The title of True Detective Season 2’s third episode is the final line of the episode, uttered by Frank Semyon after his wife asks him to sit down and talk with her. The meaning of that utterance, of course, means much more than just waiting another day to discuss their marital issues or Frank’s increasing alienation from her. Over the course of the episode, Frank continues to hunt for replacement capital that disappeared into thin air when Casper was murdered; he’s also hunting for the culprit of his business partner’s grisly demise. Subsequently, another one of his confidants is brutally murdered, and Frank takes out his fury on a cocky sex-club owner, whom he beats within an inch of his life before ripping out his “Fuck You” grills with pliers. When Frank puts off talking with his wife, he’s also putting off becoming the better person that he’s aspiring to be, defaulting into his role as a violent gangster willing to spill buckets of blood to at least appear to have an enviable legacy.
The title also sums up my continuing feelings on Season 2, as there are increasingly interesting scenes used in each episode, none more than “Maybe Tomorrow.” The episode opens with an eerie dream sequence wherein Velcoro speaks with his father (Fred Ward) while a ghostly Conway Twitty (Jake La Botz) sings “The Rose” in the dark, decrepit bar Velcoro frequents. There’s a sensitivity in this sequence that belies all the exhausting brooding that has come to denote Season 2, but it quickly dissipates to reveal that Velcoro survived the attack that capped off the last episode. And so, the largely dull and occasionally straight-out unpleasant details of Velcoro’s corruption, an extension of his relationship with Vinci PD and Mayor Chessani (Ritchie Coster), become the focus of the episode again, allowing writer-creator Nic Pizzolatto to keep teasing an explosive breaking point that, at this point, can’t possibly pay off all the rote gloom and glum that he’s slathered his show in.
Woodrugh and Bezzerides’ doings in this episode aren’t particularly wild or daring either, though Pizzolatto clearly thinks that the reveal that Woodrugh had a homosexual relationship at one point, during his military service, says something profound about Woodrugh’s tortured sexuality. It doesn’t, at all, and when we find out that Dixon is following Woodrugh and collecting information on him, it’s clear that it’s not really about the character but rather adding another element to a purposefully elusive arc that is becoming less appealing by the minute. Even when Bezzerides and Woodrugh visit the Chessani home, a den of drugs, sex, and other sinful indulgences, the entire sequence is meant only to drop hints as to what Chessani’s hand in Casper’s disappearance might have been. The entire series has been so focused on its enormous, unwieldy plot that the characters feel hollow, nothing more than figures to moves along the various dense, uninspired storylines, the end of which Pizzolatto knowingly keeps out of distance.
The problem is that the mystery of who killed Casper, at this point, is not interesting whatsoever. If the characters were more fascinating, given more complicated nuances of behavior or philosophy, this wouldn’t be an issue, but Pizzolatto has written them all rigidly as damaged yet heroic cynics, men and women inspired by hope but deeply uncertain of its existence or meaning. When Velcoro sits down with his father (for real) later in the episode, he lightly chastises his father for throwing out his old police badge, reminding him that his son or his grandson might want it one day. It’s a sign that, even if the current world isn’t what either of them want, there might be some want or need for real justice in Velcoro’s son’s lifetime. Ward’s curmudgeon shakes it off, and goes back to drinking his booze, smoking his weed, and watching William Wyler‘s Detective Story on TV. And just like that exchange, and the final one between Frank and his wife, True Detective Season 2 continues to hint at something bigger, refreshing, and original on the horizon despite the seemingly endless murk that envelops its world. And yet, ultimately, Pizzolatto’s series seems perfectly comfortable to just lean on old pulp-story archetypes and vices that says absolutely nothing about the characters at play here. Oh well, maybe tomorrow or, more appropriately, next week.
★★ Fair — Only for the dedicated