Did ‘True Detective’ really just kill off a major character in Episode 2?

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SPOILERS for last night’s episode of True Detective, “Night Finds You”

Was Nic Pizzolatto’s writing always this clunky and Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson just elevated the writing with their superb performances? Or did Pizzolatto’s writing get A LOT worse this year? That’s the question. Anyway, after the mediocre reception to my post about True Detective’s season premiere last Monday, I wasn’t even going to write about TD this week. But then… something happened. In the last minute of the episode, something major happened. Before we get to that, some random thoughts:

SO DARK. Every character this season is being weighed down by terribly dark backstories and none of them have been able to make lemonade out of lemons, you know? I guess the closest thing we have to real “hero” is Rachel McAdams’ character, Ani. Or her character’s real name: Antigone. Seriously. Even then, I think we’re supposed to believe Antigone is super-dark because she, like, grew up on a weird commune, and she like totally vapes and watches p0rn.

Dropping the word “f-g”. Happy marriage equality, LGBT people. Now you get to hear a major character say the word “f-g” in the middle of the show for no real reason. I guess it was supposed to be foreshadowing for how Taylor Kitsch’s character Paul is a big ol’ closet case. But you could have done “self-loathing closet case” in a much better way. Plus, what’s the big deal? LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military and the police force now. Which just goes to show you – Nic Pizzolatto wants to bring some gritty 1970s realness to this season and it’s just not working.

Only Colin Farrell is really selling this dialogue. And just barely. There was the moment about Ani vaping, which was okay, and then there was the conversation about knives and feminism. Ray said: “Just so you know, I support feminism, mostly by having body-image issues.” Good line. Too bad that he might be dead now.

Oh yeah, Ray might be dead. Sure. Why not? I’ll admit that as far as cliffhangers go, that was a pretty good one. I was sitting there, stunned, thinking, “Sh-t, did they really just kill off this major character in Episode 2????” Ray is following up on a lead given to him by Vince Vaughn – and let’s face it, Vaughn’s character is a much better detective than Paul – and Ray goes to Casper’s little hideaway apartment. Ray goes by himself, didn’t call for backup, didn’t call Ani. Ray finds that the apartment was where Casper was killed and someone recorded the whole mise en scene through a one-way mirror (how LA Confidential)… and it looked like that sh-t was still recording. Ray hears someone behind him, goes to pull his gun and gets shot. Then the dude in The Raven Mask of Doom walks over to Ray – who is on the ground – and unloads a shotgun blast into Ray’s chest. End of scene.

Is Ray really gone? Probably not. In the trailers for this season, we got a glimpse of Ray in some scenes that haven’t aired yet. It would be pretty baller for True Detective to just kill off a major character in Episode 2 and have him stay dead, but I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. I think we’re going to get flashbacks with Ray and his wife while Ray lays in a hospital bed, recovering from being shot point-blank in the chest with the same shotgun that took off Casper’s junk. Still, the preview for the next episode looks Ray-free?

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Photos courtesy of HBO.

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67 Responses to “Did ‘True Detective’ really just kill off a major character in Episode 2?”

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  1. Lucy2 says:

    I was just thinking how boring the episode was, and then that happened. I kind of hope he is dead, it would be sort of ridiculous to have him survive that, and killing him off so fast would be a gutsy move. And I figured that VV’s characters sethim up.

    • Lahdidahbaby says:

      It’s not nearly as good as season 1. But what kills me this time is the stupid dialogue. It’s ruining the show for me. Stiff, stupid, hokey lines no one would say in real life.

      As for Colin’s character being dead, I predict he’s wearing a bulletproof vest.

      • j says:

        i thought bulletproof vest too. it’ll probably be a deal where he wears one if he’s got to met Vaughn’s character somewhere

        it’s meh this season so far

      • Bella says:

        @ Lahdidahbaby — agreed that this season doesn’t compare at all to season 1, but for me, the biggest distraction has been Vince Vaughn. I’m sorry, but I think he is terrible and I don’t buy him at all as a serious actor. He’s tolerable as a comedic actor, but when he tries to act tough on this show I find myself rolling my eyes. The biggest problem, in my opinion, was a lot of miscasting.

