something much more human and banal, which was, in itself, more horrifying than any supernatural theory that anyone cooked up. People are capable of doing monstrous, horrific things to other people, that's all it was. And that's bad enough.

I remember hearing about the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system.

I'm sure I read somewhere (I thought it might have been here), that while that was the original plan for S2, Pizzolatto decided against it for some reason.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:23 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here it is.

HBO: Earlier last year, you said that this season was about ‘Bad men, hard women and the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system.’ Is that still true?

NP: It’s not, I’m afraid. There’s definitely bad men and hard women, but no secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system. That was a comment from very early in the process, and something I ended up discarding in favor of closer character work and a more grounded crime story. The complexity of the historical conspiracy first conceived detracted from the characters and their reality, I felt, and those characters are ultimately what have to shape the world and story. So I moved away from that.

posted by triggerfinger at 4:25 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Welp, guess how THAT went...
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on August 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Pretty funny that the plot was apparently MORE complex and this is the SIMPLIFIED version.
posted by naju at 4:38 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only thing I have to add that no one has touched above - Frank and Jordan were discussing their Venezuela meetup and he said something along the lines of, "I'll wear a white suit with a red rose" and I turned to my gf and said, "A bullet wound would make a nice red rose wouldn't it?"
posted by komara at 10:22 PM on August 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


The really aggravating thing about talking about this show on the Internet is that everybody insists on misspelling it as "Catalyst." It's "Catalast."
posted by koeselitz at 12:48 AM on August 13, 2015


So, why was Len even using "less lethal" ammo in the first place? Was there ever a reason other than "Ray needs to not die that early"? He certainly had regular ammo for Caspere, so he went and got two kinds of ammo... why?
posted by LionIndex at 4:35 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Was there ever a reason other than "Ray needs to not die that early"?

Nope.

When the episode originally aired, the only possibility that made any sense whatsoever was that whoever shot Ray was either in the police, or related to Frank's operation, and that while they didn't want him getting the evidence on the hard drive, they also needed him alive to continue to play his part in whatever their plan was. But, once we found out that it was Len all along, none of that makes sense.

Len had already killed Caspere and drove around with his dead body. He was going back to Caspere's place to get the hard drive, and had no way of knowing who might be there. Anyone he did find, he could safely assume was on Caspere's side, and there's zero reason for him to not have gone with lethal ammunition in that case. It's a super crazy, convoluted way to get to a point of him shooting Ray but not actually killing him.

So, basically: "because plot".
posted by tocts at 4:45 AM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Because the writer changed their mind but that one had already been shot, I suspect.
posted by Artw at 5:27 AM on August 13, 2015


Len had already killed Caspere and drove around with his dead body. He was going back to Caspere's place to get the hard drive, and had no way of knowing who might be there. Anyone he did find, he could safely assume was on Caspere's side, and there's zero reason for him to not have gone with lethal ammunition in that case

I had assumed the shotgun was some sort of S&M prop, where someone could pretend to be shot or shoot someone for sexual or power thrill without, you know, killing them. So possibly whoever was in the crow mask just grabbed the first thing they saw to deal with the intruder.

But now we know it made zero fucking sense, other than trying to look cool and mysterious.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on August 13, 2015


Nonlethals at close range have the potential to go a bit actually-lethal, so it would be some pretty hardcore sex game...
posted by Artw at 6:04 AM on August 13, 2015


I'm sorry I'm not as familiar with hardcore sex games as some people!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:08 AM on August 13, 2015


Dan Savage would have words!
posted by Artw at 6:18 AM on August 13, 2015


"I'm sorry I'm not as familiar with hardcore sex games as some people!"

gamefaqs.com bruh
posted by Eideteker at 6:19 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah in the end it was just some bullshit 'omg they've killed a major character... oh they've not' bullshit switcharoo

I thought for a while it might have been one of the characters who would want to Ray to stay alive and there'd be some last minute twist... but no.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:23 AM on August 13, 2015


