TV Recap: True Detective, ‘Omega Station’

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Omega Station Plot Summary:

Paul Woodrugh’s (Taylor Kitsch) murder has been pinned on Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell). He and Ani (Rachel McAdams) desperately attempt one last big shot to take down the entire Vinci PD, and capture Caspere’s murderer. Frank (Vince Vaughn) sends his wife (Kelly Reilly) off to Venezuela, where he promises to meet her in two weeks once he’s finished business with the Russians.

There’s two ways you can view ‘Omega Station,’ the season finale of True Detective’s sophomore year.

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

If you’re a viewer that has had issues with this season, then you’re going to loathe this finale.

If you’re a viewer that has been totally onboard with this season, then you’re going to walk out of breathe, dizzied yet more than satisfied with how this season ended.

However, no matter your opinion on the season, ‘Omega Station’ kept you on the edge of your seat — because no one knew exactly how this season would actually end.

As a writer that has constantly praised this season, I can freely admit that there were a number of warts on this episode. For starters, there was too much story to be told in this episode. Yes, there were 90 minutes to tell it, but if the series had taken a little more time focusing on the main plot (the Caspere murder) instead of random side characters, and dead-end plot points, then the amount of story told in this finale wouldn’t have felt so overwhelming.

The pacing of the episode was agonizingly slow in the last 20 minutes or so. Once the firefight between the Russians and Ray and Frank concluded it seemed as though everything was slowed down to a grinding halt. Things unfolded too methodically, there was too much build, and the pay-offs, which we saw from a mile away, were slightly dulled.

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

Yet, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen in this season so far, you’ll more than stomach through the trudging pace, and you’ll be able digest all the plot thrown at you.

The draws of this episode were two-fold — what would be the fate of our main characters, and how would this whole mystery be solved?

If you take into consideration the inspiration from which the writers are pulling from – classic ’40s California film noir – then you know they stuck landing. These endings aren’t pleasant, they aren’t pretty, and as the credits roll, main characters will be lying in a pool of their own blood. In short, you’re not getting the happy ending you want.

In many ways, ‘Omega Station’ is like last season’s finale, ‘Form and Void.’ The ending you want, sweeping justice, does not happen. Yes, Rust and Marty got their man, but the corruption and murder spread throughout the South by the Yellow King and his network of relatives and followers was not shut down. Audiences were not happy with this. The same happens here – the Vinci political landscape remains corrupt and unshaken, although Ani’s interview might change this.

Also, much like last season’ finale, ‘Omega Station’ is peppered with action and violence. The train station shoot-out was a particularly well-done sequence with kudos going to the cinematographer who really created a wild, chaotic, and seemingly realistic, documentary feel to the gunfight. It was awkward, unhinged and disturbing – just like if one were witnessing an actual gunfight in public. The fire fight at the cabin was pure badassery – who knew Vince Vaugh could pull off action that well?

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

Speaking of Vaughn, the man delivered his best performance of the season in this episode. I’ve hung on every word and action of his since he first sauntered on screen in the first episode. He perfectly portrays a magnetic and complicated figure. Frank is the one character who makes you really question his motives. You want him to get clean, you want him to live a happy life with his wife. Why can’t he just take his money and run? When you start asking these questions you know you’re heavily invested in a character. We’re so heavily emotionally that you’re disappointed, nay heartbroken, when he goes to get his money instead of fleeing with his wife. The entire train station sequence where he tries to distance himself from his wife is just such a powerful, emotional, and just flat out gutting sequence. They both know he’s signing his own death certificate, and that he doesn’t want his wife with him, yet they both keep trying to convince each other that things will work out. They’re lying to each other so intensely because they want to believe it. And the part where they toss their rings onto the train tracks? Just stab us in the heart.

Speaking of stabbing, Frank’s death was a fitting, albeit tear-inducing way to go. Honestly, it was a little too Carlito’s Way for my liking (a smaller character kills off one of the main characters), but it lead to Vaughn’s big moment. His slow, bloody limp to civilization (but really his own death), is flat out powerful. He’s confronted by all his demons on his death march, and Frank’s unwillingness to give into them is one emotional punch to the jaw after the other. However, when he sees his wife in the white dress, your stomach and your heart just drop out. Vaughn delivers a masterful performance here, and he really should be recognized for his work by the Emmys. Sadly, the amount of grief this season took will probably derail those possibilities.

Colin Farrell’s final stand was another home run of a performance for the Irishman. Any time Ray and Chad Velcoro interact, you basically want to cry. It’s such an emotionally harrowing and unfixable situation that you can’t help but just feel sympathy for a man who is in fact a killer, a former corrupt cop, and a frankly a lousy parent. His death sequence was a tad ridiculous, but when his voice memo to Chad isn’t sent, you want to crawl up into a ball and cry yourself to sleep. Sadly, Rachel McAdams was only given a brief moment to shine in the beginning of the episode.

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

‘Omega Station’ was a chaotic episode that had me glued to the edge of my seat, bile in my throat, knots in my stomach. Despite all it’s shortcomings as an episode, and as a season, this finale was intense. This series made me care about the fate of these characters, and it had me hooked at how the overarching crimes would be resolved. It may not have ended happily, or even the way I had hoped, but in the end we were given a powerful, emotional, intelligent, and brilliantly crafted finale.

Rating: 8 out of 10
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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites