‘True Detective’ Episode 6: Bezzerides’ wild night at the sex party

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘True Detective’ Recap: The Great Escape.

This week’s “Church in Ruins” is the first episode of True Detective’s second season that managed to recapture some of season one’s magic: propulsive storytelling, beautiful direction, and dialogue that managed to be enjoyably pulpy instead of obnoxiously pulpy.

It was a shining beacon of hope amid an endless array of overhead highway shoots, gloomy visages, Vince Vaughn uttering words like “apoplectic,” and that godforsaken guitar player who, by this point, has every masochistic viewer wishing they could pull a John Belushi-in-Animal House and smash that thing to smithereens.Last week, as signaled by the arrival of a new verse in Leonard Cohen’s theme song, “True Detective” seemed to enter a new phase of its second season. It’s probably too late to save this misbegotten season, but for anyone who’s still watching, it’s a relief to see that True Detective still has something left in the tank.

Back in March, well before True Detective’s second season premiered, rumors began swirling that the show would gift us with a “colossal…Eyes Wide Shut-caliber orgy” incorporating a handful of porn stars and a surfeit of naked, writhing bodies. The big shootout in Week 4 refocused the investigation, and various pieces that had been floating around, intriguing but untethered, like the macabre Dr.

After they sit down to coffee and work out their differences, Ray Velcoro tells Frank Semyon that his slimy subordinate Blake is running a complex prostitution ring, enlisting young, cash-strapped girls, sending them to Dr. True Detective’s biggest mystery at this point is why the writers think the resolution of Caspere’s murder is more compelling than the people looking for the clues. It is early morning; dressing-gown time, and he is pouring coffee for cop-turned-henchman Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) who – we are led to believe – is there to to kill him.”Black,” says Velcoro.

Pitlor, the mayor’s coke-dusted destroyer of a son, Blake the operator and the shady developer McCandless, started to coalesce into something viewers could wrap their heads around. The hour began promisingly, with Ray Velcoro and Frank Semyon’s kitchen-table confrontation over the bad intel regarding the man responsible for the rape of the former’s wife Sure, ending last week’s episode with the furious cop banging down the gangster’s front door only to say “You and me need to talk” was so anticlimactic you could practically hear the Price Is Right losing horn in the background. Pitlor for extensive plastic surgery, and turning them into high-priced escorts for Los Angeles’ most powerful men. (Incidentally, this is basically the plot of L.A. Last year, the focus on the two men investigating the crimes became part of the show’s initial drive – cop shows often treat their characters so ham-fistedly that the odd couple of Marty and Rust held instant appeal.

Confidential, which means this falls somewhere on the spectrum between “loving homage” and “outright theft.”) Blake’s little side project happens to dovetail with Ani’s latest mission: going undercover at an orgy to check out some leads on the Caspere murder. We knew that Frank Semyon’s (Vaughn) No. 2, Blake, was running prostitutes on the side with Mayor Chessani’s son, with enhanced chests courtesy of the creepy Dr. And while there were some of the standard verbal hijinks — you can’t have a conversation with Southern California’s most sphinx-like crime boss without it — their exchange remained tightly focused on the important questions. True Detective doesn’t give us a satisfying answer, but the mistake certainly costs him; by the end of the evening, a guard and a guest have been stabbed, and a long-lost missing person has been found and spirited away.

While Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams have grown into their characters, the notion of four leads, each with needlessly messy backstories, has made the show feel more crowded than a California highway, and the dynamic between the four has so far been pretty underdeveloped. The relationship between the policemen played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in the first series gave us light relief from a gripping and gruesome murder plot; eloquent but grandiose philosophising from one man was met with blokish weariness from the other. That said, this week follows up the renewed energy from last week’s very own ‘Avengers’ moment, where Ray, Ani and Paul were recruited into a clandestine operation to expose the corruptness in the city. Semyon first insists that he himself was only acting on what turned out to be a bad tip, then convinces his long-time lackey he would likely have turned out a no-good killer regardless. “I woulda been different!” “Of all the lies people tell themselves, I bet that’s the most common.” The gangster leans hard on the idea that blaming him for the mess Ray has made of his life is just a responsibility dodge.

