While the final scene felt more like a whimper, “Maybe Tomorrow” delivered the bang we’ve been waiting for through three episodes of Season 2. Why? Nic Pizzolatto finally made choices. From the bold, blue-lit rendition of “Rose” by a spot-on Conway Twitty impersonator to kick things off, “Maybe Tomorrow” featured more memorable moments than the last two episodes combined. Whether or not Ray (Colin Farrell) actually dies at the end of this story — like his father predicted in his “dream” — isn’t as important as the stylistic choice of the setting and the heavy but effective foreshadowing given in their dialogue, Both served as eery mood enhancers for a season in desperate need of some flair.
The same goes for Ray’s actual visit to his father, played by Fred Ward (who, it must be pointed out, is simply the perfect choice for Ray’s dad in looks, tone and attitude). Expanding on the relationship hinted at in the dream world (“My father made me nervous.” “Maybe you were already nervous. Maybe you lacked grit.”) without becoming redundant, the suddenly timid Ray trying to connect with his father after a near-death experience marked a high point for subtle character development in a season awash with blunt exposition.
Pizzolatto does his best work when building a story through dialogue, and it carried over to when Paul (Taylor Kitsch) and Ani (Rachel McAdams) went to visit the mayor’s family — those two showed an instant bond, making this week’s news of their off-screen romance all the better — as well as the loaded exchange between Paul and his old army buddy. Frank faired better with his fists, but even that brutal sparring match-turned-dentist visit began with with a verbal back-and-forth. If Episodes 1 and 2 felt like they were drifting a bit, watching characters work toward something (finding Ben Caspere/each other in the premiere, and bottoming out in “Night Finds You”) without knowing exactly what it was, then “Maybe Tomorrow” paid off on those promises in the knick of time.
Cracking the Case
As much as I want to believe “Badass” Bezzerides (as she MUST be called around her precinct) when she said, “That was fucking him,” after chasing down the masked pyromaniac, I highly doubt that was the actual murderer. It seems far more likely that either the mayor, Frank Semyon, or the unknown power behind the killing sent a warning sign to Ray that he was getting too close. After all, no one on either side of the law has been too happy with Ray’s “detective” work thus far. Plus, lighting a car on fire doesn’t exactly threaten the life of either cop, and it risks the fire-starter getting caught, thus putting the whole crime ring in jeopardy.
Maybe Bezzeri-Badass meant, “That was him…the guy who can lead us to the guy who can lead us to the murderer who can expose all the dark secrets of Vinci, Vince Vaughn and the Los Angeles Lakers.” (Jerry West’s NBA organization has to be involved somehow, right?)
The Truest Detective (Episode MVP)
As tempted as I am to give this prize to the addictive Ani Bezze-Read Him His Rights (last one, I swear), props must be given to Ray Velcoro. It was a rough journey for the alcoholic gun for hire, both in the narrative and the script, but all that painful backstory seems likely to pay off now that Old Ray is dead and New Ray can righteously rise. While Pizzolatto wasn’t so subtle with his lead character’s change of heart — Frank saying “somebody murdered him” was my favorite reference to Ray’s rebirth, as it also served as a “fuck you” to anyone angry about his surprising survival after last week’s cliffhanger ending —he’s still laid a solid foundation for his star to build on in the coming weeks. The execution may have been flawed, but the story is still great.
Finally! A dose of authentic, unexpected, perfectly-timed and expertly-delivered humor! It took long enough for “True Detective” to deliver its first real laugh-out-loud moment, and damn if it didn’t feel like a weight had been lifted. After two weeks of heavy issues being tossed one on top of the other, Paul’s open mocking of Ani’s ridiculous e-cig was as therapeutic as it was funny. Much like a lengthy, intense conversation needs a dose of levity to break the tension, “True Detective” needed this line. Here’s hoping there are plenty more to come.
Well, Ani, you’ve got the right idea, but the wrong sex. As funny as it was watching Paul interrogate the mayor’s wife while Ani scoped out the house, using only his “looks” to hold her attention, it turns out that your motorcycle-loving, ex-military sidekick is a self-hating gay man — or at least in repressive denial. Hinted at ever-so-discreetly in his Viagra-popping, blowjob-hating exchanges with his then-girlfriend, as well as his homophobic remarks (remember last week when he “nearly clocked the guy” for hitting on him at a bank?), Paul is dealing with far more than combat-related PTSD.
As much as I like this storyline for Paul — a character so shrouded in mystery these past two weeks he was almost amorphous — it’s a risky choice for Pizzolatto, given the heteronormative worlds established thus far in “True Detective.” Considering how the writer has faced criticism for failing to create fully formed female characters, he’s taking his second gamble of Season 2 by introducing a troubled gay character. But if Paul’s quest to find “the light” continues to be as compelling as Ani’s has been so far, then Pizzolatto may just be able to move out from under the shadow hanging over his show.
Murder Mystery or Character Study?
What worked best about “Maybe Tomorrow” was the balance it exhibited between these dueling appeals. For anyone wholly invested in the characters, there were plenty of key emotional moments (Ray confronting Frank/bonding over the word “stridency,” Frank’s faux-pas with his wife, Ani’s break-up, and everything to do with Paul). For those looking to play detective, there was a torched cop car followed by a foot chase, another victim leading Frank to believe someone is coming after him, and whatever the heck is going on at the mayor’s house. Pizzolatto got his groove back in Episode 3. Even with an imperfect episode — Vaughn never really tapped into Frank’s inner menace, and the aforementioned symbolic moments were laid on a bit too thick — “Maybe Tomorrow” gave us the good reason to believe the best is yet to come.
– We’ve now watched two of the four leads receive oral sex when “it ain’t workin’,” as Frank so poetically put it this week. At least now we know why Paul wasn’t too happy with his presumed good fortune, but should we expect to watch the other two as well before this is all over? I hope not. Some expressions just don’t need to be seen.
– “This angsty cop drama you rollin'” could be used to describe Nic Pizzolatto’s entire second season of “True Detective.”
– Despite the height/reach disadvantage, I thought Taylor Kitsch could take Vince Vaughn in a fight when they bumped into each other and made eyes. After watching Vince rip the teeth out of that pimp, I still do.
– I realize there’s at least an intended significance in the final lines of the episode, considering they’re also its title, but that scene didn’t work for me. Dropping the teeth in the trash felt redundant, and Frank’s desire to “stay angry” — like Ray said earlier — wasn’t properly referenced, if even implied (could’ve just been my interpretation). The only hope for relevance is that Frank’s dismissal of his wife comes back to haunt him later.
– Coming soon! The “True Detective” Word of the Day Calendar! Featuring “stridency,” “apoplectic” and “pros.” (Is there another way to write out the abbreviation for “prostitute”? It looks like the plural abbreviation for “professionals”…)