Let's say goodbye to True Detective season two with episodes seven and eight

Things are happening. Bad things. Very bad things. Also some good things. But mostly bad things.

The stories that define our characters are all coming to a close. Now we're finding out what happens when people get what they want — what happens when investigations march toward their conclusions, when the narratives that define people crumble.

We saw this shift begin several episodes ago with Ray, after he took some rubber bullets in the chest. Since then, he's been thinking about change.

"Well, the reasons for all this, all that, might not exist for me anymore," Ray told Frank in episode three. "You see? I got no reason to keep at this."

It only got worse, as his ex-wife battled him for sole custody. The man who wanted so badly to be a father realized that he will never be. He gave in, gave up. All of the things that defined him were slipping away, and it was time to make choices about the rest of his life.

Ani just saw it happen. A man molested her when she was young, and she spent the rest of her life preparing for another man to grab her.

"The fundamental difference between the sexes is that one of them can kill the other with their bare hands," she told Ray in episode two when he asked asked her why she carries so many knives. "Man of any size place his hands on me, he's going to bleed out in under a minute."

In episode six, a man put his hands on her. She put all her knowledge to work. He bled out in under a minute. She proved she can win. But what now? What does she do with the rest of her life?

Frank has been screwed since episode one — and we find out how deep that goes in episode seven. But before he or we knew that, Frank was different. He was the only character actively trying to get out of his situation, actively trying to evolve, to better himself. To get out.

He thought he could invest his way out of a life of crime (and crime-adjacent) and go straight. At the beginning of the season, he thought that was happening.

He didn't have a chance.

He spent several episodes clawing his way back only, to discover that he was screwed unless he got terrible and ruthless — the exact opposite direction from where he wanted to go. When he learns that there is no winning, no way to get what he wanted from Vinci and the surrounding areas, then what comes next? What does he do for the rest of his life?

Paul has spent the entire time we've known him trying to be something he isn't. That hurts him and it hurts those around him. Not because he wants to cause hurt, but because that's the result of living a lie, even for the best intentions.

But someone knows his secrets. What happens when Paul's exposed? What does he do with the rest of his life?

These are the questions that True Detective answers in the last two episodes of season two. We will get answers, not all of them great, not all of them happy. But it's time to shut it down. It's time to see if we get the world we deserve.

The Molera Motel The first shot of episode seven

Episode seven watchthrough: Black Maps and Motel Rooms

Ani, Paul, Ray and Vera at the Molera Motel

Paul sits in a hotel room examining the documents he took from the party house last week. On the bed next to him is Vera, unconscious, the missing sister they found and rescued. His phone buzzes. It's his pregnant fiancee, Emily, calling. He ignores it for the fifth time.

In an adjacent room, Ani is coming down from the ecstasy she took at the party the night before. Talking to Ray, sweating, frantic, she mentions the man who tried to kill her. In the next breath, she mentions coming out of the woods, which is pretty clearly a reference to her molestation by not-Jesus. Ray, ever the nurturer, offers to roll her a joint.

"I've been waiting my whole life for that," Ani tells Ray. "I think I even went looking. That's my whole life."

She hops on Ray's lap, starts kissing him, but he's polite and declines. She blames the drugs. He's says it's fine. She's out of his league, anyway.

The holding company's assets are parcels of land in the railway corridor in the valley poisoned by Frank's disposal company. Just to be clear: Frank dumped toxic waste from Vinci in a rural area that the EPA condemned, but which also wound up being where the high-speed railway would go. Poisoned land is cheap because who would want it? That was the plan all along: Make the land cheap, so they can all buy it up.

Did Ray leave that out because he works for Frank? Did Ray leave that out because he knew about the dumping?

"There was some kind of buy/sell deal upon death," says Ray, scrutinizing the documents. "I mean, they just repurchased Caspere's shares for pennies and redistributed them."

"Motive," Paul says, in a rare moment of clarity in writing.

"Well, it's something," Ray says, pouring cold water all over that.

Paul's phone buzzes, and he walks away from Ray to check his messages. There are two pictures of Paul and, presumably, his old war buddy, being intimate. "Busy Night?" the accompanying text reads. "Say Hi to Emily " It's blackmail from an unknown sender. Who would have his number? And how would that sender know Paul had a busy night?

It sure seems to imply that this group is busted.

We know that Teague Dixon was taking pictures of Paul around the time Paul hooked up with his old friend. And in episode five, Vinci PD Lieutenant Burris asked Ray about Dixon's photos. It seems likely that Dixon took the pictures, and whoever has them either got them after Dixon died in the shootout at the end of episode four, or is the person who contracted Dixon to take the photos.

Ray senses something's wrong and asks Paul if he's OK. He lies, says it was just Emily.

There's a knock on the door. Ray gets up to answer, and we see that Paul is anything but OK as he stands there staring at nothing, frozen. It's Ani, and she asks what's next after they all exchange glances. Paul says he has to check in at home and walks out, pausing to glance at Ray — the guy who knows everything's not OK — on his way out.

Ray says he's going to take the evidence to Davis, and asks Ani if she can "hold down the fort," meaning monitor Vera, the once-missing sister whom they found and helped escape in the previous episode.

"Do you think they could make me for that security guard?" Ani asks of the man she killed. "Would they?"

"I don't know," Ray says.

Frank and Ray in the casino

Frank, Jordan and Ray in the Vinci Gardens Casino

Frank Semyon deals hands of poker to an empty table. He's playing by himself. He's playing for everyone who isn't there, one hand for each of the five main characters.

Last we saw him in the previous episode, Frank met his new Mexican partners only to discover that they'd murdered a woman he wanted to question. "Why hurt the girl?" Frank asked, clearly disturbed. "The fuck is wrong with you?"

His wife, Jordan, appears behind him. She says she was hoping he'd come home, but she can live with finding him here. He explains in the broadest terms what happened last week and how the Mexican gang affiliated in some way with Santa Muerte, the folk saint opposed by the Catholic Church, will be operating within the Lux, the club they own.

"In the midst of being gang-banged by forces unseen," Frank says, "I figured I'd bang a new orifice, go on and fuck myself for a change."

"In the midst of being gang-banged by forces unseen. I figured I'd bang a new orifice, go on and fuck myself for a change."

Though he doesn't seem to realize it, this isn't the first time he's taken a big gamble and lost. He went all-in to partner with Caspere for the railway corridor lands. When that went bad, he had nothing left. He thought he found his way back in last week and promised an incredibly lucrative deal to the Mexicans in exchange for a conversation with the woman who pawned Caspere's watch. That went wrong, and he's going to suffer huge losses.

Frank, the man playing cards in this scene, is a gambler. He's on a losing streak, and every time things get worse, he thinks he needs to double down.

Jordan suggests they walk away, but Frank balks. He asks if she sees him managing an Applebee's.

"I worked at one once," Jordan says. "They give you a shift meal." There's no malice here, no mocking. Only Jordan reminding her husband that working at Applebee's isn't beneath them — not that it would come to that.

This life of crime and semi-crime is all that Frank Semyon knows. Even when he dreamed of getting out, he was getting out through questionable business contacts. But he smiles and chuckles at Jordan. Ray walks in just then, and Jordan stands up, tells Frank she'll handle the deliveries at the Lux.

She and Ray exchange pleasantries as she walks out. "Keep it holstered," she says.

"I, uh," Ray says after sitting down across from Frank, "had a bit of a strange night."

