True Detective Takes Its Shots in ‘Down Will Come’
True Detective has never been one to shy away from grit. In fact, the show embraces grit the way your great aunt embraces you every Christmas. Only instead of over-applied lipstick, True Detective leaves viewers with a dirty grimace and a black eye.
“Down Will Come” marks the halfway point of the season and lands a kidney shot to the starring cast. The gunfight at the end that went from simple arrest to massacre turned the world upside-down for Ray Velcoro and Ani Bezzerides. The two were all but ready to collapse once the gun smoke had settled, while Paul Woodrugh remained as calm as we’ve seen him all season. Combat is like breathing for him.
Woodrugh’s story is steadily coming together with each episode. He struggles with his sexuality, his past with Black Mountain, and now has a baby to worry about. His surprisingly joyous reaction to his ex-girlfriend’s news and instant proposal are completely out of character from what we’ve seen in only four hours of television. Just a few episodes ago he couldn’t get away from her fast enough. After a mistaken rekindling with his former army buddy, Woodrugh wants nothing more than to be as normal as possible, and a baby and wife will help. Or so he hopes.
Where one sees new hope with new life, another sees demise with each passing day. Frank Semyon and his wife want a child, but are unable to conceive. It’s a cruel joke that a sexually confused cop with a sordid past can get his ex pregnant (“Pills aren’t 100%”, she advises), while a criminal trying to go legitimate is left without an heir. A penance for his sins, perhaps. Semyon’s thoughts on adoption as “living with someone else’s mistake” reflect his desire to prove he can be a better father than his own, but demands his own flesh and blood to prove so. His desperation to get back the money he lost is taking him back over burned bridges into the realm of threats and intimidation. And everywhere he looks, he sees stains that shine a spotlight on his insecurities and past failures.
Speaking of insecurities, Velcoro has begun to embrace his. Cutting back on the booze and bumps, he’s starting to feel less controlled by Semyon, who offered him a chance to get out of the police business and make some real money. Seeing through semi-clear eyes allowed Velcoro to say thanks, but no thanks, and even come to terms with the tumultuous relationship between him and his son, all but saying goodbye one last time. How the shootout at the end will change him is yet to be seen (other than a shaved mustache based on the preview for next week), but it’s a major turning point for the detectives and their suddenly under-staffed squad.
Creator Nick Pizzolatto taught us something in season one. We thought we were getting a cop drama that focuses on an occultist’s killing, but what we got was something more. The case and the bodies became secondary to the story of Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, and in the end the capture of the killer only served as a way to end the partnership between the two detectives.
It’s happening again this season. Caspere, the man in the bird mask, the hooker trail. It’s only led to bringing Velcoro, Bezzerides, and Woodrugh together as they feed off each other and change. Do we as viewers want to find out who’s under the mask? Of course, but aren’t we more intrigued about the development and change of the four main cast members? They’re all going through a change, for better or for worse, that will be made clear in the remaining four episodes.
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