Previously on True Detective, ‘Church in Ruins’
This week, in the penultimate episode of True Detective’s second season, ‘Black Maps and Motel Rooms’, much of the season’s loose threads are starting to be woven into a masterpiece. The episode picks up as the three detectives and Vera regroup/hide out in a remote motel. Paul studies the documents they retrieved from the den of sin while Vera barely stirs on the bed.
In the next room, Ani is freaking out a bit and coming down off of the molly spritz. Ray helpfully offers to roll them a joint, but Ani is rambling incoherently about the woods, which confuses Ray. When he asks her about it, she tries to come onto him, but he’s not feeling it. Upon his rejection, she blames the drugs. Ray tells Ani that she and Vera need to stay put in the motel until he can talk to Davis.
Ray goes next door to get the rundown on the paperwork from Paul. Tony Chessani and Osip had a signed buy/sell deal for Caspere’s shares upon his death, leading them to believe that they had him killed to buy his shares for pennies on the dollar. Paul then receives a text message from an unknown caller with pictures of him and his male lover during their one night tryst. Ani comes in, showered and dressed, just as Paul makes excuses to head home and Ray leaves to meet with Davis.
Frank is stewing in his empty casino dealing blackjack to no one with a scowl on his face. His wife comes in to find him and talk about their options. He fills her in on what’s going on and she asks him how much money he has and suggests they take that and walk away. He is reluctant to leave behind 45 years of his life, but they leave it at that when Ray comes in. Ray sits down and tells Frank he had a bit of a strange night.
Paul has gone home to pick up Emily, his fiancée, and take her to a safe place. It is revealed that someone called her about the pictures and told her to ask Paul about them, but didn’t reveal the subject of the photos. He lies and tells her that he thinks his cover was blown in this case and he wants her to be somewhere safe for a few days while he works it out. They pick up his worthless mother and he drops them off at a motel where they bitch about the accommodations. He tells them not to leave, answer the door, or answer the phone unless it’s him. Use room service and just relax.
Back at the motel, Athena has come to visit Ani, who instructs her to get someone to pack her a bag and get the hell out of town since Ani was using Athena’s name the previous night. Ani tells her not to go home, and to take their dad with her and head to Oregon. Athena seems concerned for Ani and asks if she was drugged. Ani nods and then Athena asks if she went all the way into the party and Ani counters with, “Did you?”
Ray tells Frank all about Blake’s dealings with Chessani and Osip. He fills him in about the land deal and how they screwed Caspere out of his shares and in turn Frank out of his. Frank tells Ray that he found Irina and that a cop gave her Caspere’s stash to pawn. Ray once again asks for the name of Frank’s guy who sent him after the wrong person for attacking his wife. Frank guarantees him that he’ll have the name by the end of the day.
Back in the land of seclusion, Ani questions Vera about the pictures that Vera’s sister brought to her. Vera assumes that they were Tascha’s photos because she ran her mouth about having photos of a party, and Vera thinks she left them for her. Vera was brought into this whole sordid world by meeting up with the guys at the Panticapaeum Institute and never looked back. Tascha was Hungarian, and one of Caspere’s favorites. He showed her the diamonds, and she got stupid and tried to blackmail them, so they took her to the murder cabin in the woods. Unlike Tascha, Vera was happy with her situation and didn’t want to get out, she was never missing, she had just left her sister behind. She throws a fit when Ani informs her that her sister is on the way to get her, but Ani threatens to tell the men that she helped the cops if she tries to contact them again.
Paul does some research at the LAPD as the only remaining actual cop left on this investigation. He pulls up the records for the jewelry store robbery in 1992. It turns out that Dixon and Burris (Franklin from True Blood) worked the robbery and covered it up by blaming looters, under the direction of Holloway (the current Vinci chief). Paul prints his findings and then finds that Ani is wanted for killing of the security guard, so her cover is blown.
Frank has called Blake in to discuss his betrayal, and Blake saunters in there like the cocky motherfucker he’s turning out to be. He offers Frank 15k for the previous evening’s antics, but Frank calls him the best pimp in the world, but he has no respect for pimps. Somehow Blake interprets this as the correct time to ask for a promotion and Frank quickly shuts him down by crushing his glass of bourbon upside Blake’s face. This was an awesome slow motion shot of Vince Vaughan’s pure rage.
As Frank gives Blake a refreshing beverage, Ray meets Davis in an abandoned mill parking lot, he hops in her car already talking about their crazy night before he realizes that she’s been shot dead. He scrambles back out of the car and speeds away in his own.
Blake crawls across the floor away from Frank and he kicks him, as he tries to get away, he fills Frank in on what’s been going on. Osip has been moving in on Frank since they met in Paris and he has bought the liens on the club and the casino, as well as the loyalty of all of Frank’s men except for Nails. He tells Frank that Caspere was always going to fuck him out of the deal, but that no one knows who killed Caspere. He also reveals that the person he sent Ray after was just some meth head who was going to come after Blake so he seized the opportunity. As Frank starts to choke him out, Blake tells him about the 12 million dollar handoff occurring between Osip and the guy from Catalyst. Frank lets him go, and attempting to seize the opportunity, Blake tries to convince Frank to let him be a triple-cross since Frank knows, but instead ends up gut shot in the floor. Blake was kind of stupid, RIP Blake.