Frank, who's shuffling and ready to deal again to … well, to someone who'd be sitting right where Ray is, looks up, pissed.

Paul and Emily

Paul and Emily

Paul drives his fiancee, Emily, down the road.

"You should just tell me what's going on, Paul. The man on the phone scared me."

"He said, 'Ask Paul about the pictures?' That's all he said?"

"He hung up."

"I'm just trying to be a good man."

She asks Paul what's going on, says if he doesn't tell her, she isn't going. He says he was working on the case, undercover, which is true, and he just wants her to be safe for a couple days.

"We are having a baby," she says.

"This will all be cleared up by then," he says with pain in his face. He may have murder on his mind.

"Why did you get with me, Paul? Why did you even ask me out?"

"I'm just trying to be a good man," he says, shaking his head, looking like he's about to cry, filled with disbelief.

"Well, you don't try right," she says.

Ani and Athena at the Molera Motel

"What happened out there?" Athena asks Ani, who's peeking through closed blinds. This simple act is foreshadowing.

Ani tells her sister that, because Ani used her name to get into the party, Athena needs "to disappear for a little while." Athena is somewhere between confused and disbelieving. Ani tells her to head up north (True Detective season two's favorite direction), maybe to Oregon. Their father, Eliot, knows people who can protect her. In fact, he should go, too. Ani will give her money.

Athena's seeing someone, and she's starting school in the fall (which is why she mentioned it two episodes ago, apropos of nothing: to give heft to her move). Ani doesn't give a time, but says they need to solve the case first. Then she'll be OK. But, today, they've got to go. Get somebody to get her things. Don't go back home.

"What did you do?"

"I saved a girl. She's, uh, in the next room, coming off of, uh, whatever they had her on."

"Did they give you something?"

Ani bows her head and nods.

"Did you go all the way in? Inside the party?"

"Yeah. Did you?"

Thena sniffles, looks down. Let's take that as a yes.

And if you think back to episode one, when Ani busted the house in which Thena was doing webcam porn, Ani said she did it because she got a tip about suspected prostitution. Thena denied she was turning tricks. That may not have been entirely true.

Paul, his mother and Emily

Paul, his mother and Emily at a motel

Paul is moving Emily and his horrible mother into a hotel for their protection.

Mother of the year, who, a few episodes ago — months after Emily got pregnant and got engaged to Paul — didn't know her son's fiancee's name, says she doesn't know how he can expect them to stay there together. Emily says maybe he should talk to his bosses if things are going so badly.

"It's more complicated than that," he says. "The less you know, the better. We can't go to the bosses. Not yet. This op I did. It might be nothing, but I just want you both to be safe if my cover was blown. That's it. Two, three nights, tops."

Order room service, don't answer the door or the phone if it isn't him. Also, relax.

He leaves.

Frank and Ray at the casino

Since we last saw them, Ray's told the story of Blake, Frank's redheaded henchman who's working with others, including Tony Chessani (the mayor's son) and Osip Agranov (the [presumed] Russian gangster who was once supposed to be Frank's partner on the land deal).

Frank, upset, talks about his investments: time, emotion, personal attention. "And for what? Parity?"

"Oh, this is way bigger than Blake. You've got probable future governor/current attorney general Geldof there. And that guy from Catalast, McCandless? He closed the deal."

"Oh, this is way bigger than Blake," Ray says. "You've got probable future governor/current attorney general Geldof there. And that guy from Catalast, McCandless? He closed the deal."

"What deal?"

"We got these documents from one of Catalast's holding companies. Transferred ownership of assets. Land in that rail corridor. Now, they sold Caspere's shares to two other companies, one of them's owned by the mayor's kid, Tony Chessani."

"Him? Kid's a twist. I fixed a hit and run for him once. Motherfucker."

"Well, the other company's owned by this older cat. He was at the party. I saw him at the warehouse where they dropped the girls off last week. Looked European. Papers said his name was, uh, Osip Agranov."

"He's Russian-Israeli," Frank says with a hint of a knowing smile on his face. Because he knows the connection. He knows why — or thinks he knows why — Agranov balked when Caspere died. Either he was part of the murder, or someone clued him in to a better deal without Frank.

"Blake was listed as the holding company's treasurer. So to me it looked like your man [Blake] helped Tony and this other fuck you out of Caspere's shares. It could be they killed Caspere for 'em."

Ray tells Frank (and reminds the audience) that Vinci Police Chief Holloway was there, too.

"Irina Rulfo," Frank says of the woman who had her throat cut last episode. "She said a cop gave her Caspere's stash. Paid her to pawn it. She said he was white."

"You found Irina?"

"Sort of." Frank leans back, exhales. "She's gone." He looks like he's on the verge of tears.

And then Ray changes the subject.

"Blake was listed as the holding company's treasurer. So to me it looked like your man [Blake] helped Tony and this other fuck you out of Caspere's shares. It could be they killed Caspere for 'em."

"You got a name for me? The man who put you on my wife's attacker?"

Frank's eyes widen, and he smiles, like he's getting excited. "I'll have it for you by the end of the day. Word of honor."

"Then I guess I'll continue with the belief it wasn't you."

"Uh-huh," Frank says and grits his teeth. "Ray, go ahead and show yourself out just now." He never calls him Ray. In fact, up to this point, he's the only one who ever calls him Raymond. "I need a few minutes alone, process the ins and outs of all this."

"Sure. I gotta go anyways."

As Ray walks out, Frank rips the armrest off of the poker table.

Outside the casino, Ray's called Paul to tell him what Frank told him about Irina Rulfo and the white police officer. He wants him to look into LAPD service records and find out where Chief Holloway was in 1992 and who else was in his squad.

That, it's worth pointing out, was the year when the L.A. riots took place. Ray's dad mentioned the riots way back in episode three. Ray says he's meeting Davis this afternoon, and he wants her to see the signatures on the documents they have.

Vera Vera, the not-so-missing sister

Ani and Vera at the motel

Ani explains how she found Vera through Vera's sister, who said she was missing. Vera either coughs or scoffs. Then Ani shows Vera the pictures that were delivered to Vera's sister.

"Oh, shit, man," Vera says. "I forgot I kept that box. Right, yeah, Tascha must have sent these."

That's Ben Caspere's girl, and Vera says she knew both.

"I met Ben at the Panticapaeum Institute when I was a maid," Vera says. "He was the one. He hooked me up on the circuit. Tascha was his, like, favorite favorite. She's Hungarian. But she had these plans. Photos of these parties. I warned her. Fuck, maybe she sent these as backup. Bitch tried to involve me in that shit."

So Tascha's plans were about blackmail. Ani asks about the blue diamonds. Vera said Tascha told her that Caspere showed her the diamonds once.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts it was Tascha's blood behind the stone cottage they found at the end of episode five.

"I never tried to get out. All you got to do is follow the rules. I didn't want to get out. You feel me? I was never missing."

"What happened to Tascha?" Ani asks. Vera takes a deep breath.

"Wherever we were, it was someplace up north. They found a camera. So, I think there was a cabin out back. It was Tony C and their guys. They took her into the woods."

"Will you testify?"

"Fuck no. I was hammered anyway. You know what? Thinking about it, I don't know what I've seen."

"Is that when you tried to get out?"

"I never tried to get out," she says, pointing a finger at a disbelieving Ani. "All you got to do is follow the rules. I didn't want to get out. You feel me? I was never missing."

Vera says she had a good thing with Tony Chessani and his people. She didn't want to leave. Ani says Vera's sister is coming to get her, and Vera lashes out. At least she has a place and nice things.

