For everyone who decided that this season’s True Detective was boring and lacked the substance of the last season, you are probably kicking yourselves right now because episode four had my jaw to the floor and my eyes streaming because I was afraid if I blinked, I would miss something. There are two moments in particular that stood out for me, one is pretty obvious but we’ll get to that, first I want to talk about Ani Bezzerides.
Much like the first season, this season is dominated by a male cast. The women in season one were usually victims, journalists or sexual partners of the protagonists and season two is no different, all with the exception of Bezzerides. The main female characters thus far are largely either prostitutes, wives, ex wives or girlfriends. They epitomise the use of women in films dominated by a male cast, where the males may not necessarily represent good, strong people, they are the driving force of the narrative and the women are an extension of that. In this episode, Bezzerides is told by her boss that she has been suspended because she has been sleeping with some of the men in her department which has caused unnecessary tension. She suggests that if she was a man, this conversation wouldn’t be happening, but because the men in question have complained about her fickle attitude towards casual sex, she is being suspended. She probably shouldn’t have slept with her partner, but the insinuation that she is being treated differently because she is a female in a male dominated work environment is an important message. As gender equality creeps further and further into the news, it’s no surprise that television programmes are using their strong female characters to voice their support. The days of weak female leads are edging further away and strong, independent women are taking their place. However, in the case of True Detective, she is the only strong willed and independent female character, making her role even more important. She could smile a bit more though, It’s not all bad Bezzerides!
The other thing I would like to talk about now is the magnificent, jaw dropping, edge of your seat shoot-out that happened at the end of the episode. Velcoro, Bezzerides and Woodrough decide to take some back up and check out a warehouse where they are hoping to find a man who has been pawning Ben Caspere’s belongings. It doesn’t feel like they are walking into a threatening situation but soon after they arrive, a man opens fire on them from a high up window. Things just snowball from there and the ensuing shoot-out takes place on a road with civilians. The bad guys are reckless, unafraid and shooting anyone and anything they can, they are out of control and there are not enough cops there to deal with them. The three detectives work together to get a foot up on them and they start fighting back with everything they have. The end result is all the cops are dead, all the bad guys are dead and every unlucky civilian to have been in the area at the time is dead. The three people left standing are our detectives. As the police sirens close in on the silence that now surrounds them, they each look around them at the bodies of the innocent lying motionless in the street, what was a simple investigation turned into a chaotic, out of control scene which has resulted in a huge loss of life. The most powerful thing about this scene was not only seeing the brilliance of the three Detectives come together but the way that they are each so full up with genuine fear that you understand the seriousness. No one is trying to be a hero and no one is in charge, they are faced with an unexpected amount of aggression from the guys in the warehouse and they are watching their colleagues die in front of them. They are trying to prevent more people from dying by taking down the criminals and attempting to stay alive themselves.
The final few seconds of this scene are what gives its final punch as the short space of time between realising that everyone is dead and the cops arriving on the scene, the Detectives are left to look at the aftermath of what has happened, they are alone with the dead and there is nothing to do but wait there with them. As the cops arrive and the camera moves away, the three detectives are caught in a freeze frame, at the heart of the carnage. It’s so powerful and so moving, it just asserts itself once again as being a truly brilliant television show.