True Detective S02E04 Recap: 'Down Will Come'

Four episodes into its first season, True Detective had its iconic moment, the moment that won the show Emmys, stirred plenty of conversation and even imitation and parody and ensured its place in the zeitgeist. We're talking of course about the seven minute tracking shot in "Who Goes There". It was easily a top ten television moment of the year, maybe even of the decade, and helped make True Detective the important show that it is, or at least was.

So it's no surprise (or maybe it is?) that at the exact same moment in season 2, the show goes back to the well again, not for a tracking shot specifically, but for a loud, explosive action sequence. Was it supposed to have the effect, the same intent as the one from last year? I don't know. But creator Nic Pizzolatto certainly knew it would draw these comparisons.

"Down Will Come" is quite honestly mostly a boring episode until it gets to that finale. It's pretty much most of the same of what we've come to expect from the show this season. Each character has his or her couple of moments to wallow over their own grief, Ray and Ani do the lion's share of the detective work, only to be outdone by Frank using shadier and more direct methods, all before a major development in the case surfaces. This one's a doozy too, as it appears that the team has found someone they can label as a main suspect in the case, a Mexican pimp whom they've I.D.'d through fingerprints at a pawn shop. This may be the guy that killed casper, along with his gang.

So the team assembles a sizable force, armed to the teeth, as they converge in broad daylight towards their hideout. Then the bullets start to fly. Cops start falling left and right, including Dixon, Ray's drunken partner, who takes a bullet to the head. The hideout explodes, likely because they were cooking meth in it, and the Mexicans try and escape, only to crash into a bus and start opening fire into a crowd of civilians. A lot of collateral damage later, the only ones left standing are Ray, Ani and Paul, staring at the carnage before them like they did each other at the end of the first episode.

While the action was good, I'm not sure if this edition of True Detective is going to win any awards for it. I have to admit that it sort of felt like it was there for the sake of burning through part of the budget, and I don't know how invested in it I was. It doesn't help that it came on the tail of what was easily the most boring episode of the show, an episode which didn't really bring anything new to the table. That's not to say that it was bad, just that it felt really procedural, almost inconsequential.

But I can see good in it. Clearly there will be consequences after the trio of detectives were part of a deadly shootout. Their reactions to the bloodshed were good and believable. The outcome will also likely drive the story going forward, if indeed the Mexicans were the ones that killed Casper. Obviously there's more to the story than just some pimps killing him because of their business, so the shootout has the potential to bust the story wide open.

However, it's also easy to see how it can be critiqued, even without the comparisons to season 1. The amount of collateral damage was frankly jarring and almost unnecessary. Moreover, it's almost laughable that literally the only people left standing at the end of it are the people whose names we actually know. It's actually kind of funny how there's almost no reaction to Dixon dying. Obviously you don't have much time to grieve while you're being shot at, but who are we kidding, no one gives a shit about Dixon, and that's why he's the one who died. I'm not going to be that guy and use this to complain about the Ray fakeout from episode 2, but it definitely speaks a little to the show's predictability problem this season.

And that doesn't make up for what was really a boring episode otherwise. I liked the way the episode handled Frank. After his subordinate Stan's death last week, he takes charge and starts making deals to rebuild his criminal empire, strongarming his former associates into doing his bidding. Paul's character development however is fairly laughable, moving, sequentially, from him waking up in his former war buddy's bed, to shedding a single tear in a taxi, to finding out his beard of an ex-girlfriend is now pregnant with his child. Ani and Ray are more subdued this week, as both have heart-to-hearts with family members but don't really have anything ridiculous happen to them. Considering Frank's arc is fairly repetitive and almost pedestrian, and Paul is the worst character in all of this, nothing really happens on the character development front that made me give the show extra points for making me smile, like I have in past weeks.

Otherwise, the episode is honestly just kind of procedural. It's like an extended, slightly more gruesome case on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and it's hard to really say much more about it other than that. That makes the big action sequence come off as more of a crutch instead of a big, season-defining moment. And that's a shame, because you have to wonder if this show has any other chances left to turn itself around. "Down Will Come" gets 6.5 of Taylor Kitsch's tears out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • The episode ends on a freeze frame and fade to black. It's like the show is baiting us at this point.
  • "You have one of the largest auras I've ever seen. Green and black, it's been taking up this whole room."
  • "You must have had hundreds of lives." "I don't think I can handle another one."