‘True Detective’ 2×4 Recap: Enough With This Monkey F*ck

Oh look...a field. (HBO)

Oh look…a field. (HBO)

Vinnie: Well, then. I suppose your feelings towards that final scene really depends on how much you can tolerate so, so, so many innocent civilian casualties. Because, jeeeez, in that climactic gun battle during the attempt to take in gang member Ledo Amarilla if your name doesn’t appear at the top of the True Detective IMDB page, you got machine gunned horribly to death.

Drew: Such a setup. Look: there were all these camera crews already there covering a transit protest! (Organized by whom, do you think?) The cops were sent in by some higher-up, corrupt authority that involves state and/or local government officials!

I mean a bus showed up at a protest about BUSES NEVER SHOWING UP. Come on! A guy shoots his own hostage. That’s…not how these things usually work. Something’s afoot, Sherlocks.

The building obviously belongs to Frank, right? And it was a meth lab, which is why the #shotsfired caused a giant explosion.It’s too excessive not to be in purpose of its own spectacle: it was obviously a meth lab, it was obviously a set-up to bring down all our major characters, it’s obvious that it’s James Frain behind the bird mask. (“Lets be careful out there!” he calls out to Ani’s team before sending them all to their deaths.) But who cares, really?

Vinnie: The entire scene was the perfect summation of True Detective Season Two I’ve seen so far. There was a lot of noise, and smoke, and bullets and yelling. People died, blood was splattered. Cars and busses crashed and I get that we, the audience, are supposed to be hanging in suspense for all of it but I just…cant? There’s just a lack of some sort of substance that keeps me from just not giving a shit what is happening. Who is this Ledo Amarilla? We got a quick powerpoint presentation on how he tried to pawn Caspere’s stuff, and he apparently holds the record for largest collection of machine gun bullets in California. That’s pretty much all we know. Who are these nameless, faceless cops that were gunned down? No clue, besides Detective Dixon whose character traits up to that point were “slovenly, and sometime takes pictures of Paul from the shadows.” Who are all these poor random pedestrians who are killed for really no reason at all? Who cares! There’s guns being fired! And murder!


Drew: I am totally at peace with what True Detective is and isn’t. It finally gave me the clue in that Rosetta’s Stone during Ray and Frank’s weekly big word-off. “Apoplectic.” It just kept playing in my head, and then my friend mentioned how this show is really about ley lines–you know, that geographic feng shui that New Agey people in, where certain places can be hubs of different metaphysical energies–and I was looking at the Wikipedia page for whatever those are, and the word “apophenia” popped out.

Here’s the definition:

Apophenia/æpɵˈfiːniə/ is a human tendency of perceiving patterns or connections in random or meaningless information.

Should I go on? I shall!

The term is attributed to Klaus Conrad by Peter Brugger, who defined it as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness“. Apophenia has come to imply a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information, such as gambling.

Yo, like Ani’s newfound gambling addiction? Or the water stains that Frank reads like tea leaves? Or like, how True Detective, both seasons, is basically just Nic Pizzolatto typing out the word Apophenia, over and over again, like Jack Nicholson’s character in that movie where Stanley Kubrick reveals he directed the moon landing?

True Detective isn’t a program with an organizing principle, but it likes to presents itself as a pattern that we’re only seeing from the edges. Not falling for it this time, TD. That nail is a little bit Rusty to hit again. These connections that seem like they follow some sort of cosmic ley line–the highways, the contaminated fields, Black Mountain Ops, the cult, the water stains (that keep appearing in this episode, notably in the Turkish restaurant)–True Detective isn’t going to pan back at the end to reveal how they fit into a vast tableau.

It’s more like, certain ideas and imagery keep turning up, the way they do in dreams. I’m okay with that. I like dreaming.

But yeah, it’s not like I’m invested. Cool shoot-out, though. I’d like it better if they had some Wu-Tang, but I’ll just take your note and sync up Spotify to play “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” so that freeze-frame makes sense.

Vinnie: That’s TD season 2 in a nutshell. Just Nic Pizzolatto screaming into a void “hey, I’m giving you all the dark, violent stuff isn’t this what you wanted” and not giving us any actual reason to care. Unless you’re really worried about the safety of the world’s city commissioners, or are particularly concerned whether  Vince Vaughn will be able keep a boner long enough to put a baby in his strange-talking wife.

Drew: YO BRO, not cool! He’s not the problem! The doctors say! It’s her broken vagina from having Roy from The Office’s abortion. (Also, what a bad time to call up your ex to enter a business relationship with your husband! Haha, you lady. I love how you keep getting the best lines that are meta-commentary on how silly this show is. “Hey, I have an idea, let’s just be one of those couples that fight all the time.” #RealTalk #AvocadoTreeDeath

Vinnie: All I know, at this point, is I’m pretty sure right before the gun battle started Walter White dropped some chemicals on the floor of that building.

Drew: It’s Frank’s building, because of the way he squints at it vaguely at a distance before telling his wife to go back inside. And he was trying to buy drugs from the Turks. But he also makes meth? On the top floor of a warehouse? I had the same WTF reaction. It seems like he was set up, but that explosion implied to me that there was some flammable chemicals up there sitting in a giant vat. So does Frank already have a drug operation going? Does he also make whatever the kids are calling MDMA these days (besides awesome)?

Vinnie: So is there a general theme this season of defining yourself by your children, either positively or negatively? Ray’s entire existence at this point is dedicated to his son that probably/definitely isn’t his. There’s a clear look of relief on Paul’s face when he realizes he can add his girlfriend’s pregnancy onto the layer of denial that he’s gay. And as much as Frank says he wants kids, he won’t adopt because “You don’t take another person’s grief,” which is kind of the shittiest possible way to look at parenthood. Maybe second shittiest behind “lock them in the rat cellar.”

Drew: Shitty? Yes. Part of our fundamental genetic hardwiring that keeps humans continuing the species despite evidence that we should maybe slow the fuck down or possibly even stop for a year or two? That too. I don’t fault Frank for wanting children. But the idea of leaving his ever-shrinking kingdom of rotten avocado trees to some ungrateful girl progeny who is just going to go be a cop entirely in reaction to her daddy’s lifestyle choices…g’eh.

Why all the urgency, Franky boy? Are you feeling doomed? Is it now or never?

Vinnie: And, well I guess Ani isn’t really concerned with having kids, Ani just likes to get. it. on. But not with her partner Officer FriendZone (a distant descendant of Ser Friendzone.)

Drew: And her subordinate, Officer Blocked-You-On-FacebookZone. PS: the idea of any heteronormative male cop “high-fiving” a coworker for lodging a sexual harassment complaint against a female superior is ludicrous. For better or worse, most guys would rather swagger around pretending their Man Feelings don’t exist than make a federal (local? state?) case about it, that will out him for being coerced into uncomfortable sexy times by a GIRL BOSS.

No matter how mad that dude was at her last episode, that officer she boned must have had a Vinci-shaped gun to his head while lodging a complaint that, for better or for worse, makes him look weak.

But also, Ani. Stop boning your coworkers. Your boss has a point: they’d have to do the same if a complaint was filed against a man. However he didn’t have a point when he smugly pointed out that the only thing that would have been different in that scenario is a man not being able to blame it on gender. Nic P. just wants you to know: that is the only difference between men and women this week. (Keeping track, other differences include being able to murder one sex with your bare hands and Taylor Kitsch’s interest level.)

Vinnie: So is there just a gap in my brain where I missed the part where Paul is involved in way more trouble than just a movie star accusing him of an unethical blowjob? What was up with an entire hoard of reporters rushing his hotel entrance to ask questions about “Black Mountain operatives?” Am I just not paying attention? Am I not getting this?! Is Paul’s homosexuality so repressed he can’t even stay for one waffle?!?

Drew: Weird how the paparazzi took the day off covering all the celebrities to focus on this one war vet/cycle cop.I mean sorry, no, that’s not how paparazzi work. No hoardes will be camped out his hotel (his hotel?) in a mixture of tabloid gossip and hard-hitting Benghazi-y coverage, waiting for the moment to treat a highway patrol cop like he’s Arianna Grande’s licked donut.

The paps being there gives weight to the theory of some giant, multi-tentacled evil entity working against him, but it’s probably just James Frain’s character, who would be one of the few people with knowledge about Paul’s whereabouts.

And look: I know that coming out is hard, and I don’t think it’s any easier for PTSD-suffering veterans caught up in some police drama. But…come on. It’s 2015. In real life, I could totally see a man like Paul feeling very conflicted about coming out. But on TV, it’s almost anachronistic to see someone struggle with this so much with this particular aspect of his personality—especially since admitting he’s gay would do a lot in swaying the court of public opinion on his side, re: blowjobgate. Currently, no one is even wondering if he is gay, except maybe that dude he slept with.