      • Samtha says:

        Yeah, he’s probably wearing a bulletproof vest–at least that’s how they’ll explain him surviving. In reality, taking a blast that close would likely kill you, vest or not.

    • Lori says:

      I think Cary fukunaga’s direction last year is what made all the difference. Rumor is that he and Nic P did not get along.

      • Kristen says:

        I totally agree with this. I think that this season’s story wouldn’t be half bad if it were directed differently. It’s like the only direction the actors are getting is, “Just act tormented. Brood more.” Fukunaga also knew how to make the landscape just as much a character as the people, and that’s not really happening here either.

    • Annie says:

      Words cannot describe my complete loathing for this show and everyone associated with it. It is a turd in a punchbowl. Someone should flush it. Terrible all around.

    • denisemich says:

      Great director and actors probably elevated the writing of last season. Let’s not forget that this guy also wrote The Killing.

      I haven’t watched this season due to casting. Why did they go from A+ actors to C?

    • Tanguerita says:

      A quick look at Colin Farrell’s imdb-page should have solved the mystery – he is in eight episodes of “TD”. So unless he comes back as a ghost to haunt Ani (sorry, ehem, ANTIGONE) or to steal her robot’s dick, he’s gonna be all right. But on a completely unrelated note – I felt like i was watching a parody, like, a Saturday night live parody. Has Rachel McAdams always been such a bad actress or did they manage to bring the best out of her on this show? I mean, the way she is sucking on her E-cigarette, looking all serious and preoccupied, had me in stitches.

      • Kristen says:

        RM has always been a bad actress. She’s just pretty one-note. But people really love her for some reason.

    • Chaucer says:

      Got caught up and wanted to comment on this. With a large amount of writers, their first piece of work is really good because they don’t have pressing deadlines.

      This is why Nic should have gotten a few other writers on board for season 2. With deadlines it causes rushed, sloppy writing that takes a team to manage.

  2. Lilacflowers says:

    Watching Poldark instead.

    • grabbyhands says:

      I watched TD at the 6 PM slot, so Poldark was a nice palette cleanser. :)

    • amilue says:

      Me, too! I just learned that the actress that plays Demelza also played on The White Queen. I had no idea I’d seen the actress before, but I’m loving her Demelza. Can’t wait for her and Ross to get together.

      The DVR is recording TD, but we can’t even be bothered to watch it — still haven’t watched episode 1. The lukewarm-to-terrible reviews aren’t exactly selling it.

  3. Jessica says:

    I hope he’s not dead, since as you said, Farrell is the only one really selling the dialogue and the whole vibe of the thing. It would be a bold move for the show, but a highly detrimental one in this case.

    • Mom2two says:

      This. Farrell is the best thing about this season.
      Nice guest spot for Rick Springfield last night too.

      • Ruth Dunbar says:

        I wasn’t aware that Springfield had signed on for the season, so I sat there and sat there and then finally I said out loud, “Holy sh**, is that RIck Springfield?”

      • Sarre says:

        I was horrified! I used to love that guy and the plastic surgery he has had just sickened me! However I would still gladly do porn stached ,possibly dead Colin Farrell.Yummy!

      • islandwalker says:

        Holy crap, didn’t even realise that was Springfield. This years storyline is boring as hell.

  4. Rice says:

    My hubby & I watched the 1st episode of the 1st season and couldn’t watch the rest because it was just that boring. Maybe we need to give it another try.

    • Bella says:

      You should try giving it another shot! I hated the first few episodes of season 1 but quickly became absolutely enthralled with it and in the end, I thought it was brilliant. It seems that Nic Pizzolatto’s writing gets off to a really slow start. I’m giving this season the benefit of the doubt because season 1 took a while to heat up also.