"Maybe — and this is just a thought," Ani says, "maybe you were put on earth for more than fucking."

"Everything is fucking," says the never missing happy prostitute with deep philosophical insights.

There's a knock on the door. Ani peeks through the blinds. It's Dani, Vera's sister. Dani sees her sister, thanks God and starts crying. Vera says she's not going with her and reveals that Dani's husband is a "pervertido" — pervert, because of course he's horrible. Dani says he's different now. Super.

Vera, who is a lovely person, yells at them for taking her, says that they put her in danger.

"And I'm the only one who can get you out," Ani says. "You reach out to those men, I'll let them know you talked to a cop, and they'll paint a cabin with you." And now we know what people do when they're shown that people have talked to a cop, thanks to Irina Rulfo's fate last episode.

Paul at the archives

On Jan. 7, 1992, LAPD officers Kevin Burris and Teague Dixon, whose watch commander was William Holloway, arrested someone for drug dealing at 763 W. Oxford in zip code 90029. That's in East Hollywood in real life.

"You motherfuckers," Paul says, and prints the record.

A man approaches from behind.

Here's what Paul sees:

Paul finds evidence

It appears that Ben Caspere had something to do with the department.

Just then, a window appears on Paul's computer screen showing that the Monterey County Sheriff's department put out an APB for Ani, who's "wanted for impersonating a security guard."

"Shit," Paul says.

Paul picks up the papers he printed, cellphone in hand. We hear a dial tone, which cellphones don't have. But hey, it does let us know that he's trying to make a call. He puts the phone up to his ear.

Blake and Frank in Frank's casino office

Nails lets Blake into Frank's office and closes the door from the outside.

"Late today," Frank says, and he doesn't even sound upset. "Had to get Ivar to cover the pit."

"Sorry, boss," Blake says. "I was taking care of some stuff. The girls had a little private thing last night." He places an envelope on Frank's desk. "15 Gs," he says. "Yours."

"Holy cow," Frank says. "You must be what they call a natural-born pimp. Me, I always saw a difference between a whore and a pimp. A whore can still have integrity."

Blake intones that he's ready to move up, and Frank says he knows the problem: There's nowhere up to go — at least not with Frank there. He pours two drinks, walks around to the front of his desk and hands one to Blake.

Blake looks up at Frank nervously

Frank says that Stan — the dead man whose wife Frank and Jordan visited last episode, whose widow said Blake showed up after the funeral asking questions — was following Blake. The deputy is starting to squirm.

"What did he see you doing, caused you to punch his ticket like that? You took his eyes. Why? To make it look connected to Caspere?"

Blake moves to stand up. Frank blocks him.

"Truth is your only play right now," Frank says. "Because you fucked up letting yourself be alone in this room with me."

Blake says this is a mistake.

"You're arrogant," Frank says, "or else you never would have walked in here."

As Blake takes a drink, Frank winds up, and smashes his glass across the side of Blake's face. Blood and glass fly as we cross-fade to the next scene.

Ray and Davis

Ray is meeting Davis. He parks his car in a lot next to an industrial building. He opens Davis' door, and he's already talking and getting into the car when he notices the blood on Davis' chest.

Ray discovers Davis' dead body

She's dead. Frank screams "hell" and runs to his car, hauls ass away.

His prints are on the car. Somebody's framing him.

Blake and Frank

Blake crawls across the floor. He tries to get up. Frank kicks him down. Steps on his head.

"Caspere was always gonna fuck you, Frank. Osip was backing the play."

"Osip's been moving to take your spot ever since your meeting in Paris," Blake says. They mentioned that in episode one.

Blake says nobody knows who killed Caspere.

"Caspere was always gonna fuck you, Frank. Osip was backing the play."

Blake admits to killing Stan because he saw Blake "meeting with Osip and his guy." He says Stan tried to blackmail him.

Osip's guy is probably his attorney, Michael Bugalari, whom we met in episode one. He appeared for just a second, introduced as Osip's attorney, and has been gone ever since. But why introduce someone like that, give him a last name, if he's inconsequential?

Blake implies that all of Frank's guys thought they were getting screwed. Frank had big plans. Where would that leave them? He taught Blake to make his own opportunities.

And, yes, it was Blake who gave up the guy framed as Ray's ex-wife's rapist all those years ago. Frank asks who it was.

"Look me in the eyes. I want to watch your lights go out."

"This fuckin' meth head," Blake says. "He said I ripped him off. He was gonna come after me. I heard about this deputy's wife. I saw a chance to step up for you, get noticed."

"Look me in the eyes," Frank says. "I want to watch your lights go out." He starts choking Blake with both hands, lifts him off the ground, pins him to the wall. Blake saves himself with the promise of getting Frank money. Frank's face betrays a kind of angry lunacy. He lets go.

Blake says that, tomorrow night, Catalast and Osip are going to have "a big cash exchange" at Jacob McCandless' house in Ojai. Also, McCandless' house has a name: Crystal Ranch. Osip is going to pay $12 million for Caspere's shares of the land. Blake says he doesn't know who's going to be there beyond security, McCandless and Osip.

"All right," Frank says. "Get yourself together." He slaps Blake on the arm and walks away as Blake starts to cry.

"Anything else you can tell me?" Frank asks, pouring another drink and walking back to Blake. "Anything? Might help." He hands him the drink. Blake drinks.

"They're taking it all, Frank. Osip's people bought the liens on the clubs."

"My people won't go along with that."

"They're taking it all, Frank. Osip's people bought the liens on the clubs. … You don't have any people, Frank. That's what I'm saying. Nails, they never approached him. But anybody else, they already bought."

"You don't have any people, Frank. That's what I'm saying. Nails, they never approached him. But anybody else, they already bought. Ivar."

"Anything else?" Frank asks, too tenderly.

"Look: They don't know you got me now. I can work on the inside for you, man. Triple-cross."

"Do this for me, instead," Frank says, and shoots Blake in the gut. "I can," Blake manages to say as he drops his drink and falls to the floor.

Standing over him, Frank laughs. "Remember where I found you? Pushing baby aspirin to club kids. Johnny Mank wanted to cap you in the alley. I said, 'Nah, there's potential here.'"

Blake is writhing, dying, coughing blood out of his mouth and gurgling on it. Frank continues his lecture.

"Now you just shit my carpet."

Frank walks back to his desk, pours another drink, sips it as he walks back to Blake. He leans on the front of his desk to watch.

Frank chokes Blake

Ani and Eliot

Ani is in an undisclosed location in the woods with her father, Eliot. Can he remember something she can use?

"I grouped them as hedonists," Eliot says. Pleasure-seekers, in other words. He's looking at the photograph of young Mayor Austin Chessani and young Dr. Pitlor standing next to a river. "And they seemed very close, in a secretive way. And they did not stay long. We had no real relationship."

Ani and Eliot hug Father and daughter, no longer estranged, hug

Ani says they seem friendly in the picture, but her dad says, "At the time, everybody was a pilgrim, you understand? Everyone was passing on their separate journeys. And not all looking for the same thing."

Chessani, Pitlor, the commune — these are all stories of idealism gone awry.

Ani tells Eliot that she remembered her molester's face, that maybe she always remembered. Eliot is apologetic, says he wishes her life could have been easier.

"You didn't ask me if I did it," Ani says.

"It doesn't matter," Eliot says. "You're the most innocent person I've ever known."

