Somewhere between a nightmare and a bizarro Lynch-ian dream landscape is where we see Ray pop up in the opening scene – sitting at his usual spot at the bar, talking to his father in his officer’s uniform, the scene inundated in a “Twin Peaks” vibe, with a Conway Twitty impersonator singing the country crooner’s ballad “The Rose” in the background. Ray takes a moment to examine his surreal surroundings, asking the paramount question: “Where is this?” before waking up.
After last week’s cliffhanger, where Ray was shot in a Hollywood home he was
asked demanded to check out by Frank, this episode titled “Maybe Tomorrow” wasted no time in answering the burning question as to Ray’s fate. It wasn’t as if the actor would disappear from the series altogether (the show’s IMDb page credits Farrell with all eight episodes this season; it’s not unheard of for the main character to die then come back in flashbacks – hey, I get to make another “Twin Peaks” reference!) However, that is not the case. Ray lives…for now.
His sustained wounds turn out to be a few bruises and abrasions from rubber bullets. Whoever the bird-masked gun wielder was who shot him wanted to scare him, only. Ani soon arrives at the scene, asking Ray if he’s alright only after interrogating him first about his fundamental lack of understanding of what a partner means when investigating a scene. She enters the Hollywood home to see Vinci P.D. securing the place, compounding the already hostile feud between the Vinci and Ventura department – Hollywood is an out of bounds location, so it appears first come first serve is the protocol in place.
Frank and Jordan, meanwhile, try to conceive. Artificially, that is. Jordan wants a baby and asks Frank to donate for fertilization treatment. Things go bad, though, when he finds the situation “unnatural” and lashes out at his wife. Upset, Jordan walks out, after firing a polemic shot at Frank’s pendulous appendage: “your limp dick is as wishy-washy as your mood.” Imagine all the moody, vitriolic children they’ll have.
Later, Ray meets Frank at the aforementioned bar. Incensed, Ray wants answers and Frank decides to play coy, saying he knows nothing about what happened to him. At this point, Ray has little agency over his life, so he can’t accuse Frank of setting him up. It was Frank, after all, who gave him the identity of the man who raped his ex-wife Gena and is the biological father to Chad. His vices, of which there are plenty, and of which are causing his health to deteriorate, according to his doctor, are also the cause of why Gena refuses to let Ray see Chad and tries to pay him off to not contest custody. This is actually a nice gesture, knowing that Ray will fail the paternity test that Gena has threatened to request if he tries to fight, because the $10,000 that she offers will give him a new start somewhere. But proud Ray refuses, as he stated in a previous episode, Chad is all he’s got going in his shitty life. Perhaps his dream is starting to make sense now. Where is he in his life? And does he even want to live? as his doctor posed early on. Maybe it’s not so much that we wants to live, it’s that he’s afraid of dying. As Conway Twitty sang earlier, it’s “the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”
Ray, unknowingly, is also being set up by Ventura P.D. In a cross-cut scene between meetings in both P.D.’s, Ray and Ani get set up to turn on each other. Their already languid partnership is put under further strain as each person’s P.D. wants the other to go down. Mayor Chessani wants to take down Ani for raiding his Bel-Air mansion earlier. Meanwhile, in Ventura, Davis asks Ani if Ray is lying about the Hollywood debacle, if he set himself up. She doesn’t think so, but does think he’s a burn out. She can sense his energy is being exhausted elsewhere. All it takes is a little investigating in the matter to find Ray responsible for the murder of Gena’s attacker, assuming he killed him, which might not take long, considering officers are already asking questions, according to Gena. Things are quickly unraveling in Ray’s vice-riddled life. A little probing from Ani is the least of it.
Paul decides to take some time off and hang out with a friend we can only assume he served with, alluding to what we’ve all inferred from the beginning that Paul is possibly a closeted gay man (which explains his impotence with his girlfriend), or at least had a sexual encounter while serving. When the other soldier, inebriated, confronts Paul, he fights off the pass, literally, and leaves, all the while a man snaps a few photographs of the men scuttling. Later, he scours the streets, under Ani’s orders, asking prostitutes if they recognize a photo of Caspere. A male prostitute, I’m assuming, recognizes him and says he used to visit Lux Infinitum, a night club. There, Paul discovers Caspere would enlist people to fornicate while he videographed the whole thing. Who he watched is a pertinent question. It could have possibly been a politician or the bird-masked man who shot Ray, because Caspere’s Hollywood home, where Ray discovered the camera, was missing its hard drive. Whatever or whoever was recorded on there is damaging enough to make someone make sure it stayed private.
When one of Frank’s men, Stan, dies, he tells his minion to put the word out that he means business. He gathers all the heads of local gangs to a meeting. When one of the men, Santos, calls out Frank on his bullshit and his lack of initiative they get into a fist fight. Now, this season of “True Detective” has demanded a lot of patience from viewers. It has asked us to be invested in double the number of characters as last season. It has asked us to be patient with obvious tropes, such as Paul’s sexuality. It has also asked us to be fine with the fact that Ani smokes e-cigs (“too close to sucking a robot’s dick”). But somehow, in only the third episode, “True Detective” has lost me when Frank is able to successfully bring down a 300+ lb. man in a matter of seconds. In a series known for the twisted and unexpected, I have my threshold.
Later on, Ani and Ray run into trouble when their car is set aflame by a masked arsonist. They chase him over a fence, through a thicket of homeless camping grounds. Ray manages to save Ani from a semi truck in the last second, when she, inadvertently, walks into traffic in blazing pursuit. The suspect gets away. Another masked suspect. Is it the same person who attacked Ray? Who were they attacking: Ray, Ani or both? And how many messages will they send before people start dying? We’ll find out soon enough, as we head into the halfway point of the season next week.