True Detective 205 recap/ review
Spoiler alert- recaps recapture the plot.
“Other Lives” is another life for this season of “True Detective,” picking up around sixty days following the harrowing, suspenseful shoot-out in “Down Will Come.” Director John W. Crowley (Boy A, Brooklyn) steps behind the lens for this episode to catch the audience up on why the case is still investigated after two months from the gunfight when the detectives shot and killed the main suspect in the Caspere murder. We find out about the time jump as the camera shows the Semyons’ new domestic arrangement. Times are tough and even gangsters are forced to downsize. Among the moving boxes, Frank’s television sits and displays Geldof from “Night Finds You” closing the case while simultaneously putting his name on the ballot. That’s almost intentionally suspicious wouldn’t you agree? Jordan wakes as her husband watches her sleep. He leaves his house and enters the SUV. He no longer lives in a mansion, but in a residential neighborhood like the rest of us schmucks. Crowley transitions to Ray’s old lieutenant stopping by Ray’s home to evict him as he no longer works for the city government anymore (it’s reserved for “municipal employees”), but as “security” for Frank. Looks like Ray, similar to his new boss, will change address shortly. Ray lost the facial hair but kept the bolo tie after quitting. The lt. asks if anybody came around asking him or the fallen Teague about the case—which Ray certainly isn’t convinced was carried out by the suspects from “Down Will Come.” The lt. admits that they found a lot of interesting details about Teague after his death, “…might have been into some people.” The irony here is that Teague instructed Ray to destroy all of his belongings in the possible event of his death when the partners investigated Caspere’s place in “Night Finds You.” We certainly know photos of Paul Woodrugh and his friend, Miguel, are in the fallen detective’s collection. Ray seems to go along with eviction before leaving for work.
Crowley sticks with Ray, following the former detective around the low-income housing Frank assumed control of in “Down Will Come.” He essentially works as a rent collector/ intimidator in this capacity. A woman can’t afford her rent, but Ray sees her family and gives her another day to pay the full amount or else he’ll contact immigration services. He doesn’t care for the aesthetic of the setting as we transition to Detective Bezzerides sitting in a mandatory sexual harassment seminar with several male chauvinists who also happen to carry a badge. When the facilitator asks her a question about the nature of why she’s there, Ani offers a shocking, inappropriate response that sucks the breath out of the facilitator and titillates the perverts in the room. Do you think she should be there? She doesn’t. However, never does she place blame on the “victim” as the facilitator instructed. After this uncomfortable scene, we catch up with Paul in a private litigation hearing concerning his arrest in “The Western Book of the Dead.” The actress sits across the table and lies through her teeth about Paul—who’s been “promoted” to investigating fraud. He isn’t hearing it and won’t accept any blame. Her lawyers try to use his violent past to prosecute him, but the clever cop knows his past has nothing to do with this case. Plus, he’s not really into women, but he wasn’t about to share that. Paul’s liaison, Katherine (Michael Hyatt—Nightcrawler), stands up for him, as well, pointing out the actress’ publicist spun the tabloids against Paul. Will a civil case get pursued?
At the Lux, Frank speaks with a business associate before the former owner’s drug connections walk in and demand payment/ continued business. They don’t speak much, but Frank kicks them out of the place. This will assuredly bite him in the behind later in the year. It’s kind of weird that they’d show up two months after Frank took the place, and not the next week, for example. Crowley stays with Frank as he wakes up Mayor Chessani from a nap in his office. Do they have to show that President Bush photo in every scene with the mayor? This is motif is old now. The man they sold a business to wound up dead—drunk driving off a cliff despite the fact that Frank never saw him “finish a beer.” The mayor frantically texts on his iPhone, answering Frank’s question about “foreign” the outside interest who wanted the Polka Room. For Mayor Chessani, to open his mouth is to lie. Frank then learns the mayor’s aware of him employing prostitutes in back of the Polka Room as he receives a penance tax for this. We then jump to a custody hearing (loving the lack of Lin’s constant aerial transitions) with Ray and his attorney seated across from his ex, her husband, and their counsel. Ray agrees to a drug test as the Brunes finally put it on paper that Chad is probably not Ray’s son—asking for a DNA test. The Brunes leave as we find that Ray’s stayed clean for 60 days.