Oh Joy Counterstrike Toy.
posted by Artw at 6:23 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought that Ray getting shot was just a pretty transparently cynical "shocking" cliffhanger meant to get people talking about the show. It doesn't really matter what hand-wavy reasons that they gave inside the show, it was just a ratings booster gimmick probably mandated by the network.
posted by octothorpe at 6:41 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's ridiculous, this is HBO. They would have mandated boobs, not a major stars death!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:30 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


There was the Burris = Raven theory that got linked here in a previous episode, and that made a LOT more sense than whatever Len was doing, even down to the dream conversation Ray had with his dad actually being with Burris (i.e. "you have your father's hands" and Burris worked with Ray's dad). Burris clearly has access to less lethal ammo without even doing anything special, had a motive for keeping the hard drive away from Ray, and for keeping Ray alive at that point. Really seems like a sloppy re-write.

I wonder if that was where they were originally going and then decided they needed more and threw in Len and Laura and the whole diamond thing and that's why those elements in particular seem really slapdash.
posted by LionIndex at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Burris as birdman never made sense because he would have taken the hard drive. It was always someone other than the Big Bads. I mean, Len being birdman doesn't make a lot of sense, either. But Burris et al frantically looking for the hard drive always suggested he wasn't the one in the mask.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's ridiculous, this is HBO. They would have mandated boobs, not a major stars death!

The HBO CEO of Tits*: Look we really need to get some more boobs into this

Pizzolatto: Oh don't you worry, I'm writing you a really doozy of a One Eyed Jacks scene for later. You'll be pulling overtime for that one.

*TM The AV Club
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2015


There was the Burris = Raven theory that got linked here in a previous episode, and that made a LOT more sense than whatever Len was doing, even down to the dream conversation Ray had with his dad actually being with Burris (i.e. "you have your father's hands" and Burris worked with Ray's dad).

The first thing that pops into my head is "Who's Burris?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sure, but in that theory about Burris, he's more one of the "good guys" and was trying to take down Holloway and Caspere rather than working for/with them.
posted by LionIndex at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2015


Burris is the cop guy who became super important two episodes from the end - get with the program!

I have to say I am picking up a lot of tips on what not to when writing from this show.
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Really seems like a sloppy re-write.

Yeah, I have wondered a lot about how much writing was still going on during filming. For example, it is well-known that the writers on Breaking Bad intentionally put themselves in weird positions a few times where they wrote something into an earlier episode, and that episode was filmed, but they didn't yet know what they were going to do with it later. They handled it with varying levels of success (and have also done this in Better Call Saul).

So, I wonder if some of that happened here (with worse results). Perhaps the bird mask and such was all supposed to be figured out later, but when they got there ...
posted by tocts at 9:28 AM on August 13, 2015


I have to say I am picking up a lot of tips on what not to when writing from this show.

Yeah, if I were teaching a course on screenplay writing, I would assign an episode of this every week and have in-depth discussions about where and how it fucks up. Very useful teaching tool.
posted by naju at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2015


Burris is the cop guy who became super important two episodes from the end - get with the program!

Ha! I just read through the earlier theory that Burris killed Caspere. Few things are worse than putting more time and thought into the plot and characters than the writer did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some of the lessons would be multi-episode - like how the pacing goes from sedate to the point of nothing much happening at the start to a mad rush to cram everything in at the end - that's a classic consequence of lack of planning in serial fiction.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on August 13, 2015


tocts - I can see how that would happen with a multi-season show like Breaking Bad, but the writing should be a lot tighter for a miniseries.
posted by radioamy at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2015


You're probably right, yes. But, to be clear, in BB, this wasn't even between seasons. No spoilers, so being vague: things like the stuffed bear in the flash-forward at the start of season 2, and what Walt buys at the diner at the beginning of season 5. In both cases, filming of those episodes occurred before the writers had determined how the items had anything to do with the plot (and in both cases, those were wrapped up the same season they were introduced).

