Our newest episode of True Detective, “Maybe Tomorrow” was largely about false appearances. Impostor accents, false sexual orientation, faulty income, and even fake teeth were at the forefront, as were illusions of a perfect marriage, a loyal business partnership, and a dead leading man, who is miraculously, almost conveniently, raised from the dead. What does it all mean?
Our episode begins with Ray Velcoro’s “death vision”: an Elvis impersonator sings on stage of our familiar bar as Ray converses with his deputy father, played by Fred Ward. His father talks about a vision of him running through the woods and being shot, and Velcoro looks down to reveal gunshot wounds on his chest. When the dream ends, it is morning in Caspere’s house, just where we left Ray. He bolts up, alive and in shock, and it turns out he was shot with buckshots, which didn’t seriously injure Ray except for breaking a few of his ribs. Later, Ani Bezzerides and Paul Woodrugh visit the house of Mayor Chessani in Bel Air to determine whether he was implicated in Caspere’s murder. They meet his wasted Eastern European or Russian wife, his brusque daughter, and an erratic son, who sports a fake gangster accent. Chessani is so pissed off that he refers to Ani as the “c” word a bunch of times and threatens to have her fired and working at “a yogurt stand”. Meanwhile, Semyon is frustratingly impotent while he and his wife attempt in vitro fertilization and he insults her and they have a huge fight. The Russian investor Osip bails on Frank and one of Frank’s guys turns up dead, so basically everything is falling apart around him. He meets up with Santos, the club owner with the golden grill, and he tells Frank that he’s old and no longer respectable and that he will no longer work for him, so Frank kicks his ass and tears out his grill. On the other side, Ani is pressured by her superiors to find dirt on Velcoro, and even to have sex with him if necessary, which is whack! Paul meets up with his old war buddy and we find out they had a romantic fling for a few days in an Iraqi valley or something, and Paul becomes so angry he hits his friend and yells at him in public because he’s such a self-hating homophobe. Ray’s wife offers him $10 thousand to flee town and not dispute the custody, which he rejects. Lastly, the car that carried Caspere’s body is blown up by a masked person near Ani and Ray, and they chase him and Ani is almost killed by semi-truck but Ray saves her and asks her what dirt the state has on him, and she says she doesn’t know. The episode ends at Frank’s mansion late at night, with Jordan asking if he wants to talk, to which he responds, “Maybe tomorrow.” Just like the title! Gasp.
Let’s get more intimate with our friends.
Again, we don’t get a treasure trove of secrets revealed about Ani, but we do get to see her interact with her superiors. Her reaction after being asked to seduce Ray for information shows that she is appalled with her office’s sexism, but also conscious that she must do what is necessary for the job. I predict we might see an eventual romance between Ani and Ray in the future. Ani is very fair and professional with Paul, even feeling empathetic to his scandalous situation with the actress, encouraging him to sue her. Paul comments on her e-cigarette and we all want to shout, “Give it a fucking rest! Yes, it’s an e-cigarette”. Ani’s lover visits her office and she totally dumps him. When he gets angry in a very typical male sexist way– “You showed different feelings in bed,” etc– she tells him to act mature and not to make it ugly, and after he insults her again, she tells him if he speaks to her that way again he will have to carry his teeth home in a baggie. Don’t mess with her, in other words. Finally, we further see that Bezzerides is a hyper-committed detective because she chases the masked dude relentlessly and almost dies during the process. She seems to feel sorry for Ray. They have a good repertoire. She may be the only character on the show that shows any heart.
Naturally, Paul’s closeted homosexuality is slowly unraveling. He refuses to see a shrink, as he tells his friend and former lover, and when his friend reminds him of how wonderful their time was together, Paul loses it and becomes violent. Once again, I am going to applaud Taylor Kitsch’s performance. Just check out his uncomfortable mannerisms when he is hit on by Chessani’s wife and an attractive, topless girl in the swimming pool. I love the way he looks away when conversing with a gay prostitute during his fieldwork investigation, as if looking the young man in the eye will reveal what’s really in his soul. Same goes for the scenes in Santos’ nightclub, as Kitsch allows his character to show subtle hints of interest in the sex parties they discuss. On a final note, Paul has a run-in with Semyon, who notices him, and if that’s not foreshadowing of a confrontation between the two later on, I don’t know what is.
My best friend encouraged me to probe deeper into Vince Vaughn’s acting, and this week I did. To clarify I don’t think he’s terrible as Frank, but I don’t think he exactly deserves an Emmy either. He’s just sort of bland, but thankfully his character is developed enough to keep us interested. For some reason the dialogue this episode was at an all-time low, and the scenes in which I noticed the absurd dialogue most were the Frank scenes (apoplectic anyone?). Hopefully, as the series progresses, we will learn more about Frank, like how he became a wealthy crime boss and particularly how he’s the sort of guy who will pull out someone’s teeth with pliers when crossed. Also, I love Jordan because I love Kelly Reilly (if you haven’t seen Calvary, you should), and I hope we get to learn more about her character’s past. So far, it’s merely a “behind every man is a strong woman” kind of thing. I want to know more.
I felt cheated this episode because Ray surviving the shooting seemed like such a cop-out on the writers’ part. Yes, you fooled us writers! They were just rubber bullets. Congrats to you. Now let’s pretend it never happened. Ray’s scene with his alcoholic father was intriguing, mostly because of the strong acting, but it also came off as a forced attempt to establish some theme about the “honorable cop” days being long gone. Ray just can’t catch a break, and his life is presented as a series of disappointments, and (like Frank) impotencies. After discovering that his pop threw away his badge, Ray can’t convince him to be proud that he was a cop or even to make him somewhat happy. After his brush with death, Ray tries to get out of the investigation, both from the police department and from Frank, which fails. When his ex-wife visits his house we think for a second that she will let him see his son, but instead she only tries to bribe him. And when he turns to Ani, who seems like the only person he can trust, for information on what dirt they are trying to find on him, even she can’t help him. In one of the best scenes this week, a doctor asks Ray if he wants to live, after telling him that his booze-ridden body is failing him. Ray can’t even answer the question. Will there be any redemption for Ray Velcoro?
I’m increasingly finding the dialogue forced and obvious. I wish the characters would just speak as normal people do and not like an attempt on the writers’ part to imbue every conversation with meaning and depth. But True Detective Season 2 is suspenseful and engaging, and at least it’s certainly not boring. I hope to see the stakes raised and more of the characters’ past revealed next week. This episode should have been titled “Maybe Next Week”. So keep watching!