At the casino, we see a working girl lead a man to the back as Blake bosses the floor. Frank asks Ray to investigate Blake, suspecting his life outside Semyon’s crew is traitorous. Even Velcoro asks Frank about “running girls” again to really put this gangster in his place. Frank asks Ray if he really thinks Ledo and his men killed Caspere, but he just doesn’t know for sure. We also learn Caspere died with $5 million of Frank’s money. Transitional aerial shots take us to a trailer park where Cynthia, Woodrugh’s mother, lives. She isn’t happy to know he’s getting married, and assumes Emily is pregnant—calling Paul a “good-looking white man,” meaning he “can do anything he wants…If I was a man, I’d have the world.” He heads back to his bedroom and is violently irate when he exits. We learn Cynthia stole $20,000 of Paul’s money that he hid in his old bedroom. She gives him a lot of BS, before finally getting supremely defensive and resorting to blaming her pregnancy for ruining her life and shaming her son for his sexuality, despite his family on the way. So that’s how she can afford to not work. He leaves as his mother finally begins to regret her words. But will he see his mother ever again?
We then catch up with Ani, looking into the case she and Elvis stumbled on to when they served a foreclosure notice in “The Western Book of the Dead.” She sits in the woman’s new apartment, talking about the woman’s sister. The detective thumbs through some photos and an invitation that belonged to the missing woman. A photo of some diamonds catches Ani’s attention. The camera turns and we see Ani still analyzing the photo while wearing a uniform and working in the evidence cage—an obvious demotion for the relationship that landed her in the sexual harassment class. She starts recognizing the subjects in the photos as established government and community leaders until Elvis interrupts to try and lift her spirits. Ani asks him to get the address the missing woman last called from before she went missing. Crowley finally gives us his take on the aerial, exterior shots of California nighttime highway driving before settling on Ray driving his car, recording digitally, and tailing Blake all the way to Dr. Pitlor’s compound. He witness Blake greeted by Tony Chessani (the mayor’s son who plans “special events”), Dr. Pitlor, and a couple girls. From there, he tails Tony dropping the girls off at a club where Osip greets them. Inside the Lux, Frank supervises the vice industry of drugs and sex. He spots Jordan making her path through the crowd and meets her for a private conversation in a back room. She’s hip to the downfall of Danny Santos, the implementation of drugs and prostitutes, and not happy about it. Jordan confesses she can’t have kids, it turns out she had three “operations,” not just the one he knew about before she told him this.
Crowley checks in on Woodrugh again, pouring booze into his dinner glass for an evening meal with Emily and her mother. He’s at least cooled off since the incident with his mother. Talks of the future and a domestic arrangement that include Emily’s mother drive Paul to gulp his beverage. The camera quickly returns to the Semyons where Jordan confesses that she wanted to adopt after she heard Frank’s story of his father abandoning him in a rat-infested basement. She wants to save another child Frank before he turns into some monstrous, violent gangster like her husband. They hash out money problems husband-and-wife style where Kelly Reilly assures a Golden Globe nomination, comparing Frank’s current and former situation to why they need to adopt. She can really act and “True Detective” may be the platform that takes her career to the next level. We then find singer/ songwriter Lera Lynn performing onstage at the same, old dive bar as Velcoro and Bezzerides catch up with each other. Her first song was “My Least Favorite Life,” but now it seems as if all the characters have moved on to the episode’s titular namesake of “Other Lives.” She shows him the photos. He’s talking to himself a lot more and she’s developed the whiskey shivers from drinking too much. Ani tells Frank that the missing girl she’s looking for on the side is more-than-likely connected to these parties that Caspere attended presumably with Pitlor and the Chessanis. She then goes deeper, pointing out that the photos she got were blackmail. McAdams’ “nobody cares” speech not only inspires Velcoro, but may land her a Golden Globe nomination. They talk about how tragic it is that Woodrugh is reduced to fraud work, with Ray even referring to Paul as a “god-warrior” for his part in the gunfight. She’s also suspicious of Teague Dixon’s motives on the day he died. She departs and it genuinely seems like Ray will miss Ani.
