In the latest True Detective recap, the investigation into Ben Caspere’s murders begins, Frank loses the grips on his criminal empire and somebody may not make it out alive….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Through two episodes of the new season of ‘True Detective’ if there’s one thing that’s been made abundantly clear with our four lead character this year it’s the fact that none of them are where they want to be much less content to stay there.
For Frank Semyon, he’s been dreaming of a world outside of Vinci, California where his pockets would be lined with gold and he’d no longer have to live in the seedy underbelly where he has to deliver cash payments to the mayor’s office just to operate a business.
Ani Bezzerides only has time for work although as her father so astutely noted last week, he’s not even sure she enjoys her job. It seems to be the kind of work that occupies her mind so she’s not caught blankly staring at computer screens while the flickering images of pornography wash over her eyes. She’s driven but not necessarily for the purposes of solving crimes as much as just having a reason to get up the next day.
Paul Woodrugh is just damaged. After working for an off the books military contractor called Black Mountain, he returned home with a body full of scars and a mind that’s ten times worse. He likes riding a motorcycle because it keeps him untethered and alone and likely one wrong turn away from ending it all.
And then there’s Ray Velcoro, who spends his off nights beating the shit out of the parents of the boy who bullied his son in virtually the same manner he bullied him to find out who stole his shoes in the first place. Velcoro has been on one big downward spiral ever since his wife was raped and he decided to look for revenge instead of justice. He openly talks about killing himself because he really doesn’t have much left to life for and you wonder as he stared up at the ceiling after catching a shotgun blast at the end of this episode if he was clinging onto life or just hoping his heart stopped beating soon.
With that, let’s recap the latest episode of True Detective titled ‘Night Finds You’:
The episode opens this week with Frank and his wife in bed together as he looked up at a water stain that developed on the ceiling without much rain this past season to cause it. This moment somehow spurred some pretty awful memories for Frank, like the times his father used to lock him in the basement while he would go on benders for days on end. Usually his father would return and let Frank out, but there was one occasion where he disappeared for a few days and the little boy was left to fend for himself. Eventually the food ran out as did the light bulb that lit up the basement and before long the rats started gnawing on his fingers at night. Five days after he was first locked away, his father finally returned home but the entire time Frank could only think about what happens if that door never gets unlocked and he never sees the light of day again? Right now as he’s facing a turning point in his life, where things just seem to go from bad to worse on a daily basis, Frank is wondering if he ever really got out of that basement.
“Ever since I wonder, what if he never comes home? What if I’m still in that basement in the dark? What if I died there? That’s what that reminds me of. The water stain. Something’s trying to tell me that it’s all paper-mache someone’s telling me to wake up. Like I’m not real. Like I’m only dreaming.”
~ Frank Semyon
The reason Frank is so contemplative right now is because the $5 million he liquidated from his various businesses around Vinci has gone missing because his partner in a land deal that should have netted him enough money to last for the next ten lifetimes is dead. He’s not just dead. He’s been tortured and murdered and to make matters worse, the money Frank gave him has disappeared and the land he was supposed to buy for him was never purchased.
It seems Caspere was in bed with a company called Catalyst, who were in charge of buying up these parcels of land in the first place and while they are happy to sell the parcels to Frank now, with or without the corrupt city manger having his hand in the till, they want $7 million and that’s $7 million more than he has right now.
To get back on track, Frank has to resort to his criminal ways by beating up another business owner from Vinci to send a message while visiting a strip club he used to own to get information about Caspere’s habits before he died. Thanks to a tip from Velcoro, Frank is able to track down some of the girls Caspere used to pay for their company and he discovers an off the books apartment that the now deceased city manager kept in Hollywood so he could act upon his wildest sexual desires.
These are all things Frank was trying to leave behind, but he’s being dragged back in, one petty crime after another. His payments are coming up short to the mayor’s office, which puts him in a political crosshairs as well because Frank can only be protected so long as he’s greasing the people in charge. He’s mortgaged to the gills, sold off the other businesses he owned and now he’s down $5 million in a land deal he was never really part of in the first place.
And the one guy he has left to turn to for help, Ray Velcoro, is a burnout with zero ambition who doesn’t even accept the cash Frank pays him anymore. Things are not well in the house of Semyon.
