TV Review: True Detective (2×08) “Omega Station”

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Wow…that was some kind of mess.

After eight weeks of dragging its feet and running like hell, season two of True Detective came to a colossal close tonight. Since it was given a 90-minute send-off, “Omega Station” decided to pull out every possible dreary dramatic punch it had left in its arsenal, turning into what felt like a rushed, desperate trainwreck that was both fitting and disappointing for a season with so much potential. There are many moments here that are solid, many that were worthy of laughter, and others that made viewers facepalm in agony. I will say this episode was the most entertaining of the season, but it did not go out quietly.

We jump into the episode with Ani (Rachel McAdams) and Ray (Colin Farrell), post-coitus and talking about their respective dark baggage. Ani talks about the sexual encounter with the bearded guy at her dad’s commune when she was little, saying it made her feel sick that she was once proud that an old creepy guy thought she was pretty. Ray talks about killing the man who supposedly raped his then-wife, then finding out he killed the wrong man. Both reassure each other that what they did was not each other’s fault and that they understand each other, but there are also intercutting scenes where each stands ominously over the other sleeping. There’s also a shot of the two putting on their clothes while barely looking at each other, separated only by the messy bed they laid in. Ray calls Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), hoping for more information, only to hear Lieutenant Kevin Burris (James Frain) answer the phone, confirming that Kevin killed Paul. Burris says he’ll peg Paul’s death on Ray, but Ray informs him that he knows everything going on, including how Caspere was using the stolen diamonds as leverage. Kevin then tries to woo Ray with big money and protection, but he hangs up. Ray and Ani are devastated with their partner dead, leads gone and practically nowhere else to turn. But suddenly, Ray has a realization that one of the set photographers at the movie set they visited looked a lot like one of the orphaned kids from the jewelry heist in 1992 Paul was investigating. He and Ani decide to track him down for even the slightest chance of making things right, since the two scoff at the idea of running.

Meanwhile, Frank (Vince Vaughn) and Jordan (Kelly Reilly) are fighting over if they’re both really in it for the long haul. Frank wants Jordan to go into hiding so that she doesn’t get hurt as he throws his wedding ring out the window. Jordan shrugs off Frank’s cruel cut-off by throwing her ring out the window and refusing to leave him. He says he’s about to do something big, and he can’t take the risk of the bad guys getting to him through hurting her. He promises he’ll see her in two weeks down in Venezuela, with the two wearing white. Frank then stops by the Chessani mansion to find Mayor Chessani dead in the backyard pool. He finds Chessani’s wife, who reveals that she met her now-dead husband at one of the sex parties hosted by Chessani’s son, Tony. He comes to the conclusion that Tony killed his father and made it look like a suicide.

Ray and Ani track down the house of the set photographer, which holds the bird mask worn by the guy who shot Ray in Caspere’s house, photos of cops who killed their parents in ’92, and Laura (Caspere’s former assistant) handcuffed to the fireplace. They uncuff her and she talks about how she met Caspere, reunited with her brother Len after being split up and sent to foster care, and kidnapped Caspere in order to get him to admit he was involved in the ’92 heist. Caspere spilled his guts, but Laura’s brother got carried away and killed him. She also admits that she and Len have the hard drive the Catalyst Group is looking for and Len is trying to make a deal with Chief Holloway for the drive, but Len is only doing it to get close enough to Holloway to kill him. Apparently, a security measure has wiped all of the files off of the drive, so Ray goes to find Len while Ani puts Laura on a bus out of town. Ray goes to a train station and finds Len before he does anything rash. Ray steps in for Len when Holloway shows up for the exchange, then Ray tells Holloway that he’ll put all the information out in the open unless he’s protected and financially compensated with the diamonds. Before the exchange happens, Holloway reveals why Caspere was even interested in robbing the jewelry store in ’92: he had an affair with the store owner’s wife, who in turn gave birth to Laura and Len. This is shocking news to Ray, but heart-stopping to Len, who is sitting right behind Ray and Holloway. In a rage from finding out that he unknowingly killed his own father, Len attacks Holloway with a knife as Burris (who was hiding around as backup for Holloway) opens fire on Ray. Fortunately, Ani shows up and shoots Burris, allowing her and Ray to escape. Len gets his fair share of stabs at Holloway, but Holloway manages to shoot him in the chest as well.

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Ray and Ani meet up with Frank, who’s now hold up in the attic of the bar where he and Ray have talked business all season. Frank, meeting Ani for the first time, tells her that she should run to Venezuela and meet up with Jordan in his place if he doesn’t make it out. He then talks to Ray, telling him that it was Blake who misidentified his ex’s rapist, but that Frank already killed him. After realizing he’s got no money to run away and doesn’t want to hear any more shocking confessions for the case (since it’s pretty much solved by now), Ray agrees to help Frank kill Osip and clean out his money stash. Ray will then run away with Ani to Venezuela, finally with someone who understands his broken demeanor. Ray and Frank raid Osip’s house, plugging him and Catalyst boss McCandless with bullets and stealing his cash. The two sternly part ways as Frank goes to deal with some final business and Ray goes to meet up with Ani. Unfortunately, Frank and Ray have to deal with two more big problems: Frank is car-jacked and taken hostage by the Mexicans he denied drug trafficking through his clubs , while Ray is low-jacked after going to see his son one more time before leaving forever. In Ray’s defense, it may have been worth it, since he saw his son eating lunch at recess with his grandfather’s police badge by his side, and they give each other a salute.

