True Detective’s uneven second season wound down with “Omega Station,” a moody finale that spelled doom for many of its main characters. We finally learn who killed Caspere ... but the reveal is so anticlimactic amid the limp to the end, it only emphasizes how insanely overlong 90 minutes can feel.
Spoilers, of course.
We open as Ray and Ani, still in hiding, are engaging in some post-coital soul-bearing. She feels guilt over having been proud that the man who stole four days from her childhood called her “pretty.” And Ray’s still grappling with the fact that the incident that has come to define his life, the killing of the man he believed raped his wife, was spawned from a lie.
Meanwhile, Frank is trying to protect Jordan by sending her away, and when money doesn’t tempt her, he pretends he’s breaking up with her because she can’t have children. “You can’t act for shit. Take it from me,” she tells him. And she’s right. “If you love me, I cannot do the things I have to do unless I know you’re safe,” he pleads, urging her on the Venezuelan escape route he’s planned for her to take with his underling/bodyguard/life-debt-ower, Nails. He assures her he’ll be there in two weeks. Maybe less. “Wear a white dress,” he urges her. They imagine what the reunion will be like, both knowing it’s nearly impossible that it’ll happen.
Ray phones Paul’s cell ... and since Paul is now tucked into a body bag, it’s answered by crooked Lt. Burris, Ray’s former Vinci PD boss. “We should meet. Let’s talk this over,” Burris tells him, when Ray reveals he knows about the 1992 robbery, the diamonds, and Caspere’s involvement in the whole mess. Ray’s not as naive as Paul was (so, duh, he won’t be having a clandestine meeting with the murderous Burris anytime soon), but the knowledge that he’s being used as a fall guy not just for Paul’s death, but also Davis’s, has him rattled. Of Paul, a saddened Ani declares, “He was better than us.” And Ray agrees: “He deserved better.”
Then, a convenient brain wave: aside from Caspere’s now-missing young female assistant Erica (also known as Laura), the other kid of the pair who witnessed their diamond-dealer parents’ murder in 1992? Yeah, he was/is Lenny, the young set photographer on that post-apocalyptic movie that provided the car that toted Caspere’s mutilated body around Los Angeles. Remember him? Uh ... not really. Anyway, with a chance to topple the bigwigs at the top, Ani and Ray decide to give the case one more crack.
One bigwig who’s out of their way, however, is Mayor Chessani, as Frank finds when he visits the man’s mansion to find him dead in his swimming pool. The Chessani who’s really in charge, young Tony, is nowhere to be found, and Frank hustles off after questioning the mayor’s freaked-out trophy wife. Ray and Ani sneak up to Lenny’s house, and Ray spots the crow mask worn by the person who shot him. Dots, connecting. Really, the place is full of unsettling stuff (ammo, surveillance photos of Burris and fellow bad cop Holloway, etc.; however: sweet Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia poster, though!) ... including Erica, who’s handcuffed to the fireplace. Once Ani and Ray free her, she talks. After her parents were killed, she says, the rough childhood she was shoved into led to working at Tony’s parties, where she met Caspere. Re-met, actually, because she remembered him, and she knew he had something to do with her parents’ death.
She’d grown up separately from her brother, who she calls “Len,” and his youth was even more troubled than hers. It’s Len who killed Caspere, kinda accidentally, since he intended to find out who else was involved in the 1992 crime. “He got carried away,” she insists. “He was too angry.” The camera lingers on Ray, who knows a thing or two about being violent when anger strikes. Len restrained her when she tried to stop him from carrying out his next revenge murder, with Holloway the target this time. The bait is that much-desired hard drive belonging to Caspere, ostensibly containing footage of important men doing the nasty with Tony’s escort-service employees. But the drive that so consumed so many of the characters is blank, Erica says, since it erased itself when the siblings didn’t have the right password to open it.
While Ray zooms off to intercept this meeting (and Frank delivers a taunting, threatening phone call to Osip, his Russian nemesis), Ani puts Erica on a bus, having apparently decided this is one more woman she’s got to save. Put all this behind you, she tells her, and try to forget. At the Black Rose cocktail lounge, we learn: 1) there’s a secret room upstairs for people who need to keep out of sight and maybe, y’know, GTFO of America ASAP; and 2) Frank’s been the owner all this time. He tells Felicia, the scarred bartender who always seemed sweet on Ray, that he’ll sign the place over to her once he blows town for good, and that “Ray and a woman” will soon need help getting to Mexico.
