True Detective 206 recap/ review
Church in Ruins
Spoiler alerts, recaps recapture an episode’s plot for those who missed it, forgot certain details/ events, or just enjoy an in-depth analysis.
After last week’s cliffhanger ending, director Miguel Sapochnik takes over fresh off his wildly successful episode of “Game of Thrones,” “Hardhome,” the highest-rated hour of GoT on imdb.com. Only a few moments have passed since Frank met Ray at the door, presumably to discuss why Frank gave Ray the wrong name to kill so many years ago. Whomever Ray killed, it wasn’t the person who raped his wife. The two men sit across from each other at a kitchen table with a gun pointed at the other underneath the tabletop. What’s most interesting about this scene is that Frank lacked surprise or regret from hearing what Velcoro had to say, and dismissing it with a statement about how Ray used this incident to make himself into some sort of jaded “Superman.” The gangster tries to almost comfort the former detective, saying the man he killed wasn’t deserving of life anyway. “I didn’t set you up, and I ain’t your suicide ticket.” A jumpcut takes us to the crime scene Bezzerides and Woodrugh came upon last week as photographers document the bloody images. A park ranger notes there are several shacks in these woods dating back to the 1930s as a photographer says the scene is at least weeks old with the blood belonging to a female. Ani orders a cadaver dog to search the area as Katherine appears on location.
We return to the kitchen where Frank essentially pleads ignorance and Ray reluctantly accepts this answer before giving up what he found out about Blake last week in “Other Lives.” Ray wants the name of the man who gave up the suspect he eventually killed, to which Frank will need time digging. The men take hands off their weapons and civilly conclude their discussion. Frank tells him that he’ll get the name if Ray finds the hard drive he and Catalyst desperately need. The gangster’s mistake is telling the former cop that the hard drive has a lot of “sensitive” material on it. Velcoro then gets up to take his exit and “…see about killing a man.” It’s too bad for Frank that Ray is one of the last people he can trust, especially if he lied during that scene about the name. When Velcoro finally leaves, the camera reveals Jordan holding a handgun in the event that the exchange between the longtime associates grew heated. She eventually shows us how scared she is, letting her guard down when the dust settles.
Sapochnik jumps back to Ani and Katherine outside of the crime scene shed. Bezzerides finally explains out loud (because one of the characters had to do it) how everything they’ve investigated is related; however, Katherine’s only “interested in collusion.” A local sheriff joins their conversation, trying to assume command of the crime scene. Katherine explains it belongs to the state as Ani and Paul ask about any loud noise/ parties that have been witnessed in these woods. The sheriff hardly seems interested in answering their questions, making us suspicious of him. Is he Catalyst’s man in the woods? He sulks off as Katherine assigns Ani to investigate the parties and Paul to “work the diamonds” from the photos last week. An aerial shot of Vinci industry lands on Ray visiting a prison to speak with the man who raped his ex-wife. “I thought I killed you,” Ray opens the discussion. “Eleven years ago…Maybe I still will.” The prisoner won’t own up to any past crimes, citing a brain condition that affects his memory as he requests the presence of his lawyer. We get more flashes Velcoro’s violent speech, reminiscent of the night he beat the father of Chad’s bully within an inch of his life. “…If they don’t give you life, I will have every inch of your flesh removed with a cheese grater...” These exiting words terrify the prisoner, who pleads as Ray leaves him with, “You know me—you just didn’t know you did.”
Paul and a pawn owner research the diamonds, which the merchant suspects were stolen during the LA riots of 1992. We follow Paul again in the next scene, speaking with the cop who investigated the robbery. Like all our true detectives, this one drinks, too. The diamonds were stolen in a homicide where the burglar murdered the owners, a husband and wife. There are no suspects in the original case because the store had already been looted during the riots. “No crime scene integrity,” the retired officer explains. The cop was no dummy; however, indicating looters weren’t part of the equation regarding this particular robbery. The victims were executed as their children—a boy and a girl—hid in the storage cabinets and witnessed the crime. Unfortunately, this officer never saw the case through as he had quadrupled the normal caseload at the time and this particular case got dropped. The kids ended up in the foster system which leads the two law enforcement peers to talk about children. Another aerial shot transition lands on Ani training with a knife in her apartment as Athena gives her the rundown for this party to which she’s landed an invitation. A bus will take her (without any accessories, even a knife) to the party. Athena, having dealt with disgusting men in her work as a cam girl, warns that Ani is dealing with an even more despicable and evil type of beast by taking on undercover work at this party, which is essentially an orgy, but none of the characters call it that despite how obvious the descriptions make it. Athena finally gifts Ani a painting she painted while thinking of a woman “drowning on dry land.” The implications of getting on that bus have Ani’s sister upset.