  5. Ariel says:

    When not comparing it to the first season, I have actually really enjoyed season 2′s episodes.
    It is relentlessly dark, but I am compelled by it.
    And I think you’re making to much out of Paul saying “fag”. I think it was noted how ridiculous he was acting when the grizzled old cop beside him looked at him like he was totally ridiculous for saying stuff like that.

    Excited to see what happens next.

    • lizzie says:

      i disagree – paul is gay. that was total foreshadowing that he is deep deep in the closet and it is ruining his life. can’t get it up with his beautiful girlfriend, overly suggestive comments from mother who wants him to be a hyper masculine stud like clint eastwood (best set design in that trailer), homophobic slurs, cruising dudes as soon as he steps foot in LA. i think it was a little on the nose and i bet anything he has PTSD from losing a secret lover in Iraq.

      • Becks says:

        Lizzie, I also think Paul is gay. He’s in the closet and seems very angry and frustrated about it.

        Overall, I’m liking TD so far. Yes, it’s bleak and depressing, but I’m intrigued.

      • Tinker83 says:

        Lizzie-
        X1000000000000!!!! Spot-freaking-on!!!!! I was thinking along similar lines.

    • Bella says:

      @ Ariel — I agree. I’m looking forward to this season. Season 1 got off to an equally slow start and that turned out to be amazing. I read somewhere that there is supposed to be a lot of gay sex this season and that homosexuality is going to be a large part of the plot line.

    • Dhavynia says:

      @Ariel, I agree too that if you compare it to the first season you think it sucks ( I don’t)
      If the dialogue would be the same, then people would be bitching about copying the first season!
      I’m glad it’s different and I’m sticking to it

  6. Tiffany27 says:

    Needs Cary Fukunaga.

  7. kri says:

    I hate to say it, but I watched about 15 minutes of the first episode, and I was disappointed and bored, yet also depressed. There was nothing that made me involved. I hope it gets better, because the actors are great.

  8. Carmen says:

    I can’t believe they Shonda’d him so early in the season.

  9. grabbyhands says:

    They are trying so hard to duplicate the air of season one! The whole eight minute monologue that Vince Vaughn gave at the beginning felt like it was a left over speech from last season.

    It would be unfortunate if they killed off Colin’s character-he and Rachel are the only ones really bringing it so far, and that isn’t saying much. Taylor Kitsch is delivering Hayden Christensen levels of wooden acting and Vince Vaughn is playing his Swingers character if he had decided to join the mob.

    So far, the only highlights of the first two episodes for me have been the music and Rick Springfield’s cameo. They should have given Cary Fukunaga anything he wanted to get him back-the writing has taken a big hit. On that-it seems like the new writers REALLY like David Lynch.

    • AntiSocialButterfly says:

      I know there are a lot of Rachel fans around, but damn- she seems so flat/wooden in this role. :-(

      • Anna says:

        Agreed. And her pathology just seems so…common or rather, un-nuanced, basic, expected. She judges her “porn performance artist” sister, crazy hippie non-committal father, carries a series of weapons to make herself feel stronger, has little inflection in any dialogue delivery, and then surfs porn at night under auspices of the job, as if it’s this horrible thing. Sorry but looking at porn is not shocking. Boring character, nothing new here. So disappointed…I’ve watched both episodes a few times and ep 1 did start to grow on me once I made note of all the small details. But I’m just not sure… MM and WH were absolute gold in season one and I just don’t think that can ever be repeated in any way.

    • Bella says:

      @ grabbyhands – I seriously wanted to fast forward through Vince’s monologue in the first 8 minutes. He was so miscast. I’m hoping I get proved wrong and he pulls out some amazing performance, but so far I find his terrible acting distracting.

  10. dante says:

    Not sure exactly why it is, but so far this season I’ve had to watch both episodes twice (each right after the initial viewing) just to “get” what’s going on… There’s something with the dialog that seems so deliberately obtuse I’m not quite sure if I’ve gotten the story line or just plain missed something. It’s kind of strange.

