True Detective 207 recap/ review
Black Maps and Motel Rooms
Spoiler alert- recaps recapture an episode’s plot to benefit those who missed it, didn’t understand a part of it, or just want to read an in-depth analysis.
If you’ve kept the names all straight, this was a very rewarding episode.
The penultimate episode of HBO’s sophomore series “True Detective” aired on Sunday and perpetrated an act the first season avoided. “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” picks up an hour or so after last week’s episode, “Church in Ruins” with our heroes and their missing girl checking into a roadside motel to lay low. Paul Woodrugh examines the documents he found in the party that Osip and McCandless discussed/ signed. The missing girl struggles in withdrawal on the bed beside him as he ignores his fiancée’s phone call for the fifth time. In the next room over, Ray Velcoro drinks as Ani Bezzerides declares the MDMA is still working. She starts listing the men she witnessed at the party before momentarily slipping back into the flashback she endured while beginning her drug trip—mentioning how “they” found her “running out of the woods” when she was a little girl. Ray is perplexed, but lets it go as she begins coming on to him in her drug-induced, confusing state of mind. He plays it cool and backs off, citing how she’s “out of my league anyway” to spare her the embarrassment the drugs have caused. A time lapse shows Paul and Ray reading the documents, specifically Tony Chessani and Osip Agronov’s name aloud. A text message from an unknown number directs Paul’s attention to his phone, where he sees compromising photos of himself and his friend Miguel along with a message that reads: “Busy night? Say Hi to Emily.” A knock on the door interrupts this and Ray lets Ani inside, looking more cleaned up and clear-headed than in her last scene. Paul leaves to check in at home as Ray volunteers to deliver the documents to Katharine while Ani holds down the fort. She’s worried that her superiors will make her for killing the security guard, and Ray really can’t comfort her.
Director Daniel Attias (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Silver Bullet) takes us to the fourth lead next. Frank is playing cards alone in the dark when Jordan joins him at his side. He tells her the news of his unfortunate drug arrangement with the Mexican gangsters from last week’s episode. And just like she has all year, Jordan suggests getting out of the crime business and running away with whatever cash Frank can muster. On her way out, Ray enters to have an audience with Frank. “Keep it holstered,” she warns—a nod to the opening of “Church in Ruins.” He sits down with Frank to begin a story about his “strange night” before Attias transitions to Paul driving Emily to a safe location while they talk about a frightening phone call she received last night where the caller told her to ask Paul about “the pictures,” presumably the photos sent to his phone. He brushes it off as part of his case and tells her this will all blow over by the time the baby comes along for them. She asks him why they’re together or why he even asked her out to begin with, but all he can say is, “I’m just trying to be a good man.” “You’re not trying right,” she replies.
Back at the motel, Athena arrives and asks Ani about what happened at the party. Ani offers her some money and tells her to disappear “up North” with their father for a while because of the implications of what happened at the party. The detective admits she found a missing girl and that she was given some drugs while in attendance. Ani says she went all the way into the party and the camera cuts to Paul before we hear Athena’s answer about going all the way into these parties. Paul, too, heads for an inconspicuous motel room to drop off his mother and fiancée until the heat from his investigation passes. Like Ani, he wants to protect loved ones from the evil forces behind the murder of Ben Caspere, etc. He directs them to order room service for the next few days so as not to leave the room before leaving himself. Attias then comes back to Frank and Ray finishing up the details of the night before at Tony Chessani’s party. Ray draws several lines and points out that Blake’s betrayal is only the tip of the iceberg—Catalyst/ McCandless and Osip/ his shady Russian mob-protected corporation probably arranged for Caspere’s murder with help from Tony Chessani, who wants to assume his father’s role in the Vinci crime loop. Catalyst sold Chessani some of Caspere’s shares, as well. Frank then offers the information he learned from Irina Rulfo about the diamonds coming from a tall, white cop. Ray asks about the name he wanted from Frank in “Church in Ruins,” to which the gangster promises he’ll have by the end of the night. Semyon excuses Velcoro, but he had to leave anyway. Walking out of the casino, Ray calls Paul and tells him what he learned about Irina before turning him on to investigate Police Chief Holloway, as well.
