Review: True Detective Season Two, “Night Finds You”


“Every thing is just papier-mâché.”

After a slow-burning first episode, True Detective Season Two ratchets up the stakes in episode 2. With our four leads now firmly established, this episode was able to move forward, requiring less character building and propelling us into the twining corridors of the new case.

There’s still a lot of character work happening in this episode, but with the case now in full forward motion, that work seems less like telling and more like showing. If there were criticisms to be made of the first episode’s slow unfurling, it doesn’t appear to us that the same can’t really be said for the second.

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All four of our leads hit the ground running. Each of the three detectives gets pulled into a decidedly dysfunctional task force. Organizational conflict seems to be the mode of the day, with each department looking for something else.

It seems as though Vinci’s history of corruption may finally come to light, at least if Bezzerides or Woodrugh are to follow through with their assignments.

Semyon, too, is drawn into an investigative role, in what becomes a rather interesting plot choice. Ray is his man on the force, but Vaughn takes to the ground as well, conducting is own extralegal investigation when he discovers that Caspere’s death may not only hamper the deal, but might in fact destroy everything he’s built.

Vaughn is allowed some room to stretch his performative muscles in this episode, no longer the restrained, almost sensitive businessman we saw last episode. The “terror” that Osip mentioned Frank used to be last episode comes out once more now that he’s backed into a corner.

Ray is reduced to, in Semyon’s words, “This Velcoro burnout,” and the power dynamic of their relationship comes into much sharper focus. Ray’s being pulled at the threads and he may just unravel. Farrell brings to this role the nervous anxiety of an exposed nerve.

When his ex-wife confronts him about his attack on Conroy and says she’s going to take full custody of their son, he cries out that his son is the only thing he has “in his shitty life.” Their split seems to have centered around the actions Ray took to punish her rapist. We also learn for sure that it was that same action that’s left him indebted to Semyon.

Ray and Ani are pushed together, with Ani expected to be able to get enough leverage on Ray to turn him. Their relationship is strained, but the dynamic between McAdams and Farrell is interesting. Ray’s shambling discomposure plays well off of her curt dignity. The two seem to understand one another.

We learn a little more about Ani’s past, with references from Caspere’s creepy psychiatrist to what we learn later was a commune of some sort known as “The Good People.” Judging by Ani’s remarks, it wasn’t exactly the best environment for children and seems to have been a large part of what sharpened her edges.

Kitsch is given some interesting beats, including a vaguely unsettling scene with his mother. Kitsch does imbue Paul with a kind of implosive inwardness. This may be rooted in what might be some hints about the reason’s behind Paul’s sexual dysfunction with his girlfriend.

Lin’s direction is a little more subtle this time around, with the unsettling psycho-sphere ambiance of season 1 being a little more apparent this time around. There are (slightly) less aerial shots, but they come off a little more naturally and remain visually interesting. He also continues to make use of effective and well-chosen fade edits. Overall, this episode contains more of the dread that pervaded the first season.

Frank’s money never changed to the right hands. Ray has suspicions that no one really wants the case solved. There is growing evidence for Caspere’s unusual sexual proclivities. Most importantly, though, the signs are pointing in many directions, to a brand new sprawl.

Sexual dysfunction is a prominent theme this season. It appears that this will be the thread that winds through this season’s case and informs the narrative identity of our leads.

Most surprisingly though, the episode finally brings Ray to a house Semyon discovered belonged to Caspere outside of town where he takes escorts. The weirdness gets kicked up a notch here, with more of the animal masks hanging from the wall, and a camera set up to record whatever happens in the room.

It is here where the new season potentially makes a huge shift, though we can’t be entirely sure until the next episode. We meet the man with the crow mask, and we leave the episode with Ray’s fate uncertain, but the outlook is decidedly grim.

The season has made a bold leap forward, and it is a leap into darkness.

Next: This Week in True Detective: Week of 6/22/2015