Well, we’ve made it. They definitely took the scenic route to the answers in season two of True Detective. They drove us through miles of contaminated land with our eyes burned out, but eventually we got to our destination, a bench on the side of the highway. There weren’t many loose ends left hanging after the 90-minute finale, “Omega Station,” which is satisfying. But after finally getting the audience to care about the characters over the last few weeks, we just got beat down a few too many times with their final acts on screen. Let’s discuss some details.
Living It up at the Motel California
We open with Bezzerides and Velcoro awake in bed after their night together. There doesn’t seem to be the regret I anticipated them having. Bezzerides tells Velcoro about the time she was abused as a child. It seems since the hooker party, she has remembered most of the once forgotten details. She even remembers the feeling of pride she felt when the rapist said she was pretty. In return, Velcoro tells the story of when he murdered his wife’s suspected rapist years back. It’s clear that this exchange is therapeutic for both of these tormented characters. I dare say they really like each other. Soon after, Velcoro calls Woodrugh. But remember, he is dead now. Burris answers Woodrugh’s phone from the crime scene. There is something potentially problematic about the cop who was the murderer investigating a crime scene. Velcoro plays his cards by telling Burris that he knows everything about the jewelry store murders and what came after. Naturally Burris wants to meet up with Ray. Yeah, right.
Bezzerides and Velcoro spend a minute or so eulogizing Woodrugh. They basically say all the things we thought after he was killed in the last episode. He was better than they were. He saved everyone’s lives over and over. He had a child on the way. Yeah, it stinks he died. We all agree. Feeling a bit hopeless, Bezzerides tries to give a bit of a progress report on the Caspere case. They have a primary suspect, Laura, who was Caspere’s secretary and one of the children left orphaned at the jewelry store. She’s MIA. But then through a bit of “detective work” that borders on the supernatural, Ray somehow instantly figures out who Laura’s brother grew up to be. He was the set photographer, Lenny, from the film set we visited early on in the season. I guess Velcoro saw Laura talking to Lenny when he was there. But come on, he pulled that connection out of thin air.
Elsewhere, Frank is trying to send Jordan off to Venezuela. They have a tedious back and forth debating whether or not she would leave. She wants to stay with her husband. He wants her to be safe. Frank even pretends to dump Jordan and throws his wedding ring away. In return, Jordan does the same and calls Frank a poor actor. It’s probably not a good idea to write in dialogue insulting a character’s acting ability when some in the general public have been questioning the True Detective acting all season long. But eventually after they set up a meeting place in Venezuela and the clothes they will be wearing, Jordan leaves. Nails is going with her as a bodyguard. We learn that apparently he’s so loyal because Frank saved his life after he had been shot with a nail gun. I’m glad Frank finally “nailed” down these plans. (Okay, there are probably better puns out there, but I still think I “nailed” it.)
So after he took care of personal business, Frank goes to work. He rolls up on the Chessani mansion to find a box full of hooker party invites and the dear old mayor face down in the pool. The scene has been set up to look like he committed suicide, but that’s unlikely. We learn that the mayor’s young wife was originally one of Tony Chessani’s girls. Frank tries to question her but she’s drugged out like usual. She says she heard some yelling with a Russian. Tony’s parties were brought up. She screams when Frank shows her the dead mayor, but she doesn’t connect the dots that Tony likely killed him.
The Raven, Revealed
Bezzerides and Velcoro head to Lenny the photographer’s house, which is a treasure trove of clues. He has the raven mask and shotgun. So it was Lenny who shot Velcoro in episode two. He also has all kinds of photos of Burris and Holloway. Then, wouldn’t you know it; Laura is handcuffed in the living room. She basically wraps up the whole Caspere murder case into a nice bow here. Lenny and Laura were separated as kids. At 16 she began working as a prostitute. She was introduced to Caspere through Tasha, the prostitute who was close to Caspere. Tasha also brought Laura to Tony’s parties and showed her the pictures of the blue diamonds. Then Laura knew Caspere was involved in the murder of her parents. She even recognized him. Apparently Caspere used to visit Laura’s mother.
So she dyed her hair and changed her name. Then she got a job as his secretary to get close. With her now reacquainted brother, she drugged Caspere’s drink one night. When Len realized what Laura had been doing with Caspere, he went a bit crazy and tortured Caspere before killing him. Len then drove Caspere’s body through the rail corridor and left him on the road for no apparent reason. Back in the present, Laura was handcuffed because she tried to stop her brother from confronting Holloway. He’s gone to trade the hard drive for the blue diamonds. But the hard drive is useless now. It erased itself when the siblings didn’t know the password.
At the train station where Len and Holloway are meeting, Velcoro shows up in an amazing disguise. What does a wanted criminal involved in a huge conspiracy wear to blend into a crowd? Well, the same clothes he always wears and A GIANT COWBOY HAT. That Ray is crazy like a fox. Bezzerides buys Laura a bus ticket to escape this madness. She’s reluctant to go, but does. In the train station Velcoro confronts Len and actually comes up with a fairly decent plan. Velcoro sits with Holloway and claims to have the railway paperwork and the hard drive. He also claims to be way more involved than he actually is. Velcoro says he killed Len. Then Holloway begins to give Velcoro some answers. It turns out Amarilla got a tip off about the raid that led to the Vinci massacre. Holloway and the other corrupt players work for Tony Chessani, not his father who is currently floating in a pool. Velcoro says he wants his name cleared, but Holloway says the only way to do that would be to pin everything on Bezzerides.