What Kind of Man
Following the discovery of Ben Caspere’s body last week, we find out exactly how the city manager died in the latest episode.
At the time of death, Caspere was filled up with xanex and alcohol as well as a raging case of gonorrhea. His eyes were burned out by hydrochloric acid, but whoever did it wasn’t sloppy because the marks were self-contained, which means the killer used a glass eye dropper or some other similar instrument to apply the liquid. His genitals were blown off with a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun, close range, and it happened after his eyes were burned out. He was hung upside down by his ankles and wrists and the actual cause of death was a heart attack from the trauma of the torture.
Once the medical examiner reads the report we find out how the detectives will handle this case. Bezzerides will act as the lead detective for the Ventura sheriff’s department while Velcoro will tag team with her as part of the Vinci P.D. since they started this investigation a couple of days earlier. Paul Woodrugh will tag along since he discovered the body, but really he’s just window dressing so the state police can continue to gather intel on the corruption going on in Vinci.
With a population of 95, Vinci is a town that’s defined by producing more waste than any city in the state of California with sweatshops and factories lining every street while the blood money paid to keep the city going lands directly in the pockets of the politicians, cops and crime figures who keep it thriving.
The best way to define Vinci is when the mayor and head police officials are laying out this case to Velcoro and he asks the best question of all.
“Am I supposed to solve this or not?”
~ Ray Velcoro
It seems everyone is invested in finding out who killed Caspere so long as the secrets he was keeping died with him.
Velcoro teams up with Bezzerides to investigate Caspere’s house (again) and to a private clinic where he visited a psychiatrist once a week. The shrink (played with creepy realism by 80’s rock star Rick Springfield) is hesitant to give out information on a patient at first, but after hearing how Caspere died he decides to share (a little).
It seems Caspere suffered from several issues including anxiety and a proclivity for young women — the kind of women he could pay for to keep him company. It appeared at least once a week, Caspere would withdraw thousands of dollars and after meeting his shrink it was clear that he was paying for sex with that money.
The doctor, we find out, also had a connection to Ani’s father back when he ran a hippie commune called ‘The Good People’. Ani reveals that she grew up with four other siblings in that place — two of them committed suicide, two of them are in jail and one of them became a police detective.
Back in the car, Ray tries to keep things personal while waxing intellectual about Ani’s use of an e-cigarette and how he could never do it (“It’s just a little too close to sucking a robot’s dick,” he says) while she’s all about the business at hand.
He does manage to turn her attention to his past before they get too deep into this investigation together because if they stay around each other long enough, Ani is sure to hear the kind of reputation Velcoro has built over the years.
Ray: “Busted marriage, rumors have me killing this piece of filth hurt my wife. Same rumors put me in hock to a Southland mob and if you know where to ask you might here I like to get wet every now and then from a number of bad habits.”
Ani: “Any of that true?”
Ray: “Oh yeah.”
Ani: “Which parts?”
Ray: “Bad habits. Never lost one yet.”
Ani finally opens up a bit and explains her love of knives and why she has so many on her at once. She lives in a world where all the male officers and any of the male suspects that she faces on a daily basis could over power and kill her with their bare hands and there’s nothing much she could do about it. Ani asks if that’s something a man could live with. So she carries the knives because any man who puts their hands on her will bleed out in under a minute.
It’s clear that conversation between two cops in a car is where ‘True Detective’ really excels because just like last season when Rust and Marty shared more than a few thoughts on love, life and philosophy together, it’s the brief interactions between Ray and Ani that really work this episode.
In the end, after explaining the pitfalls of Vinci and the downfalls of his own personal life, Ray drops the signature line from this season of the show while talking to Ani in the car.
“I have a strong suspicion we get the world we deserve.”
~ Ray Velcoro
Ray was once a decent man we find out when he encounters his ex-wife during a scheduled time to see his son Chad. The once incorruptible police officer walked the other side of the line when he killed the man who raped his wife and he’s never been able to cross back again. To make matters worse, now his ex is demanding that Ray doesn’t spend time with their son any longer after his outburst at the school and an accusation that he visited a boy’s home later that same day and accosted a parent.
“Well, I don’t know anything about that but sometimes a good beating provokes personal growth.”