Eliot and Ani's sister, Thena, are leaving. Ani and Eliot hug, their first physical moment of tenderness. He tells his daughter to stay safe and alive.

Ani's old partner and former one-night stand, Elvis, is there. They're at an uneasy truce. Ani even apologizes for acting like she did. He does, too. He's going to follow Eliot and Thena to Eugene, Oregon, and watch for anyone following them.

Frank and Jordan look at Blake's corpse

Blake, Jordan, Frank and Nails in the casino

Frank tells Nails what Blake told him: They're in a war, and everyone is against them. They have Jordan come into the room. She sees Blake's corpse. Now she knows everything, and she needs to make a choice. She chooses to stay with Frank.

Frank pays some visits

In the next few scenes, Frank visits several people. He's making plans to make his escape.

He visits a Hasidic jeweler, who's surrounded by thugs to talk about converting cash into diamonds. The jeweler balks at first, but Frank drops a name, and soon they have a deal.

He visits a travel agency and buys tickets to Venezuela: two tickets out of Portland, Oregon, in five days. They're expensive tickets, alterable if necessary. That feels like a thing made up for this. Still, that line must be foreshadowing. Either Frank's going to have to change his plans, or someone else entirely is going to use the tickets.

He visits the men he shook down in the coffee and pastry shop in episode four. They can provide him with fake passports. He says he'll pay them what he owes them in three days. Frank tells them about "the Russians" as he stacks money from a duffel bag onto the table. He's warning them that they'll be taken over inside a year. He wants two clean, fast cars and "some firepower." There's a brief shot of a list with munitions you'd take to war.

The list of munitions

Ani, Frank and Paul discuss in the motel

Paul returns to Ani and Ray in the motel, and the first thing he says is that there's an APB out on Ray for Davis' murder. Ray theorizes that the murderer is framing him, probably with a gun taken from his house — which, as we learned from Vinci PD's Burris in episode five, is owned by the city of Vinci. Ray switched license plates as a precaution.

Point is, they're screwed. As far as anybody knows, Davis was the only person who knew about this special investigation. It was her pet, conducted at her directive in secret.

The three antiheroes discuss the current state of the case.

"So that's how [Burris, Dixon and Holloway] bought in: the diamonds and whatever they got for them went to Chessani. Next couple of years, they migrate into six-figure salaries in Vinci. Their own private fiefdom."

Paul explains what he learned last episode and this one. "It's all cops," he says. Someone stole Caspere's blue diamonds, which originated at the jewelry store robbery that left two children, Leonard and Laura, orphans. The jewelry store was in a precinct back in 1992 where Burris, Caspere, Dixon and Holloway all worked. They later all came to Vinci. They were working together then as now, Paul says.

And now we get the clearest picture yet of how all of True Detective season two's disparate elements fit together.

"So that's how they bought in," Ani says of Burris, Dixon and Holloway, the LAPD officers who moved to Vinci. "The diamonds and whatever they got for them went to Chessani. Next couple of years, they migrate into six-figure salaries in Vinci. Their own private fiefdom."

"Except Dixon," Ray says. "He was just a regular dick."

"Dixon was checking in on those diamonds before we ever found them," Paul says. "Maybe he knew Caspere held onto them. Maybe it meant leverage for him. But Dixon taking that headshot, I checked every arrest record. Burris busted Ledo Amarilla in '06, released after interrogation, no notes kept. That whole day was a setup."

"Burris busted Ledo Amarilla in '06, released after interrogation, no notes kept. That whole day was a setup."

Let's take a step back here, just to make everything clear. Ledo Amarilla was the drug dealer and pimp framed for Ben Caspere's murder in episode four. He became the suspect after a woman in his employ, Irina Rulfo, pawned Caspere's watch. Vinci PD Lieutenant Kevin Burris arrested him years ago and kept no records beyond the arrest.

The implication is that Amarilla became Burris' lackey — and probably Vinci's, broadly.

Years later, after Caspere's murder, when the state attorney's office was investigating corruption in Vinci, the powers that be in Vinci either framed Amarilla or led the investigators (Ani, Paul, Ray and Teague Dixon) to him, assuming he and his thugs — who started shooting first, indicating that they knew the cops were coming — would eliminate the cops.

"Amarilla, too," Ani says. "He thought it was gonna go a different way, I think."

Ray says that whoever trashed Caspere's home — "Burris, Holloway, Dixon, whoever" — was looking for diamonds.

Ani says that the blue diamonds are the last piece of evidence for a decades-old murder, and ties in Tascha, Caspere's favorite high-class European prostitute, who planned on blackmailing him.

Paul's text saying to meet at the Hall of Records

"So Holloway, Burris, they killed Caspere," Ray says.

"That doesn't make sense," Ani says. "Him dying bought them all exposure, kicked this whole thing off. And if they had Caspere, why wouldn't they torture him for the fucking diamonds? I mean, it's …" she trails off.

Paul gets a text with more pictures. "Hall of Records midnight tonight… Pics for sale," it says. He says he's got to go.

Before he does, they discuss what they might do next. Take it to state? Nope, Davis is dead. Geldof, the attorney general, was at the party they have evidence of. Ani says the Ventura Sheriff's Department has it out for her. And anyway, what do they really have? Documents for a holding company and a theory about rogue cops that goes back more than 20 years. They could take it to the feds, but they'd need more evidence. And unless someone has a friend there, Ray doesn't see any way they can get protection.

Osip and his thugs in the casino

Frank, Austin Chessani and Osip Agranov at the Vinci Gardens Casino

Austin Chessani talks to a hooker, bragging about his family's political dynasty, comparing them to the Kennedys.

"Me? My family? We are Vinci."

Frank approaches from behind the bar, motions for the blonde to leave. She does. He tells Chessani to leave. The drunk mayor balks, but Frank doesn't back down. He tells Chessani that everyone's working against him, just like they're working against Frank.

"Your boy prince Tony, has been greasing the skids to slide into your chair," he says. "Buying the attorney general with his hookers. Working with a Russian named Osip Agranov, Jacob McCandless from Catalast. All this in your house behind your back."

Tiny scene, big implications

This brief exchange is a direct reference to a scene from episode two. It's its second half. It closes the loop. Even the phrase "boy prince" that Frank uses is a direct callback. So let's return to Mayor Chessani's office. Caspere is recently dead. The investigation into his murder has just begun. Frank just learned that Caspere never gave his $5 million to Catalast Group.

Chessani, slumped behind his office desk, drinking, is watching TV. California State Attorney General Richard Geldof, citing Caspere's murder, is holding a press conference, announcing a criminal probe into Vinci.

Frank arrives with his poker room kickback, short $10,000, in a manilla envelope. He's angry and worried. His working theory is that Caspere's murderer has his $5 million.

Chessani, cool as lemonade, says that Geldof "just announced a shakedown." Not an investigation. A shakedown.

"You're not worried whoever did Caspere might be part of something bigger?" Frank asks. " Muscling in on the corridor, secret handshakes and whatnot."

"Ben had his own charity," Chessani says, "and what punched his ticket could have come from some personal pocket. Nobody muscles me, Frank. State attorney will get his piece, Caspere will get closed, the world will turn uncaring of our struggles."

He's cocky, alarmingly uncaring. He is, we learn in episode five, entirely correct — at least about Geldof. Not so much about Tony, as we'll see.

