“Just one question. Am I actually supposed to solve this?” asks detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) to the Vinci City bigwigs manipulating the strings behind the scenes. They tell him that even though he is second in command in the investigation into the brutal murder of Vinci City Manager Ben Casper they want him to get the information to them with no surprises in the second episode of HBO’s crime drama True Detective.
Velcoro is working with Ventura Sheriff’s detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) who’s leading the investigation after the City Manager’s dead body was found in her jurisdiction. They investigate Casper’s home and find a weekly planner with dates and numbers that gives them a starting point for their investigation. The two cops then talk to one of the associates of the City Manager, the Mayor of Vinci, who does reveal that although he didn’t know Casper well or socialize with him outside of work, Casper had a history of hiring escorts for pleasure.
Meanwhile, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) is desperate to find out who killed his former business partner who it turns out never invested Frank’s $5 million in the upcoming land deal. Frank has mortgaged all of his holdings in order to be a part of the land deal and now with Casper’s death it’s all missing. Believing whoever killed Casper has his money, Semyon begins his own investigation using his own means of deception and force, and by calling in a few favors. His search takes him to an old associate who now runs the strip club/escort service Frank used to manage back in the day. After talking to one of the dancers at the club who “escorted” Casper one night, Frank finds out about a second house Casper owned.
Having discovered by going through Casper’s planner that he was seeing a psychiatrist, Ani and Ray interview the doctor to see what he knows. It turns out Casper was being treated for his interest in young women and self-loathing. On the drive back to town, Ray and Ani talk about the case and discuss looking into checking out escort services. Ray also decides to open up to Ani and tell her a few things about himself that she may or may not have heard. Ray tells her that she will most likely hear rumors that he got rid of a scumbag who hurt his ex-wife, that he has a son, and, most importantly, that he may be compromised. He also tells Ani that he believes their investigation is not supposed to work. When she asks why he says it’s because the State’s attorney has an investigation going on in Vinci and a land deal. They seem to be underplaying the investigation instead of using the press and bringing in special investigators to help solve the case.
Back in Ventura, CHP officer Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) is also working the case since he discovered the body but he’s been relegated to doing follow-up work and making a few calls for Ani and Ray. He’s also spending time trying to explain to his girlfriend why he’s going to be gone on special assignment for at least a week, but all she wants to talk about is why he won’t tell her about his time serving in the desert and why he doesn’t want to meet her family. “I can’t do this anymore. It hurts me to see you, don’t come back here,” she says to Paul as he heads to the door to go. “I’m not doing this, you are. This isn’t me, this isn’t me,” is his reply as he leaves.
Frank meets Ray in their usual place, a club/bar and tells Ray about Casper’s second house. Ray asks if Frank checked it out and Frank, a bit annoyed, answers, “What are you, crazy? I’m not going near the place.” Frank makes it clear that’s what he wants Ray to do but Ray tries to tell Frank he’s tired of their working relationship and is thinking about making a change. Frank tells Ray he has plans for him and to never talk like this again.
Later that night, Ray goes to investigate Casper’s second house and is surprised to find water running in a sink and music playing inside. As he searches the house, he discovers a big pool of blood on the floor in one of the main rooms, sex equipment, and a closet with a video recorder set up. He realizes too late that someone is behind him. Ray turns and fires his pistol but misses the mysterious figure wearing a bird (possibly a crow) mask and instead gets hit full-on in the chest by a shotgun blast. As Ray lies on the ground in shock, the gunman walks over and stands directly above him, firing one final round into his chest.
Dark, gritty, and with a shocking ending, True Detective season two episode two titled “Night Finds You” continues the investigation into the brutal murder of Vinci’s city manager with Ray and Ani working uneasily together and Semyon desperate to find his life savings. The episode also kicked this second season of the crime series into high gear with the possible death and exit of the show’s most haunted character.
Colin Farrell delivers an even stronger performance in what could be his final portrayal of detective Ray Velcoro. Ray is a corrupted soul who wants to try to find a way back but doesn’t seem to know how. The scene where Ray’s ex-wife tells him she’s filing for sole custody of their son and that he’s a bad person with Ray cursing, begging and pleading for her not to take his son away from him is truly heart-wrenching. Even though his son – if he really is his son – is most likely better off away from the corrupt Ray, Farrell’s performance in the scene is sure to have the viewers feeling nothing but sympathy for his character despite his obvious flaws.
Vince Vaughn delivers the stand-out performance in this episode as Frank Semyon, a man who has risked everything he spent years building on this upcoming land deal only to discover it’s been taken most likely by whoever murdered his partner. Episode one found Vaughn barely emoting, but in season two episode two he’s allowed to display a fuller range and the audience is given much more insight into what makes Frank tick: Semyon is a determined semi-ruthless businessman who won’t go down quietly.
Rachel McAdams is also solid in this episode leading the investigation and slowly beginning to wonder if she can trust Ray as a partner. Her best scene is where she is driving Ray back to his home and the two are talking about the case which leads to each detective revealing something about themselves to the other. She answers his question about why she carries so many knives, that the only real difference between the sexes is that one can kill the other with his bare hands, and that any man who puts his unwanted hands on her will bleed out in less than a minute. It’s a revealing look at how she sees men, herself, and the world she lives in.
The writing and dialogue are still crisp, curt, and direct. Again, it’s more in what the actors say with their eyes and facial expressions to one another and the camera than what they say to each other that gives the viewer a glimpse into what they are thinking or feeling. With the possible death of Vecoro and the murder investigation leading to a cop getting shot, it’s going to be tough to wait until next Sunday night to see what happens next.
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