After half a season of True Detective, in which Nic Pizzolatto seemed determined to complicate his plot to the point that he’d actually scared off a lot of confused viewers (overnight ratings reveal the show has lost more than a million viewers over the course of the season), last night actually went in reverse. Some of the mysteries are clearing up, and while we still don’t know for certain who’s behind the death of Ben Caspere, the motive for doing so is coming sharper into focus. The pressure is starting to be released from the “blue balls in [our] hearts,” so to speak.
It all seems to lead back to the hard drive that was stolen the night Ray Velcoro was shot by the Birdman.
Last night’s episode, “Other Lives,” was a reset. The action jumped ahead about 60 days, where we find that Ray has quit the Vinci PD and begun working for Frank. He’s about to be evicted by Chessani’s right hand, Burris, from his municipal row house, he’s not given up on gaining shared custody of his “son,” and he’s trying to earn enough money to pay his family law attorney.
Meanwhile, Ani has been busted down to the evidence room in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against her, where she’s taking sexual harassment classes and schooling others on the importance of girth. “What can I say? I just really like big dicks. Not just length, but girth, too. I really want to have trouble handcuffing it.”
Elsewhere, Paul Woodrugh has been taken off the street, too. He’s now wearing a suit in the insurance fraud department. He’s still rushing headlong into marrying his pregnant beard, but he also had a falling out with his narcissistic mother, who stole the $20,000 nest egg he brought back from Afghanistan. Oh, and that lawsuit that the Lindsay Lohan-like celebrity brought against him is still hanging over his head.
It’s been two months since the Mexican gang member, Ledo Amarillo — this season’s Reggie Ledoux — was killed. No one actually believes he was responsible for Ben Caspere’s death. Ani, however, connects her missing girl (Vera) to Ben Caspere through a few photos, which reveal those same blue diamonds found in Caspere’s safe deposit box. Vera’s disappearance clearly links back to the sex parties that are now apparently at the center of the investigation.
The state’s attorney — who has something to gain in a potential governor’s race by blowing the sex-party scandal wide open — brings the old gang back together. And, in another one of Pizzolatto’s “special” details, Ray, Ani and Paul are back on the case.
It’s Ray who gains the most insight, specifically learning of the link between Dr. Irving Pitlor, Ben Caspere, and Mayor Chessani. Caspere and Mayor Chessani’s son, Tony, arranged these sex parties with the intention of taking photos in order to blackmail the high-profile attendees (like state senator and potential gubernatorial candidate Fred Jenkins). Pitlor’s role was simply to turn the prostitutes from 8s into 10s. It looks like Frank’s right hand, Blake Churchman, was involved, as well, as Ray spotted him glad-handing both Dr. Pitlor and the Russian gangster, Osip.
The conspiracy is wide, and the state is clearly trying to cover it up.
We can, however, remove Catalyst and their executive, Jacob McCandless, from the suspect list. If he’d killed Ben Caspere, then they’d have the hard drive with all the blackmail photos on it. Instead, McCandless is offering Frank a way back into the railroad project deal if Frank can find the hard drive. That makes Frank as much a detective in the investigation as Ray, Ani, and Paul. They’re all looking for the real killer of Caspere, each with a different motive: Ray to get custody of his kid back; Frank to get the hard drive and therefore get back in the game; Ani to find her missing girl; and Paul because — despite the lies he tells in his personal life — he is the “true” detective, a boy scout on the force.
However, there is that other nasty piece of business: We found out that the man who really raped Ray’s ex wife, Gena, has been apprehended. It wasn’t who Frank said it was, meaning that Ray killed the wrong fella. I have a theory about who actually did rape Gena, and it involves the death of Stan. It may also end up involving the death of Frank, as a pissed-off Ray showed up at Frank’s door last night. The only person angrier than Ray, however, may have been Frank, who answered the door holding a gun because he doesn’t like to be bothered while he’s making up with his wife.
Lady Semyon, by the way, can’t have a baby because of three surgeries (“surgeries” may mean “abortions”), but she may have talked Frank into adopting a child after getting to the heart of Frank’s real issue with adoption: He was adopted, and his father was a real asshole.
“Other Lives” dumped an incredible amount of information onto us last night. It may not have pointed the finger right at the killer, but it certainly seemed to limit the potential list of suspects down to those who attended the sex parties — which seems based on, or at the very least, inspired by the Bohemian Grove secret society — or those in cahoots with Caspere (Blake, Osip, Tony Chessani, Burris). Whoever the real killer was, Detective Dixon was also working for him.
There are three episodes left, and we FINALLY know what’s going on during this season of True Detective, which also produced — in Ray’s breakdown after realizing he killed the wrong rapist — a performance in the same league as Matthew McConaughey’s in season one.
— Ani finally ditched the e-cigarette.
— Maybe Mayor McCheese is not directly involved with the hooker parties his son arranges, but there’s still the matter of his dead wife. Pitlor alluded to “certain traditions of the Chessani patriarchy that she had a difficult time with.” As Chessani’s daughter suggested last week, he’s definitely a “bad man” in a “highly inventive family.”
— As much as this season is improving as things come into focus, whenever Frank and Lady Semyon are in a scene together, everything drags under the weight of their exchanges. “Now you’re me, and you are you, and we’re out in the open. So, who loves who?”
— That little hideout that Ani and Woodrugh found, where someone was tortured and killed, is also where the sex parties apparently take place (via Reddit):
— I don’t understand why Gena wants to tell her and Ray’s son, Chad, the truth. “Uh, you’re dad is actually a serial rapist.” What point does that serve?
— Ani’s getting her suddenly reformed sister involved in the investigation. That can’t end well.