But that's not all they talked about. The mayor's son, Tony, comes up. And Chessani's reaction, which still sounds half moonbat-crazy, sets up a confrontation between father and son that will come to its conclusion before this season ends. Here's what Austin Chessani says about Tony Chessani:

"My son, I fear, is losing his mind, like his dearly departed mother. Some people can't handle the deep trip. I fear he is a destroyer. In my day, you understand, it was about consciousness expansion. Tracing the unseen web. Children are a disappointment. Remain unfettered, Frank."

And Austin isn't worried about Tony, either. He thinks he's got it under control. He has plans for Tony.

"My farkakte offspring , I will set up with a club in Oakland. Let him be a boy prince elsewhere."

His boy prince, see?

Back in the present, Chessani leaves the bar.

Osip Agranov approaches with a group of heavies and confirms what Blake told Frank: They now own the lease on the Lux and the casino. Frank can stay and manage them. Osip is surprisingly tender as he's screwing Frank. And Frank plays along, saying in effect that he knows he's screwed, so he'll make the best of it.

Miguel Gilb Miguel Gilb, Paul's old friend and sometimes lover

Paul and Miguel

Paul walks a staircase to meet with the person who texted him. He calls Ray to say he might be getting into trouble, but doesn't give any details. He says he'll call Ray back.

He ascends the steps and finds his old war buddy and sometimes sexual partner, Miguel Gilb, waiting for him. Black Mountain Security has rebranded, he says, and now it provides security for just one company: Catalast Group. Follow his lead, Miguel says, and Paul will make it out alive. And he continues the strategy of telling Paul that he should just be himself. He wouldn't be in this situation if he just acted as he is.

They enter a building and descend a dark staircase.

Ani and Ray

Ani and Ray discuss what they're going to do next. They need an exit strategy to get out of the country, Ray says, because there's no way this situation will go to trial.

Ani's not paying attention because she's shuffling through the covert pictures of the party that she got from the evicted woman. Something stands out.

"Vera said this girl's name was Laura," she says, looking at a photograph. "Does she look familiar? I swear there's something," she trails off.

"Her name is Erica. From the city manager's office. She was Caspere's secretary."

Ray walks over to look. "No," he says. "Her name is Erica. From the city manager's office. She was Caspere's secretary."

We've seen Erica twice. First, when Ani and Ray visited Caspere's office at the very beginning of the investigation and the season. They bumped into her briefly on the set of the movie being shot in Vinci, too.

"Woodrugh said one of the orphans in that robbery, her name was Laura," Ani says.

She's referring to the robbery where the blue diamonds they found in Caspere's safety deposit box originated. Paul interviewed a police officer in a previous episode who told the story of a jewelry store robbery by masked men who executed the store owners, leaving their children orphaned.

Ray grabs the picture of the children that the retired cop gave Paul. They compare the two. It could be her, but it's far from clear.

Holloway Holloway

Paul, Holloway, Miguel and some Black Mountain Security thugs in the tunnels

Paul, Miguel and a handful of armed men walk toward a shadowy figure in a dark basement, lit only by flashlights. It's Vinci Police Chief Holloway.

"You've been looking for information about me, son," Holloway says. "Well, here's your chance to ask."

Ani and Ray

Ani gets off the phone with a Mr. Patterson. She tells Ray that Laura moved out of her apartment six weeks ago and quit the city manager's office around that time. (Remember that we skipped three months between episodes a few episodes back.) They figure Paul can try and locate her, given that he's the only one still ensconced with the police.

Ray calls Paul again, but gets his voicemail.

"What now?" Ani asks.

"Ride it out 'till morning," Ray says and shrugs. "Guess we'll wait for Woodrugh."

Frank in the casino

Frank tells someone working at the casino that there's a gas leak and that they need to evacuate it for about three hours. The man gives some lip, Frank tells him to do it, and the man makes an announcement. People file out.

Paul, Holloway, Miguel and some Black Mountain Security thugs in the tunnels

Holloway begins with a bit of exposition: They're in tunnels that exist under the entire city, but for some reason, most people don't know about them.

The pictures they're using to blackmail Paul, Holloway explains, were "a happy coincidence" uncovered in Teague Dixon's apartment after he died in the shootout at the end of episode four. Why did they have access to his apartment? Probably because, like Ray, Dixon lived in a building owned by the city of Vinci.

"Teague always had a nose for secrets," Holloway says.

"Teague always had a nose for secrets."

So that seems to answer a long-standing question about Dixon. He probably wasn't working for anyone. He just collected incriminating information, likely to use if he ever needed it.

Miguel interjects to tell Paul that, if he'd just been himself (meaning openly gay), Dixon couldn't have blackmailed him.

Holloway says some documents disappeared from a "private gathering of citizens in Monterey." He is, of course, referring to the documents Paul retrieved during the sex party. He knows Paul is investigating him and believes he has the documents. Paul needs to stop and turn against Ani and Ray, and then everything will be fine.

Paul says he doesn't know where the papers are, that Ray's turning them into the feds. He can call Ray, though, and set up a meeting where they'll find Ray and, I'm sure, kill him.

If he does that, Paul says the condition is that he gets away. Holloway is skeptical. Paul ratchets up the rhetoric: Ani and Ray don't mean anything to him. He'll turn on them, as long as he gets every copy of the incriminating photos. Holloway says to call Ray and set up a meeting where they can capture him.

Frank in the casino

Frank lights a rag on fire

Frank takes stacks of cash out of a safe and puts them in a duffel bag. He enters the casino bar at the same time as one of Osip's thugs.

"Osip wants to know, where is gas leak?" the thug asks.

"It's, uh," Frank says, then pulls out a huge silver revolver and shoots the thug in his head.

Frank walks through the empty casino's kitchen, yanks a gas line and the cord from the fire alarm. With the duffel bag slung over his shoulder, he lights a rag on fire. He's burning the place down behind him.

Paul's mom and Emily

Paul's mom and his fiancee are in the hotel room watching Splendor in the Grass, a movie about a young woman who falls in love with the son of one of the town's most wealthy families. It tackles themes like sexual repression, abortion and class.

They lie on their beds amid a discarded Big Gulp and a pizza box.


Paul's mom says she loves the movie. Emily, Paul's pregnant fiancee, says it looks old. It's old and sad, Paul's mom says.

Paul, Holloway, Miguel and the Black Mountain guards in the tunnel

Paul tries to call Ray, but he says he doesn't have service. Pretending he's walking to get better reception, he grabs Holloway, snags his gun and uses him as a human shield. He tells everyone to toss their guns and shut their flashlights off. He knocks Holloway out. Then he runs as the guards find their guns and fire.

Ani and Ray in the motel room

Ani and Ray sit in the motel room, drinking whisky out of plastic cups as a fake fire doesn't burn in the background.

"You're not a bad man."

Ray says that whatever happens will be hard on his son, having to hear about his father. Ani is optimistic. She says they can get out of it. If they get Laura's story and take her to the feds, they might wind up on CNN.

"I'm sorry," she says. "I brought you back in this."

"No, I made a choice," Ray says. "A long time ago. I, uh, I thought everything came from something else. But it came from there. You had something like that too once, right?"

Ani pauses a few seconds.

"It isn't something I talk about," she says.

"It's one of the things I admire about you."

They spend several seconds in silence. Ray pours a drink. Ani breaks the silence.

"You're not a bad man," Ani whispers. It's a direct repudiation of what he thinks, of the accusations that his ex-wife leveled at him.

"Yes, I am," he says with finality.

Another few seconds of silence.

"Do you miss it?" Ray asks.


He grunts. "Anything."

