13th Jul2015

‘True Detective 2×04: Down Will Come’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Right now there’s so many things to go about the wrong way, I’m losing my fucking vision.”

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‘Down Will Come’ does exactly one thing right. When the grindingly stereotypical Mexican gangsters are dead, when the shell casing have stopped clattering, Ani and Ray don’t look like winners, they look like they want to puke and sleep for a week. True Detective treating violence as horrific instead of heroic or edgy is a welcome change, even if the scene leading up to that gravitas isn’t great and the ending’s freeze-and-fade is stunningly bad. At least visions of the horrible are shown to inspire horror.

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The rest of the episode is eaten up almost entirely by a kind of worst-of reel that retreads such joyous ground as Paul’s troubled love life, Frank’s troubled love life, Ani’s troubled love life, and whether or not Velcoro has a mouth behind his mustache. Couple this with taking W. Earl Brown’s promisingly toad-like detective Dixon into the loving arms of the Lord, along with a slew of faceless and largely interchangeable cops and robbers, and you’ve got an hour that feels an awful lot like two. Ray and Ani remain the only character combination capable of selling a scene. Their edgy Oscar and Felix routine has an easy, lived-in feel only occasionally derailed by gouts of uncontrollable exposition about land development and state probes. It helps that their only competition is Frank telling a pair of bakers-cum-drug smugglers “I’ll upscale your clientele” and doing a tough guy routine about how he’s never had a cavity.

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Some of the dialogue, which I’ve already complained about at length, is bad enough to make me wish was having teeth pulled instead of listening to it.  “I lost her in the light,” Ani says of her mother’s suicide. “The light off the water.” A line that overwrought, fired off without any real established pain or people behind it, can’t help but land with all the grace of a brick. Frank gnawing his way through another round of would-be profundities helps not at all, and the conversations themselves, from Ani and her sister Athena’s reminiscence/argument to Frank and Jordan’s uninspired conflict over adoption and ex-boyfriends, are unendurable and rote.

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The episode’s real sin, though, isn’t shredding faceless goons to ramp up tension or even forcing us to watch Ray pull a Batman on his son. It’s that everything we saw tonight, we’ve seen before. I’m sure you could power a mill with the electricity generated by critics smugly typing “it looks like time really is a flat circle,” after each new season 2 episode airs, but what the hell; you only exist superpositioned throughout all places and moments you’ll occupy throughout the course of eternity’s circuit once. Anyway, it looks like time really is a flat circle, because aside from a lead from left field spurring the characters into a disastrous gunfight, there wasn’t one damn thing that happened tonight that we didn’t already know about. The mayor’s corrupt, Frank is desperate and broke, Ray is sad, etc, etc.

In the late and unlamented Dixon’s words, I could give a shit.

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