True Detective Season 2 Finale Does Not Make Up For The Rest Of The Season

Spoilers, obviously, for anyone who hasn’t completely caught up with True Detective Season 2.

Season 1 of True Detective was basically about the relationship between two guys with differing ideologies, with a series of strange murders as the background mystery linking it all together. Season 2 of True Detective was non-basically about 400,000 people linked to a single murder, with a mountain of land deals, corrupt cops and stolen diamonds serving as the foreground-obstructing background. It was a seemingly impossible task for tonight’s super-sized finale to make total sense of the previous seven episodes, and even though the central storylines were tied up and fates were sealed, this was still a lacking ending to an overly convoluted season. Sorry, HBO’s Michael Lombardo.

It turns out that Leonard, the kid who watched his jeweler parents get murdered, was the guy who killed Caspere, somewhat accidentally getting carried away with his acidic information-extracting torture. And even though his sister Erica/Laura knows about everything and could easily help out by way of testimony, Ani puts her on a bus and tells her to get away from all this mess. It’s revealed that Leonard was actually Caspere’s illegitimate son, which causes him to flip out and ruin the plan for redemption that Ray was trying out. So now it’s up to that reporter to take all of the evidence that Ani gave him and bring it all out, way too late to help anyone. Great.

Both Ray and Frank are dead now, with the former being pinned for several murders he didn’t commit, and not suspected in a ton of murders that he did commit. Ray and Frank got vengeance on Osip and the Catalyst goon, along with several others, in a smoke-filled shoot out in a cabin, but the money doesn’t actually help either of them in the end. Frank is on easy street for all of five minutes before those mysterious drug dealers take him out into the middle of nowhere to give him shit about their casino deal falling through. He pays them off with the money he stole, and it seems like he’ll go free until one of the guys tells Frank to give up his suit. Instead of just rolling with that, Frank’s pride steps up and he attacks the guy, getting stabbed in the process. It was interesting to see him deal with the skeletons from his past on his long walk to nowhere, but again, he probably would have lived, albeit with a major sunburn, had he just given that guy his suit. At least Jordan doesn’t have to put up with his shit anymore.

Meanwhile, Ray is tracked by the corrupt Lieutenant Burris, and instead of figuring out a decent plan of retreating, he just draws Burris and his goons into a standoff in the woods, where he is shot many times, and his final message to his son Chad never got sent. (At least the stereotypical lack of cell signal wasn’t used in stopping him from making a phone call.) The Velcoro bloodline doesn’t stop with Frank, though, as the paternity test revealed that Chad was definitely his son. Not that he got to hear about it. Also, the flash-forward in the end kind of blew my mind with Ani now having a kid, presumably conceived during her and Ray’s completely depressing hook-up. Everybody loves it when sex is followed by confessions about child molestation and wrongful murder, right?

But hey, Woodrugh got a road named after him, so not all is lost. Plus, Rick Springfield’s creepy doctor is dead, through either suicide or a murder meant to look like a suicide. I don’t really care which it was.

In the end, I guess Ani, Jordan and Nails are somewhat happy in their new lives, but this season completely wrecked the lives of so many others, and nothing really changed the status quo of corruption in Vinci, or anywhere else for that matter. By spreading this season’s arcs out to so many people and places, creator Nic Pizzolatto watered down what could have been a tightknit story about cops from different walks of life going down the same dark path. All in all, I enjoyed Season 2 of True Detective as a slice of humorless pie, but I’ll probably never stop wondering how much a dedicated story editor might have helped it.

Still, I’m betting a slew of people watched the finale, and that HBO will keep knocking on Pizzolatto’s door for Season 3. And I’ll be one of the people cheering if and when that renewal happens. Let the dream casting begin.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.