Silence again. Ani reaches across the table and holds his hand.

Ani and Ray hold hands

Paul and the Black Mountain thugs in the tunnel

Paul makes his way through the tunnels. He's being pursued, but as we learned in episode four — and as Ray reiterated in episode five — Paul is an incredible warrior, at home on the battlefield. He's got this covered.

He kills every one of the people chasing him, except his old friend, who dies as Paul uses him as a human shield.

Also, somewhere back in the darkness, Holloway's not dead.

Paul sees a ladder, jogs over to climb it.

Ani and Ray in the motel

They're standing, almost dancing without music. They kiss.

Frank in the Lux

Frank, with the duffel back over his left shoulder, clears out cash from the safe at the Lux. He pours liquor on the ground, lights it up and walks out, but not before turning the gas on in the kitchen.

He stands in a rooftop a few miles away watching his old buildings burn — the buildings Osip just acquired.

Ani and Ray in the motel

They're in bed now, making out.

Burris shoots

Lieutenant Kevin Burris and Paul outside a building

Paul's running through a hallway in slow motion. He sees a door, breaks through it, escapes to the outside. He takes his cellphone out of his pocket, almost certainly to call Ray.

Behind the door, behind Paul, is Lieutenant Kevin Burris of the Vinci PD.

Burris shoots Paul in the back.

"No, no, no," Paul says as he crawls on his belly toward his gun. "Fuck you."

Burris shoots Paul in the back a second time, and Paul stops moving.

Emily in the hotel room

Paul's fiancee watches Splendor in the Grass. The actress Natalie Wood holds up a baby.

"So now we're expecting another child," we hear the TV say. "I hope it's a girl this time."

The baby on TV cries, and a woman says, "Oh, you're a fine boy."

Emily begins to cry.

"Well, I have to go now," says a woman on the TV.

"Oh. You'll come back again sometime? Will you come back for dinner?"

Burris and Paul

Burris picks up Paul's cellphone. He runs up some stairs and hops into the passenger seat of a gray police car.

The car pulls away.

The episode ends with a shot of Paul's body, lying motionless on the concrete.

Paul, dead

Episode eight: Omega Station

True Detective season two was a jog, not a sprint. But both paces eventually cross the finish line. This is it, and actions will speak louder than words in "Omega Station."

There were still many unanswered questions going into the eighth episode, and there was no assurance of answers for all of them. We'll get some. We'll even find answers to questions we never knew to ask. And, on a few occasions, we'll learn that things that felt important ultimately weren't.

This, I think, is True Detective mirroring reality. Some things are just unknowable, and the message seems to be that we just have to accept a certain amount of the unknowable.

Still, it's not as if we'll walk away wondering what happened. True Detective season two and most of its characters have definitive endings, good, bad and somewhere in between.

So let's find out what happens to the Bezzerides, the Chessanis, the Semyons and the odd cast of characters in and around Vinci, California. Let's end season two, as we always have, one scene at a time.

The title sequence's final shot The title sequence's final shot

Title sequence and theme song

Leonard Cohen's poem turned song — you know, the one with the repeating line "I live among you, well disguised" — was a pretty good choice. It felt right. It conjured up the right emotions. It got you in the mood.

Plus, it did something genuinely innovative: It changed with every episode, mixing lines and stanzas together to create a custom-tailored effect.

I don't think it gave anything away, really, but it felt right. Maybe T. Bone Burnett, True Detective's musical director, found the song afterward. Maybe Nic Pizzolatto, the show's creator and writer, used it like Stephen King used "The Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." You can make a pretty good case for each. That's why it works.

Here's the entirety of Leonard Cohen's "Nevermind," as it appears in the final episode.

The war was lost
The treaty signed
I was not caught
I crossed the line

I was not caught
Though many tried
I live among you
Well disguised

I had to leave
My life behind
I dug some graves
You'll never find

The story's told
Through facts and lies
I have a name
But nevermind

The war is lost
The treaty signed

There's truth that lives
And truth that dies
I don't know which
So nevermind

My woman's here
My children, too
Their graves are safe
From ghosts like you

In places deep
With roots entwined
I live the life
I left behind

The war was lost
The treaty signed
I was not caught
I crossed the line

I was not caught
Though many tried
I live among you
Well disguised

Ani and Ray in bed The first shot of episode eight

True Detective season two episode eight watchthrough: Omega Station

Ani and Ray in the motel

After sleeping together, Ani tells Ray about her abduction and molestation. She remembers trees, the woods again, a cave. Four days she thinks she might've gotten out.

She remembers she got in a car, that the man who abducted her didn't force her. The scene unfolds in the present and intercuts with the moments they spent alone the night before as the other slept.

"Baby, you made it all mean something, everything before we met. If they came to me through you, if they hurt you, I couldn't, I wouldn't deserve to live. If you love me — I cannot do the things I have to do unless I know you're safe. If I don't think you're safe, I'm lost. They got me. Nails has two tickets. Venezuela out of Oregon."

"He didn't force me. He didn't even get near me. He called me pretty. I remember. I remember it made me feel — I liked," she trails off. "I got in the van with a stranger. Every time I remember that feeling, like pride, I get sick to my stomach. I could lie to myself, but I felt proud. I was proud that he thought I was pretty. Makes me sick."

"None of that was your fault," Ray says.

Next, Ray confesses. He tells the story of his worst moment when he killed the man he thought raped his wife.

"I walk up behind him," he says. "It's him. It's the guy. I've been thinking about him, picturing him for months. I'm not sleeping. Passing strangers, wondering. He turned his head right as I was up on him. I planned to say it, but I didn't say anything. I got sick, and to keep from being sick, I raised up," he pauses, "right when he was turning. And I —"

In a flashback to the night before, Ray looks at pictures of Chad, the son he left willingly, on his phone, as Ani sleeps.

"It didn't make anything better," he says. "Made it worse. And I know now: the act, it described a trajectory."

In other words, the act of murder — even if he believed he had a right to do so — foreshadowed Ray's life, which he lived thereafter as a man who acted like a murderer.

"People," Ani says, "whole cultures wouldn't blame you. I don't."

"It wasn't him. They got the real guy. Something in Venice, weeks ago."

She asks who he was. Ray isn't even sure it matters.

They dress in silence on opposite sides of the bed.

"I haven't been like this in a long time," Ray says. "Years."

"I can tell."


"You seemed like you were making up for lost time."

Jordan and Frank kiss goodbye

Jordan and Frank at a station

Frank and Jordan are at a train station, saying goodbye. Or at least that's what Frank thinks. Jordan's not thrilled about splitting up.

"I'd do anything for 10 more years," Frank says. "We should have met when we were young."

"At least then we wouldn't regret the past," Jordan says. "Anyway, who said we don't have 10 more years?"

There's money, $100,000, for her to take. She's going with Nails. The hell she will, she says. He says she doesn't have a choice. She says she always does. Frank switches tactics.

"It's not going to work, the you and me thing. The way I see it, you weren't upfront with me. You can't have a kid, then what good is a design, see? You had me on the fairytale for a while, and it was good. Now it's time to go."

The design he's referring to is his plan for the future: Getting out of a life of crime, having kids. He's spoken about it a few times this season.

"You can't act for shit," Jordan says. "Take it from me. Where one goes, the other goes. That's what we said."

"Baby, you made it all mean something, everything before we met. If they came to me through you, if they hurt you, I couldn't, I wouldn't deserve to live. If you love me — I cannot do the things I have to do unless I know you're safe. If I don't think you're safe, I'm lost. They got me."

