Last week was the Outkick True Detective takedown. When Clay Travis uses the word "ouch" to describe the negativity of my review, it's clear the objective was achieved. Last night was the season finale, which HBO executives said would be intensely satisfying.
They were right, but not for the reasons you might be thinking, and not for a snarky reason either. Actually maybe it is snarky. That decision seems like an "eye of the beholder" kind of joint.
The finale was satisfying, if you shut your brain off and do what I did. Rather than discuss what a waste the last two months have been, I'm going to tell you how and why I found a way to enjoy last night's "Omega Station." I'm curious if you did the same thing.
There was no possible way this story was going to end well. Around week four, the first episode I hadn't seen in advance, I said that many wondered whether Rust or Marty would die last year and both escaped unscathed. I added that it was quite possible none of the four leads in Season 2 would survive, and as each week passed, the situation became increasingly bleak. Well, not all four died. Ani is still alive and she's now the mother of Ray's second child. He was unable to send a goodbye voice mail to his son before he was gunned down in the woods. He was never able to see his second child. He was never able to know he had a second child.
Everything was doomed in Vinci for the three "heroes" and the one shade of grey. Each one came to a realization or began a breakthrough towards an epiphany, even if one or more didn't fully reach that eureka moment before their life was violently erased. Ray thought he was a bad guy, and he was, but he also began to care about someone, in addition to his son, who we all knew would be his downfall. As soon as he took the exit, we knew he was a goner. He started to recognize that being bad wasn't finality, but instead was merely a present reality. He could change, and he tried to do decent things, even if he was aiding a criminal from time to time. He became sympathetic. His good side was displayed as Nic Pizzolatto made him the patsy in the Paul Woodrugh murder.
For Paul, he recognized that as much as he might have wanted to, he couldn't escape his past, but he could try and do the right thing in certain spots in his life. He wasn't the man to reveal his sexual history, but he worked hard, he never betrayed the group, and he died trying to fight corruption. It arrived on his doorstep thanks to blackmail and political and societal evil in the form of...well, someone with power. He, like Ray, who called him "my friend" in the conversation with Frank Semyon, left behind a woman and an unborn child. He also has a highway named after him in California. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Speaking of Frank, we met him two months ago as a man who had done many terrible things throughout his life. We met his beautiful and equally intelligent wife, strong willed and able to speak up for herself and for her husband. This villain was tired of the low road and hoped his business with Ben Caspere would lead him to a more respectable place. With every event that took place through the series, he would fall back into crime as a result of failings as he tried to play it straight. He realized at some point that perhaps, it might be too late to do things the right way, when so many strings had been pulled. The guy had oh so many enemies. He was a dangerous man, but one that did hope to fix himself. Nic allowed his story to end in tragedy in an empty desert around people we had completely forgotten as an audience. The hallucination effect was an interesting choice. "We get the world we deserve" as the season's tag line makes the most sense with Frank.
Finally, there was Ani Bezzerides, who survived with a much better hairstyle, a son, and all the documentation to expose the corruption, the cover up, the murder, the maneuvering, and the scope of complete moral decay in Vinci and among many wealthy, influential people. She finally grasped her issues with relationships, or began to understand it as she continued to reflect and attempt to recover the feelings that accompanied the memories of her underage sexual assault. She was, and is damaged. She also finally fell in love. Her son is his son. But, she's now and probably forever on the run, but luckily Jordan Semyon is with her in Venezuela.
Rather than discuss the intricacies of what actually happened last night or about the whole series, I'm going to explain to you why "Omega Station" worked for me, and what a horrifyingly backhanded compliment it is towards the episode and the series in 2015. It's actually pretty cut and dry:
I didn't give one soaring intercourse about the story. I didn't think about Caspere or the depth of the conspiracy or the diamonds or the Russians or Vinci cops or dingy bars or divorce proceedings or restraining orders or sexual deviance...or birds. I simply watched to see Ray, Frank, and Ani in full-on rogue mode. I knew what was coming. Ray and Frank go in guns blazing and successfully massacre a bunch of real scumbags. Ani finds a creep with his wrists slit and she moves with care, but also guns a guy down in the transport terminal. The episode was three people who were long past a pure fear of their own mortality. No one had a death wish, but they seemed to know the chances at success and a future were incredibly slim. But, before the move to the big anthology drama in the sky, this trio had business to take care of, people to bring down, and possibly Paul's murder to avenge.
That story, for one night, with the equivalent of Gordon's (Halt and Catch Fire -- which you should absolutely watch if you haven't) tabula rasa disc eliminating anything else Nic Pizzolatto has written for us, was just fine. I just watched it like a movie, because the damn show...as a show I mean, not a 90-minute film...stunk out loud. It was so pretentiously overwrought. Even in the finale, here come characters I don't remember or have never seen on top of other people each week that seemed unnecessary and then became important, but not before I had put them out of my mind. The story was a jumbled mess. It was alphabet soup at best, effing atrocious at worst. I have no idea why in every writing session someone didn't realize how complicated and ridiculous the entire thing was. It was straight up garbage, and it didn't have to be. But back to my movie...
If you watch the finale just to see three people you sort of cared about go balls out and act in a manner that indicates that if they're about to die, it won't happen without a blaze of glory, that's pretty fun. If you try to focus on the narrative and give a crap that evil won out in the end (at least as much as we saw, perhaps the journalist blows the lid off the story), it's impossible to enjoy it. That's bad writing though, because I had to invent an entirely new show to actually tolerate the one in front of me.
The dialogue overall was poor last night, more so than usual, as every line was delivered intentionally with gravitas that many of the words simply didn't deserve. But hey, that was a decent action movie, Rachel McAdams finally got the hair right, and Kelly Reilly may have some of the more impressive cleavage in television history. Frank may not have survived, but Jordan's low cut ensembles somehow lived on to benefit humanity.
So that's True Detective Season 2. The ratings dropped as the season moved on, but likely were up for the finale. Is it enough for HBO to give the show a third year? At the TCA's, the network said they hoped for it to continue, but it's up in the air. This season took a red-hot property and devolved it into the hate watch of the year. It's the Newsroom, but without a stone cold crazy Alison Pill, bad romance, and "faction." Caspere was a piece of cheese, but in the end, the reveal of whodunit was an afterthought. The show was an afterthought. I'm thrilled I can now put my thoughts elsewhere.
If you'll excuse me, I need a slender dark haired woman to play me out of the room with a sad song. I wrote that Leonard Cohen's intro was the highlight of the first three episodes. After eight weeks, it's still the highlight of the season.
Enough. Moving on. Fargo is back in a few weeks.
I'm on Twitter! You're right; the exclamation point was a little much. @GuyNamedJason is the handle. I was not caught, though many tried. I live among you, well disguised.