True Detective S02E07 – “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”

The episode opens in one of its titular motel rooms soon after “Church in Ruins” ended. Taylor Kitsch’s Detective Woodrugh is looking through the files Velcoro stole from the office. They seem to confirm what we already know,  linking Osip, Caspere, and Chessani to the land deals. Woodrugh then receives a call from Emily that he lets go to voicemail, followed by some text messages that indicate what Emily was probably calling about: pictures of the night he spent with his old army buddy. He’s being blackmailed. He leaves the hotel and the files to Bezzerides and Velcoro so that he can get his family out of town.


Actually, getting one’s family out of town seems to be this episode’s theme as much as “motel rooms” are. After Woodrugh stops back at the station and confirms that Ani is, in fact, wanted for the murder of that security guard she killed at last episode’s sex party she finds herself sending her own family off into the sunset. She even appears to make up with her father, in the process revealing that she had blocked out her abductor’s face until the visions she had while at the orgy. However, I still don’t buy that her father’s innocent considering they go out of their way to highlight the fact that he doesn’t question if Ani actually killed the guy – possibly implying that he’s still in business with Pitler and Chessani, and so already knew of the death through them.


Meanwhile, Frank Semyon also sends his family away after he finally gets around to questioning his shifty-as-hell henchman Blake. And by “questioning” I mean that Semyon slams a glass into Blake’s face in beautiful slow motion before beating him about the face and head. Blake reveals several important bits of information:


  1. He knew he gave Frank bad info on the rapist. He was just giving a name hoping to seem useful in order to move up in the organization.
  2. He’s been working with Osip.
  3. He’s the one who killed Stan. He did that in order to hide #2, which indirectly makes it Frank’s fault because he’s the one who told Stan to tail Blake. He cut out Stan’s eyes to make it seem connected to the Caspere situation.
  4. Caspere, Osip, and Chessani had always been planning to screw Frank over on the land deal. Osip had been buying out the liens on Frank’s clubs long before Caspere’s death.
  5. As far as Blake says, no one knows who killed Caspere and took the hard drive with the blackmail-worthy footage on it – or why they did it.


This information puts Frank entirely into rampage mode. He shoots Blake in the gut and leaves him to die. We don’t yet have a clear idea of what Semyon’s plan entails, but we do know it involves:


  1. Clean passports
  2. Plane tickets out of Portland (presumably under a fake name from the passports)
  3. Fast cars
  4. Firepower
  5. A Hacidic Jewish jeweler to launder 5-6 million in stones
  6. Setting fire to his own businesses (presumably to screw Osip over)


Before he does any of this he sends his wife away, making Velcoro the only True Detective with no close ties to protect from the hell about to rain down on them. A fact he seems to acknowledge when he asks Bezzerides if she misses… “anything”, as if he thinks she may be a kindred spirit in having nothing left to live for.


The most important part of Ani and Ray’s storyline – other than the fact that they totally make out, you guys! – is that Ani identifies a girl with Caspere in one of the party photos as Laura, one of the children orphaned in the ’92 jewelry store robbery. Ray ID’s her as Erica, an assistant from the film set way back in episode 3, revealing the former orphan kids to be the most likely culprits of the Caspere murder for the simple motive of good old-fashioned revenge. Although it would seem a little odd that they went after Caspere first when he wasn’t one of the cops that actually pulled the trigger on their parents.


Woodrugh then totally cockblocks Bezzerides by calling Velcoro to let him know that he thinks he’s walking into a trap, then going ahead and walking into that trap anyways. I’d say this was foolish if Woodrugh weren’t some kind of ninja master of the goddamned gun-kata! He manages to take out an entire team of the faux-Blackwater guys that, theoretically, should be just as badass as he is! However, I can’t say it was a good idea because – badass though he is – Detective Burris still gets the jump on him as he’s running away. Given Woodrugh’s sudden stillness and the spreading pool of blood, I doubt they’re going to reveal that it was rubber bullets this time. It seems that Taylor Kitsch’s Officer/Detective Paul Woodrugh is the first True Detective to actually die. I’m just glad that he got to go out guns blazing.


It seems like this episode was really Season 2 firing on all cylinders. Each member of the ensemble got to do what they’re best at. Woodrugh is only comfortable in combat, so he got another great firefight scene. Semyon has been trying in vain to go legit when at heart he’s a violent gangster, so he gets to go on a rampage that appears as though it will continue into the finale. Farrell and McAdams are the best actors of the season, so they get to spend the entire episode in a room together capital-A “Acting!”. While I still have no idea if they’ll be able to pull together all the disparate threads this season has thrown to the wind, this episode touched on basically every storyline with more progress and/or conflict than most. That proves that they can at least bash all the pieces together entertainingly in a single hour.

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