Returning to Ani at the motel, she now speaks with Vera Machiado—who claims she wanted to be at that party and that her grim composure in the bathroom was only the result of mixing too much MDMA “on top of champagne.” The detective reveals the diamond photos for Vera to examine. Vera recognizes the photos, saying, “Tasha must’ve sent these.” Viewers recall earlier in the investigation, “Tasha” was a person of extreme interest wanted for questioning in connection to the murder of Ben Caspere. Vera met Caspere when she worked as a maid for the institute led by Ani’s father, Eliot. Caspere got her involved and going in the world of prostitution and attending the orgy parties. “Tasha was his favorite,” Vera says before admitting that Tasha wanted Vera’s help in blackmailing these important men for a hefty payday—hence the diamond photos. Anybody starting to connect the missing Tasha to that bloody cabin in the woods? Because that’s exactly what Vera confirms in her next breath after revealing Tasha was busted with a camera at one of the parties “up north.” Vera also mentions it was “Tony C. and his guys” who took Tasha into the woods. The once-missing girl will not testify, however, admitting that she enjoyed her life attending these orgies for money and was never “lost” by definition. Ani gets Vera to name one more girl, Laura, in the photos. The found person doesn’t think Laura is missing because she wasn’t “dumb, like Tasha.” When Bezzerides mentions Vera’s sister will pick her up, Vera flips out and defends her life choices and Tony Chessani. “Maybe you were put on Earth for than f***ing,” Ani suggests. Unfortunately, however, that’s what Vera thinks “everything” is, but I don’t believe she’s a Freudian at heart.
A knock at the door interrupts Ani and Vera’s silent break. It is Vera’s sister come to pick her up and find safety. She won’t go willingly. “You reach out to those men; I’ll let them know you talked to a cop. And they’ll paint a cabin with you,” Ani stiffly asserts. Paul digs up old dirt at the LAPD, seeing records of Chief Holloway and the deceased Detective Dixon going back many years on some drug cases. Caspere’s name appears as well as the PD’s chief accountant. The camera jumps behind a book case as if someone is following Paul and spying on him. Further research shows that Ani is wanted for questioning in the death of a security guard. The camera cuts away as Paul calls someone. In Frank’s office, Blake lays down $15K he got pimping girls at a “side thing last night” on Frank’s desk. We, of course, know this to be the party the true detectives infiltrated. Frank begins toying with Blake to make him nervous and sweat a little. He accuses Blake of killing Stan, telling him that his biggest mistake was walking into the room alone as Frank is now completely hip to the jive. Blake tries denying it, but Frank just breaks a tumbler over his face like it they were in The Departed. Attias then jumpcuts to Ray meeting Katharine with the documents they extracted at the party. Upon approaching her vehicle, Ray sees that Katharine has been shot dead. He immediately hops right back in his car and speeds off before he’s the next victim out there.
Over in the casino office, Blake squirms and crawls on the floor. Frank tortures him until he gives up Osip and his attempts to take Frank’s “spot.” Blake claims “nobody” knows who killed Caspere, but offers that Caspere and Osip were always going to screw Frank out of his play at the land despite the murder and that Osip and Tony Chessani are absorbing Caspere’s “action.” The tortured man tries to justify his actions before Frank asks about the name Blake gave him all those years ago regarding the murder of the man who didn’t rape Ray’s ex-wife. Blake admits that it was never the right guy, just a meth head who claimed that Blake owed him money. “Look me in the eyes,” Frank says, “I want to watch your lights go out.” The betrayed gangster then begins to choke the life out of his former right-hand man. Frank lets up, however, when he learns he can take some of his money back. There will be a huge cash exchange--$12 million—at McCandless’ home between Catalyst and Osip. He releases Blake, asking for “anything else” the man knows. “They’re taking it all…Osip’s people bought the leans on the clubs.” Blake offers to work for Frank as a “triple cross” on the inside, but the gangster just shoots his betrayer instead. Semyon pours himself a glass and watches Blake die on the carpet.
An exterior, aerial shot of the highway transitions to the Panticapaeum Institute as Ani meets Eliot there. They look at the old photo that often surfaces throughout the season. Caspere, Chessani, et al. were “grouped” as hedonists by Eliot, who also remembers their group keeping very secret before moving on after a brief stay. “I regret so much of that time,” he confesses. They then speak about “the man who took (her) away” that she finally remembered while tripping at the party. It would seem that Eliot wandered the forest for four days looking for her when Ani was abducted as a child. Eliot then gets very emotional, mentioning his own “harsh” father and how it affected his life choices. I suppose another link in the oedipal chain is necessary for this season. She says she won’t turn herself in (probably a smart move for now) for killing the guard and makes note that he hasn’t yet asked her if she did it. “Doesn’t matter—you’re the most innocent person I know,” Eliot says. Detective Ilinca shows up to ferry Ani’s family to safety, telling her there’s APB out on her, and finally apologizing for his jealousy and not helping out sooner. Ani says her goodbyes and thanks her partner for helping. In the casino, Frank assembles Nails and tells him they’ve fought a secret war for the last few months with Blake’s corpse still littering the office floor. They see Jordan enter the casino and Frank lets her in the office to see the surprising sight. He spells it out for her: “They’ve taken everything—even what we got left.” He sends her out to pack a bag with Nails as security detail—very apropos name for muscle.
