In the fourth episode of the first season of True Detective, we were witness to an incredible uncut tracking shot as Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Kohle escaped through project apartments. The moment changed the trajectory of the show and defined the entire season for most. Now, in this second season, again int he fourth episode, we get another virtuoso action sequence that sets the stage for the second half.
This sequence is not a display of technical wizardry like the tracking shot in season one, but its ferocity and tension invigorates a season that had been flailing and uneven to this point. Prior to this scene, the shootout at the end of the episode, Down Will Come continues to develop our four central characters. Taylor Kitsch’s Woodrough is still struggling with his sexual identity and now appears to be taking on the alcoholic depression Farrell’s Velcoro owned in the first two episodes. Velcoro and Woodrough have a nice, quietly introspective conversation in Velcoro’s car, where Velcoro recognizes the anguish in Woodrough’s eyes, though he may not realize the depths.
Vince Vaughn continues to act frustrated and shake down businesses, and is easily the most frustrating character of the main four. There is a character here, an eloquent wannabe straight man fighting to steer clear of his gangster hood past, but Pizzolatto still struggled to give him mush to do besides pout and scowl. Two episodes back, it appeared Semyon may be breaking out of his morose moping, but we are back into a downtrodden groove of despair that is less interesting than anything else in the show.
Meanwhile, Bezzerides sexual hangups appear to be catching up with her, as she is suspended from active duty thanks to a few rumors being confirmed. Rachel McAdams Ani is still the most fascinating of the main four because her issues aren’t entirely on display yet. While this season of True Detective wouldn’t have made it without Farrell’s Velcoro, it is McAdams who keeps the soulful center of the season.
The final shootout is an abject disaster for everyone involved, including those who aren’t killed. It made me go back and try and make a mental map of suspects and motivations aimed at the Caspar killing. I couldn’t do it. The plot is thicker than a South American jungle, so much so that I continue to feel that the plot mechanics aren’t even important in the end. At least, I hope who killed Caspar isn’t important in the end, because at this point I don’t care. What I do care about, finally, are these three detectives and their plight.