In the end, so many of the issues emblematic of the season at large caught up to each other to form one long, rough, near-painful season finale of True Detective. The disconnect between each of the four main characters turns into a huge distraction as the finale moves along, whereas previously in the season it was more of an annoying distraction. Ani’s reaction to the news of Paul’s death, so shocked she acts as if someone just punched her in the gut, comes off as the most fake character moment among many similar scenes. She and Ray barely knew Paul and definitely didn’t care enough to start a dialogue about his personal life at any time. The fact that his death would warrant any reaction beyond, “that means we’re next on the hit list” is delusional on the show’s part and supposes that Ani’s reaction mirrors how the audience is feeling at the same time. This also carries over to Ray’s commitment to avenging Paul’s death. Paul may have had their backs at certain points, but at no time did the team ever have the chance to bond more than superficially on the job and they certainly did not like each other enough as a group to sacrifice lives to avenge one another. The show wants the audience to feel a certain way about the action and deaths in this episode, but doesn’t shape the story to elicit those feelings.
By far the worst thing about this week’s third episode of True Detective’s second season is that it feels mostly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Unlike True Detective’s premiere, the second episode of the season, while still overbearingly morose, at least manages to make some headway with both more realistic character development and interesting details in the investigation.
This premiere trades in the ritualistic and occult elements of season one for the everyday goings on of cops and criminals, depicting them with scenes that are overwrought with heavy language and meaningful glances.