After what could easily be called a stagnant season of True Detective – it pales in comparison to the first season where McCounaghey and Harrelson were at their best – the second season picks up on the action towards the end, but is it enough to save the series from what has otherwise been a lackluster first couple of episodes?
At the beginning of this episode, titled “Down Will Come,” we see Ray and Ani dealing with the aftermath of their run-in with the masked arsonist the night before. Their car, desiccated down to its steel spine, is in the shop. Meanwhile, Jordan and Frank are still arguing about conceiving. Jordan wants to keep trying, but Frank wants to sort out his business affairs before he gives another thought to raising a child. Jordan offers they consider a different option – adoption, but Frank seems more willing to eat his own hand before he raises someone else’s kid. Paul is also having relationship troubles. He wakes up in the bed of his friend he got in a fight with in last week’s episode. Not one to talk through his emotions, he flees rather than stay and sort out his fears and desires with his on-again-off-again-lover. Outside, he discovers his bike is stolen. When he tries to go inside his hotel, he’s ambushed by the media who want to know about what happened with Black Mountain and the scandal with the actress he allegedly slept with to get out of a speeding ticket. Paul later tells Ray, after picking him up, that he feels like a pawn, like he’s been used by his PD and the Army. Ray tells him, he’s a survivor.
Ray warns Ani that she’ll have to be ready and deal with the fallout she’ll get for going after Vinci Mayor Chessani. He mentions she and Paul are “expendable.” Ani doesn’t have to wait long to find out what that means. Back at her Ventura PD, she’s put on suspension for sexual misconduct after an IA complaint about her relationship with that cop she was seeing, Steven Mercer. She raises the sexist alarm, stating “this would not be happening to a man.” She is consequently banned from entering the building until her investigation pans out.
Frank is out and about, spewing racial epithets, paying visits to old associates and slithering his way back into money again. He talks his way into a few partnerships. It’s progress, but not enough to keep him from working in the clubs again. “I thought that was behind you,” Ray later asks when they meet at their usual place at the bar.
Paul, trying to stiffen his apparent abhorrence for his sexuality, meets with Emily at a diner. He tries to offer his difficultness as an apology. She tells him she’s pregnant and wants to keep the child. Paul pretends to be excited and proposes.
Back in Vinci, Ray and Ani track down Chessani’s daughter, Betty, at a hookah bar. She’s a lot nicer and more compliant than her duplicitous brother, Tony. She talks about what happened to her mom: schizophrenic, dangerous, committed, suicide. She mentions the name Irving Pitlor, her mother’s doctor. Ani decides to open up about her own mother, how she died when she was 12 (Betty’s died when she was 11). Betty mentions her dad is a bad person before she realizes she’s said too much and walks out. Ani decides to take this information to her spiritualist dad. He recognizes the name Pitlor and shows the detectives a photo of Theo Chessani (the mayor’s dad) and a young Caspere, who he says attended seminars back in the day. Ani knows that if she wants to find who killed Caspere, she’ll have to keep digging further into the Chessani family, despite the mayor’s efforts to thwart her investigation.
Paul comes up with the name Ledo Amarilla, a pimp who has been pawning Caspere’s possessions. The detectives decide to bust the warehouse where Ledo operates. As the detectives arrive on the street, ready to take down Amarilla, they find themselves in a surprise ambush attack from behind the building. One of Amarilla’s men opens fire with an automatic from the multi-story building. The officers and detectives take shelter behind parked cars, returning fire. Dixon is quickly taken down by a grisly head shot; It’s ironic he died doing something, he told Ani earlier, he couldn’t care less about. Amarilla and a few men manage to make it out of the building and into a vehicle, which Ani pursues on foot through an alley, missing as she fires. The vehicle collides with a bus carrying passengers on the street, where protesters are congregated. Many of the protesters and bus passengers are shot by machine gun fire, with the bus acting as a shield between Amarilla’s men and the police. Amarilla manages to grab a hold of one of the bus passengers as hostage, stating ominously in Spanish, “Choose what happens” as Paul and Ray approach, Ani is trapped behind a car with no ammo. Amarilla decides to choose for himself and shoots the hostage as Ray fires several times at Amarilla, killing him instantly. At the end, Ani, Ray and Paul remain. Everyone else is dead or wounded. Ani and Ray seem visibly shaken by the slaughter that just transpired, while Paul looks disturbingly calm about the calamity.