Hitting an unanticipated peak last week, we are now staring down the barrel of the penultimate episode of Season 2. At this point, despite the increase in quality, I doubt I’ll be rewatching this 8-episode arc any time soon. The first half lacked the gravitas and arcane red herrings from Season 1. However, that doesn’t discount the fact that I’m enjoying it more with each layer peeled away.
One thing that is guaranteed is that this season will end with an innumerable body count. With more central centers in the crosshairs and a wider conspiracy, it’s dubious that everyone will escape unscathed. Is it just me or was Rachel McAdams channeling a bit of Clarice Starling in her ramblings about being found “in the woods”?
In keeping with the title, Nic Pizzolatto finally elucidates the audience with gumshoe details about the grants and land parcels by Anthony Chessani. Ray and Ani obviously exhibit sexual tension but Ray is sober enough to dissuade Ani from a frivolous one-night stand during his hallucinogenic-induced haze. It could be infinitesimal but I like Paul unburdening himself to his fiance Emily (Adria Arjona) about how he was “just trying to be a good man”.
By hiding their family members and loved ones in motels and other clandestine locations, the rising action to a blazing showdown between the cops and the city council is inevitable and it ingratiates us with the promise of unbridled warfare. Same goes with the debts on Frank’s clubs and how his assets are about to be seized by force from the Russian mafioso.
I adored Frank’s indignation over the prostitution ring underneath his nose with his explanation that the difference between a pimp and a whore is that “a whore can still have integrity”. If anyone questioned Vaughn’s latent ability as a “heavy”, he was completely omnipotent in the scene where he bludgeons and executes Blake just to coldly scowl at him as he slowly bleeds onto his carpet.
Frank is a murderous gangster but he endears us with his dire-straits circumstances in terms of his equity. Like the IMF, the trio has been disavowed and reduced to switching license plates to avoid detection. It’s transcendent that a ubiquitous character actor like Morse can work wonders on rather meager morsels and his tearful scene in the woods with Ani over her childhood molestation is juicy.
The lingering silence before Ani whispers “you’re not a bad man” to Ray qualifies as elegiac poetry. But Ray can’t forgive himself when he reasserts that he is despite his recent altruism. Pizzolatto’s pessimism runs deep but he has the courage of conviction for the gray areas. Other highlights include Frank looking nirvanic and relieved when he incinerates the Vinci Gardens Casino behind him and Paul’s nail-biting shootout in the tunnel.
On the lam from their departments, Pizzolatto has successfully manipulated me into submission because against-all-odds underdogs are a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s been a sizable adjustment for the audience but Season 2 is hurtling towards a brisk, but enormously enrapturing ending. This brutish wind-up toy is about to uncoil with fireworks.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5