Ani was going to infiltrate one of the glamorous parties that front a murky prostitution ring; Ray and Frank were about to come to blows after Ray learned the man he killed wasn’t responsible for raping his wife, and Paul bit his lip ever-so-slightly while staring into the distance. Certainly the hash he makes of his supervised visitation, culminating in a massive coke bender and a deal never to see his kid again as long as his ex doesn’t tell the boy about his real father, lends credence to that theory. Sugar?” Those are the first words in True Detective’s sixth episode, titled “Church in Ruins.” It’s a question posed by Frank to his Raymond, though the way it rolls off his tongue, it sounds a bit closer to, “You want milk, Sugar?” It’s mostly standard sex club fare—lots of shots of naked, drugged-out women being taken in various positions by (or giving blowjobs to) gross older white men. Both that sliver of doubt and Velcoro’s decision to plow ahead with the only life he knows make perfect sense; Semyon’s offer to reveal who gave him the name in exchange for help tracking down Ben Caspere’s blackmail hard drive is just an afterthought.

Stan’s death was baffling because we knew absolutely nothing about him, and it only grew more grating when characters kept referencing him like he had ever mattered to us. But we also burned lots of calories on dad angst this week, which seems to be just as central to Nic Pizzolatto’s vision for this show as it is detrimental to my enjoyment of it. That’s the kind of mistake that’s not shocking from a onetime novelist like Nic Pizzolatto; on paper, you could probably make a minor character like Stan feel like he matters: through exposition, or interior monologue, or even by his mere presence in a bunch of scenes. It’s perhaps a personal thing — others may enjoy long scenes devoted to the sons of dead henchmen we barely knew. (I realize it was about Frank, but it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.) But I don’t want to belabor it.

Meanwhile Ani Bezzerides’s (Rachel McAdams) and Paul Woodrugh’s (Taylor Kitch) discovery of a blood-soaked hut brought with it a welcome sense of dread. The sexual subtext here isn’t subtle—make no mistake about it, those guns are dicks—and Velcoro possesses all the wrath of a scorned lover, wronged by Frank’s bit of misinformation that led to him killing a relatively innocent crankhead instead of his wife’s rapist and allowing Frank to lord it over him for years. “I don’t want a shootout in my fuckin’ kitchen, Raymond,” Frank says. “And I don’t wanna see you die—by me, or one of my other guys.

There he delivers a genuinely sweet and convincing talk about how to move forward from tragedy, or as he puts it, “a thing that splits your life — there’s a before, and after.” Painful events like that, he tells the kid, “show you what was on the inside, and inside of you? Instead, it’s Vince Vaughn’s best scene this season: a hopeful monologue, delivered to a sad little boy, which actually allows Vaughn’s natural charisma to shine. Frank’s foresight to tuck a pistol in his dressing gown first thing in the morning notwithstanding, the two have an intense, whispery conversation about the bombshell but the whole thing has the tension of a wet firework when Frank reveals he didn’t know it was the wrong guy, either. Viewers knew that her sister’s blathering about pushing people away and drowning on land, however compassionate, was just getting in the way of the most useful part of that scene: namely, Ani’s crazy knife workout. Elsewhere, Woodraugh’s investigation into the purple diamonds demonstrates that this murder investigation is not actually as interesting as the show thinks it is.

And I ain’t your suicide ticket.” Every time Vince Vaughn drops an “ain’t” on True Detective it lands with a resounding thud, but that aside, this kitchen exchange—like all of their exchanges, really—only exists so that these two characters can relay information to each other that the audience already knows, and also to make us wish that they’d run off to Santa Monica together, adopt a kid (or two!), and live happily ever after. Instead of the “colossal” orgy sequence – featuring real porn stars, no less – that has been hinted at for weeks, we got a climactic set-piece that the drugged Bezzerides tripped her way through.

