HBO’s True Detective Night Finds You TV Show Review. True Detective: Season 2, Episode 2: Night Finds You untangled last week’s messy plot and established much clearer objectives for the events of the second season. The gist of the story is that the state is investigating the corruption in Vinci: it’s unclear whether the state wants to take down the crooked officials or is more interested in leeching a portion of Vinci’s revenue. Each of the three officers assigned to the murder case have objectives that conflict with their fellow investigators; in Velcoro’s (Colin Farrell) case, his police bosses don’t want him to find the killer while his crime boss (Frank (Vince Vaughn) demands that he finds the killer). The result is a murder investigation where not everyone wants to solve the murder and a corruption investigation where we are not so sure if the prosecution’s motive is to actually bring down the criminal offenders. Velcoro, Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) are all puppets in a greater scheme and the rest of the season will focus on them outmaneuvering each other before ultimately discovering the motivations of those pulling their strings.
Did Ray Velcoro just get “Ned Starked”? Is it possible that True Detective did the unthinkable and killed off their most recognizable actor and most magnetic presence in episode 2? As I walk around downtown, I can’t travel more than a few blocks without seeing a brass knuckles toting Ray Velcoro emblazoned on bus stops. In the day and age of up to the minute information casting news via social media, (fans have already grown bored of the images of Batman in Suicide Squad before his presence in the movie was officially announced), it’s difficult to shock an audience through casting. While it appears that the final frontier in subverting audience expectations is offing a series biggest star in the second episode, would True Detective be willing to use such a cheap trick to shock its audience?
Even though he embodies many pulpy cop drama clichés, Velcoro is the series most exciting character and has the clearest arc of the season. Velcoro was a good man whose decision to do a bad thing resulted in him cascading down a never ending slope of moral compromise. Sure Ray beat up that bully kid’s dad, but his heart was in the right place. The obvious story for True Detective to tell us is whether or not this broken man can find – or deserves – redemption.
If this was Ray’s last episode, I would deem it an acceptable arc for the character. Ray’s ex-wife forced him to come to terms with the havoc that he tends to leave in his wake and his plead to avoid a paternity test was an admission that he was not his son’s biological father. Ray reflected on the psychological damage he inflicts upon his son, the professional reputation that proceeds him and his inescapable servitude to Frank and came to the conclusion that death may not be the worst place that he could end up. I don’t want to see him go but I could also see Velcoro’s death being the moment that catalyzes the major plot beats for the rest season 2.
Night Finds You did a far greater job of making Frank Semyon’s story worth following. In The Western Book of the Dead, Frank’s role consisted of spouting exposition so that the audience could follow along with the topsy-turvy plot. Frank’s goal was to secure an off the books transaction that would allow him to transform from gangster to legit business man. In this episode, Frank takes action in order to track down the money that he lost once Casper turned up dead. Frank tied up all of his financial assets in his deal with Casper, and if the missing cash doesn’t turn up he will lose everything that he has worked for. Frank is backed into a corner and now that his criminal instincts are resurfacing he becomes more interesting to watch. There is a seething intensity brewing just below Frank’s mellow exterior. When Frank discusses his shared criminal enterprises with the Vinci Mayor (Ritchie Coster), the threat of violence hangs over the conversation like a storm cloud. Frank is trapped in a situation where he can’t afford to pull any punches, not even against the mayor, and if Frank is about to go down, he is taking everyone with him.
Of all the flawed characters on display for season two, Paul is the least compelling. There isn’t much that we know about Paul right now: we know that he wants to ride his bike on the highway, his mother is far too concerned with having him spend the night and that he doesn’t talk about what happened in the desert. Paul’s homophobic slur was such an obvious obfuscation of his latent homosexuality that for a moment I thought that there must be some deeper meaning for his remarks, such as Paul trying to form a bond with the dolt of a detective sitting across the table. Nope. Later on in the episode, we see Paul sipping on a beer and forlornly gazing at the men across the street. Paul’s brooding and barely repressed anger is not making for entertaining television. With 6 episodes left to go, I have faith that Nic Pizzolatto will come up with some satisfying context for the behavior of Paul Woodrugh.
On the other end of the interesting TV spectrum, we have the burgeoning relationship between Ani and Ray, which was the best part of the episode. The interplay between the two as they felt each other out was reminiscent of Rust and Marty’s car rides from last season. Ani is the officer most concerned with closing the case, and right now it appears that she sees more to Ray than the dirty cop that her commanding officers warned her about. Ray is at a point in his life where he needs to make amends for his wrongs. Perhaps this case will afford him the opportunity to do what’s right instead of what’s easy. Both Ani and Ray can sense a kindred spirit in each other and assuming that Ray is around in the next few episodes, the part of the show I am most interested in seeing is if these two can earn each other’s trust.
Episode 2, Night Finds You did a much better job of laying out this season’s story of greed and revenge. In this episode, we got a clear look at Vinci’s corrupt city officials, saw Ani, Frank and Paul track down leads on the Casper case and watched Frank Semyon go after his vanished money the way Liam Neeson goes after his kidnapped daughter in Taken. The murder story picked up intensity as Ray crossed paths with the bird mask wearing killer, resulting in a shocking final moment, which could have a drastic impact on the remainder of the season. Overall, Night Finds You was a solid episode with a nail-biter of a finish.
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