We stay with Frank for the next scene—a meeting with an orthodox Jewish jeweler who has mob ties. Frank wants to convert his money to stones for easier portability. Attias continues this montage with Frank visiting a travel agent to buy airplane tickets that are easily changeable to any other destination in the world should he need to mix up his plan. Frank then visits the mob-protected bakery to pick up false passports, promising to pay off the consignment tomorrow. He gives up the Russians to these Turkish gangsters, warning them of what Osip has planned for the next year. He then gives them a wish list of vehicles, promising to pay more if he can get to where he’s going. After this sequence, Attias assembles all three detectives meeting in the motel room to discuss their next move now that Katharine can’t help. “They probably did her with one of the pieces I keep at home,” Ray suggests before noting that he switched license plates at a mall. Now both he and Ani are on the wrong side of the law as fugitives. Woodrugh then tells them everything he dug up on the ’92 jewelry store robbery that saw the blue diamond disappear, connecting Caspere to Dixon and Chief Holloway. “Orphaned two kids—Leonard and Laura,” Paul says. Astute viewers recall “Laura” as the other missing girl from the photo Ani showed Vera earlier in “Black Maps and Motel Rooms.” Ani realizes they used the diamonds to buy in to the crooked, corrupt show. They can’t figure out Teague Dixon’s involvement 100 %, only that the shootout that eventually killed him in “Down Will Come” was a set-up from the start. Lt. Burris, Chief Holloway, and Det. Dixon searched for the diamonds for a long time to be rid of them as damning evidence against them. Tasha blackmailing Caspere probably prompted the others to murder him and her before the situation ever saw the light of day. None of this shows who exactly killed Caspere, however.
Paul gets a buzz and sees more photos with a message that the photos are for sale at the Hall of Records. He excuses himself to go home and the other two ask him to go to State with the evidence as he’s the only non-fugitive among them. Paul barely pays attention with his mind elsewhere as we cut to Mayor Chessani boasting at the Vinci Gardens Casino and shamelessly asking a girl for a sexual favor. Frank appears behind the bar, scaring her off to other parts of the room. Frank advises him to leave the premises before it’s too late and the Mayor’s back-stabbing son, Tony, takes over their Chessani “political dynasty.” The mayor can’t even speak as we see Osip and his crew enter the casino. The irony here is that Frank refused to make the Mayor a drink because he wasn’t a factor anymore, but he made Osip a drink to keep the gangster in the dark about how much he knows. Osip tells him that he’s bought all the leans and doesn’t expect the positive reaction from Frank before asking about Blake’s whereabouts. Frank hasn’t seen him for a while (wink). The merciful Osip agrees to keep Frank on salary to run the clubs. They toast a shot and Attias cuts to Paul arriving at the Vinci Hall of Records where he calls Ray and says he hasn’t told anybody “about this other thing”—his homosexuality, presumably. He tells him there are comprising photos of himself and that he’s probably “walking into something.” Velcoro smells a trap, as well, and advises Paul to not enter. Woodrugh seeshis friend/ lover Miguel waiting outside the building and the phone call ends.
Paul and Miguel approach each other. Woodrugh can’t make sense of it as Miguel says it’s “orders” and takes Paul’s gun because there are eyes everywhere. Miguel isn’t with Black Mountain security anymore, explaining they’ve “rebranded” and service only one client now—the Catalyst group. Paul’s history with Black Mountain ties to the case just like Ani and Ray’s respective historical connections. Their meeting from “Maybe Tomorrow” was not what it seemed as Catalyst put Miguel up to the rendezvous from the start. Miguel leads Paul down a dark staircase as we jump back to Ani and Ray holed up in the motel right after Ray’s phone conversation with Paul. Velcoro suggests an exit strategy that involves fleeing the country as Ani just wants to know what makes “Laura” from the photo so familiar. Ray recognizes Laura as “Erica,” Caspere’s secretary that Ani met on the movie set. They deduce Erica is one of the orphaned siblings from the ’92 robbery—is she the witness that can put all the bad guys away? Jumping below ground, Paul enters a dark tunnel with flashlights spotlighting him. Chief Holloway steps out of the shadows and sardonically offers Paul an opportunity to ask him some questions before jumping back to Ani and Ray after some investigating. It looks like Erica moved out of her apartment six weeks ago and quit her job around the time of the murder. They need Paul to trace her, but Ray admits he just tried calling him again. They realize they’ll have to “ride it out til morning” and “wait for Woodrugh.”