    The thing is, last year I gave up on this show after the first episode or two thinking it did nothing for me. Later I went back to it, viewed the entire season in a binge watch, and actually thought it was great. Go figure! I think its that the writing style is kind of impenetrable, and you either have the patience till it gets to the point, or sit there tapping your foot wishing it would get to the point. Regardless, so far Colin Farrell is the best thing about Season 2, and so I hope its not the end of his story line.

    • Lilian says:

      Totally agree with Dante. And so far only Colin has really kept me interested.

    • Pamela says:

      I agree Dante. My husband and I are watching and felt a little dumb because we don’t fully even understand the plot. We get the gist of it—but I feel like there are entire chunks that we are not grasping. And I promise, usually we are reasonably intelligent.

      I do remember Season One being a bit that way too…the plot had a lot of mystery and turns and wasn’t spoon-fed. I am hoping that a few more episodes in, we will feel like we are at least following the story.

      I saw someone lse post that Colin Farrell is credited for the whole season. I actually really like him so the one hand, yay. But he got shot point blank in the chest. Even with a bullet proof vest how could he possibly have survived that?

    • Anna says:

      I had to do the same, watch season two episodes over and over to “get” it… But I didn’t actually have that issue with season one. I was hooked *immediately* and couldn’t wait for each new episode. Blew my mind.

  11. Al says:

    I hope the character is dead for the actor’s sake. HOLY HELL that show is hard to watch. Just so, so, very bad. It’s almost Ferrell and Wiig levels of fantastic but Vince Vaughn won’t let it be great. He’s so sucky, I felt bad for Farrell every time the character was on screen.

    • Isabelle says:

      The paper mache scene was an actors school to acting 101 graduate. He made it boring cringe worthy. I was rooting for Vaughn but he isn’t delivering at all.

  12. lila fowler says:

    He’s listed as being in all episodes on imdb. I think he’ll survive. It’d be better if he were dead, though. This season blows. None of the actors use more than one facial expression.

  13. missmerry says:

    im literally scrolling away from what is written to write down here that it sucks that the title of this is a spoiler…or at least I consider it a spoiler b/c i wouldn’t have been thinking about a main character death until I saw this…now, no matter what happens in the show (I watch it a day late), I have to think about this title…

    lame. filling my mind with spoilers…If I may request, don’t be so specific in the titles with spoiler posts, please.

    • SG says:

      Yeah, seriously. I saw the title of this post before I saw the actual episode so I knew what was coming when Ray entered the house. Very frustrating.

    • Sarre says:

      She didn’t say what character! I don’t think it’s the internet’s responsibility to protect you from spoilers! People like to chat about what they witnessed and I think it is a kindness to post spoiler alerting not a necessity. Let’s all be realistic people like to chat the day after big things happened it is probably best if you don’t want to get spoiled to stay away from websites that cover such things until after you have watched the show.

      • Lilian says:

        I agree with SG. I think if should be more vague, as in other tv review sites. Death is too specific to put on the title and by the time you get to watch the episode you keep waiting for it the whole time. Not cool. While I think people have the right to say whatever they want on the title, it’d be nice to be considerate towards those who haven’t seen the episode yet. This is the exact same thing that happened with another series I was watching. So what if there’s a spoiler alert if the major event has already been announced. Just saying.

    • Falula says:

      Agree! I didn’t click Monday morning bc my husband and I didn’t get a chance to watch until tonight but I specifically came back to say that, too. I don’t mind an article about the episode – I just won’t click if I haven’t seen. But man, in the title?! It’s not like I’m asking that you don’t spoil Usual Suspect or Sixth Sense – it was less than 12 hours after airing.

      Ugh. Also thought it would be Ani bc of the header pic and then thought it was even stranger to have the spoiler but then not the right character in the picture.

      At this point I’m not even sure I want to finish this season bc it’s such a downgrade from last year anyway, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

  14. EM says:

    This season is rubbish. I’m not bothering with it. Seeing Vince Vaughn’s hopeless wooden acting was enough for me.

