Steve Cavanagh picks up the reins again for the Murder Room’s review of HBO’s True Detective. How will episode three resolve the cliffhanger that shocked everyone in episode two? (Warning: spoilers ahead.)
If you haven’t read the excellent take on episode two by my pal, Mason Cross, do so now. I’m taking up the reins for episode three and my oh my! What a humdinger of an episode.
For me, it’s difficult to talk about this show without also discussing crime fiction. For any, and I do mean any, crime fans out there – this show has to be an absolute must-see. So many of the recurring themes in crime fiction are dealt with here. For a start – redemption. For fans of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer, Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie or John Connolly’s Charlie Parker, watch this series and tell me that Nic Pizzolatto’s writing and Colin Farrell’s portrayal of Velcoro doesn’t completely nail the character of someone who’s been to the ragged edge of life and is slowly climbing back towards the light. This is brilliant writing and acting.
This episode sees Velcoro turn a corner courtesy of a chest full of rock salt and a dream straight out of a David Lynch film. Oh, and for nineties action movie fans there’s a welcome slice of Fred Ward who plays Velcoro’s father. Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) steps it up here with a couple of great lines, which I won’t spoil, as she and Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) take up the slack in the investigation by trawling the mayor’s house. This scene could be in an Elmore Leonard novel, it’s got that decadent LA decay. Then Woodrugh sets off to hunt down any leads from prostitutes who may have come into contact with the murder victim, Caspere. The past haunts these characters and we learn more about Woodrugh’s history in the military and his sexual repression.
Things aren’t going so great for Vince Vaughan’s Frank Seymon in his hunt for his missing seven million dollars that the late Ben Caspere was holding. Seymon’s slow decline back into this criminal ways juxtaposes Velcoro’s ascent. This is a good thing – Vaughan’s livelihood, his masculinity and even his life is in jeopardy and the more he gets pushed the more violent the results. There’s a scene towards the end of this episode with a pair of pliers that had my laughing and squirming in equal measure.
This is a psychologically rich, beautifully shot, well written, brilliantly performed piece of pulp joy. If the series maintains this kind of excellence then I may actually end up preferring it to the first season. Yeah, it’s that good. Go watch it.
How has season three shaped up so far? Is there one character you feel is leading the line, or is the ensemble cast all pulling its weight? Leave us a comment below!
Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for Dublin at the age of eighteen to study law. He currently practises civil rights law, and in 2010 he represented a factory worker who suffered racial abuse in the workplace, and won the largest award of damages for race discrimination in Northern Ireland’s legal history. His first novel, The Defence, was published by Orion in March 2015. Find out more on Steve’s website.