It’s nearly the end of the line for True Detective’s second season, and if “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” is any indication, none of our troubled leads are heading toward anything resembling closure or a happy ending. (Remember how season one finished?) And everyone is in the same state of mind: desperation.
After last week’s sex-party shit show, Ray, Paul, Ani, and special guest star Vera (the woman Ani saved from the party; though she does give up info, she’s exceedingly ungrateful) hunker down in a motel to figure out what to do next. The first order of business is to get everyone who might be targeted as retaliation for crashing the party/killing a security guard/stealing incriminating documents. Ray’s got nobody, but Ani’s sister (who was just starting to turn her life around) and father (who’s not such a bad guy after all, we see, as he expresses deep regret over his unintended part in Ani’s wounded childhood), and Paul’s pregnant fiancee and his mother (who, surprisingly, seem to get along pretty well) are whisked away until the situation settles.
Hope they don’t mind being on the run for awhile, though, because this is a messy predicament. Especially when Katherine Davis, who masterminded this secret, dirt-gathering detail, turns up dead. (That was kind of predictable, no?) With no higher-ups to protect them, the crew is cut completely loose. Paul’s still got his police credentials, since he’s ostensibly still working insurance fraud, so he’s able to gather intel, learning even more about the connections between the men whose signatures were found on the ill-gotten documents (which are about grabbing up the land along the rail corridor that Frank once had his fangs in), and the cops who orchestrated the diamond heist and double-murder in 1992. Caspere is the link, of course, but the murder that kicked off the season is feeling more like a MacGuffin every minute, especially when it seems like all who were involved in plotting it are so protected it’ll never be truly solved.
At any rate, it’s life-or-death stakes for nearly everyone. While Ani and Ray grapple with the realization that not only are they totally fucked now, they’ve always been fucked (despite Ani’s insistence that “We can get out of this”), Paul’s being blackmailed with photos of his tryst with his former colleague at Black Mountain. Though he’d rather his future baby mama not find out about that, it’s much worse than he realizes. In a throwaway line, we learn that Black Mountain is now a private security company servicing the Catalyst Group, and they’re well aware of Paul’s activities beyond his above-ground duties on the police force. He makes an impressive escape attempt when he’s lured into a shadowy meet-up, but he’s shot in the back by crooked Lt. Burris. No rubber bullets this time. Paul is dead, y’all.
Though Ray’s quick-fix suggestion for Ani (“You want me to roll a joint?”) is a close contender, line of the episode goes to Frank, who sums up his run-in with the men who killed Irina thusly: “In the midst of being gang-banged by forces unseen, I figured I’d drill myself a new orifice ... go on, and fuck myself for a change.” Jordan isn’t amused, and suggests one last time that they cash in and just get out for good. But Frank’s can’t bear the idea of turning his back on a lifetime of work, even if it was criminal work and didn’t actually end up amounting to much. From Blake, his betrayer (and thereafter, a corpse on his carpet), he learns there’s a $12 million money drop going down the next night. That’s enough money to make a last stand possible, and a new life, too, so we’re treated to a montage of Frank buying plane tickets (Venezuela, eh?), lining up a jeweler who’s willing to convert dirty money into diamonds, and securing a fake passport. (I rewound more than once, and still couldn’t tell if it was just one passport ... is he planning on leaving Jordan behind? Or is the passport for Jordan? Guess we’ll find out next week.)
As the episode lurches to a conclusion, it’s looking like Frank’s money grab will be the centerpiece of the finale, but we’ve still got lots of loose ends left, many of which will surely be left deliberately dangling. This week’s one big curveball revelation, that Caspere’s secretary was one of the grown-up kids left orphaned by the 1992 diamond heist, will no doubt have some major bearing on the case. But the episode’s oddest note was also its most inevitable: Ani and Ray finally hook up, though he deems her “out of my league.” Ugh. “Everything is fucking,” Vera tells Ani when Ani suggests she might look for a career outside high-price escort work. Though True Detective has been telling us all along that everything is money and power, maybe this summation is actually more to the point.