Vinnie: Hey, we took another trip to the church of long-haired David Morse, where we learned that ALL the sketchiest people on this show are old buddies that used to take beach trips together. What do we think of that?

(And what do we think of Ray having a green and black aura? According to this interview with a color psychic I did almost a year ago to the day, a black aura means a person has a void in their lives they desperately need to fill. Good read, David Morse!)

Drew: Ani is such a bad detective that she can’t stop interviewing her own family for this case. It’s not a school assignment about your family tree, Ani! (Though I would read that in a heartbeat.) And she’s surprisingly ungrateful to her dad and sister for helping her with some vital information. TAKE THAT DAD.

Re: Auras. Take this as you will:

BLACK AURA COLOR MEANING: Draws or pulls energy to it and in so doing, transforms it. It captures light and consumes it.Usually indicates long-term unforgiveness (toward others or another) collected in a specific area of the body, which can lead to health problems; also, entities within a person’s aura, chakras, or body; past life hurts; unreleased grief from abortions if it appears in the ovaries.

Green AURA COLOR MEANING:  Relates to heart and lungs.It is a very comfortable, healthy color of nature. When seen in the aura this usually represents growth and balance, and most of all, something that leads to change.Love of people, animals, nature; teacher; social.

Maybe it’s Ray, and not Frank’s wife, still suffering from the grief of having to terminate a pregnancy? And maybe he’s learning how to heal, after all this time, by giving his definitely-not-son a badge that doesn’t even belong to him? (Love how this kid was all dubious, like “This is grandpas, right?”) How sketchy was it that Ray and Chad were just whispering in the backyard with the lights off? Does Ray drop by to do that a lot?

Vinnie: Not as sketchy as the fact that he melted into the shadows like Batman.

We also returned to the scene of the very first shot of the series — that random field with the flags blowing in the wind. Turns out it’s the site of a mine tailing, which in non-scientific terms means the ground is filled with enough nasty chemicals to create either like ten Spider-Men or like 5000 regular dead people. In show biz terms, it’s like when a plot is filled with too many convoluted names, dates and plot points to the point where it becomes useless. Cough.

Drew: Ugh, is this going to end up about fracking or something? Mark Ruffalo is sitting home with his fingers crossed.

Vinnie: Oof, I feel like I’ve been pretty hard on this episode. Let’s lighten the mood, in a little segment I like to call “Lines that Probably Sounded Cooler on Paper.”

  • “I never lost a tooth. I never even had a fucking cavity,” because nothing is more intimidating in a crime boss than regular brushing and flossing. (Drew: Also, he has a BUNCH OF TEETH ON HIM. Why not just throw them on the table and make a pun about how the time is “tooth hurty.”
  • “Those moments they stare back at you. You don’t remember them, they remember you,” because this line was definitely cut from season one. (Drew: Same thought. Also, what if Paul is Rust before Rust’s kid dies and he goes crazy. And straighter-ish.)
  • “Enough with this monkey fuck,” because, wait…that’s actually fantastic. Little Ray Velcoro-isms like that are some of the best parts of this show. If I only have one takeaway from season two of True Detective it’s that I’ll officially refer to life’s little annoyances like traffic and bills simply as “monkey fuck.” (Drew: The way Ray is just so uncomfortable with Paul divulging any of his life story. He’s like “NO, YOU’RE A VETERAN AND A HERO, DON’T NEED TO HEAR ANY MORE OF YOUR….shit.”

I like Paul’s glove compartment drawer.
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Vinnie: There’s a lot of dangling threads right now. A lot of people are mentioning big, wealthy parties with lots of hookers. There’s the fact that Caspere, the Vinci Mayor, and Rick Springfield all hung out together. There’s that man in the bird mask from episode two which everyone seems pretty chill about. What are the odds that this season turns out to be like a bizarro season one, where the lead up is disappointing but the finale brings it all together and  knocks it out of the park?

Drew: To answer your questions:

  1. Who the fuck cares about Caspere? (Besides Frank.)
  2. That bird man was James Frain.
  3. Zero because there is no show where it sucks all the way through but just then has this epic finale. Maybe the movie version of Hello Ladies?