HomeTelevisionTV Recap: True Detective, 'Black Maps and Motel Rooms'

TV Recap: True Detective, ‘Black Maps and Motel Rooms’


Black Maps and Motel Rooms Plot Summary:

Ray (Colin Farrell), Ani (Rachel McAdams) and Paul (Taylor Kitsch) take precautionary measures to elude detection and untangle a dark mystery. Frank (Vince Vaughn) deals with the fallout of his betrayal.

True Detective cut to the chase this week in ‘Black Maps and Motel Rooms.’

There were no more side stories, no more diversions, no more repetitive scenes of character development. This episode was a fictional fist grabbing you by the throat, and slamming your head against the wall demanding your attention.

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

SPOILER ALERT. Let’s talk about the elephant of the room. The killing of Paul Woodrugh was both expected and unexpected. When Paul’s ex-lover says something to the fact of, ‘If you were honest about who you were none of this would be happening,’ was a big tip off that Paul was not making it out alive. While Ani and Ray have admitted to who they and what they are (especially before they have sex), Paul constantly denies his true self. He’s just ‘trying to be a good man’ when in fact he’s not – he’s hurting everyone around him. His constant denial has lead him to walk right into a trap. If he admitted his homosexuality, the racy photos would be a non-issue. Instead, he’s so guarded about his secret that he’d walk into sure death, to protect it. Now, while his secret is safe, he’s dead, and has left his pregnant girlfriend without a partner, and her son without a father.

Now, putting all philosophy and theory aside, the underground shoot-out, and his eventual execution were taut and perfect. It’s absolutely believable that Paul would make it out of the firefight alive since he’s a highly trained soldier, and that it would take a cowardly shot from behind to kill him. And it was perfect that James Frain’s character who kills him. You don’t just put a great character actor like Frain in a series and have him as set dressing. I’m extremely excited to see where this plot thread goes.

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

Outside of that mind blowing scene, we were thrown a major curve ball when Ray discovers that Davis has been executed. The fact the entire assignment, which was off the record, is now shot really puts the future of all involved in major jeopardy. Obviously Paul is now dead. But, it really seems like everyone could end up dead here. This looming threat of death leads to a really intense, albeit a little too long, conversation between Ray and Ani. The conversation plays like two people who’ve been condemned to death coming to grips with their impending doom. Then we get the scene many of us have been waiting for — the love scene between two of the most miserable human beings of all-time. The scene reminds me of a line Patton Oswalt’s stand-up routine — the two are ‘having Viking sex on a burning ship because we’re all going to die.’ It feels like the last act (or maybe the first act?) of pure human emotion and expression from two people who’ve had a history of hurting people…and two people who are probably going to die.

Then we get the ‘Vaughnissance.’ Everything Vince Vaughn did was absolutely perfect. Last week Frank was the victim of his own desperation, or as he says, ‘I fucked myself.’ This week the cool, confident, bad ass Frank returns. Vaughn’s scene with the Russian gangsters where he calmly accepts his ‘fate’ as the guy who’ll manage the clubs for the Russians was great. Vaughn plays it smoother than silk, and you’d think the Russians would have a clue that he knows what’s up. Well, they don’t and Frank not only makes out with all the money from the clubs and casino, but he burns them all to the ground. Watching Vaughn walk through these scenes felt like he was in a different series. It was like Scorsese placed him in the middle of one of his gangster masterpieces. From his body language to his vocal inflection to the steely glare in his eyes, Vaughn does everything perfectly. The man definitely read the McConaughey playbook from Season 1, and delivers the same home run performance every week like McConaughey did.

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

So, how the hell do they end this season? I think the case gets resolved in some manner. The hard drive will get discovered, and the footage will get out there to the masses. Someone major will take the hit for all the bad things that have happened in Vinci. That person will not be Frank either. It’ll be one of the cops, Chessani, or even someone from Catalyst. The whole thing, however, will not come tumbling down. Is it plausible that Frank takes up the crown of corruption once the major players go down? It’s a distinct possibility.

However, there’s a very good chance Frank does not make it out alive. After last week’s episode my money was on Frank dying, and his wife being pregnant. This is True Detective, we don’t get happy endings (although didn’t Season 1 end happily?). In fact, there’s a very good chance that either Ray or Ani gets killed too. These two characters are primed for death – they’ve got nothing left to lose, and they’ve in essence said their final goodbyes to their loved ones.

What we do know about this episode is that it’ll be 90 minutes long so there will be time to tie up all the loose strings that are still hanging in the bloody wind of this season. I cannot begin to tell you how stoked I am for this finale.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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