We Get the World We Deserve
Well, for everyone complaining about season one of True Detective having a happy ending, Omega Station fixed that. Frank, Paul, and Ray are dead. Ani is alone. Roll credits.
Futility is an interesting literary concept. There is instant drama to be had when we know the outcome of a situation isn’t good. When our characters have their backs against the wall is when we get a response, action, and suspense.
For Frank Semyon, he’s been in the hole the entire season. From after being screwed out of a land deal, to losing his clubs to the Russians, and finally getting cornered by the Mexican gang, he’d been fighting a losing battle from the beginning.
Ray Velcoro has also been struggling to gain traction in order to escape his own life. He believes becoming a better father could be his only way out, a path that is ultimately (and as we found out later, needlessly) denied to him.
Paul Woodrugh continuously denied his sexuality and tried to shove his past away. This keeps him living a life of denial, and having a child is his way of keeping up a permanent facade.
Ani Bezzerides spends most of her time building a wall around herself, denying others from getting in, but also preventing herself from letting go of the past. In this way, she is the only one of our four main characters to make it out alive, which comes by way of her being honest about her experience to Ray. She’s the only character to really succeed in changing into a better person.
Did all of these characters get the world they deserved?
I don’t think it’s an obvious yes or no answer. It’s complicated because as much as each and every one of them seemed to keep the status quo of depression, there was minute growth. If Nic Pizolatto was trying to make a world in which they couldn’t escape their darker selves, he failed quite miserably. Despite everything thrown at our four of our main characters, they found ways to change, grow, and strive for better lives. Yet all of them end the series either dead or alone.
It’s quite depressing really.
It’s the ultimate exercise in futility. No matter what these characters did, it feels as though their fates were already written by the first minute of this episode. And really, where else was there to go? The plot was so incomprehensible this season that all that was left were a handful of characters in a void. They grew where they could, when they could, against what little scraps they could hold on to, but the most frustrating part of season two was the flippant nature in which these characters were masquerading around a plot that never felt like it was really there.
Omega Station had good moment-to-moment scenes, but they would have been good outside of any context, which is precisely what we were given. I’ll be the first to admit I prefer interesting characters over an interesting plot, but season two started out lacking either, which gave the characters very sparse footholds going into the latter half.
Frank’s last stumble through the desert is a great example of this. Here he is visited by his past, people who clearly had an effect on him and the man he shaped up to be. Except we didn’t know any of them. They were strangers to us. This is the last moment in which we’ll see this character, and we have to quickly fill in all the blanks ourselves. Compare this to some other great dream-like sequences that use previously established characters to make an even greater point.
It’s frustrating to write about a finale like this. Did it need to be 90 minutes? Probably not. The Caspere case was never really the point, many will say. It was a vehicle for the character drama. Unfortunately, aside from a few sparse scenes like Ray waving goodbye to his son and Frank getting some straight-forward revenge on the Russians, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in that department either.
Omega Station felt more like an obligation. I stopped caring about the Caspere case after episode two, and everyone had their masks pulled off at the end of Black Maps and Motel Rooms. There wasn’t much left to do until the final thirty minutes kicked in. I was still rooting for these characters. I liked them. They weren’t very interesting, but Frank and Ray in particular were easy guys to root for. It’s a shame that they were trapped in a lifeless void without much to do.
The finale, like much of what came before it, gave us moments of competence without a larger understanding of what was going on. The futile situations we knew these characters would find themselves in created instant drama, but they were completely detached from greater meaning or developing a deeper understanding of themselves and the world.
It was clear by the midpoint of the episode that no matter how much of the conspiracy Ani and Ray uncovered, there would always be more. That’s the ultimate futility of this season, which is the only bit of plot scaffolding I can lean back on. Everything is futile. That’s film noir, I guess.
I’ll be putting my thoughts together for a much longer season two review that will go up next weekend, but I want to thank you all for reading so far. It’s been an interesting ride, to say the least, and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into Fargo in the near future!
Odds and Ends
- Why the hell did Ray think he was going to get cell reception in the sequoia forest?
- The sad guitar player makes one last appearance to make us all feel miserable again.
- I really want Vince Vaughn to do another serious role. He was given a pretty awful script this time around, but I think he made the best of it. He has the chops to do something like this again with a better writer at the helm.
- I’ll dig into this more in my season two review, but the direction all around this time was pretty bland.
Steve Dixon is the truest of all the detectives and you can follow him on Twitter @Driver194