Back to Mason Cross for episode four of HBO’s True Detective; does this season match series one’s corresponding episode for cinematic mastery? (Warning: spoilers ahead)
And so we arrive at the midpoint of True Detective‘s eight episode run. Episode four of season one, ‘Who Goes There’, was a standout for its famous action-packed, single take conclusion. Does this one live up to its predecessor?
Before we get to that, I’d like to echo Steve Cavanagh’s appreciation of Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro. Velcoro really is the heart and soul of this story, and has somehow become the character you find yourself rooting for. Which is impressive when you consider all of the dodgy activities we’ve seen him get up to so far. He also manages to come up with the most perceptive insight of any of the lead trio of detectives in this episode: that all three of them are expendable to their respective departments. And that probably isn’t a coincidence.
For about eighty percent of its run time, Down Will Come is a very slow burn episode, sketching out more of the detail of the characters as they investigate the murder in their own ways. We follow Vince Vaughn’s Frank as he continues trying to claw back enough cash to replace the big stake he lost when Caspere was murdered. Woodrugh’s personal life and denial about his sexuality continues to cause problems and distract him from the case. Meanwhile, Bezzerides and Velcoro continue to make a good team, and probably the closest relationship this season has to the interplay between Hart and Cohle in season one. During their talk with Bezzerides’s hippy dad, we also learn that Velcoro has one of the largest auras he has ever seen. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
And then, almost out of nowhere, the cops get a pawn shop lead on two suspects whose prints tie them to Caspere’s murder. It’s almost too good to be true. Or perhaps we should scratch that ‘almost’ since we’re only halfway through, and it’s unlikely that this case will be resolved so easily.
The last five minutes of the show bear out that conclusion, and echo the midpoint of season one, with a brilliantly-choreographed and impressively bloody shootout spilling onto the LA streets that echoes Michael Mann’s Heat. The battle leaves just three people standing, and the sudden outburst of extreme violence comes as a timely reminder that this isn’t just a show about long pauses and carefully-constructed mood.
Mason Cross was born in Glasgow in 1979. He studied English at the University of Stirling and currently works in the voluntary sector. His short story, ‘A Living’, was shortlisted for the Quick Reads Get Britain Reading Award. His second novel, The Samaritan, is out in hardback and ebook on 16 July, and the acclaimed The Killing Season is available now. He lives in Glasgow with his wife and three children. To find out more, visit Mason Cross’ website or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.