Frank is forced out to the desert where the Mexican gang bosses are still peeved about Frank keeping them out of his business. He trades a suitcase full of $1 million in cash for his life, but the Mexicans decide to leave him out in the desert. One of the gang members wants Frank’s suit, but he’ll be damned if he gets humiliated before dying and punches the gang member. Unfortunately, another gang members stabs Frank in the gut, causing him to bleed profusely, and the Mexicans drive away, leaving Frank to bleed out. But one of Frank’s many codes is to “never stop moving,” so he starts walking through the desert. He has hallucinations about his rough upbringing, from his abusive father to the thugs he had to fight off. He sees Jordan in the white dress he thinks she’ll wear when they meet in Venezuela, but it’s a mere vision that tells him he hit the dirt many feet back. With that, the fighting rat Frank Semyon dies amongst the sands in an empty desert, with land all around him.

Meanwhile, Ray realizes he’s being tailed and calls Ani to tell her to go on without her. They originally planned to get on a boat to Venezuela (escorted by the waitress of Frank and Ray’s choice bar), but he says he’ll catch up later (lying, of course). He drives out to the Redwoods for one last stand, but not before recording one last voicemail to send to his son. He fights valiantly against the five-man team out to kill him, but he’s out numbered and shot down in a slow-motion blaze of glory. The worst part: the voicemail failed to send to Ray’s son (I bet Ray had Sprint). Ani gets on the boat but realizes that Ray probably didn’t make it, making her the last surviving detective with all the dirty info in her possession.

Cut to some time later, and all that hard work this season seems to have been for nothing. Slithery Tony Chessani is now the Mayor of Vinci (somehow) and the Catalyst Group still got the land for their planned rail system, but at least Paul got a highway named after him (yay!). Meanwhile in Venezuela, Ani is laying out all of her information on the case to a reporter, wanting him to get it out to the public. More so, she indeed met up with Jordan and apparently brought something else with her: Ray’s seed. Yup, Ani and Ray’s one night stand turned into a pregnancy, and Ani is now the mother of a blabbering baby boy. Jordan is of course delighted to be babysitting baby Velcoro but knows that Ani makes a solid mom. Ani and Jordan pack up and head out into the unknown as the show fades to black.

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Phew, that was exhausting, wasn’t it? While it’s noble that they actually managed to wrap everything up in this episode, “Omega Station” throws so much information at the audience it all seems to get lost. Like most of this season, the main focus of the episode isn’t even the case. Does anyone even remember the specifics of the ’92 jewelry store robbery, or what was on the hard drive? Do you remember the last time you saw Laura this season? Plot points come out of nowhere and are given way too fast. As I’ve stated before, True Detective thrives when it’s patient and gives out plot elements in a smoother-paced fashion. “Omega Station” is also a bit laughable for how melodramatic it can be. For instance, Ray gets a paternity test like his ex-wife asked and the results are 99.99% positive…seriously. I should point out that I literally laughed out loud with the results. The show might as well have the results come in a box with “HE’S THE FATHER” blinking like the “applause” notifier on sitcoms. There’s also the hallucinations Frank has while he’s roaming the desert on his last breath, literally spelling out how he became who he is now. Basically, “Omega Station” is not very good at keeping things subtle. “Omega Station” felt more like a David Ayer-type tribute to a crowd-pleasing cop drama POSING as True Detective.

That being said, this is still the most entertaining episode of the season. Far from the best, but very entertaining, or maybe the easiest to digest for the general public. Vince Vaughn is the best he’s been all season, FINALLY mixing some dark vulgar comedy with unchecked bravado and swagger. For the moment, it’s revelatory, but then the question of why the hell he hasn’t been doing this all season ruins it. Ray and Ani getting together makes sense on a basic level, but it’s really disappointing at its conclusion, especially for Ani. She and Ray were the best characters on this show because of their “lone wolf”-style attitude, always taking on the grunt of the world head-first, but never wanting to bring it on anyone else. It would’ve benefitted their characters better to just help each other out with the case and to have each other be a mirror image of themselves and realize how dangerous their lives are. Throwing them between the sheets just makes it all too cheesy. It’s easier to laugh at how their voices tremble when they talk on the phone before Ray goes into his final showdown than to care about their feelings for each other, because you can see it from a mile away. And whoever’s idea it was to give Ani Ray’s baby needs a slap in the face for turning a strong, unfazed leading heroine into the “protective mommy” stereotype. It all comes so close to being a Funny or Die parody that I kept waiting for Will Ferrell to come out and reveal himself as the Yellow King from last season. In fact, when Frank was being led out to the desert to meet a black SUV, I thought Mr. Chow from The Hangover was going to come out of the car.

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Bottom line, we all should’ve seen this coming. From its start-and-stop pacing of the plot, the slow-as-molasses character development with not enough investment in said characters, and more expositional babble than a Shyamalan movie, “Omega Station” is the ending to season two that was written on the wall weeks ago. Again, this was entertaining, but only for the fact that the show has gone from point A to point WTF at such a crucial moment. Better luck next season.

5/10

Jon Winkler is a 22-year-old movie/music nerd in Southampton, NY by way of Merrimack, NH. He loves watching, listening to, dissecting, mocking and talking about movies, television, music, video games and comics. He enjoys a good cheeseburger, believes CDs and vinyl are superior, likes to make people smile if they're having a rough day, and is rumored to be Batman (unconfirmed).
  • Hi Jon, great effort in explaining these episodes to people like me who can’t keep up with the dense plot lines packed into each episode. I actually loved this episode and more than wanting it to be a bit calmer, wished the rest of the series would be more energetic like this. I found myself falling asleep with some of the pervious episodes.