"That's not acting. Now take your payout, and get the fuck gone." He throws his wedding ring out the door.

She refuses to leave him. "Whatever they do to you, they do to me."

She calls what he's doing martyrdom, and she's not wrong. She says come with them. He says he can't run. They'll keep coming after him. He needs to finish this. She says it won't work, and they made sure of it. He says he has a play, one thing they don't know.

"I cannot run," Frank says. "It'll never stop. If I do that, and I come home, and I find you — no. No."

She remains unconvinced. He switches tactics again. He gets tender, not angry.

"Baby," he says, "you made it all mean something, everything before we met. If they came to me through you, if they hurt you, I couldn't, I wouldn't deserve to live. If you love me — I cannot do the things I have to do unless I know you're safe. If I don't think you're safe, I'm lost. They got me. Nails has two tickets. Venezuela out of Oregon."

"Not unless you're with me," Jordan says. "Otherwise the last six years are nothing."

"No, they weren't. Never nothing."

"I know. I know. That was never our story."

"I got my ticket out. I'll meet you inside of two weeks. I promise."

"Two weeks?"

"Or less. Barquisimeto."

"You'll meet me in two weeks or less."

"El Obelisco. There's a park there. Wear a white dress."

"You wear a white suit with a red rose in your jacket."

"I'll wear a red rose in my jacket."

"I'll see you coming out of the crowd, head higher than everybody else."

"At first, I'm worried. I can't see you."

"But then you do."

"I see the white dress."

They kiss.

Frank and Nails at the station

Frank hands Nails a stack of money in a manilla envelope, and Nails says it's not necessary.

"Couldn't see," Nails says. "Blood in my eyes. Nail in my fucking head. I heard him saying leave me."

"Fuckin' teamster," Frank says. "A nail gun."

"Slung me over your shoulder. I don't forget that."

"I know you don't."

Nails is everything Frank admires. Grateful, trustworthy, loyal, dependable, tough as … well, you know. He's the last of Frank's men, and he's the best of Frank's men. And now it's his job to protect Jordan for two weeks — or less. Or more.

"Nobody's going to get near her," Nails says. "I promise. We'll see you in two weeks."

"Or less."

They shake hands. Frank pats Nails on the shoulder. Nails gets in the car. Jordan's in the backseat. She rolls down a tinted window, looks at Frank, holds up two fingers like a peace sign.

"Two weeks," she mouths, and they pull away.

Frank doesn't believe a word of it it. You can see it on his face.

Laura and Leonard as children

Ani and Ray at the motel, Burris at Paul's murder scene

Paul's body is in a body bag. His murderer, Vinci PD Lieutenant Kevin Burris, speaks to unidentified cops, explaining who Paul is. Was. Nobody knows he did it.

The phone in Burris' pocket rings. He answers. It's Paul's phone. Ray's on the other line. Burris lets Ray know that Paul is dead. And he makes it clear that they're framing Ray.

"You know I know, right?" Ray says. "The robbery in '92. Caspere kept some diamonds. He was holding them over you, yeah?" Burris is taken aback.

"We should meet," Burris says. "Let's talk his over. You could come out of this good, Ray. I can make it go away. Put you right. Get you paid."

"Sure. Yeah, I'll drop by PD later today."

"Where are you? Come on, Ray. You're one of us."

"Why Woodrugh? There was no reason."

"He was better than us. He saved our asses. Twice."

"Why do you care? You know the guy was a fag, right? Come on, you're a player, Ray. Let's talk. We can work this out."

"Yeah, sure thing lieutenant," Ray says and hangs up.

Ani asks what that was. Frank tells her that Paul is dead. Ray goes to hung her, but he stops short. "Who — what — why — Jesus Christ, he was going to have a fucking kid," Ani says through tears. Ray delivers the straight news: "It was Burris. They're putting it on me. First Davis, now — fuck!" It's getting harder and harder to see a way out.

"I can't, I can't," Ani says.

"Jesus, he was—" Ray says. "After everything else." He has a point. How much more can go wrong?

"He was better than us," Ani says. "He saved our asses. Twice." That's once during the shootout at the end of episode four and once at the party Ani infiltrated.

"Three times. Now. He deserved better." He did. But that is not the way or the world of True Detective season two.

Ani tries to regroup, think about the future. What do they have? The girl, Erica/Laura, but God knows where she is.

And that's when it hits Ray: "There was two of them. The kids. Boy, girl." He rushes to the a stack of files, grabs a photograph of the two children murdered in the Sable Fine Jewelers robbery. "Field interviews, that movie set. We had a crew list. There's a guy there. Set photographer. She talked to him. The ages are right. Fuck, they even kind of looked alike. Set photographer. Lenny Tyler. That's the brother. Laura and Leonard. They might have the hard drive. Caspere's hidden camera."

"Caspere's murder, if it was them, it just opened up all this other stuff. We were always set up."

"So was Frank."

"Your gangster buddy."

"Yeah, he's actually not a bad guy, but, yeah, Caspere was playing him."

"So we find Osterman. Tyler."

Ray is going to check with Lenny's union for an address. "Unless you just want to take off," he says. "I'm pretty sure I can get us out of the country."

"If there's a chance to get them," Ani says, "I want to take it."

Ray nods in understanding. "I was never big on running, myself."

"Woodrugh wasn't."

Austin Chessani, floating dead

Frank, Mayor Chessani and Mrs. Mayor Chessani at the Chessani's Bel Air mansion

Frank arrives at Mayor Chessani's mansion carrying a gun.

He walks around the house to the pool out back.

The last time we saw the pool was in episode three, when Ani and Paul showed up at the house. During their visit, Tony Chessani threw a woman off his balcony into the pool.

Frank approaches the pool and discovers Mayor Chessani floating, face down, Sunset Boulevard style. There are pills and a bottle of booze next to the table, which makes it look like suicide. But Frank looks up at the balcony, and that's another connection to Tony.

Frank walks into the house and finds sex party invitations on the table. Frank calls out. In the study, he sees a map of the high-speed railway.

"Are you fuckin' dense? This is your boy, Tony. Made to look like some half-assed suicide. And my guess is you'll be takin' the fall."

Mayor Chessani's wife, Veronica, is there calling for her husband and Tony. Frank asks where Tony is, and she says she doesn't know that — or what day it is. "There was yelling. A Russian man, Tony's parties. His new business or something. Hard to remember."

His new business is, in all likelihood, the one he founded with Blake, McCandless and Osip — the one that the business papers Paul stole from the sex party detail.

So Tony and his father, Austin, had a fight. She says she met Austin though Tony, who told him his father was lonely since his first wife got sick. She's Eastern European, remember, so Osip surely played a part in it, too.

"But you were Tony's friend first," Frank says. She nods. It was a setup, all along. Tony's been scheming for a long while, including setting his father up with a woman he'd eventually pin his murder on.

Frank grabs her by the arm and drags her out back to see Austin's body. She screams, freaks out. Frank covers her mouth.

"How did this? I don't — he kill himself?"

"Where's the daughter, Betty?" Frank asks, referring to Austin's second child, who we saw twice, briefly. The first time, she seemed to be studying land survey maps in her room, and she slammed the door on Ani. The second time, she described her father as a bad man. Veronica thinks Betty was there during the argument.

"She's sick, like her mother," Veronica says. "I can't believe Austin would do this."

