True Detective Season 2 Episode 5: Other Lives

Steve Cavanagh conitunes where we left off with episode five of HBO’s True Detective, and reveals how the protagonists are dealing with the aftermath of episode four’s climactic denouement.

There’s an elephant in the Murder Room. Not a real one, needless to say, but a pretty big one. Season two has divided critics and reviewers alike and for the most part, there seems to be a negative reaction to this series. The previous season employed a lot of spooky and ethereal camera work and narrative tricks, in what was essentially a pretty straightforward serial killer tale. We are in different territory here, with a far more complex plot, more characters, and no serial killer. But there’s murder, Frank Seymon’s missing five million dollars, a kick-ass shootout in the last episode, a missing hard drive, missing diamonds, a missing girl and characters who are equally lost.

In episode five the characters begin to find themselves. We are 66 days after the fatal shooting of the Mexican meth gang who were supposedly responsible for Caspere’s death. The complaints that haunted each of our detectives have finally caught up with them. Bezzerides is working the evidence cage, Woodrugh is hustling insurance fraudsters and Velcoro has left Vinci PD and is just, well, hustling. And Frank Semyon has lost his house, along with his dreams of clawing his way to respectability as he finds himself back working the nightclub. These are the ‘other lives’; the alternate lives that come with failure.

And a word on dialogue: great, for 99% of the time. Those who have been critical of the dialogue in this season must’ve been deaf last time out. McConaughey pulled off a lot of corny lines, that no-one would ever say. Frank gets the most criticism but for me, I’m thoroughly enjoying Vince Vaughan and I think there much more to come from this portrayal before the series finishes.

This instalment begins to slowly pull together some of those threads which were strung out in previous episodes. For the first time we begin to see the bigger picture. It feels like this is a transition episode, where our detectives and our gangster have reached the point where things have to change and they’ve been handed one last chance to redeem themselves. But as the truth begins to emerge you begin to wonder if all is eventually revealed, will that save our detectives? Or damn them?


At the end of a slower episode of season two, how do you feel the mystery is shaping up to the first season? 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.