Like Paul, Ray, and Athena, the Semyons visit somebody as well—Stan’s family. They give the wife of Frank’s murdered henchman a large amount of money (life insurance payout, gangster style). Stan’s widow asks about Blake with caution because it turns out that Blake stuck his nose around the joint right after Stan passed away. She brings up her son with Stan, as well, sending her to tears as Frank looks outside to see the fatherless boy bouncing a baseball against the house to catch the caromed ball. Sapochnik then cuts to a boy with a father—Chad. Chad sits on a couch looking his usual brand of sad and awkward as Ray describes the model they’re about to build. Chad looks up off camera and we eventually see they’re not alone. A court-appointed woman sits in the room, too, documenting her visit. Ray picks up that Chad really doesn’t like building models and tries to power forward through it. Ray suggests they watch TV as he just DVRed a Cardinals game, but Chad would rather watch “Friends”—a show Ray only remembers because he associates it with an ex-girlfriend who liked it. This association embarrasses Chad and definitely gets marked on the woman’s clipboard. Ray asks the woman what she’s writing, but she tells him not to regard her as Chad switches the TV on and watches his show. It doesn’t look like Chad even wants the dad he has. Is he spoiled or just preferential toward his stepdad?
The camera then cuts back to Stan’s house as Frank steps outside to speak with Stan’s son. He tries to connect with the kid, offering kind words about Stan then droning on about turning negative events into what makes us, as people, stronger. The boy eventually begins to cry and embraces Frank. This boy values a father’s presence and that seems to have an effect on Frank, especially in the midst of adoption talk with Jordan. Would Chad miss Ray in the event of his death like Stan’s son? Will Frank have this exact conversation with Chad later? It’s increasingly obvious as to why Pizzolatto worked so many Oedipus Rex references into this season of “True Detective.” Sapochnik cuts back to Ray’s place where a few empty Coca-Cola cans sit on the table as Chad eats some pizza and watches TV. Ray addresses the woman in the room again, and she redirects his attention away again. Chad just looks too awkward for interaction because of her presence and won’t speak. It’s safe to say that Ray realizes this and tries to bring her into the conversation to make Chad feel more comfortable about the situation at hand. Disregarding the woman’s frantic writing, Ray tells his son that there are some details possibly coming out about them, but that he is Chad’s father and will always love him. “Okay,” Chad says, taking another bite of pizza. This boy doesn’t love or value his father. Note the Edward Hopper work Hotel Room (1931) framed behind Ray in this scene. Hopper’s work focusing on the darker, shadowed aspects of life plays heavily into the “True Detective” atmosphere, inspiring the environment.
Sapochnik stays with Ray for the next scene, picking up with our primary protagonist a while after his appointment with Chad. Velcoro storms into his apartment ready to get loaded on cocaine and alcohol while blaring rock. He’s certainly depressed at how his meeting with Chad went. It ends with him crying on the floor, looking around at the model planes, and finally calling his ex-wife with a proposition: he’ll surrender all custody of Chad and never even see him again only as long as they never tell the boy that he’s the result of a rape eleven years ago. She agrees to this as the director slides into moving aerial shots of industrial Vinci at night. We settle on Frank and his men interrogating a man in the below-ground level of a parking lot. Frank wants to know more about Irina, the girl who tipped off Teague about Ledo. Frank also asks about the Santa Muerte cult, followed by a few Hispanic characters during this season of “True Detective.” Santa Muerte (or “Saint Death”) also played heavily into the fifth season of “Dexter,” however the belief system looks to be explored deeper on this program—especially since a skinny skeleton was seen in Ben Caspere’s place. The detainee won’t talk, so a henchman shoots nails into the man as means of torture. Frank threatens to shoot one into his eye next if he doesn’t talk (#oedipusrex). The man gives up a possible location before we cut to more aerial transitions.
At Ani’s, Paul plays with a knife as he briefs his two partners about what he dug up on the diamonds, but no suspects. Ray, too, hasn’t made much headway. It’s a thick, palpable atmosphere as all cops look nervous and uncomfortable regarding Ani infiltrating the party. Paul lays down a transponder for her to hide somewhere on her person as she can’t sneak a phone in with her. Paul then begins narrating the plan over a scene featuring Blake checking each and every girl in line to board the bus headed for the “party.” We see Ani in line, posing as “Athena,” and interacting with Blake before boarding. Many women smoke and drink on the bus ride, but Ani keeps a frosty look on her face. She drops her handbag into a collection pot as the director cuts to a wide shot of the bus on the freeway before landing on Frank and his men investigating the tip they got in the parking lot. One henchman kicks down the door and the others enter with guns drawn. A Santa Muerte altar sits in the room, but no people. Frank hears a hammer lock as a group of men with guns enter to create, as he puts it, “…a Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” It is the Mexican gangsters who were in business with Danny Santos before Frank ended that. This is one of their locations, but Frank didn’t know that when they arrived. The director then cuts to Paul following Ani’s transponder in a vehicle and chatting with Ray, in another vehicle, over the phone.
