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Friday, June 21, 2024
The Observer

'True Detective - Black Maps and Motel Rooms' recap

As I was thinking of ways to start this week's recap, I immediately turned to Google to figure out a more sophisticated way of saying the phrase "when [expletive] hits the fan": "when things go pear-shaped," "when the bottom drops out" and — less creatively — "when things get real." Absolutely each and every one of these could be applied to the season's penultimate episode, "Black Maps and Motel Rooms." True to form, "True Detective" has seemingly built off of an electric second half of the season, this episode being better than the last, which was better than the last and — well, you get the point.

Let's also just get this out of the way: I was wrong. Very, very wrong. R.I.P., [name redacted]. You will be missed.

This episode highlights just how far this season has progressed from the first half. Where the first four episodes of the season were painfully predictable and — quite frankly — laughably boring, the latter half has reinvoked the true markings of the "True Detective" series: the episode had me on the edge of my seat, my eyes darting across the screen wondering where the danger will be coming from next. Meanwhile, credit has to be given where it's due, as the investment in character development is really paying dividends. We are truly realizing and appreciating the frailty of each character's make-up, despite their respective hardened exteriors.

This episode picks up immediately after the team of detectives escape the private underground party, with recovered documents and missing person in tow. Yet this proves to only be a small blessing, or even a large curse. The three quickly realize that their covers may have been blown, and their personal lives and loved ones may be compromised as a result of their operation. They scramble to get their loved ones out of harm's way, and struggle to connect their newly acquired evidence to the over-arching Caspere case. Detective Ray Velcoro meets up again with Frank Semyon to clue him in on the team's latest findings, and in return Semyon also offers a bit of his own findings regarding the case, that Caspere may have had dealings with a few corrupt police officers on different levels. Semyon also continues to keep Velcoro around by promising to give Velcoro the correct name of the man who attacked his ex-wife so many years ago. Meanwhile, Detective Ani Bezzerides — coming down from her drug-induced haze — starts to remember (if not painfully) some part of her life, which helps explain to viewers her character and personality.

However, the star of the episode goes to Officer Woodrugh. He takes the lead in the investigation and starts to really put together the connections between all of the angles in the case. He also does this while admirably dealing with a personal crisis: photos revealing his sexuality are sent to his phone, with the sender threatening to release them to the public if Woodrugh doesn't return the evidence the three detectives risked their lives over.

The characters are all developing in a way that viewers have been asking for since the first episode. Each of them are clicking together — demonstrating the chemistry fans dreamt of since seeing the star-studded cast assembled — while also shining by themselves.

Throw out all of the preconceived notions from the early part of the season. The second half has continued to prove that this season has turned a corner, and if anyone is refusing to watch based on the first few weeks then they are simply missing out. The stage is perfectly set for the season finale next week, and with this episode demonstrating that anything and everything is fair game, we are sure to be in for the wildest episode yet.