(Written for Filmoria)
After last week’s unexpected cliffhanger, this week’s episode of True Detective had a lot to answer for. But, as we all predicted, everything wasn’t as it originally seemed and, fortunately, there haven’t been any character cut-off’s just yet.
Although killing off such an intriguing character who has the great potential of leading this new series to the same success as the first so early on would have been entirely unforgivable, the follow up to what seemed to be a dying Ray lying on the floor after being shot in the chest is underwhelming.
As Episode 3 begins with a jazzy-looking performer singing Conway Twitty’s version of ‘The Rose‘ in Ray’s surreal moment-of-death hallucination, we are welcomed with a familiar tone and atmosphere. But whilst the nods to David Lynch, yet again, are captivating, Episode 2 ended on such a high that it was hard not to be disappointed by the quick write-off in this latest episode.
Of course none of us wanted Ray to die, but the speedy turn-around felt like a kick in the face from Frank. What this anticlimax does do, however, is create the possibility of the killer being a member of the law enforcement, since he used riot shells which we are told is a police thing to do.
These ‘possibilities’ are what lead the rest of the episode. Maybe Tomorrow is full of hints and teasers, adding to the long list of unanswered questions that we already have totting up.
The episode itself feels a little lacking in suspense and of any major shocking revelations, but the mystery is getting better and better. This is because the plot seems to be much better pathed, as the second series seems to know where it’s going much more distinctively than the first did at this point.
Yet this is also one of the reasons that I’m much less invested. Maybe Tomorrow stirs further and further away from the original series as the focus, this time, falls heavily on business. This detective story is more about the people you know and the deals that they make, feeling at times more like a typical CSI show than a gritty, hard-hitting drama.
A lot of this is to do with the focus on Frank. His character enables us to get to see the goings-on’s that the detectives are separate from, but Frank’s plot often diverts our attention away from the characters and stories that we want to be watching.
Frank has a lot of tough-guy talk, and although he abandoned his mobster past in his bid to go legit, he still appears to be living in that same world. As he calls a meeting of all the thugs who have taken over his former businesses, there’s a great scene where Frank shows his strength. Vaughn really does excel in these moments, and again we’re finding ways to uncover facts that aren’t so easy to attain, but is this how the rest of the series is going to continue? Personally, I’d prefer the focuses switched around.
There’s a couple of other interesting developments in this episode, too. As Ray and Ani get to following some of their leads, Paul works the prostitute angle, and it is here we get to slowly piece together some of his past, as the reasons for his sexual repression become more and more obvious.
As his repressed homosexuality becomes apparent, we become more interested in his character as the layers slowly peel off, which begins to happen with Ray’s character, too. Whilst Ray is getting a medical check-up after his attack near the beginning of the episode, he is asked by a doctor whether he even wants to live. It’s a question we’ve all been wondering, and his responsive moment in thought allows a quick glimpse into a side of him that we’re yet to see, as he slowly seems to be putting his priorities in order.
The acting really is on top-notch in this episode. McAdams has stolen the spotlight almost completely in the series so far, but she’s lacking as much character development and history as everybody else at the minute. There’s an awkward conversation between Ani and the state attorney implying that Ani should use her body to get her places, but this is the last thing we want from such a strong female character. More than once in this episode she steps all over her gender expectations, but we still need to find our more about her past for her to catch up with the others to keep her leading this “man’s world”.
This latest episode may be lacking the originality needed to leave you in a state of shock or utter bemusement, but at the same time it will keep you coming back. The series may be taking it’s time to get under the skin of all the characters and the histories, but so many possibilities in the present are being brought into play.
The episode ends on a chase scene as Ani and Ray are in hot pursuit in the hunt for Caspere’s killer, so the manhunt is well underway. And as even more characters begin to be thrown into the pot of being the potential killer, we become more and more eager to know what’s going on. But there’s really no way of guessing at this point.