Granted, you'd think with an 8 episode mini-series, you'd be able to plan this stuff out more tightly.
posted by tocts at 5:15 PM on August 13, 2015


Eh, it wasn't season 1 but I liked Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell and I'm going to watch season 3 and you guys can't make me not watch so there.
posted by Justinian at 7:23 PM on August 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah I wish McAdams and Farell had been allowed to develop more and earlier, could have made this season a lot better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:11 AM on August 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


> why would a modern GPS transponder be so big ?
Size? For the batteries. The Orion Guardian ST820 attached to a car and torn down.
posted by morganw at 10:18 AM on August 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was one of the best seasons of television I've seen in years. Virtually flawless.
posted by koeselitz at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are you in the right thread?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am. Almost all of the complaints I read boil down to exactly two things: 'it was too confusing' and 'it didn't play to viewers' expectations in the way a show should.' People feel cheated because what ends up happening often doesn't feel like it was telegraphed properly, there wasn't much warning, sometimes it feels like it came out of nowhere. Characters that people felt came to become important were not fleshed out enough early on – that's a common complaint – and to be honest I actually wish the show had done that more. (I'm really over detective shows where the culprit in the end must be someone we've seen on screen before. TD2 didn't do that quite so transparently as some, thankfully.) I am still of the conviction that there's a lot of rather economical characterization; it's well-hidden under a brooding exterior that seems to focus only on a couple of characters, but it's there.

In short: the things that other people found endlessly frustrating about this show were the things I liked most. I would like to watch more television shows that are frustrating in these ways.

And – yeah, I'll say it – I do kind of wonder if we'll be applying this laser-like focus on modern screenwriting and proper plotting to the next season of The Leftovers or The Walking Dead or any other show on television. Because, good lord, season one of The Leftovers was legitimately terrible, so I'm not sure why people weren't there to declare that the most archetypical and perfect instance of screenwriting failure in the modern era. (I'm not sure it was – I'm pretty sure it wasn't – but that's just another reason why it seems odd to make such proclamations.)

It seems like there's already a cottage industry built around going on the internet and declaring that new shows that people happen to like are 'so much better than that awful second season of True Detective' or that 'this is the show you should be watching instead of the current mess that is True Detective.' It's weird that people can't seem to resist giving this show cultural currency even as they're tearing it down in the most haphazard and silly ways.
posted by koeselitz at 10:52 PM on August 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


(To be clear, plenty of people were saying the first season of The Leftovers was terrible, but not nearly as many as have said it about True Detective, and not nearly so loudly and unhappily. Does that mean season 2 of True Detective is worse than Leftovers? I guess so.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:54 PM on August 16, 2015


Made me laugh to beat the band. Parts, anyway. I didn't like seein' Woodrough go. But then, I happen to know that there's a little Velcorro on the way. I guess that's the way the whole darned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself, down through the generations, southward to Venezuela, across the sands a'time until we— aw, look at me, I'm ramblin' again. Well, I hope you folks enjoyed yourselves.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:12 PM on August 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Because, good lord, season one of The Leftovers was legitimately terrible, so I'm not sure why people weren't there to declare that the most archetypical and perfect instance of screenwriting failure in the modern era.

I mean, this is not surprising. The Leftovers looked pretty lame and forgettable basically from the first time they started showing previews, and many people (myself included) never bothered to even check it out. So, expectations about how good it was going to be were already in the toilet (for me at least). "Show that looked like it wasn't going to be very good is being said to have not been very good" is not something that generates a lot of discussion.

In contrast, True Detective (in S1) actually managed to do some things that really got people interested in it (and late in the game, too -- a lot of people came to it through the strength of reviews of the earlier episodes). So, S2 of it had way higher expectations.

"Show that was good now doesn't seem to be as good" is a much more fertile topic of discussion, in comparison.
posted by tocts at 4:57 AM on August 17, 2015


The Leftovers is pretty explicitly some dumb Lost thing and therefore of interest only to people who enjoy having their chains yanked, who are I'm sure all loving it.
posted by Artw at 5:05 AM on August 17, 2015




Nope, that just makes me more annoyed at what it could have been.
posted by Artw at 5:46 AM on August 17, 2015


You could make this argument for literally any show. Since even the shittiest shows on television have their fans, then it must simply be a matter of those folks "looking at" those shows the right way, and the haters are looking at those shows with the wrong perspective, right?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:20 AM on August 17, 2015


Cant speak to The Leftovers which I didn't watch, but I don't remember FanFare being particularly kind to The Walking Dead in the last 2 seasons.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2015


Nor Game of Thrones.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:06 AM on August 17, 2015


Since even the shittiest shows on television have their fans, then it must simply be a matter of those folks "looking at" those shows the right way, and the haters are looking at those shows with the wrong perspective, right?

