True Detective: Episode 4 Recap
Watching the first three episodes of this season have at times felt like a chore, watching the fourth was the reward. This was the moment the difficult second series started to remind you of why you liked the first. The fortune cookie philosophising was dialled right down and the violence and excitement up. Even Frank’s laboured phrase making is starting to sound less like he read them out of a book with a picture of clouds on the cover.
“Sometimes your worst self is your best self” he says and bad-amatuer-orthodontist Frank is certainly better (for us) than the going-straight-businessman Frank. Losing all his money is the best thing that ever happened to him. He doesn’t see it that way and goes about strong arming all his old associates into old business deals, while wearing the glower of a teenager who’s been told to tidy his room. As imposing a presence as Vince Vaughn has been in the series, I still can’t quite banish the feeling that, at any moment, his scowl might relax into that familiar smirk and Frank will suddenly become best friends with a wisecracking blonde. It’s a problem.
Most of the problems for the characters in this episode came from matters of the heart (and groin). Paul wakes up to find himself in the bed of his old army buddy/lover with a stinking hangover and an identity crisis. He confides in Velcoro that he doesn’t know who he is or “how to be out in the world”. Now, that last part must be a deliberate double entendre but I hope it’s a mistake because it’s so clunky it hurts your ears. Later, in a depressing little scene, Paul’s old girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant. This seems to solidify his resolve to live a lie and he says they should get married and proclaims his love for her. She responds by saying “I guess I love you too”. Christmases at the Woodrugh’s are going to be fun.
Bezzerides is also having problems in love and the officer she unceremoniously dumped last episode has filed a complaint and now she’s suspended (except from the Caspere case) and under investigation for sexual misconduct. There are so many investigations and counter investigations going on at once that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything. It’s almost a relief that lots of people are now dead because it means less story lines to remember. One thing that does seem fairly obvious is that Mayor Chessani has something to do with Bezzerides’ suspension and, in fact, with everything else. Even his daughter seems terrified of him, telling Bezzerides that he “is a very bad person”. The question of just how bad looks set to be the defining one of the series.
We also find out that Chessani’s father knew Bezzerides’ spiritual commune leading father and that he had “a lodge”. Bezzerides’ father ominously seems to know almost everyone involved with the case. What exactly Chessani’s lodge was for is not clear but knowing that family as we now do, I suspect it was used for more than just the occasional chant. Apropo of nothing, senior Bezzerides says that Velcoro has one of the largest “auras” he’s ever seen. Whether the writers meant it or not it’s a moment of ludicrous comedy that is both jarring and funny. I hope we’ll see a lot more of the older Bezzerides. I’m certain we will.
Things get very serious again very quickly as Paul has a lead on a suspect in Caspere’s murder. It’s a pimp whose finger prints were on some valuables stolen from Caspere’s house. We all know that this two-bit skinhead isn’t the right guy but they have to follow it up. Unfortunately the pimp turns out to have a few more bits and a lot of machine guns. The subsequent chase and shootout are the climax to the series so far and leave as many questions as there are dead bodies. Why was the now dead Detective Teague following Paul? Why did Chessani say “let’s be careful out there” just before the carnage began? And why is half of Vinci now dead? The final shot is of Velcoro, Bezzerides and Woodrugh standing alone amid the carnage, shocked and shaking with adrenaline. After watching episode four, I knew how they felt.