True Detective Season 2 Final Episode Recap: “Omega Station”
By Katelyn Fournier
Edited by Anthony Zangrillo
In the final episode of True Detective season 2 we find Bezzeridies and Velcoro—the two remaining detectives—lying gravely in bed inside the dingy floral walls of a motel room, sharing a cigarette and their darkest secrets.
Ray recounts the same story about killing the wrong man whom he believed raped his wife at the time, and Ani reveals more details about the vision she had of the man who kidnapped her as a child. Ani surprises us though: “He didn’t force me.” She adds that it was “like a fairy tale” because he told her she was pretty, and because of this she “felt proud.” Now, she says, it “makes me sick.”
Frank confronts his wife after he has blown his cover, demanding that she escapes while he retrieves his stolen money from Osip and Catalast. Jordan refuses—“I always have a choice” she insists with the knowledge that Frank is risking his life. Frank tries to explain to Jordan that, “This is never going to blow over…my life ended that day,” referring to the day that everyone began to plot against him. Their dialogue consists of many “color” metaphors. For example, Jordan says “there’s us and everything else is in the grey,” and most memorably, Frank’s fantasy that they will reunite both dressed all in white. This is the moment we know there is no way Frank is getting out of this episode alive, because the white is obviously foreshadowing his demise.
After learning of Paul’s murder, Ray and Ani decide to follow through with exposing Holloway and all the others. They find Erica, the girl whose parents were murdered in the blue diamond heist. Erica also happened to be Caspere’s “secretary” and prostitute.It turns out her brother Lenny, the guy on the movie set, was the raven-masked shooter who ambushed Ray at Caspere’s house. Lenny also tortured and murdered Caspere, then drove his body around for revenge. He has quite the resume.Erica attempts to explain Lenny’s rash actions, saying he went “overboard” by torturing Caspere with acid even after he confessed. Now, Lenny wants to finish the job by publicly executing Holloway, who also took part in his parents’ murder.
When Ray puts a halt to Lenny’s plan in the train station, Lenny says that “They won’t be punished” with the power of the law alone, and that “I am the blade, and the bullet.” He makes sure of that—the ensuing shootout causes Ray to lose the tape recording of Holloway’s confession, his key witness to the exchange, and the blue diamonds.
Frank, Ray, and Ani reunite in the bunker behind the freezer at the bar, and they only have each other and their suicide mission left. They could all escape from the country, but no one wants to run, the now deceased Woodrugh included. Frank tells Ani to give a message to his wife if he dies: “Tell her I wanted to be there, and that story we told…it’s still true.” It’s an admittedly sweet moment for Frank, and a confounding experience for Ani.
The Osip and Catalyst cash exchange is explosive—this time the weapon of choice is gas, which creates an exciting, but ultimately one-sided shootout.
Later, we get about five seconds of happiness as we see Ray falling in love with Ani over the phone. Now we can tell Ray is going to die too—anyone that happy in the final episode of a suspense drama series might as well have a death sentence.
Frank’s greediness finally catches up to him: the drug dealers he let sell at his club kidnap him and leave him stranded in the desert with a fatal stab wound and his damaged pride. All the people who have screwed Ray over the years come back to him in hallucinations, to which he responds “fuck you,” a fitting phrase for every aspect of his character. He uses the diamonds (now literally “blood diamonds”) he purchased with the money he stole back to try to stop the bleeding in his stab wound—another way he has tried to fix a desperate situation with cash. He inevitably collapses, and it appears that his ghost is greeted by an angel in the form of his wife all in white.
Ray’s salute to his son is precious, even if the decision to see him one last time ultimately seals Ray’s fate. The redwood forest showdown results in the loss of his final voice recording to his son. Still, everything Ray has done was for his child, and even if it caused him to make the wrong decisions, his sacrifice seems like it is worth something.
Exposition subplots heaped in sentimentality tie up the loose ends a little too neatly—Woodrugh gets a memorial highway for his sacrifice (an aside that we barely care about now that Ray and Frank have died), and Ray’s ex-wife finds out that Ray really was the father of her son. Ani says in the final overhead narration “We deserve a better world,” but is a better world just the right guy’s name on a highway sign?
“Omega Station” narrowly met the standard entertainment level for season finales, but failed to meet the expectations that fans and critics hoped would live up to the hype. There is a sense that the characters didn’t quite give us everything they could to create interpersonal tension, but much of the tension between characters was simply left for the viewer to assume, like the leftover resentment between Ray and Frank and the jealousy between the bar owner and Ani over Ray’s affections. Vince Vaughn had a lot of moments that could have been funny, but instead were determined to be deep, dark, and serious—such as the “blood diamonds” Frank uses to seal his stab wound in the desert.
Initially, the female characters seemed like they might have some potential to be more than just archetypes. Sadly, it didn’t happen. Instead, we got a Virgin Mary figure with a baby and a dead baby-daddy, a widowed Lady-in-waiting, and a few other minor female characters that were either sent on a one-way bus ride or simply left to their own devices in the crossfire. Bezzeridies is reduced to an empty vessel. The Lady Cop with relationship issues, whose character could only be redeemed by the sanctity of motherhood; a character whose depth only went so far that she recognized she was not just the “pretty” girl who got into the man’s van as a little girl. But that’s about it—she rejects any chance of claiming her part in exposing the corruption by handing over the evidence to someone else to deal with.
Much of the actual detective work was left useless by gunfight fatalities, again an unsatisfying way to tie up loose ends in the mystery so we didn’t have to keep looking deeper.
This show comes off as a pastiche at times because of the influences that Nic Pizzolatto gathers from other detective shows and films (including a lot of David Lynch influences, especially with the bar singer—a figure who was overused for the soundtrack but underused as an interesting character in herself), but that is not necessarily a problem in itself.
Ultimately, I believe the problem is using a narrative structure and setting that has already been heavily utilized. As a result, these creative elements bounce off each other to limit the show. In fact, this season of True Detective almost could have been the third installment to the original Chinatown film—a battle for land resources in Los Angeles.
The swampy Southern Gothic setting worked in the first season because the genre itself has a highly diverse and bizarre set of characteristics that worked more like a seasoning to the narrative, rather than a heavy cream base of detective-show pastiche. The detective genre worked well with this Southern Gothic influence because it complimented, rather than overpowered the storyline and the characters.
Rather than copying Lynchian scenes of a dreamlike figure on a stage, Pizzolatto used the supernatural in his own imagined way that added a twist just crazy enough to make sense. I have heard critics say that this season must standalone without being subjected to unfair comparisons with the first season. Usually, I would agree, but it is impossible not to compare the two seasons, because it is a combination of so many existing stories, with too few original quirks in-between that distinguished the first season as its own beast, and not just another detective show.