The biggest development from this conversation comes when Holloway reveals that the murdered jewelry store woman had been seeing Caspere for a long time. She began threatening him. Apparently both Laura and the child she was pregnant with were Caspere’s. That’s why the cops murdered the two jewelry store owners. At this point Len, sitting behind Velcoro and Holloway, has heard enough. He stabs Holloway. Burris, hiding nearby, takes a shot at Len. Bezzerides shoots Burris and wounds him. Velcoro’s recorder goes flying in the commotion and gets broken. There goes any kind of real resolution to this craziness. A few officers on the scene shoot Len. Holloway also gets hit. They are both apparently dead as Bezzerides and Velcoro flee the scene.
Venezuela, A Vacation for Criminals
Frank continues to put his escape plan in motion with a visit to the bar. In a hidden back room, Frank hides a whole bunch of guns and plans an escape to Venezuela with the help of his bartender friend. Frank sets up a big heist with Velcoro to get some escape money. He also tells Bezzerides to find Jordan if he doesn’t make it. So from there, Frank and Velcoro head up to a cabin in the woods to interrupt McCandless and Osip’s meeting. Osip was buying his way into the rail deal before their cabin was pumped full of tear gas. Frank gets his revenge by killing both parties. He’s very personal with Osip, a point blank shot to the head. They grab the cash and leave the scene. In the meantime, Bezzerides has gone to confront Dr. Pitlor one last time. But the conversation is a short one. He’s already dead with slit wrists. It’s probably another staged suicide at the hands of Tony Chessani, who is tying up loose ends.
Frank and Velcoro say their goodbyes until they will theoretically meet up again in South America. But there is a feeling of finality to their parting of ways. From there, everyone is way too happy. Wouldn’t it be really shocking if everyone lived happily ever after at the end? Well that doesn’t happen. Frank exchanges cash for diamonds, picks up his new car and passport. But then as he’s driving along, minding his own business, he gets boxed in and carjacked. The men lead him out to the desert where the Mexicans he has dealt with occasionally are waiting. They are mad that the club and poker room burnt down since they were going to be selling there. So Frank offers them the million dollars he has on him as payment. It seems like he might make it out of this until the one guy says he wants Frank’s suit. Frank refuses. Maybe it is because of pride or the diamonds in his pocket, but Frank isn’t being left in his skivvies. He tries to jump the Mexican, but gets stabbed in the process. Left for dead in the desert with no way out but walking, I can’t help but feel it’s a lame ending for such a resilient character. The Mexicans who had their feelings hurt when Frank turned them away weeks ago are the ones who do him in. But old Franky is not quite dead yet. He begins to limp back to town. On the way, he is met with hallucinations of his abusive father, some bullies, a man he killed, and finally Jordan. As vultures trail him, he puffs his chest out and says he’ll never stop moving. But the hallucination of Jordan reveals that he did stop moving. Frank looks back on his own corpse before collapsing.
In a parallel arc, Velcoro can’t stop himself from seeing his son one last time. He stops by the school to see his son playing a game with some friends. He seems to be happy. This is good for Velcoro since he only ever seems to hear about the bad stuff that happens to Chad. He also has his grandfather’s badge with him. Chad and Ray exchange looks. Chad gives a salute and Ray leaves. But when he gets back to his car he sees a light reflecting in the puddle below the car. It’s a tracker and he realizes he is being pursued. So he calls Bezzerides to tell her to get on the escape boat. He’ll meet up with her later after he loses his tail. But that doesn’t happen. He records a farewell to Chad on his phone and leads his pursuers, Burris and the tactical officers he’s with, into the woods. He stays a few steps ahead of them, picking the cops off one by one. He peers at his phone waiting for his message to Chad to upload. Velcoro mumbles that Bezzerides is in a better place as he emerges from behind a tree and gets lit up by Burris and co. We see his recording failed to upload because of course it did. Just like Emily last week when Woodrugh died, Bezzerides begins to cry at the moment Ray expires. She just seems to know what happened.
The show wraps up with Bezzerides telling the end of their story to a journalist in Venezuela. We see that Velcoro’s father is heartbroken over a news report claiming Ray was a corrupt murderer. Gena learns that Ray is, in fact, Chad’s father. Emily is seen attending a ceremony with her baby naming a highway after Paul. But the bad guys won in many ways. Tony Chessani is now mayor, Geldorf is elected governor and the rail deal has gone ahead. In Venezuela, Bezzerides has a baby, her and Velcoro’s baby. But she and Jordan are not through running. With Nails watching their backs, they disappear into a crowd.
Say what you will about the second season of True Detective, but there was a lot of good mystery in it. In fact, I was actually disappointed when all three male leads bit the dust. It was weird to see Bezzerides, a strong female character, end her storyline by being shepherded to safety. But she may be the only one who could continue the fight to expose the truth. So she needed to survive. Also, the Velcoro-Bezzerides romance was surprisingly fulfilling. People have loved bashing this show, but I think I’m going to miss True Detective now that it’s over. I’ll remember the big plot points and the excitement, but not the laundry list of character names. I really don’t need them taking up space in my brain anymore.