The Semyons enjoy a Lee Marvin movie at their new digs and feel a lot chummier than they have in the last few episodes. I imagine the last two months for Jordan weren’t easy either. Crowley shows an aerial, industrial shot of Vinci as the true detectives (Ray, Ani, and Paul) meet with Katherine, who isn’t convinced they cracked the case two months ago. Velcoro approaches this with hostility at first, trying to write everybody off in one way or another. “Geldof’s actions are the clearest indication of collusion between the Vinci power structure and the larger state institutions,” Katherine explains. She’s the real deal, asking them to solve the murder of Caspere and to gather evidence against all the bad guys. Velcoro declines at first, but Katherine mentions helping his case in the custody trial for Chad and subsequently adds him to her all-star roster of alcoholic detectives with varying oedipal complexes. “I can make sure you keep your boy.” Ray then offers that the shooter who popped him in Caspere’s apartment probably wasn’t involved in their Vinci shootout two months ago. Ani volunteers to check the purchased land up north and investigate these parties everybody keeps hearing about but nobody seems to know about them. Woodrugh adds that he’ll follow up on the diamonds and why they merited photographs. Velcoro wants to know “why me” for this team, and Katherine tells him that if he’s properly motivated, he’s a good bet to find the dirt they need. I’m inclined to agree with her.
Ani and Paul leave the meeting and Ray sticks back with Katherine for a minute. “You let me keep my kid, I’m in,” Ray says. He then goes on to ask why she’s changed her mind about his motives, and she tells him that the rumor surrounding him wasn’t true: he couldn’t have killed his wife’s rapist because the perpetrator was caught, matching the DNA sample from all those years ago. WHOA, wait a minute! If what Katherine’s saying is true (it is), then the name that Frank gave Ray all those years ago was WRONG either accidentally or a part of something much more sinister. Did Ray really carry out a hit for Frank instead of avenging his wife? Katherine, however, knows none of this—only that Ray didn’t kill his wife’s rapist. She leaves as the news turns him raw. In one moment, he found out that he almost certainly isn’t Chad’s biological father and that he murdered a man years ago for a crime he didn’t commit. Does he still welcome judgment? The camera turns to the office of the businessman from Catalyst, whom Frank occasionally meets. Frank states that they owe him some land, but the businessman is sure the board will disagree. The gangster leans on him, threatening to start talking about how Catalyst acquired properties and capital. The Catalyst representative tells Frank that there’s still a play for some land if the gangster can get his hands on some “films…Home movies, a hard drive full of them” that Caspere presumably possessed at the time of his death. They strike an accord—five parcels of expensive land for one filthy hard drive. Frank turns and looks at some plans Catalyst has for the future—a tiny replica model of some sort of resort. A transition to Vinci from the Catalyst model may represent the plans Catalyst has for Vinci.
Dr. Pitlor (80s icon Rick Springfield) reads and takes notes from Carlos Castaneda’s A Separate Reality. Is he brushing up on seeing energy travel through the universe? Because some serious energy enters his presence when Ray Velcoro announces he’s arrived to “help” Pitlor. Ray proceeds to brush everything off the doctor’s desk just to intimidate him and breaks through wood on the desk with a leather billy club. The detective then begins interrogating Pitlor based on what he saw while tailing Blake and Tony. Pitlor won’t answer these questions or entertain Velcoro’s intimidation tactics, giving him nothing but condescending drivel which leads the detective to hit the doctor. Hard. Velcoro pushes him into a wall, through and over a chair, and admits that seeing the awful doctor squirm is starting to turn his day around after hearing the awful news from Katherine. Do you suppose this is just therapeutic for Ray? Because it’s certainly not what this doctor ordered. Ray gets that “dirt” Katherine wanted as Pitlor owns up to surgically cutting up the girls (“making eights into tens”) for parties thrown on behalf of a conclave of men in high standing. Caspere and Tony Chessani cooked up the idea for these parties, which Mayor Chessani doesn’t attend. It looks like Tony’s political ambition inspired him to concoct this scheme with the idea of schmoozing with government leaders while also photographing them for blackmail intentions. I imagine this is what Caspere had on the hard drive. Does this mean Tony Chessani shot Ray in “Night Finds You?” Did he kill Caspere? Pitlor also associated Caspere with the Catalyst group—the first time anybody did that who wasn’t Frank Semyon. Ray then asks about Mayor Chessani’s first wife, but Pitlor has trouble answering the question when some of his teeth fall out from their gums. It turns out she had some trouble with “certain traditions of the Chessani patriarch…you might say a highly inventive family.”