  15. AntiSocialButterfly says:

    Bullet proof vest, and he pulls his weapon and ends his assailant?

  16. Abba says:

    Does anyone else think that V.V. looks really good in this role?

  17. Twink says:

    Colin’s mustache is so awful, I have a hard time thinking its actually him as I usually find him so hot, but not as Velcoro.

    • Tinker83 says:

      Twink,
      I know, right?! Every time Colin comes on the TV, I kept saying “shave that sh*t off ya face!” I actually haven’t been able to let that go since I saw the first episode & my hubby thinks it’s hilarious because he knows I find him irresitably hot.

  18. Isabelle says:

    There was no blood splatter when he was shot, so he had a bullet proof vest on, he’s not dead. Taylor Kitsch character, Paul, was the most jaw dropping scene last night. His mother is creepy beyond creepy & the scene was done well because it felt personal. Feel no attachment to any of these characters yet, except for Paul. Explains why he is so sexually messed up & seems to detest it. Oh & did like the last screen as well.

  19. dread pirate cuervo says:

    My conspiracy theories:

    1) Paul is the shooter in the raven mask.

    2) Frank’s ginger goon is the guy who raped Ray’s wife. Frank set it up & gave Ray the name of one of his enemies knowing Ray would kill him.

  20. MAC says:

    I was not surprised he was shot. The same Caddy that had the dead bode and the mask in episode one was outside the Hollywood apartment.

    Have no interest if he lives or dies. I get the idea of a clean slate for a next season but like others said bring back Fukunaga. Od and maybe some actors who can act. Before the show started they said Vince I said no way. I watched it hoping he would be better and nope.

  21. Nuna says:

    This show is hilarious in its overreaching grittiness. I couldn’t get through the first set. Angst, drugs, psychos – too much of it and too little substance in the end.

  22. dos equis says:

    @dread pirate cuervo : I had the same theories! Especially about Paul being the shooter, don’t know why, but that jumped right into my head.

    And the writing is terrible so far this season. Yes, there is the lack of amazing direction by Fukunaga and the lack of amazing performances like those given by McConaughey and Harrelson (and also the lack of an overall awesome character like Rust Cohle), but the writer is the same and it’s just so bad now! Last season gave us such great lines like “I can smell the psychosphere” and “with all that d!ck swagger you roll, you can’t spot crazy pu$$y?” This season we get “you don’t have flies, you can’t go fly fishing.” Ok… (although I did also like the feminism line). The banter between Marty & Rust in Season 1 was so great, it spawned this awesome tumblr: http://truedetectiveconversations.tumblr.com/

  23. VV says:

    This season is different. We all knew it would be. I don’t hate or love it, I am waiting to see where it goes. The first season didn’t grab me either immediately and the dialogue in season one is atrocious in parts and overly self important, too.

  24. Raz says:

    The person who shot Colin looked small..maybe a woman?

  25. Sara says:

    Oh god, I thought the line about supporting feminism was practically the only good/funny dialog in the whole clunky thing. I’ll probably keep watching too, but I remember last season when I was so bored with how slow the story was going they would throw you a bone to keep you watching. Seems the same thing season.

  26. BR says:

    Don’t know why everyone’s bitching about episode 2 being boring. The first one, yes. A sleeper and a bit disjointed. I thought the second one picked up the pace a little and started connecting the dots, along with providing some very tense moments.

    Vince V’s not my favorite actor, but I think y’all are being too hard on him with respect to this part. The scene with him recalling his episode in the basement was riveting and he played it well. Cut him some slack!

    Seeing Colin’s get offed in episode 2 just blew me away too. Did not see that coming. In a way I hope that truly is the end of the line for him, because I agree with others that whether he was wearing a vest or not is irrelevant for a shotgun blast done that close to his body. If they use that explanation and he survives the show loses some cred pretty early.

    And yes, last year was much better. So sad.