The best scene in the episode, and maybe of the season, is next: At the sparkling Anaheim train station, Ray (in disguise, sorta, as a cowboy) sidles past a news report parading his picture as a wanted man, and up to a nervous-looking Len. Tells him he’s doing it all wrong, and that he should drag everything out into the light to make the people who wrecked his life and everything around him pay the most. But Len’s determined, just as a young Ray once was: “I am the bullet and the blade.” So Ray helps him with his plan, hailing Holloway, handing over the bogus hard drive, and telling him that Len is “in a Vinci landfill.” What’s more, Ray says, he knows everything, and he’s got copies of everything. So if anything happens to him on the way out (RIP, Paul), “that shit hits the cloud.” Holloway is actually impressed: “Honestly, Ray ... nobody had any idea you were this competent,” but he’s only willing to play ball if Ray agrees to pin everything on Ani.
This not-exactly-friendly conversation takes a turn when Ray asks why they had to kill the couple in 1992. Important detail: Len is sitting on the bench behind them and can hear everything ... and he boils over when he overhears that not only were Caspere and his mother having an affair, but that Erica was actually Caspere’s illegitimate daughter. And his mother was pregnant with another of Caspere’s babies when she died. It’s too much for the kid, and he pounces with a huge knife. In the resulting fray, someone stomps on Ray’s tape recorder ... ugh ... but Ani suddenly appears and manages to shoot (but not kill) a lurking Burris before he can kill Ray. As uniformed cops race to stop the gory stabbing in progress, Holloway grabs his gun and shoots Len, but he’s shot in turn by the police. Amid the chaos, Ani and Ray run away in slow motion, and end up at the Black Rose.
There, Ani and Frank meet for the first time. If Ani flees to Venezuela, as is the plan, Frank asks her to meet Jordan in that park if he can’t be there. Ani promises nothing, but she pockets the photograph of Jordan. Ray, his wounds tended to by Felicia (who reveals that Ray sent the man who scarred her face to prison; no wonder she’s so fond of him), enters, and we see the full scope of the arsenal Frank has assembled for his $12 million last stand. Frank wants Ray to help his with the heist, but he’s not sure. Ani asks if he’d run with her if she asked. “I just might,” he says.
But there’s still 40 minutes left in this finale, and many, many loose ends to address. Ani sneaks into Dr. Pitlor’s compound, but he’s dead, either due to a real suicide or a Chessani-style staged one. In the hills, Ray has indeed joined Frank on his little errand, which turns into a smoky shootout. Frank has the satisfaction of killing Osip, and the pair stuffs bags full of cash. “See you down south?” Frank asks, but once again, Ray’s not sure. What he is sure of, is that he’ll be meeting Ani soon. AND HE SMILES. RAY SMILES! While we parse this, Frank visits the diamond dealer, and exchanges cash for stones; then he picks up his fake passport. He’s ready for travel, but since that all seemed too easy, it surely won’t be. And it isn’t, as he’s grabbed on the road by Mexican gangsters. “Why?” he asks, and is met with silence. But he’s burned so many bridges, it could be any number of reasons.
Ray can’t resist one last look at his son who isn’t his son, but actually seems to be doing OK: he’s hanging on the playground playing D&D, with Ray’s father’s glass-enclosed badge sitting next to them. They spot each other an exchange a salute. This is also too easy, and the tracking device attached to Ray’s car suggests he’s nowhere near out of the clear yet. He calls Ani, who’s cut and dyed her hair as a disguise, and tells her he’s gonna be late. To Felicia, he says he’s not going to make it, and that she needs to make certain that Ani gets on the boat that’ll take her to safety. While Frank tries to bargain for his life in the desert, Ray records one last voice message for his son before speeding into the forest.
It’s a grim haul for our final trio, as a gravely wounded Frank (capable of handing over a million dollars, but not his suit) lurches solo through the sand, hallucinating the various bullies of his life (his father, guys who call him “Larry Bird” as an insult), the victims of his cruelty, and finally Jordan in her white dress as he bleeds out. And Ray exchanges gunfire with Burris and co. in the woods. He’s outnumbered. And as he dies, we see his recording for his son failed to upload ... the final insult. At sea, Ani stares out into the horizon. It’s over. It’s all over. Can it please be over?
And, of course, we learn what happened next. Ray’s blamed for everything, according to a TV report we see his father watching, but he’s also confirmed, or 99.9 percent confirmed, to have been his son’s biological father. So, there’s that. Paul gets a stretch of highway named in his honor. How nice! Tony Chessani, no longer wearing just a Speedo, becomes the new mayor of Vinci, with Burris standing by. Catalast Group’s high-speed railway starts being built. A new era of corruption begins!
And in South America, Ani’s turning over her mass of evidence to a reporter (the very guy Ray beat up way back in episode one, if I’m not mistaken), prefacing the info dump thusly: “The truth is naked larceny, open murder, and cascading betrayals.” The truth is also that Ani has given Ray another son, and Jordan (and Nails) are helping her care for the baby. As one last sad song plays, the two woman speak of a long journey ahead, and weave their way through a street festival to destinations unknown.