Or maybe different people just have different takes on things. Crazy, right?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:59 AM on August 17, 2015


I do admire and get the sense that the denseness of the plot was intentional and supposed to create a feeling of confusion and a omnipresent conspiracy. Season 1 did that to an extent, but alleviated the confusion with an interesting setting and background characters. The wonderfully drunk mayor and Rick Springfield creepy doctor were hints at this, but pretty much everyone else was a zero. Lt. Burris and the police chief could have used a bit more characterization. Plus, it would have been useful for Paul to matter at all to the plot or being an interesting character. If my dream filled world of possibilities, he could have had both! Hell, the scarred up bar owner would have been interesting than Paul, even if she wasn't integral to the plot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:22 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trying to figure out if removing Stan (of who-the-fuck fame) would have changed anything. Probably not.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or maybe different people just have different takes on things. Crazy, right?

Yes! That's kind of the point of my comment? Saying a show is good because you personally liked it doesn't really do much for me -- we all have different tastes. I think anybody who is still here is probably a person interested in arguments about whether a show was "good" based on certain metrics -- things like our attachment to the characters, scenes that were impactful to us, interesting plot points that surprised us in good ways, cleverly written dialogue, the framing of certain shots, etc. Saying "well you just weren't looking at it the right way" seems to hedge too close to "you just, like, didn't get it, man!" for me to take the criticism as valid. There have been lots of specific reasons mentioned here for why this season didn't work as well as last season. I wouldn't mind seeing those points rebutted by a fan of the show, but largely the perspective of pro-TD2 pieces has come in one of two flavors: 1) haters are wrong for reasons x y and z (don't tell my why haters are wrong, tell me why the show is good); or 2) this is a noir, and this is the way noir is, so therefore it's good (I love noir but didn't like the show... so now what?).
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:55 AM on August 17, 2015


Look, I'm just glad that there is a contingent of people who liked the show. I didn't, and I know a lot of people didn't either, but I don't begrudge the people who did.
posted by radioamy at 11:10 AM on August 17, 2015


Saying "well you just weren't looking at it the right way" seems to hedge too close to "you just, like, didn't get it, man!" for me to take the criticism as valid.

The writers put too much in, and parts of the plot were either convoluted or superfluous as a result, but as I said in a previous thread, I really like noir and LA detective novels, so all the various references hit so many enjoyable notes for me. If you're choosing not to see the show for what it was, then maybe you (royal you) wouldn't get it in the same way as someone who enjoys those kinds of narratives.

That said, I liked that the final mystery is unwrapped in a train station, a nexus of the corruption that is the season's narrative. Particularly a train station that has an architecture that almost hints at a gothic cathedral. Everything is bright and shiny, glass and polished steel, but that's where the ugly (and weird) truth comes out. A transit bench acts as a kind of confessional, with sinners on both sides. And Farrell in a cowboy hat.

Details like this are fun to think about. As haphazard as the show was, and as badly as the writers needed editors having been given only eight episodes, I'm certain that people thought about these things, how they fit together and what they might say to some viewers.

I don't know. Not a perfect season, but a lot of good things are there, too. I suspect this will be a series that will be a cult favorite in a year or two, once there is time to think about those details.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: “That said, I liked that the final mystery is unwrapped in a train station, a nexus of the corruption that is the season's narrative. Particularly a train station that has an architecture that almost hints at a gothic cathedral. Everything is bright and shiny, glass and polished steel, but that's where the ugly (and weird) truth comes out. A transit bench acts as a kind of confessional, with sinners on both sides. And Farrell in a cowboy hat.”

