TV Recap: True Detective, ‘Other Lives’

Written by Scott Clifford

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There seem to be two prominent opinions when it comes to the second season of True Detective. The first is the ultra critical fan that looks at the overused Los Angeles landscape before making a snide comment about the lack of Detectives Cohle and Hart and walking away. The second is the hardcore fan that yells that critics suck, closes their ears, and only hangs out on the True Detective message boards. The reality is that both of these fans are right. The first season of True Detective was like the first bite of a medium-rare artisanal cheeseburger. So far, the second season of True Detective is like the second bite. It’s not nearly as good as the first but it’s still pretty damn good.

Photo Credit: HBO/Lacey Terrell
Photo Credit: HBO/Lacey Terrell

“Other Lives” almost starts off as a second pilot that takes place after the Vinci massacre. Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) is now living in a cheaper house in Glendale and running a club due to financial troubles. Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) is not in uniform and still has a terrible mother. Ray (Colin Farrell) has voluntarily given up his badge and shaved his mustache in order to focus on his personal life. Ani is now working the evidence room due to her sexual harassment case and performing a soliloquy about her penis size preferences. Oh yeah, Caspere’s killer is still at large so that’s a factor as well.

That’s the interesting thing about this season of True Detective isn’t it? The writers almost seem to be more interested in the personal lives of their characters than the mystery itself. This approach is more realistic to every day life in the sense that many people have terrible personal lives that force them to struggle to tread water in order to be productive members of society. However that isn’t necessarily the best approach for television, film, or really any other entertainment medium. It’s hard for me to care about the characters when I can barely care about the mystery. Little pieces of dialogue may be peppered throughout the script to tell us why this murderer is such a menace but I’d rather they show me these things instead of giving me the feeling that they don’t really care about the plot.

Photo Credit: HBO/Lacey Terrell
Photo Credit: HBO/Lacey Terrell

Yet, with all it’s faults, True Detective knows how to pull me back in and keep me glued to my couch. Watching Ray confront Dr. Pitlor (Rick Springfield…yes, that Rick Springfield) at his office was pure joy in every sense of the word. Any scene that has a hack psychiatrist be wrong when saying that someone brandishing a weapon is all bark and no bite is a great one. Not only is it fun to see someone lose their teeth, it’s an effective way to consolidate the various clues that have been built up over this season. Let’s just say that a certain hard drive from a certain family is going to make all of this worthwhile. Also, we can’t forget that Frank may have sabotaged Frank’s relationship from the start by giving him the wrong rapist to kill. I’m sure that is going to cause a few disagreements.

So the band is back together because the police can use them as scapegoats if things go wrong. Everyone’s personal life is an absolute mess and we still don’t know much about the Caspere killer. It doesn’t sound like much when written down but I enjoyed it so that has to count for something.

‘Other Lives’ Score: 7/10

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