‘True Detective’ Season 2 Episode 5 – TV Review

(Written for Filmoria)

After an uneven start to the new series of True Detective, ‘Other Lives’ is probably the most satisfying episode yet.

We knew that after last week’s suspense-filled ending that the leading trio wouldn’t be left in a good place, but did you expect it to move forward quite this sudden and dramatically?

Jumping 66 days ahead, it couldn’t be worse for the now ex-detectives, and the stress is showing. Ani’s drinking more and can’t keep her hands steady, Paul’s threatening his mother and living a forced life with his new pregnant fiancee with a false smile on his face – and a secret shot of vodka in his coke – and Ray is… surprisingly quite well kept.

As I said last week, this second series of True Detective has become very character driven, and this quality gets stronger every week.

Colin Farrell leads this episode to greatness, showing us exactly what this new series is really about. His character has so many layers to it, with this week’s episode showing both of his sides perfectly. At first we think that he’s had time to regain control over his life, but by the end of ‘Other Lives’ it’s hard to tell whether he’s going to break down with emotion, or falter to the drugs and violence once again.

But it seems that he may have found a perfect balance between the two. And this is what I love about Ray: deep down you can tell that all he really wants his family back, but at the same time he would do anything to get them back in his life.

Whilst we’re able to start caring for his character a lot more as we see this more empathetic side to him, there’s now a great balance between this family-man persona and the heavy-fisted detective that intrigued us in the first place; we love seeing the motivation his son gives him to stay sober, but at the same time we crave for him to let out some anger.

Taylor Kitsch give another fantastic performance, too. After the revelations over the last few episodes, we know about Paul’s true sexuality and his frustrations in trying to hide his real desires. Now we also know that Paul is living a double life, and we can see the pain behind his eyes as he tries to be accepted by those around him. After learning slightly more about his past during this episode, as well, we’re starting to piece together his past a lot better, as he becomes a character we can’t help but like but also want to crack under the pressure, too.

But, whilst I’ve been complaining about Frank quite often over the past few weeks, it turns out that his story was the most compelling this week.

That’s because his character was taken away from the ‘gangster scene’ by the beautiful Kelly Reilly, as we got a deeper look into their relationship. When we get these insights into Frank as an everyday man, as someone who had a bad upbringing and who is trying to make his new life and family have more than he ever knew, then his character can’t be faulted.

Frank as a character may have become a little tedious over the past few episodes, but there is no denying the quality and effort of Vince Vaughn‘s performances, and you can see in this episode, especially, that he really is giving it his all.

Yet again the performances excel any story progression, but ‘Other Lives’ starts the series going in the right direction, finally.

The plot twist as a result of last week’s episode means that now, with the trio working on the case off-duty out of their own interest, we get to see them acting by their own rules. These are the detectives that we were introduced to; they’re beaten down, struggling to keep it together, and prepared to do what they must to finally solve this case.

Moving the story on so rapidly was a fantastic idea. Once again the case of Caspere’s murder comes back to the forefront of the story, and everything is falling into its proper place.

After this episode, things are looking really promising, and this is the first episode that I can whole-heartedly say that I enjoyed for the full 60 minutes.

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