And Velcoro is still on the hunt for Casper’s hard drive, which is coveted by Frank’s partner in crime McCandless, the president of the Santa Clara Railroad Company and the face of Catalyst, who can let Frankie back in on the California Central Rail Corridor deal. Perhaps confronting this will help her start to heal. (She only has two episodes left.) By the way, if you’re scoring at home, the Season 2 takeaways seem to be A.) all women are vulnerable; B.) all men are messed up and/or abandoned by their fathers; and C.) all plutocrats are degenerates. “Bachelor” fans who wish the show had more nudity, drugs and knife play — Maybe it was just me but that whole party scene, from the busload of chattel women to the garish opulence of the house to the oddly orange lighting and plastic sheen of the cinematography, reminded me of a dating reality show, except with beady-eyed old pervs instead of a square-jawed pilot or whatever. Ray — Yes, he finally said goodbye to his kid and yes, he’s back off the wagon, going Scarface on the high-octane chin-up blow and wrecking his place. But it adds to the notion that the journey is always going to be more satisfying than any conclusion, which is frustrating when True Detective then chooses to focus on small, cloying details of a case that’s overshadowing the actors and characters driving the narrative.

Apparently, they’ve been missing since April 30, 1992, when a mom and pop store was fleeced during the L.A. riots, leaving the two proprietors murdered. Ani’s disorientating infiltration of the party is easily season two’s most arresting moment, from the grotesque string section soundtracking her descent, to the buffet of flesh-and-limbs greeting her as she stumbles wearily from room to room.

It sounds like a professional job—i.e., done by cops—and last episode, Woodrugh discovered that the slain cop Dixon, who was also surreptitiously snapping photos of Woodrugh, had been looking into the missing diamonds. He knows who assaulted his wife all those years ago and can take properly targeted action, if the opportunity arises. (We got no help on the ginger issue, alas, since the assailant’s hair had gone gray.) He can stop subjecting himself to the opprobrium of the family court. Unfortunately, things end badly for him, and worse for the woman: When the gangsters hear she’d been paid to sell the dead man’s loot by a cop, they kill her for working with the police.

Compared to the blistering shoot-out in episode four, this is a tense, fragile confrontation as Ani’s senses meld and her perception becomes increasing distorted. This is presumably linked to Rulfo, whom Frank eventually tracks down with the help of some Mexican cowboys and who spills that a cop (Dixon?) paid her $500 to pawn the Casper watch and provoke the gun battle—right before she gets her throat slit.

After the sluggish pace of earlier episodes this was exhilarating, and harked back to a now-famous climax in the middle of the first season, which saw McConaughey’s character undertake similarly intoxicated undercover work. At best, True Detective is high camp, and Sapochnik shoots it that way, with a Bernard Herrmann-esque string score and a restless, dizzy camera that can’t quite focus on anything (including the weird sex happening at the corners of the frame).

On the plus side, we got to see Farrell throw it back to the aughts and rip through an ungodly amount of blow before doing pull-ups, air-punching, destroying his apartment, and high-dialing his wife (he won’t fight custody if she promises not to tell ginger his tragic origin story). When Ani Bezzerides goes undercover to get the inside scoop on the prostitution ring’s high-powered clientele, she’s dosed with Molly that’s potent enough to trigger post-traumatic flashbacks to her molestation as a child; cue visually distorted nightmare. By the time Ani gets her wits back, shakes the old man that’s been tailing her, and escapes, the heroes have gotten away with more than just their lives: They’ve rescued Vera Machiado, the drugged-up subject of the missing persons case Ani has been working, and snagged a contract full of names they can investigate. Despite having the consistency of a particularly lumpy batter in places, the show has a good idea where it’s going, even if it likes to over-embellish Ani’s knife skills or Ray’s fondness for hoovering cocaine. Ray is probably heading for an unhappy ending, perhaps one that mirrors his dream-dad’s vision of his being gunned down in a forest, but I think he’ll meet it with a clear-ish conscience.

