Frank Semyon brings us in to episode two of “True Detective.” He’s concerned about some water marks on the ceiling, but it’s a symbol of his larger concerns about the railroad deal, and his thoughts about his legacy. And then we learn a pretty gruesome story about the abuse he suffered as a kid at the hands of his alcoholic father, who semi-accidentally abandoned him in the basement for days. He’s also kinda wondering if this is all a dream and he’s still in that basement, so maybe that’s a spoiler for the end of the season?
Various officials meet up to argue over who has jurisdiction over the murder, and then it becomes clear that what they’re really after is the corruption in Vinci. Woodrugh is offered the chance to go undercover and investigate, but what he really wants is to get back on his motorcycle (and to drive home to Dillon, Texas). Bezzerides is put in charge, with Velcoro as her second in command, but she’s also supposed to investigate Velcoro. So, they’re all investigating each other. That will make crime solving easy! Lots of trust.
The Vinci leadership thinks the state is just after the city’s money. They warn Velcoro that they’re under investigation, and tell him to keep his eyes open. He’s not sure if he’s even supposed to solve the murder at this point, but given his drug and alcohol habits, we sense his bosses knew exactly who they’re asking for help here.
Some truly awful things happened to Ben Caspere. He’s missing more than his eyes — the perpetrators also cut off his genitalia. Even Velcoro is freaked out by that. The true detectives all stare suspiciously at each other in the morgue.
Velcoro heads out to tell Semyon immediately, who suspects that the railroad deal is in play. Velcoro tries to warn some kids away from the toxic river of Vinci, but they won’t listen. He’s all about the kids, except when they’re bullying his son.
Speaking of people having weird relationships with their kids, it turns out that Paul Woodrugh has a super Oedipal relationship with his own mother (to go with Rachel McAdams’ Antigone, apparently). She really wants him to move back into his old room in her trailer, but he says he’s got a big case he’s working on.
Velcoro and Bezzerides spend some time getting to know each other and checking out Caspere’s house. Velcoro makes a joke about e-cigs being like sucking a robot’s dick, but Bezzerides pretends not to hear this hilarious joke. These two are having such fun together.
Semyon learns that Caspere never handed his money over for the land deal, and he’s SOL on the $10 million he gave the dead guy. He’s going to have to figure out some new sources of income.
The mayor of Vinci isn’t particularly interested in giving any information about Caspere to Bezzerides or Velcoro. Like the good crooked cop he is, Velcoro doesn’t push too hard in this meeting, which doesn’t do much to earn him trust from Bezzerides.
Woodrugh has been doing some extra research, which he tries to share with Velcoro’s seedy partner Dixon, along with a story about wanting to beat up a guy who hit on him, and we have to hand it to Dixon — he calls Woodrugh out on that not being a reason to beat a guy up. Hey, he may be a crooked cop, but at least he’s not a homophobe. What are the odds on Woodrugh turning out to be deeply closeted at this point?
Velcoro’s got another gaudy gift for his son, but his ex is there to tell him she knows about his assault on the bully’s father. She tells him she’s pulling back his visitation rights, and that if he fights her on it, she’ll get a paternity test done. He’s a bad man, and he needs to spend less time with the kid. It’s hard to argue with her on that point.
Bezzerides and Velcoro go to visit Caspere’s therapist, who is very cagey with them about what he might have discussed with the man. But they do learn that Caspere was into very young escorts, which he apparently felt very guilty about. The therapist turns out to know Bezzerides’ father, and we learn that of the four other kids who grew up with her as part of whatever strange philosophy her father espoused, two committed suicide and the other two are in prison.
Is the Vinci mayor permanently drunk? It seems possible. But he still threatens Semyon when he doesn’t have his full bribe. A very effective drunk.
In another long drive together, Velcoro admits to having a series of vices Bezzerides might have heard of, and she explains that she carries so many knives around all the time because she never forgets that a man could overpower her if she wasn’t careful. Velcoro helpfully says he’s down with feminism because he has body image issues. Bezzerides almost, almost cracks a smile. They have a brief moment of honesty about how they’re probably not really supposed to be able to solve this crime, and Velcoro basically admits to being totally tied up in shady Vinci dealings.
Woodrugh stops at his girlfriend’s place long enough for her to try and get him to share any relevant information about himself, and then break up with him when he refuses.
Semyon, possibly the most effective true detective on the show, goes to talk to a club manager about Caspere’s habits, and learns the guy had a second home that should probably be investigated.
Bezzerides tries to leave a message with vice, but that proves less interesting than watching some porn. Ominous music plays while she does this, as though looking at porn is unusual or sordid and not the main thing people use the Internet for. Her partner calls her up to let her know the missing woman from the first episode might have been in Guerneville, which you might remember as the location of her dad’s commune.
Woodrugh spends his evening watching some gay escorts get in and out of cars. OK, then.
Semyon passes his tip on to Velcoro about Caspere’s second house, and the intrepid detective discovers a series of sex toys in the house, as well as suspicious pool of blood and a still filming camera, and then gets shot for his trouble.
So do Bezzerides and Woodrugh have another murder to solve?