True Detective, Season 2, Episode 4, “Down Will Come”
Written by Nic Pizzolatto and Scott Lasser
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on HBO
Over the course of the second season of True Detective, the examination of the lives of the investigators and what drives them has been as compelling as the case itself. With past episodes delving into what makes Detective Velcoro and Detective Bezzerides tick, this week’s episode goes into further detail in its examination of Woodrugh, while also continuing to monitor Frank as he attempts to regain control in the wake of the loss of his money. The result is a strong episode that ends in a very memorable fashion.
Woodrugh’s character progression this week is particularly fascinating. While it’s unclear why Velcoro became a cop, the pursuit of his ex-wife’s rapist and his insistence on being a father to the child despite the uncertainty of whether it’s his biological offspring or not shows a belief in a sense of justice, skewed and warped as it may be by his father and his association with Semyon. Similarly, Bezzerides is clearly driven by a sense of justice spurred by the actions of her father and the injustice she sees around her. Woodrugh’s motivations, however, have been less clear, as he’s on this case to ensure he gets a reprieve from the lawsuit looming over his head and the chance to get back on his bike, but why being on the bike is important to him becomes very clear this week. With Woodrugh intent on outrunning his sexuality, it’ll be intriguing to see how the case affects him. Like Velcoro and Bezzerides, Woodrugh has an uneasy relationship with the truth about who he is, but unlike the others, he doesn’t mask it by going after the truth in other areas. Breaking open this case, however, may cause him to see things differently, especially as it’s a trial by fire the likes of which he seemingly hasn’t seen since his post-military days. The shootout at the end establishes that nobody will be leaving this case unscathed, but as the most guarded member of the central trio, Woodrugh is the one whose change at this point is the most unpredictable, especially with the imminent arrival of a baby in his life.
Frank’s situation this week is also fascinating to watch. In many ways, it’s clear that Dave was Frank’s ticket out of the life he was in, a life that Frank clearly wanted out of. There’s been a certain weariness to Frank’s attempts to regain what used to be his, and his conversation with Jordan this week points to why. Frank’s concern is with legacy, with having something he can truly, tangibly, call his own. The couple’s inability to conceive is just another aspect of what’s driving Frank crazy about this situation. Frank is, however, seemingly less-than-capable under pressure, an understandable character trait given his history with being locked in his basement as a child for five days with no supplies. While he’s currently shaking down his old businesses to try and gather revenue once again, last week showed a glimpse at the lengths he’d be willing to go to when challenged. The combination of this factors puts Frank in the most unique position among the four lead characters. While the others are trying to track down who killed the city manager because it’s part of their job, Frank needs to know to get his money back because he feels it was a targeted attack, a suspicion exacerbated by Stan’s death. With Frank feeling pressure but not having anyone specific to target to remove that pressure, his actions over the next few episodes will be very telling. There’s a strong chance right now that Frank may self-destruct, but if he doesn’t, he’ll be stronger for it.
Overall, this is an excellent episode, continuing the season’s trend of topping itself. This season continues to be very effectively atmospheric, with a mood of futility and hopelessness pervading the characters’ actions. It’s nice to see Velcoro and Bezzerides find kindred spirits in each other, as the platonic friendship they’ve struck up with each other is a nice treat. With Bezzerides now in trouble with the administration in a similar manner to Velcoro, it’ll be intriguing to see how their friendship develops, and how closely they take each other into confidence. The nature of Bezzerides’ case is also similar to the issues Woodrugh is facing, all of which gives the three detectives something more than the case in common, which might help them trust each other more. The action sequence to end the episode is wonderfully executed, and is thrilling and exhilarating throughout. The ramifications from the shootout are also likely to be felt through the rest of the season. With the prime suspect in the murder now dead, and having killed cops and bystanders in broad daylight, it’s very likely the pressure will now be on the trio to declare the case shut. However, Velcoro at the very least is likely to face pressure from Frank to continue the investigation, if only to find out where Frank’s money went. Velcoro is also likely to seek retribution for getting shot, and Bezzerides’ drive for justice seemingly ensures she’ll also continue the investigation, whether she’s ordered to or not. This leaves Woodrugh as the wild card, and examining the aftermath of the shooting, as well as Woodrugh’s actions, look to be promising storylines in the ensuing episodes.