While everyone else’s world is starting to spin out of control, Ani sees her dad and sister off with the help of her ex-partner. Before they leave, she talks to her dad about Caspere and crew and is informed that they came and went pretty much as soon as they met each other, but that they weren’t about the mission of the Institute, so he wasn’t sad to see them go. She tells him that she remembered the guy from the woods’ face. Her dad seems to regret everything about how she was raised, but they part on good terms. She tells her ex-partner to follow them to Oregon and make sure there are no tails.
Frank brings Nails in on the situation with everyone being bought. As he’s telling him their next move, Jordan comes in and sees Blake’s dead body in the floor and asks what she can do. Frank tells her to pack a bag and leave town with Nails. He’ll meet up with her tomorrow. They exchange I love you’s and she heads out.
Meanwhile, Frank gets his shit in order. He goes and talks to some Jewish men about moving money in stones. At first he doesn’t want to work with Frank, but after dropping someone’s name they agree that for a 40% cut, they will do business. Frank then heads to the travel agent to buy two tickets for his “friends” to Venezuela. And lastly he goes to the men in the coffee shop to get fake passports as well as two clean cars and a whole mess of guns. He has a handy list. He gives them $100,000 and promises the rest in a couple of days, plus an extra half million if he makes it where he’s going.
The three detectives meet back in the motel to discuss what Davis’ death means for them. Both Ray and Ani are wanted fugitives and Paul is there only legit contact with anyone legal. They go over all of the evidence they have uncovered so far. Paul says that cops did the robbery, and Caspere was involved in the case at the time. He tells them about the two orphaned kids and gives them the case files. He soon gets another text with more tryst photos telling him to meet to discuss. He makes an excuse of needing to check in at home and leaves.
Back at the casino, Frank comes in as Mayor Chessani is disgustingly hitting on a woman at the bar, he tells Chessani that he needs to go home and get his son in order and explains that his son has been setting up to take over his position. The Mayor looks pissed, but leaves just as Osip heads over to give Frank the good news that he now owns all of Frank’s property. He asks after Blake, but Frank says he isn’t there. Osip tells Frank that he can still manage the day to day of the clubs and the casino, but he will be put on a salary.
As Paul heads to his meet up, he calls Ray and starts to tell him about the pictures and says he thinks he may be walking into something. Ray tries to dissuade him, but Paul sees his boy toy and hangs up. Boy toy takes Paul’s gun and leads him down into the tunnels. Black Mountain has been rebranded to Ares Security and works exclusively for Catalyst now.
Down in the tunnels, Halloway reveals himself to Paul and tells him he wants his paperwork back. Paul says he doesn’t have it on him, and that Ray has it and is going to take it to the feds, but he can call him and make a deal. Paul convinces them that he doesn’t care what happens to Ani and Ray, but when he can’t get a signal on his phone, he uses the diversion to grab Halloway and hold him at gunpoint until he gets out of range of the rest of the security team.
While this is happening in the tunnels, Ray and Ani discuss the strange phone call from Paul and decide to sit in the motel and wait it out. They determine that one of the girls from Vera’s pictures, referred to as Laura has been living under the name Erica and was Caspere’s secretary. They compare her photo to the photo of the two orphaned children from the robbery. The daughter’s name was Laura. They look at each other awkwardly for a few and then when we cut back to them, they are sitting around the table drinking, while avoiding the stories from their past that they don’t want to discuss. Ani tells Ray that he isn’t a bad man, but Ray argues that he is. They end up holding hands across the table like high schoolers.
Frank is starting to make his move in the casino. He tells one of Osip’s security men that there is a gas leak and they need to evacuate the casino. While they escort everyone out, Frank loads his cash into a duffle bag and then shoots the last remaining guard when he comes to ask about the leak. In the kitchen, Frank causes a gas leak, disables the fire alarm and then sets the place on fire as he leaves. Frank pulls the same routine at the club and then sets the place on fire using the alcohol in the back. He turns on the burners as he leaves with his sack of cash and then watches his empire burn from a cliff outside of town.
Back down in the tunnels, Paul is on the move. Now armed, he patiently waits for the rest of the security team to circle around to him, taking them out one by one. When there are only two left, he uses his boy toy as a human shield, effectively getting him shot in the head, and then takes out the last remaining guard. He attempts to find his way out of the tunnels.
Ani and Ray have moved from holding hands over the table to full on making out and eventually end up getting it on in the motel room. This is montaged with Paul winding his way out of the tunnels, and Paul’s mom and fiancée watching old movies in their hotel room. Paul finally finds the door to the outside and busts through, thinking he made it out when Burris jumps out from behind the door and shoots him in the chest. As Paul attempts to crawl away toward his gun, Burris shoots him in the head and then runs off to the waiting car.
So much happened in this episode. Both in season one and in this season, the showrunners do an excellent job of setting up all of the pieces before tipping them over like well stacked dominos in the last two episodes. Next week’s finale is an hour and a half, and I am excited to see how this all winds together in the end.