The Past Haunts the Present for Just About Everyone on True Detective

In “Maybe Tomorrow,” yesterday is actually the keyword. The criminal ties that Frank’s tried so desperately to shed are now the one thing he needs the most; Ray’s near-death experience makes him question nearly every decision he’s made; and Paul’s deeply in denial about his own past actions.

Spoilers follow!

Does anyone else sorta wish the noir-meets-sleaze bar where Ray and Frank have their clandestine rendezvous was a real place? Even in its nightmare version, with a distinctly Lynchian Conway Twitty homage onstage, it’s a dive we’d love to get day-drunk in. When last we saw Ray, he was bleeding from multiple wounds delivered by a shotgun-toting man in a crow mask. Now, he’s conversing with an older, uniformed police officer. “You’ve got your father’s hands,” he observes; Ray looks down, and his knuckles are well-bloodied. Guess we know where that short temper comes from.


Is this cop Ray’s father? We don’t know yet, but he has a message to deliver. Or a vision, more like. He’s seen Ray being chased through a forest of giant trees. “Son, they kill you. They shoot you to pieces.” When Ray looks around, and realizes things aren’t right in what looked like a familiar place, he asks where they are. “I don’t know,” the cop says. “You were here first.” When Ray looks down, he sees the oozing bullet holes in his torso. As the scene changes, we see that the music is coming not from an awkwardly gyrating performer, but from a clock radio that Ray—still lying on the floor in the soundproofed living room of Caspar’s secret second house—is able to hear, despite what has to be massive blood loss at this point.

Well. Turns out those wounds weren’t so bad. They were rubber bullets, like what riot police use to disperse crowds. He’s not even really bleeding! “Aaaaahhh ... I pissed myself,” he mutters, after realizing he is, in fact, still alive with all internal organs intact. Commanding officer Ani is furious that he didn’t call her, his partner, before setting out to investigate on his own. (By now it’s no secret that he’s about as fond of Ani as she is of him.) “What the fuck, man,” she sputters at Ray as he’s getting patched up. But she can appreciate his police work, at least; he did find the murder scene ... which is currently being rifled through by Ray’s bosses at Vinci PD. And she’s back to fury mode, because it’s supposed to be her case.


Frank’s furious, too, for a completely different reason. Despite what looks to be an abundance of dirty magazines, lube, and his eager-to-assist wife, he’s impotent. These aren’t sexytimes; they need his sperm so the couple can try IVF, which a frustrated Frank has now decided is “unnatural.” What’s more, “there is no part of my life that’s not overwrought with live-or-die importance,” he snaps. Jordan’s not amused by his pity party, nor is she tolerating his insinuation that she’s the reason they haven’t been able to get pregnant. “Suck your own dick,” she tells him as she flounces out of the room. (Jordan = fave character so far.)

Paul is proving more of a team player than Ray; he’s full of background intel on Caspar’s creepy bungalow, which was leased from the shadowy Catalyst Group. (We’ve heard that name before, in conjunction with Frank’s land deal, of course.) “Put those looks to use,” Ani orders Paul, setting him on hooker detail. He feels more at ease with Ani after she advises him to sue the actress who nearly got him kicked off the force—you know, the blowjob thing—and, like Ray, he can’t resist joshing her about her e-cigarette. These two just might be able to play nice together.


Meanwhile, off-the-books partners Ray and Frank meet in the bar, which in the light of reality is now sadly lacking its kitschy Elvis impersonator. “You walked me into something, Frank,” Ray tells him, and he wants answers. “There was some fucked-up psychology in that place, even before it was a murder scene.” Frank professes he doesn’t know who shot Ray, but he grudgingly lets Ray know a little bit about his business dealings with Caspar. That may not be enough to save their longstanding relationship, though, and Ray skulks off, preferring to stay sober because “booze takes the edge off, and I want to stay angry.”

It’s for the best, because we soon hear him answer a doctor’s question of how much he drinks in a week as “all I can,” though recent events have him considering changing his ways. The doctor advises him that it’s not the worst thing ever to have some unhealthy habits, “but it helps if you don’t have every one under the sun.” Point taken. The doc advises him he’s clear to return to work, but he has a parting question: “Do you want to live?” Ray’s not sure (and, frankly, neither are we).


The limitless depths of Vinci’s corruption come into sharp relief when Ani and Paul visit the city’s mayor ... at his decadent, Scarface-esque Bel Air mansion, from which many calls were placed to Caspar’s bungalow. There, they encounter the mayor’s trophy wife, a disheveled blonde still wearing last night’s evening gown, who takes a hearty puff of weed vapor in front of the cops. “Is medicine. For my eyes,” she says. (Nobody believes her.) Ani steps discreetly away to let Paul “put those looks to use” and question the young woman while she does some investigating around the house. It’s full of tacky, lavish furnishings and portraits of the mayor (hey, a snapshot with a beaming George W. Bush!); his desk is covered with files, maps, and land-use schematics.

She encounters a young woman who shuts the door in her face when Ani asks, “Everything all right?”, and that’s not the last odd thing we’ll see at the mayor’s house in Bel Air; a giggling, topless woman jumps off a balcony into the swimming pool, and a man in tiny underpants barks “Got a warrant?” at Ani. His accent, she points out, is obviously fake, and once she catches him on that, he opens up a little more. He’s an organizer of “specialty events,” he says. Wink, wink, nudge nudge. Then he suggests they better get to steppin’, seeing as how they’re lacking a warrant and all.