A jumpcut back to Frank shows the gangster explaining his presence. Unfortunately, they want to make a costly deal first. They get to push their “stuff” three days a week for a year in Frank’s mob-protected clubs in exchange for a meeting with Irina. More transitional shots (Sapochnik overdoes it on a Justin Lin-scale) land on the bus pulling into its destination which looks similar to Pitlor’s clinic. A guard lights a smoke as Paul takes him down with Ray providing cover and a look-out before jumping inside where Ani waits in line to take some MDMA with the other women from the bus. Back outside, they tie up the guard and stow him in a bush before they climb a hill and make their way closer to the compound to get eyes on her. Inside, Ani and the girls are lead to a room where Blake tells a host of men to “enjoy themselves.” A brief cutaway to Frank’s office in the casino follows up his last scene as he answers a phone call from Irina. He asks her about Ledo and Ben Caspere, but she insists some man gave her the items to pawn. She describes the man as a “thin, white…cop” and doesn’t want to point him out in a photo lineup until Frank ups the fee to an even grand and lets her bring her own protection. We stay with Frank for the next scene as he and his goons arrive to meet Irina in one of Vinci’s many industrial buildings. As they approach, the posse finds a dead girl with her throat slit—Irina. Headlights turn on and the Mexican gangsters step out to greet Frank. The leader speaks, “As promised—you’ve seen her. We take Thursday, Friday, Saturday night at the clubs. No fee. Like you say…” Frank is beside himself with anger and can’t fathom why they killed a girl who presumably posed no threat; however, they explain her murder was brought on by working for cops.
Returning to the party, Ani peruses the compound. Another suspenseful, tense sequence occurs here, similar to the shootout at the end of “Down Will Come.” The episode really picks up in this scene and doesn’t let go until the end, not unlike “Hardhome,” the episode Sapochnik directed for the most recent season of “Game of Thrones” that ended on a whirlwind, action-packed sequence. She recognizes Geldof choosing a woman and speaking with Blake as the MDMA hits her. Hard. Distorted camera shots display how drugged she is as she walks deeper into the house where the sexual content gets turned up as she explores more and more. She stops to lean on a table and makes eye contact with a roasted pig, trying to collect her thoughts. In one room, she spies some Vinci cops, Osip, Tony Chessani, and the Catalyst representative named McCandless. Keeping her cover, Ani quickly ducks away, but only to bump right into a big, old pervert who took a liking to her. He drones on about the oil business, leading her away as she inconspicuously grabs a knife from the table on which she just leaned.
Outside, Velcoro and Woodrugh continue their way to Ani. Woodrugh’s military experience certainly lends itself to the world of shadow-lurking, avoiding armed guards, and quiet entrances. They stand on each side of window where, inside, McCandless and Osip strike a deal, breathing Caspere and Semyon’s names in the same phrase. Paul sneaks inside as we cut to Ani deeper inside and struggling to stand up and walk next to the big man who took her. People fornicate everywhere she looks until she’s staring a Charles Manson-esque character in the face. Several more hallucinations follow in this MDMA trip featuring the creepy, dirty man whom we are led to believe molested Ani at a very young age. The drugs are too much to bear and she needs a bathroom, but not before the oil perv threatens Ani not to make him come find her. She hallucinates the creepy man onto many of the men she crosses in her path. She finally finds the bathroom and vomits into a sink just as a vision of herself enters a sketchy van with the bad man. A jumpcut to Woodrugh (Velcoro is an outside lookout) finds the cop extracting the documents from a desk that McCandless put away a few moments ago after he talked with Osip. He joins Ray outside as a guard comes around and forces their hand. Velcoro beats the guard to a bloody pulp (he has a knack for that) as we jump back inside to the bathroom.
Looking up from the sink, Bezzerides finds her missing person, Vera Machiado, alive and strung out on drugs. Ani quickly gathers her composure and helps Vera to her feet. Ani helps Vera walk through the compound, attracting almost zero attention as people fornicate around them, until the big, old, oil man appears again only to get met with several incapacitating shots from Bezzerides. Another guard approaches and Ani puts him down with the knife she nabbed. The guard dies and Ani grabs Vera again to keep going. They reach a door where Woodrugh stands outside, luckily, and he takes Vera. The three make their way down a concrete path as the exterior flood lights of the compound illuminate the property and guards file out with weapons. They keep running as Velcoro frantically drives to pick them all up for extraction. The guards open fire as everybody gets in the car and Woodrugh returns a couple shots. They kill the headlights and get away with Bezzerides’ missing person, Vera, as well as several documents presumably damning to all the bad guys involved in the murder of Ben Caspere. I believe Katherine’s going to get that collusion she wanted so aggressively. It’s only in the vehicle where Bezzerides realizes that she may have killed somebody. That Molly’s a helluva drug. A closing exterior shot shows Ray turning the headlines on and peeling into a paved road as the full moon shines over what is definitely the most awkward car-ride home.
The pieces have essentially fallen into play and we have two weeks left. Will the last two episodes see them going after the names? I certainly don’t expect a climactic maze chase like the first season, and I can’t see how anything resembling that scenario would go down. I predict a very public/ media-oriented ending with some private repercussions to which only the viewing audience is privy. Will Chad ever learn about his parentage? Will Ben Caspere’s murderer get caught? Will any of these detectives make it out alive? Honestly, Pizzolatto probably answered these questions already and I merely need to watch it again.