Ani gains access to the big Blake/Chessani sex party through her cam girl sister from the aforementioned pros raid and, sporting a wig and skimpy black dress, joins a bevy of Pitlor-enhanced Eastern European hookers in being whisked off to a remote mansion. You can do the “single murder that leads to all kinds of unforeseen ripple effects for everybody else” thing. (Twin Peaks, a clear reference point for Nic Pizzolatto, did this extremely well.) Right now, there are at least a half-dozen balls in the air: Ben Caspere, the corridor land grab, the Guerneville cult, the Chessani family, the person who shot Ray, the person who sent Ray to kill the wrong man. As far as ze orgy goes, we witness it all through the eyes of Bezzerides, whose dose of ecstasy causes her to experience blurred vision and repeated hallucinations of a Manson-esque hippie creep luring her child self to a van—abuse she suffered during her time growing up in a cult.

When Ani, Velcoro and Paul Woodrugh crested the hill in the dark as they ran away, you half-expected the Ringwraiths to be chasing them instead of gun-toting goons. That’s not even counting all the personal issues our four protagonists have yet to resolve: Ray’s ex-wife and son, Frank and Jordan’s desire to have a baby, Paul’s attempts to suppress his homosexuality, and Ani’s cocktail of personal, professional, and familial problems.

And the music, all quizzical Hitchcock-lite orchestral strings, is awful, failing to, like Kubrick’s spare piano keys, invoke that unique blend of sexy-creepy-surreality. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. Could Paul be a dirty cop, working from the inside to send Ray and Ani astray? (If we’re looking at thin, white cop suspects, I suppose Ani’s ex-boyfriend is also a remote possibility.) Then again: The prevailing theory in True Detective’s first season was that Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) was the bad guy, and that certainly didn’t go anywhere.

Ani finds that missing sister, Vera, at the orgy, and we finally get to see her put her knife skills to the test, slicing and dicing a handsy security guard (cue a million who brings a knife to an orgy fight? jokes). And in the process, he was outmaneuvered by a drug gang that amounts to yet another hassle on Frank’s growing list of them. “That’s one off the bucket list,” he quipped early in the episode. “A Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” Who’s laughing now, amigo? Haynes — who went by Mikey, though also answered to “Big Bro,” “Lil’ Bro,” and “God Bro,” because so many Morgan Park residents considered him family — was a 22-year-old basketball star five days away from heading to Iona College in New York. It’s like blue balls…in your heart.” Well, anyone expecting serious fireworks out of that much-ballyhooed orgy is probably experiencing blue balls…in their balls.

Following his horrific showstopper in the season premiere, Colin Ferrell gets to deliver one more nasty threat: a promise to flay a man with a cheese grater if he ever gets out of prison. McCandless — Maybe a full moon isn’t “the best time to ratify alliances” after all. (Seriously, I had to rewind that part because I couldn’t believe that’s what he actually said.) So we now know Osip went around Frank and made his own deal with Catalyst. As we add Paul’s stolen contract to the still missing hard drive, McCandless would seem increasingly vulnerable, to both the law and his unscrupulous partners. He was a familiar sight on the courts near his house: six-foot-seven with broad shoulders, wearing crisp white Nikes and colorful warm up gear, shooting jumpers and smoking blunts with friends. Fun fact: Miguel Sapochnik also directed the superlative Game of Thrones episode “Hardhome,” which you might know better as “the one with all the white walkers.” Best worst line of the week, as always, belongs to Frank Semyon: “On the ropes ain’t the same thing as bleeding out.” Seriously, does he have an “inspirational quote of the day” calendar lying around off-camera somewhere?

