This episodes takes place 66 days after the shootout at the end of the last episode. This time skip, a dramatic technique borrowed from last season, is actually rather effective, allowing the audience to skip what most likely was a lot of red-tape and report writing. In the aftermath of the firefight, the murder of Ben Caspere pinned on a Mexican pimp and gangster, who pawned possessions from Caspere’s house. In light of an impending state investigation, Velcoro quit the Vinci PD force to avoid criminal charges. Bezzerides receives a demotion and punishment duty after an IA probe, and Woodrugh gets a nice promotion and a cushy desk job as a state detective for valor in the firefight.
This episode really had some nice elements. Although objectively, Woodrugh makes out the best out of the three detectives in the aftermath of shootout, he is clearly unhappy with the humdrum routine of domestic life and desk duty. His bitterness, confusion and anger is fully released on his creepy mother, who has been exploiting him for years. His explosion of emotion is almost cathartic, and provides greater depth and context to his character.
However, what really makes this episode exceptional was how it reveals the “sprawl” of the conspiracy surrounding the death of Ben Caspere. Suddenly everything is connected, from the loss of Semyon’s money, to the Russian gangsters, to the outside interests on the railway corridor, to the disappearance of a young woman at a hooker party known to be frequented by powerful men. This is what makes True Detective great: conspiracies. For a shining 20 minutes, season 2 grasped some of the greatness of its predecessor. This growing conspiracy was revealed by some diligent detective work by our three main officers, which had been sorely lacking in the first four episodes.
All in all, this episode made me a little melancholy, because it showed me the greatness that this season could have achieved. The detective work was on point and the conspiracy was rich and engrossing. However, this episode made the first four feel like an utter waste of time, since so little was accomplished. If the last three episodes are like “Other Lives” maybe I can call season 2 mediocre instead of an utter failure.