Ani and Athena walk on a beach. Ani follows up her end of the bargain, asking Athena to help her get a line on these parties of which we learned a great deal from Pitlor. From their conversation, we glean that Ani hasn’t spoken much at all with her family after the shooting and certainly won’t speak about the gunfight at all. Athena announces she finally got into Cal Arts—the reason she started working as a cam girl in the first place. Ani congratulates her sister and Athena agrees to reach out to some the girls she used to know. A few aerial transitions land on Paul as we see him enter multiple pawn shops before one pawn owner mentions another detective asked him about these diamonds about two months ago—Teague Dixon. We then shift to Ani driving and Paul letting her know that Teague asked around about the diamonds before the deposit box was ever even opened. Ani says they’re headed to the spot where her missing girl last called from—a location also on Caspere’s GPS. Did Teague pop Ray that night in Hollywood instead of Tony? My guess is it was one of them. They look out the window to see a man dressed as Jesus carrying a cross roadside. The camera jumps to Ray meeting up with his ex, with Ray lying about killing a man all those years ago to avenge his wife so as not to implicate himself for murder. “That ruined everything, Ray. That ruined you!” she declares. “…I don’t want to live this fantasy about Chad with you anymore.” As she walks away, Ray says that Frank set him but she has no clue what that means.
Crowley then transitions to Frank in bed with Jordan, talking about adopting again. “Don’t worry about kids, now. This is between you and me.” We then cut to Paul and Ani investigating the address. It’s a stone house—a nice residence deep in the woods. The doors and windows are locked and upon looking inside, all the furniture is covered with sheets to show that nobody’s been home for a while. Paul suggests calling the local PD to let them inside, but Ani’s preoccupied by a populous group of birds flying and circling something in the forest. They follow the carrion birds deep into the trees as an unpleasant odor overpowers the atmosphere. Weapons drawn, the two cops approach a shoddy, wooden shed hidden among the terrain. The smell is almost too much inside, where they find a chair with binding around the wrist part of the arm rest and dried blood everywhere—even arterial spray on the walls. Someone was tortured and murdered here, and we hope it isn’t the missing girl. We cut back to the Semyons’ post-coital joint when Frank notices this ceiling has no water stains. He mentions his man McCandless at Catalyst, but Jordan suggests selling “all the clubs.” Frank takes this a step further and jokes about becoming farmers on a hippie co-op. “You don’t wanna grow anything,” he advises before realizing this statement may mirror their conception issues. She asks if he trusts McCandless before they hear a harsh, violent rapping at their door. Frank grabs his piece and greets a hostile Ray at his front door. “You and me need to talk,” Ray declares with a hateful glare in his eye.
So there you have it. “Other Lives” answered several questions and set up a whole new set. Just who shot Ray in Hollywood that night? Are Osip and Blake conspiring against Frank? Who did Ray kill all those years ago? How will Frank handle his new problems? Is Paul ever talking to his mother again? Will Chad ever see Ray again? Will Athena get Ani into the party? What became of Pitlor? The answers lie around in plain sight, “well-disguised” as Leonard Cohen reminds us in the opening titles song. We met the Yellow King last year before we realized it, and I’m sure we’ve met Caspere’s killer. A lot of questions were answered, but we really only had one suspenseful moment in the woods before that captivating cliffhanger on the doorstep.