I know emasculation is a theme this season, with Frank’s procreation issues, Ray’s paternity questions and Paul’s struggles, but the blue pills are starting to feel like product placement.) Whoever was in that chair in the arterial spray shack — The investigators said the victim was female and the smart money seemed to be on Vera. Everyone there lived along a dozen or so blocks in Morgan Park dubbed “The Jungle.” Four miles past the final stop of the city’s main subway line, in what is known as the Wild 100s, The Jungle’s main drag on Vincennes is a thoroughfare for drugs and violence.

Dealers use the two-way street for open sales through car windows, and slip through the “cuts,” spaces between the houses, to more secluded parts of the neighborhood. Now, Don P and JaJuan were arguing over a 14-carat gold chain that Don P had lent to JaJuan, and JaJuan had apparently lost. “I really wasn’t supposed to give it up,” Don P says. “He caught me at a nice moment.” Earlier that day, Don P had gone to JaJuan’s house, hit him and tried to throw him over a porch railing.

Five days.” Mass shootings in Aurora, Newtown and Charleston drum up the national gun debate, but any given holiday weekend with decent weather in Chicago sees similar devastation. In anticipation of Fourth of July weekend last year, hundreds of extra officers patrolled the city’s most violent areas. “What were the results?” Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy asked afterward. “The results were a lot of shootings and a lot of murders, unfortunately.” In three and a half days, 82 people were shot and 14 were killed. Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos found the average annual homicide rate during a recent decade in one West Side Chicago neighborhood was 64 per 100,000 people, nearly the casualty rate for civilians in Iraq during the height of the war (hence the nickname “Chiraq”). Once in the streets, firearms are often bought and sold within trusted social networks, and tend to be old; the median age of guns confiscated from gang members is over a decade. Recent legal developments, though, have only loosened restrictions: in 2010, the United States Supreme Court overturned the handgun law, and last year a federal judge ruled that prohibiting the sale of firearms was unconstitutional.

Mark Jones, a former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and an expert on illegal firearms at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, says interviewees consistently tell him, “We are not afraid of the police. We’re afraid of other people in the neighborhood who might try to kill us.” Gun violence in Chicago is routinely attributed to gangs, but crucial distinctions exist between gangs, cliques and random feuds. Morgan Park is the territory of the Gangster Disciples, one of Chicago’s historic sprawling gangs, the kind that wrote rulebooks and implemented rigid chains of command. But after two decades of police targeting top leaders, the structures fragmented, leaving behind hundreds of less organized and more violent neighborhood cliques. They will be with you.” But when affiliations are loose and firearms are plentiful, the likelihood that two people will cross paths at the wrong moment, with tragic consequences, becomes that much greater. “Because the gangs were so well-organized, the shooting was fairly targeted,” Kotlowitz says. “And today, it feels so much more random and so many more people getting caught in a crossfire.” Mikey spent his first decade living with his mother and three brothers in a house on 115th Street and Vincennes.

He and his two younger brothers, Brian and Marcus, eventually settled two blocks away at the home of their maternal grandmother, Annie, on 117th and Vincennes. She has debilitating arthritis that keeps her bound to the house; Mikey bragged that when he turned pro he would move her into a mansion with an elevator.

Some of his friends earned cash by stealing or selling drugs, but Mikey cultivated a better hustle on the basketball courts at nearby Blackwelder Park. Many of the towers’ residents protested the decision, but between 1995 and 2011, the city tore down three infamous furnaces of violence — the Cabrini-Green, Ida B. According to Williams, Q had a reputation as a weakling and a pushover, “the type of person that if you punch him, he ain’t going to do nothing.” Mikey was supposed to be the type of person who made it out. George Washington lost the Chicago public school championship that year to Simeon Career Academy, led by its dazzling point guard, future NBA MVP Derrick Rose. But Mikey’s career at George Washington was cut short halfway through his junior year. “Mike did himself in because he didn’t go to class,” says George Washington’s former athletic director, Harold Stevens. “He’d be in school all day, but he wouldn’t do nothing.” One of his former teammates, Paris Paramore, remembers helping him through a fractions assignment typically given to fifth graders.

