True Detective: “Omega Station” Review

True Detective
Season 2, Episode 8 – “Omega Station”
Air date: August 9, 2015

True Detective’s second season was hamstrung from the start, burdened by high expectation and struggling under intense scrutiny and constant comparison. It was invariably doomed to disappoint, but there was never any reason to assume there’d be a happy ending to begin with. “Omega Station” stands in defiance of expectations, delivering a fitting conclusion to a problematic season and conceding only small, pyrrhic victories in the never-ending struggle against the ugliness in the world and within ourselves.

Just as it was during the first season’s finale, the mystery is all but solved and it’s only a matter of bringing in the murderer. The Crow, as it turns out, is the set photographer Lenny Tyler, actually one of the two Osterman children who survived the ’92 blue diamond robbery. His mission is one of vengeance, an attempt at retribution that ultimately drew attention to all the corruption at the heart of the city. Tyler sets up a meeting to turn over the hard drive to Holloway (which Ray interrupts), but both he and Holloway are killed in the ensuing struggle. With few options left, our heroes look towards escaping to Venezuela, but only after Frank settles his score with Osip and McCandless.

Ray and Frank are not good people; their fates were sealed from the very beginning. There was never any hope of the two friends pulling off the big heist, sticking it to the bad guys, and living happily ever after in Venezuela (this is True Detective after all, and not the later Fast and Furious films). Both men took part in the darkness that plagued the city of Vinci, and their fatal weakness would be the hope and delusions they clung to in spite of themselves. Ray still struggles with the man he became, having allowed his misdeeds and failures to poison his relationship with his son. He goes to visit Chad one last time, exposing himself long enough for Burris to tail and eventually kill him. Frank’s downfall, meanwhile, is the life he hoped to leave behind but ultimately dismissed at his own peril–the Mexican drug dealers confront him about the clubs he set ablaze, and leave him wounded and stranded in the desert.

Even in the season’s final episode, the writing and exposition can’t quite find a good rhythm. “Omega Station” has a generous ninety minutes to work with, but stumbles occasionally over cumbersome dialogue and overwrought characterization. The cast does an admirable job with what they’re given–Ani and Ray’s newfound romance is sold more by the actors’ subtle expressions and gestures than by any of the strained dialogue they’re given. Similarly, Vince Vaughn’s facial expressions alone speak more than his prolonged argument with Jordan or the parade of hallucinations that plague him combined. The full weight and desperation of their situation lends enough gravitas to keep the momentum moving forward despite the finale’s many detours into confessions and more exposition.

All things considered, the ending of True Detective’s second season is actually pretty optimistic. Our tragically flawed heroes attain some degree of atonement or retribution before their demise, while Jordan and Ani (who is also mother to Ray’s second son) survive to tell the tale and hand over the evidence to a reporter. Like the first season, there’s no such thing as a complete victory over the darkness–the highest levels of corruption are left relatively unscathed–but at least the reporter offers hope for something resembling justice.

Though not without its flaws, the second season of True Detective is a worthy next chapter in the crime anthology. There’s a lot to appreciate if one could divorce this season from the expectations and comparisons to its predecessor–the strong cast, haunting visuals, and lovingly crafted references and homages to the noir genre.

  • Sadsacks’ Sad Sex: The Confessions of Ray and Ani
  • Like the best noir stories, True Detective can’t help but throw in a few more sordid twists at the end: Laura and Leonard were likely Ben Caspere’s illegitimate children. Forget it, Ray…
  • Velcoro’s death was foreshadowed back in episode three, “Maybe Tomorrow”, during his delightfully Lynchian dream sequence:

Will Fan
Will Fan
Movies, television, games, food, coffee, vague lists, naps. Twitter: @will_fan

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