Lessons From ‘True Detective’: Don’t Get Lippy With Psychopaths (Plus Bonus Lessons!)

07.06.15 4 years ago 11 Comments

In addition to our weekly recaps of True Detective, this season we will also be pulling out important life lessons that you, the viewer, can learn from the events of each episode. These lessons will range from helpful to very, very not helpful. You are welcome.

Hahahahaha, get it? “Lippy?” Because of the thing? You know, the thing where the guy got “lippy” and then Vince Vaughn grabbed him by the “lip” and beat the hell out of him before forcibly removing the profane grill he was so proud of? Like, it’s a pun. Maybe the lesson should actually be “don’t get lippy with psychopaths after you just spent thousands of dollars on jewel-encrusted dental work.” I feel like that’s a little too specific, though. Unless you’re in Cash Money or something. Wait, are you in Cash Money Records? Are… are you Birdman? If so, (a) congratulations on all your success, and (b) maybe don’t get lippy with psychopaths after you just spent thousands of dollars on jewel-encrusted dental work. Can’t be too careful.

You know what? No. Let’s just scrap that one. “Don’t mess with crazy people” is a pretty obvious as far as lessons go. And, statistically, the odds of you being Birdman are pretty low, so the more specific lesson probably won’t be that helpful, either. Let’s switch gears. Let’s talk about the Ray thing. Let’s talk about the fact that he survived after last week’s big cliffhanger. And let’s take away the only lesson we can from all of that: Getting shot by twice by a weirdo in a bird mask… not that bad! Who knew?!


I mean, I wouldn’t say it looked “fun.” I certainly wouldn’t go that far. But he did get that sweet Conway Twitty hallucination out of it. Some people spend good money for that kind of trip. Now, is one extended angelic Conway Twitty hallucination worth cracking a few ribs after getting shot by a man in a bird mask inside a creepy sex den belonging to a recently murdered city manager who just hosed the mob boss you’re in the pocket of out of millions of dollars? Depends how much you like Conway Twitty. Probably wouldn’t do it for me, personally. But swap out Conway for Prince or Boyz II Men (or Prince AND Boyz II Men), and I’d hear you out. Not saying I’d do it, but I’d at least listen to your pitch. It’s not a matter of yes or no, is what I’m saying. It’s a matter of value received. We’re just haggling now.

But, really, what was the worst thing to come of all this for Ray? Yes, the ribs, okay. And also the existential crisis about who is he and what he’s become and what he’s doing. But out of all the possible outcomes of getting ambushed by an armed masked man inside a secret perv hideaway, that’s not all that bad. Hell, there are people who go through that kind of soul-searching crisis after watching a Pixar movie. Look at those two GIFs up there! All things considered, homie made out pretty okay. So, again, getting shot… not always that bad!

There’s also a sub-lesson in all of this, too, by the way, which is “maybe don’t okie-doke the audience by leaving your main character lifeless on the floor after getting shot at point blank range to end one episode and then open the next by revealing HEY GUYS HI just some riot shells.” This actually bugged me less when I watched the screeners of the first three episodes a few weeks back because I had the luxury of just immediately going to the next episode to find out what happened. But as soon as I saw Twitter blow up with “OMG DID RAY JUST DIE?” last Sunday after the episode, I realized that leaving that out there for seven full days — an eternity in Internet time — before the “j/k lol he’s fine” reveal was going to be a problem. It played out less as the mysterious twist I think they were hoping for, and more of a manipulative play for hype. I actually liked the rest of the episode a little more than most critics, but I can also totally understand why that start might have been the last straw for some people.

But just as you are probably not a grill-sporting member of Cash Money Records, you are also probably not the showrunner of a wildly popular HBO detective show, so maybe just file this last lesson away until you are.

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