A district policy prohibits students from competing in sports for a year after transferring, which effectively ended Mikey’s high school career in Chicago – he could only practice with the team. That’s why I say, ‘We a family.'” Though Mikey didn’t lace up for a single game his senior year, he was still ranked the 12th best player in the state, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Six months later, in the summer of 2011, Mikey’s former AAU coach Loren Jackson got him a spot on the roster of Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.

He electrified crowds with rattling two-handed dunks and a signature roar – fists clenched, muscles flexed, and a bellicose cry reverberating against the walls – and led Indian Hills to the junior college national championship tournament. He would pop into their dorm after practice for late-night pancakes, and often hung out with a sophomore cheerleader, Jenna Strom, whose dad has been out of her life since she was 11. After his standout season in Iowa, Mikey got another chance to play basketball at the next level: Iona College, a small Division-I school north of Manhattan, offered him a scholarship.

Even Mikey occasionally swept through to party. “Cinque’s thing was trying to fit in with people around him,” says Q’s next-door neighbor, Wadell Hardy, who’s an officer with the Chicago Police Department. “That wasn’t his demeanor when I met him.” Hardy had been close with Q’s family. Hardy drew up a 14-page report of Section 8 violations, but never filed it. “The day that I was submitting it,” he says, “was when the incident occurred.” That morning of July 26th, Q walked out into his front yard and said hello to his 16-year-old neighbor, Aliczay Christian. Mikey’s 21-year-old younger brother Brian was sitting in a car on Vincennes, with Doogie and Don P hanging out on the curb, when he received a phone call that Mikey was dead. Gabriel Fuentes, the assistant coach at the time, describes Mikey as thoughtful, while Brian “was disrespectful” and “a bit more into being a thug.” Brian quit the team, and at 17 was charged with three crimes in four months: battery, assault and disorderly conduct.

One police report describes him as a “self-admitted and documented Gangster Disciple.” Armed with a pistol, his face red and eyes bloodshot from crying, Brian marched from the car toward 116th Street. More than a thousand people squeezed inside the Salem Baptist Church for Mikey’s funeral on August 3, 2012, requiring extra chairs and making the choir section standing-room only. When they stopped at a police station to ask for directions, the cops warned them not to go. “We were all definitely scared,” says Mikey’s college friend, Jenna Strom. And to me, that’s a hero.” But those who understand the workings of Morgan Park —its inescapable street code enforced with handguns — believe his undoing was more complicated. “I think he was flirting between the street and basketball,” Liggins says. “Mikey did want to live up to that street life.” Pastor Dearal L.

He pleaded for peace and offered a chance for attendees to give up their guns. “If you’re packing a weapon, leave it under the bench,” he said. “We ought to stop the shooting for a day or two.” His request for weapons went unanswered, he now says: “No one left any behind.” The cycle of violence continued on the afternoon of May 28, 2013, when JaJuan Lewis made his first trip back to Morgan Park. After Mikey’s killing, he hid out at his three-year-old son Jordan’s mother’s house, before heading off to play football at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida. Although his family’s home had been torched, JaJuan believed tensions had since subsided – after all, he figured, the argument over Don P’s chain had nothing to do with Q shooting Mikey. JaJuan had a gun too, which he kept under a seat in the car. “Turn back around, bro,” he told Williams. “Let’s go holla’ at them.” Williams parked the Dodge just down the block from Q’s old house on Vincennes. He wasn’t able to identify the shooter, but has a hunch it was one of “Don P’s people.” “Hopefully it’s over,” Williams says. “You never know.” Q shot Mikey, Don P shot JaJuan, and now someone had shot at Williams. “I got a theory that every time somebody gets killed, it wakes up another killer,” he says.

Then, almost filling in the gaps of his theory, Williams imagines what other Dirty Butts or Gangster Disciples might have said to Don P to perpetuate the violence. “They probably was pressuring Don P,” he says. “‘Mikey got killed over your chain.

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