In the casino, Frank asks one of his guards to make an announcement to clear the building. Underground, Holloway points out the photos of Paul and Miguel were a “happy coincidence” found when clearing Teague’s apartment. “You just be honest about who you are, nobody would be able to run you,” Miguel offers. Holloway wants the documents Woodrugh got from the party, showing his gun. Paul says that Ray has the papers, but that he can call him and set up a meeting where he gets every copy of the photos. Woodrugh says he doesn’t care about Velcoro or Bezzerides’ outcome and never cared about Katherine, but is he just lying to appease his captor? Attias jumps to Frank emptying a safe into a bag at the casino. He kills Osip’s new man on staff and proceeds to blow the place up with a gas leak and some flames. Attias then finally shows us the dynamic of Woodrugh’s mother and fiancée hiding out in their motel room as they watch the 1961 Elia Kazan film Splendor in the Grass. It’s an old, sad story. Like Deanie in the movie, Woodrugh’s fiancée Emily holds an unrequited love to a man she thinks loves her back. Returning to Paul, he can’t get any service for his cell phone so far underground. He tries to show Holloway, but fakes him out and takes the Chief’s gun. As Woodrugh backs away with a gun and Holloway, he has the other guards drop their weapons and kill the lights. Pistol-whipping the Chief, Paul drops the body and makes a run for it as the guards pick up their weapons and fire at him. A The Third Man-esque tunnel chase begins as we cut to Ray and Ani waiting for Paul to return to the motel. They talk about getting Erica/ Laura to testify for the Feds. From there, their conversation gets personal and dark as Ray relates his history to Ani’s. An awkward break leads to awkward silence and Ray pours them each another drink. After staring back and forth for what feels like an hour, Ani cuts the silence to address Ray, “You’re not a bad man.” But Ray is quick to respond, “Yes, I am.” With whom do you side? He asks her if she misses anything, but all she can do to respond is put her hand in his.
Back in the underground gun chase, Paul again becomes the “warrior god” Ray called him—taking out his pursuers one-by-one (Miguel included) with stealth and action. Paul doesn’t shoot Miguel, however, as he took a bullet in the head from another guard aiming at Paul. Throughout this whole sequence, neither Paul nor Miguel hesitated in their duty. What is Pizzolatto saying there? He spots a light coming from a manhole and climbs a ladder to the surface. In the motel, Ray and Ani stand and embrace each other in an intimate moment on the verge of turning passionate. They can’t stop touching lips as the camera pans to Lux where Frank empties another safe and starts pouring booze everywhere to encourage some flames. From a safe distance, he watches his Vinci Empire burn to the ground as if he were Caesar looking over Rome. A check-in to the motel room shows the two detectives have moved to a bed to continue their tryst. The camera then shows us Paul running out of darkness and into a dimly-lit hall littered with abandoned shopping carts and trash. He exits the building and removes his phone to make a call right when Lt. Burris steps out of the shadows and shoots Paul through the back and out the chest. As Woodrugh crawls for his gun, Burris approaches and executes him. Attias then shows Emily lying awake in bed, looking over at Cynthia, who sleeps. Paul’s child will grow up like he did, not knowing his father to perpetuate the Woodrugh oedipal cycle. Emily sees a mother and child on screen, making her eyes water. Back in Vinci, Burris picks up Paul’s phone and gets in a car’s passenger seat to flee the scene. And the last thing we see is Paul’s body lying on the pavement with his gun a few inches before him. Unlike “Night Finds You” when a shooter appeared from the shadows to pop Ray, I sincerely doubt the following episode will demonstrate the shooting wasn’t fatal.
With one episode left, there are only two true detectives alive. I was really rooting for Paul and for him being there for his family. Even if he was living a lie, he tried to do right by everybody and probably could have come to some understanding with Emily down the line, but we’ll never know. With Katharine and Paul dead, nobody can vouch for fugitives Ray and Ani. Will they find Erica, and if they do, can they get her to testify? Pizzolatto already mixed things up from last year and sacrificed a protagonist with one episode remaining, will he kill anymore? Will this case ever see the light of day or will it get brushed under the rug and leave the vengeance to gangster Frank?