Their next stop: Caspar’s Bel Air safety deposit box, which yields more information on his recently-formed corporations and his deep ties with the mysterious Catalyst. Signs suggest that following the money will be the way to find his killer. (Also found, also mysterious: a handful of blue diamonds.)

Ani’s State of California superiors have questions, mostly about Ray rather than the murder investigation. Does Ani think he faked the attack? She doubts it. But she does have a well-formed opinion—“The guy’s a burnout”—which doesn’t stop her boss from hinting that she should use her feminine wiles to get information out of him, expose him as corrupt, and then use him as leverage to expose the entire town of Vinci. (Kind of exactly what Ani said hunky Paul should do to his female targets, except way skeevier in this context.) She’s in no mood to tangle with Steve, her not-really-boyfriend, when he barges into her office wondering why she hasn’t answered his calls. When he doesn’t react well to being dumped, she advises him “you’re going to need a little baggie to carry your teeth home” if he doesn’t get the fuck out of her squad room.


Meanwhile, in scenes that are cross-cut with the above, the “burnout” is getting an earful from the Vinci mayor, who’s none too pleased with Ani and Paul’s unannounced visit to his home. He’s also getting quizzed by his own superiors at Vinci PD, who suspect, correctly, that a big part of the Caspar investigation will be probing into the town’s deeply dirty underbelly. They advise him to wrap up the murder ASAP, to stop the state from nosing around even further. Ray, who in addition to being a burnout is also simply just burned out, asks to be taken off the case. No dice.

We see that the older, uniformed cop that Ray saw when he was unconscious is, indeed, his father, who’s now retired. He’s still smoking weed (which Ray provides) and drinking booze, and though he watches Detective Story on TV, he’s crabby enough about his PD years to chuck his badge into the trash when the spirit moves him. He’s old-school, and he served alongside the men who now command Ray. “After the riots, and OJ, you just couldn’t do the job right,” Pops says. Stuck living on “half-pension,” he admires those men who’ve become fat cats in Vinci.


As for Frank, he visits a construction site for a “vertical mall” (ugghhh); he figures the builder owes him a monthly payout for a deal the confused man has already paid him for. It was inevitable, but it looks like Frank’s back in the bad-guy biz. And though his dealings with Ray haven’t really shown it, turns out he’s good at exuding menace. His associate, who clearly has a past dealing with Frank, caves quickly to his demands. Is this going to help Frank get an erection? ... No, because his big, big land deal is now all but completely kaput, since his Russian-investor representative (whom he kinda suspects as having something to do with Caspar’s death) has pulled out. And it gets worse: one of his underlings, Stan, has been found dead. “Who the fuck’s coming after me?” Frank screams.

Paul, whose military past has been eluded to but never quite explained, meets a buddy from that time period in his life. They speak of “going to meetings” while sipping beers, so they’re not talking AA. His friend speaks longingly of his time overseas, but he’s not missing the thrill of combat: he and Paul had a secret relationship, one that’s obviously been haunting Paul but that he’s been trying desperately to forget. Paul reacts with anger and storms into the night. Unseen, from a nearby balcony, a mysterious man snaps photographs.


The detail meets in their, uh, barn? Storage container? What is that building? After finding out that the car used to transport Caspar’s corpse was tied to a film production company, Ani and Ray make a visit to the backlot that’s hosting some kind of Mad Max-esque “collapse of civilization revenge flick.” This dismissive description comes courtesy of a set photographer, who also lets on that the director (ponytailed, smarmy, not a good source of info) partied with Caspar, who had his fingers in show biz. They also spot a familiar face: Caspar’s secretary, who’s there to pick up important tax agreements he helped the production secure.

Ani and Ray are almost ... can it be? ... getting along when Ray has a visit from his ex. She’s got an envelope full of cash to persuade him to leave their kid alone forever, and a warning: she’s been visited by state police, trying to get dirt on Ray. He doesn’t take the money, but he does let that bit of information settle in as he wheels back around to work with Ani, who happens to be state police. They head to quiz a man who quit the film production just before Caspar’s death—just before the car that was used to tote his body around was stolen. He claims ignorance, but there’s an explosion down the block. It’s THE CAR, and someone in a creepy white mask is climbing a nearby fence like hell to get away. Despite a spirited foot chase through a nearby homeless encampment, the car bomber gets away, and Ray saves Ani from being hit by a truck. “Thank me by telling me what the state has on me,” he says. But says she doesn’t know.


Paul heads out to quiz hookers, and wouldn’t you know, the most helpful person working the streets is a male prostitute, who openly gives Paul the ol’ up-and-down gaze. He offers to help Paul get into a nearby club where he says he once spotted Caspar, and what seems like a line rings true when Paul literally bumps into Frank on the perimeter of the dance floor. (Alas, he doesn’t know Frank to recognize him.) He does learn, though, that Caspar “liked to watch,” and there’s another reference to the girl named “Tasha,” mentioned in an earlier episode, that Caspar favored.

Meanwhile, Frank is having a heated meeting below decks. He wants (ok, demands) the assembled pimps to help him find out who had ties to Caspar, and therefore, who’s after him. But it doesn’t go over easily, like it did on the construction site. Here, the tough guys just laugh at him. In his bid to go straight, it seems Frank burned a lot of bridges in the underworld. “This ain’t your club no more,” he’s told. But Frank’s still enough of a gangster to fight the biggest shit-talker in the group ... and beat him down ... and apply a pair of pliers to the man’s gleaming gold grill. Someone in this episode did go home with a bag of teeth, after all.


He heads home, and Jordan’s waiting up, sitting in front of the fireplace, ready to make up. But he’s not in the mood, not for making up or even talking. “Maybe tomorrow,” he says.

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