Last episode, Velcoro was left supposedly bleeding to death at a supposed crime scene, but it is established within the first 8 minutes of the episode that Velcoro was, in fact, perfectly fine. The treatment of this cliffhanger was perhaps the first indication of trouble. Quickly establishing that Velcoro was alive greatly diminished the stakes of the cliffhanger.
My main problem with this episode is that little occurred that actually pushed the plot forwards. All the main characters seemed to revert to their usual beats. Velcoro continues to struggle with his ex-wife’s desire to win custody of his child. Bezzerides continues to be a rather cold and emotionless woman, and Woodrugh continues to act like an angst ridden teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
However, out of all the main detectives, Woodrugh makes the most character progress as Velcoro is sidelined by his injuries. A meeting with an old pal delves into Woodrugh’s past as a hired gun in the Middle East, and his denial regarding his sexuality is one of the more interesting parts of the episode. It is clear that Woodrugh is on a rather self-destructive character arc, refusing to acknowledge the suffering and trauma he experienced in the Middle East and refusing to come to terms with his own sexuality. Hopefully his angst will reach some sort of climax and reveal more about his background.
All in all, this episode felt really hollow. I had to re-watch the episode to convince myself that anything significant had taken place. Every character was kind of in a rut, and barring a few miniscule clues, there was no progress on the homicide investigation front. More importantly, this episode highlighted the larger problem I have with this new season: I don’t particularly care about any of the characters. Sure, Velcoro’s struggle with fatherhood is compelling, but its only compelling when progress is made, not when the screenwriter insists on harping on the same notes. The success of season 1 was largely based on strongly written, damaged, emotional characters. I can’t feel that hopeful about the rest of the season if the characters continue to be so dry and emotionless.