True Detective 2×08 ‘Omega Station’: The world we deserve…

True Detective 2x08 Cover

This particular finale of True Detective feels different than the last, and it’s more than the Game of Thrones-esque way that most characters have been brutally murdered during the last two episodes of the season.  It’s darker than last time, more hopeless, more cynical.  Where last season ended with the light gaining ground against the dark, this season ends with dark eviscerating nearly every ounce of light to be seen.  Ray is gunned down in a forest by Burris and his commandos, Frank is stabbed and bleeds out in Death Valley, and Ani is forced to leave the country to ensure her survival.  Tony Chessani becomes mayor and, while some of the conspirators are killed, many still survive to corrupt the world another day.  The only redeeming factor here is Ani sending the story with a reporter to someday tell the truth about the corruption in Vinci.  Aside from that, it’s all dismal stuff.

True Detective 2x08-1

Source: HBO

To be fair, many shows today utilize a hyper-bleak attitude towards its content.  Breaking Bad had corruption eviscerate the lives of every character on the show.  The Sopranos was a show about the degradation of society and corruption creating a slow decline towards death.  Game of Thrones is about power structures and how they systematically tear apart those impacted by the ones in power.  Mad Men comes to mind when I think of recent shows that don’t utilize bleak, dismal tones in order to amplify the stakes and the tension, and it’s apparent why.  Mad Men always used thematic tension, the knowledge that the overarching themes burden the characters beyond hope.

True Detective 2x08-2

Source: HBO

But in True Detective’s unflinching bleakness, there is an order that helps justify the culling of most of the main characters.  The male characters, Paul, Ray, and Ani, are all killed, and it’s mostly because of the way that they weren’t able to outrun their past.  Ray went to see his kid one last time, and it was that impulse that allowed Burris and his commandos to put a tracker on his car.  Paul was lured to the meet with Holloway because of pictures that showed him being intimate with another man.  Frank was stabbed in the stomach because, after surviving a tense standoff with the gang that sold drugs out of his clubs, he was disrespected and assaulted one of the gang members because of it.  Each of the characters were agents in their own destruction.  The only one to survive was Ani, and that was because she had come to terms with enough of her past to make it out.  But even then, in Venezuela, we see Ani fastening a knife to her ankle.  She may have come to terms with some of her past, but certainly not all of it.

True Detective 2x08-4

Source: HBO

“Omega Station” can be somewhat disappointing in the way that it skirted around the massive conspiracy to reveal that Laura and Leonard were the ones that killed Caspere, as they were orphaned after the robbery that bought Caspere, Holloway, Burris, and Dixon into the sex parties.  Leonard was the bird-masked man who shot Ray back in the second episode, and he ends up killed along with Holloway in a stand-off at the train station.  Nothing is entirely resolved, aside from that, and that’s okay, but the conspiracy is largely unexplored either.  It’s the same issue that many had with the first season finale, where one manic killer was taken down, but the entire conspiracy was largely unaffected by Marty and Rust’s efforts.  But there is some closure, considering that Osip and his men were completely wiped out by Ray and Frank, and the conspiracy is revealed through Ani passing the case to the journalists.  We don’t get to see any ramifications of that, but there are enough to at least conclude the story.

True Detective 2x08-3

Source: HBO

The finale would be stronger if the characters were more than the simple one-note characters that they were.  Ray’s story was always about his child, and Frank’s story was always about being a gangster, but the issue was that those stories never extended past those components.  We don’t really know more about either of them, and it dilutes their final moments, even if those moments are built upon what we saw of them all season.  The issue is that people are more than one problem in their lives, even if they’ve become empty enough because of that problem.  And when we see narrow characters, even if one part of their lives is explored, it makes it difficult to care.  It’s not like Don Draper, who we see as a summation of all of his current relationships and the entirety of his past.  Looking at people from a plethora of different angles is what helps us gain insight into them, and True Detective, sadly, had a difficult time exploring people from multiple angles.

Season 2 of True Detective wasn’t a great season of television, or even a very good one.  Much of the conspiracy was unexamined, the characters only had a small portion of their identities explored, and the dialogue was sometimes campy to the point of ridiculousness.  But it was still a decent season of television.  The performances were strong, even Vince Vaughn’s, and there were some fantastic moments that ranked even higher than most of what we saw in Season 1, namely the Vinci shootout and the sex party.  With Season 3 almost a certainty, I’m more than excited to see what nuances and locations Nic Pizzolatto uses as he thinks up the next season.

Thanks everybody for tuning in to read through my True Detective reviews!  I’ll be starting up reviews for Fear the Walking Dead (God, I hope it’s decent) and Show me a Hero (which will obviously be awesome) very soon, so be sure to come back to the website for that!  Thanks again!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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