‘True Detective – Church In Ruins’ Recap: Full Steam Ahead

This second season of True Detective has finally found the ability to set itself apart from the first season. Not that its surpassed the first season, not by a mile, but season 2 has definitely found its own footing. While the first three episodes were aimless and messy, since episode four and the shootout we have dived deep into this world, fleshing out storylines and characters leading up to the final two episodes of this much maligned series.

* Frank – Vince Vaughn has been the target of derision for just about everyone. But his performance in the last two episodes has layered Vaughn’s character. Here, Frank is falling deeper and deeper into the desperate depths of his former life, beginning the episode with a subtle standoff between he and Velcro – the cliffhanger in episode 5 – who is certain he was set up. Vaughn encapsulates the appropriate weariness of Frank, and while he may not be able to handle the dense dialogue Pizzolatto spits out, his imposing physicality has become a benefit.

* Paul – We got very little from Woodrough this time around outside of the procedural at the end, where he and Velcro are in charge of protecting Bezzerides while she scours an Eyes Wide Shut-meets-Brian DePalma sex party in search of a missing girl. This is merely an idication that the next, penultimate episode will be heavy with Paul’s home life, which may not be the best idea.

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* Ray – Oh, Ray. Poor, pitiful Ray has a rough time in Church in Ruins. After getting his life squared away, the unreasonable request of his ex-wife to have a paternity test rears its ugly head. His scene with his son is the most awkward moment in the entire episode, an episode containing a sex party, mind you. After the supervised visit, Ray goes off the rails in only the way Ray can do, snorting all the cocaine in Los Angeles and killing a fifth of whiskey. The scene might be poignant, but it’s played with a corny angle of overkill. Thankfully, Ray comes to his senses after wrecking his entire house and destroying all his son’s airplane models, and gives up the ghost that is his relationship with his son. It is a moment that could have been powerful, but sticks out and feels forced.

Not to mention Ray’s meeting and subsequent threat to his wife’s real rapist. The threat, involving cheese graters and such, feels trite.

True Detective season 2

*Ani – This entire episode was leading up to Ani’s dalliance with a sex party that would make Stanley Kubrick blush. Ani, under the influence of Molly, must navigate her way past horny bureaucrats and guards in order to save her missing person. The sequence is the pinnacle of the entire second season of True Detective, a testament to solid writing, sound tension, and a callback to both David Lynch and Brian DePalma. We also get a reference to Ani’s sexual hangups, personified by one of her father’s drifter hippies who molested her as a child. Overall, this episode was Ani focused, and visceral because of this.

True Detective season 2 has found its own individual groove, finally shedding itself from the shadows of the debut season. While I’m still unsure what Frank was doing the entire episode, but I can look past any sort of plot convolutions in lieu of a stronger overall story. The best thing about this all is that it is making me wait feverishly for episode 7.

Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry is the managing editor for Monkeys Fighting Robots. The Dalai Lama once told him when he dies he will receive total consciousness. So he's got that going for him... Which is nice.