Let’s all heave a collective sigh of relief as Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) is still alive. Alive, yes, but he’s definitely not at peace. A pseudo-dream reminiscent of purgatory introduces us to his tumultuous relationship with his father (Fred Ward), further revealing Ray’ personal troubles. In a later scene, we see Ray with a physician as he waits to be cleared for work. The doctor reads off his unhealthy habits, leading Ray to verbally question whether he wants to live. It’s clear that even Ray doesn’t know the answer, his loss of his family weighing on him more and more.
Later in the episode, Ray pays his father a visit and brings him a bag of weed, which he refers to as “medicine.” He notices his father’s old police badge in the trash. Apparently, not only does the profession run in the family, but Ray’s guilt and his dirty-cop status may have also been inherited from his father.
During his visit, Ray and his father talk about Ray’s son, Chad (Trevor Larcom), and Ray acts as if everything were going swimmingly. But later, when Ray’s ex-wife shows up with the news that the state is investigating his involvement in her attacker’s disappearance — as well as a $10,000 payoff for giving her undisputed custody — we’re reminded that his personal life has been everything but smooth sailing.
In the state police’s attempt to bring down Vinci’s Police Department, Ray is their most prominent target, as his alcoholism, violence and inattentiveness make him easy to pinpoint. Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams)’ bosses want her to get dirt on him, encouraging her to seduce him, but her reluctant expression shows that she cares about and trusts Ray. She doesn’t want to be the reason he loses his job. But she doesn’t warn him about what’s going on either, and she lies when he asks her about what the state police have on him. It’s clear that she’s torn between alliances to her boss and to her partner.
But Ani does seem suspicious about Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) secretly investigating Caspere’s hidden apartment by himself. He responds to her inquiries casually, however, saying he didn’t think he’d run into any problems. After arguing that he shouldn’t go into any crime scene without her, his partner, Ani, drops the issue. She then asks — in the stern way of someone with few people skills — how he’s feeling, before leaving him to continue her investigation.
In Frank first appearance of the episode, he and his wife are trying to have and failing at having sex, leading to an argument over their failed attempts at natural conception and the possibility of other methods. Their relationship seems more strained than we’ve seen it in past episodes, most likely because of the hard time Frank has been having lately.
Frank, pale and sullen, appears to be drowning in stress. As the episode continues, things for him go from bad to worse — and then even worse. He’s lost his primary investor, a Russian mobster, for his business venture, and Frank suspects that the mobster had something to do with the disappearance of Caspere. Later, one of “his guys” has been killed, which Frank takes as an ominous threat. And to add insult to injury, he’s running out of money at a faster and faster rate.
Because of all this turmoil, we see Frank in his full-fledged mobster state. He intimidates a construction worker into monthly payments of 25 percent of his profits, beginning with his schtick of friendly banter and ending with threats to the man’s family. Frank then continues his personal investigation of Caspere’s disappearance, ending up in a club with whose owners he has a history. After Frank starts the interrogation, the club owner disrespects him, and Frank promptly pulls out the owner’s gold-plated teeth with a pair of pliers.
Frank’s ability to switch from charming boss to terrifyingly gruesome gangster in the blink of an eye makes him both intriguing and terrifying. We want to trust the Frank who seems to love his wife and who battles self-doubt and the hatred instilled in him by his negligent father. We’re still left wondering, however, whether that Frank or the one with the pliers is the real him.
A scene with Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) and an old friend from the Army further reveals the roots of both Paul’s sexual and day-to-day anxieties. The two clearly had intimate relations overseas, for which Paul seems to carry shame. Paul keeps diving further and further into his work, trying to escape who he really is — a fairly cliche storyline, but one that definitely rings true.
As Paul plummets deeper into his work, he ends up doing some investigation of his own. With the help of a male hooker he meets on the street, he gets into a club formerly frequented by Caspere, which appears to be teeming with the sexually deviant. Although Paul doesn’t uncover anything prolific, his connections will most certainly be important.
In this episode, we finally see a definite plot developing in the duality of Ray’s investigations, one in which he’s the detective and the other in which he’s the suspect. As the season continues, we’ll wait to see which is solved first.
- Ani again pulls out her electronic cigarette while driving with Paul, who laughs and asks, “Is that a fucking e-cigarette?” We appreciate the weaving in of this pseudo-inside joke, as the show’s constant heaviness benefits from the occasional comic relief.
- While in the bar with Frank, Ray drinks water rather than liquor. He holds strong, even when Frank asks him about it. Could his near-death experience have made him value his life more? Is he trying to remake himself in attempt to win custody of his son?
- Ani and Ray’s car explodes, and they spot a masked man running from the scene of the crime. In her fury to catch him, Ani almost gets hit by a car. If nothing else, she’s one dedicated cop.
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