Yeah, and it should be noted that the scene with the ARTIC station in Anaheim (used for the mystery-unfolding meeting you mention) is set against the scene between Frank and Jordan in the old Union Station, a strange, gorgeous old building from 1939 that ended up being a sort of swan song to the great old railroad stations that were already withering away at that point. Juxtaposing the two is very interesting: a mausoleum to art deco celebrations of the golden age of transit on one hand and this ultra-modern space building opened just last year which screams progress and innovation and clean lines just a tiny bit too loudly on the other.
posted by koeselitz at 1:45 PM on August 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Juxtaposing the two is very interesting: a mausoleum to art deco celebrations of the golden age of transit on one hand and this ultra-modern space building opened just last year which screams progress and innovation and clean lines just a tiny bit too loudly on the other.

That seems really cool, and I missed it. I wouldn't be surprised if there are thoughtful reassessments in a few years, where people unpack stuff like that each episode and come to a convincing argument that this was an incredible season of television buried under what appeared to be ineptness. Or incredible in spite of the ineptness. "Everyone got it wrong" isn't an uncommon thing to happen. I want it to be the case, because I appreciate when things are dismissed and then take on a cult love later on. Right now I just don't quite see it, and to me the bad writing outweighs the compelling stuff, but I'm open to a great piece that makes me reconsider.
posted by naju at 3:25 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know. Not a perfect season, but a lot of good things are there, too. I suspect this will be a series that will be a cult favorite in a year or two, once there is time to think about those details.

This is about where I'm at. It wasn't perfect but I really enjoyed it and wish more people had enjoyed the initial run too because there was a lot of good stuff happening that got better when talked about. And I don't usually care for talking about shows too much.

I definitely feel like a certain type of fan will definitely look back in this season as the best once the whole series is done. The biggest non-perfect parts are the pacing and some of the casting (I liked Vaughn more than most, and he definitely brought it harder in the later eps but I believe many other actors would have been more interesting here), and there is a chance that once we see how future seasons pan out, these will seem somehow less non-perfect.
posted by dogwalker at 5:48 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


After some reflection, I only have one real complaint about S2 : its unremitting bleakness. There is not a single ounce of hope or goodness in that world. You could argue that's by design : S2 employed many Noir conventions, and the word Noir literally means "black". However, the original Noir films were 90 to 120 minutes long. S2 of True Detective clocks in at over 8 hours. I just don't think the human brain is capable of enjoying that much miserablism, no matter how artfully done.

Compare this to S1. S1 was dark and bleak, but the relationship between Rust and Cohle was a bright spot. By the end of the series, you get the feeling the two are soul mates of a sort; they bicker like an old married couple, but you're happy to see them back together in the end. We don't get anything like that in S2. Yes, it's nice that Jordan and Ani got away, but the final sequence is nothing if not overhung with dread. You get the distinct impression that wherever they're going, they're marching to their deaths.

Also, S1 concludes with Rust and Cohle cracking the big case and saving the lives of untold potential victims. Sure, their personal lives are in shambles, but at least it wasn't for naught. At the end of S2, Ani tells her story to a reporter, but we have no idea if the story ever makes it to the press, or if anything bad ever happens to the evil powers of Vinci, CA. Every "good" character ends the series in a far worse position than where they started.

I guess if there's one lesson to be learned, its that writers can only pile on so much darkness before it starts to come off as cliche.
posted by panama joe at 7:52 AM on August 25, 2015


Well, it certainly limits the possibilities for more darkness coming off like a dramatic twist.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Finally sat down and watched the end.
That WAS a big diamond! Frank's physicality is what got him this far, apparently - the size, the drive. And he traded it, a life where he could literally be the biggest man in the room, for a chance to be more.
The Syndicate is cleaning up loose ends.
Lots of slow scenes with long looks and partial sentences. We already know what's being not said, just have to not say it.

Frank has no fucking training for that mask. So odd they're dealing in physical cash, with all its disadvantages- it's still pretty much untraceable.

They're so outmatched - Frank vs. the gang, Ray vs. the PMCs.

#ClassicsWatch
Ani talks about a cave, in the rock - the traditional opening to the underworld.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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