~ Ray Velcoro
A beating — whether he’s giving it or receiving it — are the only two speeds Velcoro has these days and his anger quickly turns to sadness when it’s clear that his ex is deadly serious about keeping him away from Chad. She’s even willing to get the paternity test he’s feared since the day she got pregnant, scared of his mind that the little boy belongs to the rapist he murdered and actually shares no DNA with Ray at all.
Ray’s life is in tatters and he believes his son is the only thing that has kept him holding on. Now that’s about to get yanked away as well.
“I’m a piece of shit but that boy is all I have in my entire shitty life.”
~ Ray Velcoro
It is certainly raining shit on Ray Velcoro today and the forecast isn’t looking much better for tomorrow.
The Desert Life
While Ray and Ani at least share a car ride to discuss their personal miseries, Paul Woodrugh doesn’t seem to have anybody on his inner circle or at the very least he’s not allowing anybody in.
He tries to display some kind of false bravado while talking to Ray’s Vinci partner Teague Dixon, but it’s transparent that Paul is just saying the kind of things he thinks cops would respond to.
In reality, Paul is still haunted from whatever hell he lived in while serving overseas and he’s now completely shut out his girlfriend, who tells him to leave and never come back this week while maintaining a very odd and off putting relationship with his mother, who is a little too handsy and likes Clint Eastwood just a little too much.
Paul is working on the Caspere case as a means to an end to get rid of the allegations that he propositioned an actress for a blowjob while on the job, but all he really wants is to get back on the motorcycle and hand out traffic tickets from now until doomsday. It’s solitude Paul wants most and he’s systematically eliminating anyone in his life that gets too close.
He’s also the least interesting part of the show thus far, but after the conclusion of the latest episode, Paul might have a larger piece of the pie to chew on.
The Crow Flies
Ray meets Frank at the same bar as last week where he gets his latest tip for the case. Frank uncovered the apartment that Caspere kept on the side and he needs Ray to take a look to see if there are any financial papers that might give him some idea what happened to the $5 million he invested that disappeared.
Ray is down in the dumps after the meeting with his wife and while Frank is talking about elevating his career to where he could one day be chief of the Vinci Police, the downtrodden cop is only thinking about an exit strategy. Ray doesn’t have much work waking up for everyday although the mere mention of it sends Frank into a frenzy.
While these two have a history that stretches back for more than a decade when Ray was still a good cop and Frank was just a low-level gangster, the relationship transformed somewhere along the way. Frank sees Ray as a friend of sorts because he doesn’t have many while Ray looks at Frank as the catalyst that sent him from being a decent guy to a down on his luck piece of shit. Or at least that’s the way it plays on screen.
Ray heads down to Hollywood — far out of his jurisdiction — to investigate Caspere’s second home that no one knew about.
Inside he finds a pool of blood and a sex swing, presumably where the torture and murder took place and a hidden room where a camera was activated by motion sensors that looked through two way glass and caught whatever was happening in the sound-proofed living room. On the wall were a series of animal heads with one mount mysteriously missing — and sure enough when Ray turns around that creepy crow mask is being worn by the person who killed Ben Caspere and he unloads a shotgun blast directly into the Vinci detective’s chest.
The masked man walks over to Velcoro and aims down with the shotgun and unloads another barrel directly to his stomach.
Two episodes into the season and it looks like our four lead characters have already been shaved down to three. Like Frank fears at the beginning of the episode while he sat in that dank, dark basement wondering if anyone was every coming to get him, Ray seems destined to bleed out while contemplating the same.
Notes from the Scene:
Anybody else catch that neon ‘Lone Star Beer’ sign in the bar where Frank and Ray have been meeting the past two weeks?
Lera Lynn is back again this week singing another song. The ‘True Detective’ soundtrack will be released in August, but they’ve been putting out a new track each week so the one from tonight’s episode will likely come out on Tuesday.
Ray’s partner gets the zinger of the week after Paul drops a homophobic slur like it’s the cool thing to do in cop talk — “The young man here, he’s got a dynamite anecdote.”
The song playing when Ray enters Caspere’s love pit is ‘I Pity the Fool’ by Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland
Is Ray really gone? Will the investigation get left to Ani and Paul? And who is wearing that damn creepy crow mask? Find out more on the next episode of ‘True Detective’ airing next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.