"Are you fuckin' dense? This is your boy, Tony. Made to look like some half-assed suicide. And my guess is you'll be takin' the fall. Where's Tony now? Think. Where would he be?"

She doesn't know. She says she has an allowance, no direct access to the Chessani fortune.

"Then I hope you saved some of that Miss Ukraine money," Frank says and leaves.

Laura Osterman, handcuffed

Ani, Ray and Laura in a house

Ani and Ray approach a house, enter the back yard through an open fence gate, weapons drawn.

Before they do, Ray peers through a window sees see the raven's mask. Underneath is another mask. It was, surely, mask that the person who torched the burgundy Cadillac was wearing. So, yes, it was Leonard all along.

They enter the house through the back for. There's the shotgun that shot ray. There's some non-lethal riot shells. Suspended on string, there's some photographs of Burris and Holloway.

"Len? Len?" a voice calls from inside the house.

They walk through the house and discover Laura, Caspere's secretary, handcuffed to the fireplace.

They record her on an iPhone as she tells the story of what happened after their parents were murdered. She ran away from her foster family at 16, started hooking. Len went into a group home, had a really rough life. She met Caspere through Tascha, his favorite hooker, and she told Laura about the diamonds. "He used to visit my mother," Laura says. "I remembered him." She changed her name, died her hair red, got a job in Caspere's office. He didn't recognize her.

She and Len found each other years ago. She got him the job as a photographer on the movie set. Then she explains Caspere's murder.

"We didn't have the password. And the hard drive erased itself, some kind of security feature. It's blank."

At Caspere's Hollywood house, Laura put a pill in Caspere's drink. Len showed up and knew what she was doing. The original plan was to use the acid to get Caspere to tell them who killed their parents, but Len got carried away with anger.

Caspere sang like a bird, had a heart attack and died.

On the day season one began, Len drove Caspere's corpse around to all the places Caspere confessed about and then dumped his body at the highway rest stop. Discovering it there was the catalyst for season two — the inciting event that brought Ani, Paul and Ray together. It was all because of Len.

"I don't know why." Laura says when asked why he dumped the body there. "I think he thought it was funny. Caspere was confessing everything, begging. He told him about the rail corridor."

Len left her in the house, handcuffed, because she was trying to stop him. From what? "He's going to meet up with that chief, Holloway. He's going to trade him the hard drive from Ben's place for the diamonds."

"What's on the hard drive?" Ani asks.

"Would have been footage of important men," Laura says.

"You said would have," Ray says.

"We didn't have the password. And the hard drive erased itself, some kind of security feature. It's blank."

"He's going there to kill Holloway," Ray says. Laura nods.

He left a couple hours ago because he wanted to get to the train station where they're meeting early.

"We got her testimony," Ray says to Ani. "You stay here with her until we can walk her into a precinct." Ani gets up to stop him, but he's out the door too fast.

Frank and Osip on the phone

Frank drives down the highway. He's on the phone with Osip, the Russian-Israeli gangster. They've know each other a long time. Not long ago, Frank thought they were partners, buying into the railway corridor land together. But Osip, Frank knows thanks to Blake's confession, was screwing Frank out of all of it.

"Saw the mayor went for a swim," Frank says. "Thought I should say goodbye."

"What are you doing, Frank? This was very unlike you. Lashing out, childish. Now I have to answer."

He's referring to Frank torching the casino and the Lux, both of which Osip was taking over and forcing Frank out of.

"Oh, I'm long gone, cue ball. But we'll settle up later."

"Like I had to answer this, you patronizing old fuck?"

"Are you still in LA, Frank?"

"Oh, I'm long gone, cue ball. But we'll settle up later."

"We certainly will."

"Good luck with that, you KGB kike motherfucker. I'll only need the one bullet. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but Osip, when the lights go out, that's me."

He hangs up.

His phone rings. It's Ray.

Ani and Laura at a bus station

Ani hands Laura a ticket to Seattle. She tells her to scram, and forget it, and maybe it'll blow over for her.

"This is never going to blow over," Laura says. "My life ended that day."

"Except it didn't. You can lay it down. I'm giving you that."


"Because, whatever debt there was, you're not the person who needs to be punished now."

"What about Len?"

"Lay him to rest. Sounds like you lost him years go."

"What am I supposed to do?"

"I don't know."

Ani leaves. Laura gets on the bus.

Felicia and Frank sit on a bed

Felicia and Frank at The Black Rose

Frank brings a couple duffle bags to The Black Rose, the bar where he and Ray used to hang out. He and Felicia enter the secret she uses to smuggle illegal immigrants.

Frank tells her he's leaving and signing the place over to her. It's hers. She thanks him, says she was always grateful for his help. He assures her that Ray is innocent. He'll come here, if things go well, and he'll need transport to Mexico. Him and a woman.

"Everything is ending," he says. "Time to wake up."

Frank tosses the weapons he procured from the pastry shop men — assault rifles, grenade launches and more — onto a bed.

The woman who's always playing guitar begins to sing to an empty bar.

Lately, I'm not feeling like myself
When I look into the glass I see someone else
I hardly recognize this face I wear
When I stare into these eyes I see no one there
Lately I'm not feeling like myself

Lately, I've been losing all my time
All that mattered slips my mind
Every time I hit another town
Strangers appear to lock me down
Lately I've been losing all my time

Frank and Felicia sit silently in the secret room. He is, at best, morose as he stares into nothing.

Ray ascends the escalator

Burris, Holloway, Leonard and Ray at the train station

Ray arrives at the train station where Len is meeting Chief Holloway. He's wearing a jean jacket, sunglasses and a cowboy hat. He's in full cowboy mode as he walks past a group of police officers. He ascends an escalator and, on TV, sees breaking news that there's a state-wide manhunt for him. He's been framed, as expected, for Paul's murder.

"You want revenge? Drag this shit out into the light."

Ray sees Leonard, sneaks up behind and grabs him.

"Don't turn around, or I'll cut you in half before the show even starts," Ray says. He tells him to listen: He's doing this wrong.

"Who are you?"

"The guy you blasted with a fucking shotgun in your little bird mask." Ray says he knows what the bad guys did.

"You know what they did? To my father? To me and my sister? Executed. Turned my sister into a whore."

"I know everything. I want them, too. But suicide ain't gonna get that. You want revenge? Drag this shit out into the light."

"They won't get punished. I am the blade and the bullet."

Ray pauses. Assesses Len. Cocks his head a little, maybe impressed. Makes a decision.

"Then listen carefully to me," Ray says.

Len, seething

Holloway arrives. Burris is there, too, hiding, but Ray doesn't know. The crooked chief and lieutenant nod to each other as Holloway ascends the escalator.

When Holloway arrives up top, Ray whistles, shows him a bag containing the the hard drive and the documents they stole at the party. Holloway walks to him, cautiously. They sit down on a bench. Leonard sits behind them with his black hoodie pulled up over his head. Ray is recording the conversation.

"Had I known you were coming, we could have made different arrangements."

Ray says he needs a payout.

Holloway asks about the man who wanted to meet here — did he kill Caspere?

"Correct," Ray says. "One of the Osterman kids. All grown up."

"Where is he now?"

"In a Vinci landfill," Ray says. "I got copies of everything. Something happens to me on the way out, shit hits the cloud. News agencies."

"What do you want?"

"Any chance you brought the stones?"

Holloway pulls them out of his pocket.

"Plastic. Had I known you were coming, we could have made different arrangements."

"I want out from under. I want my name cleared."

"For the hard drive and land documents?"


Ray and Holloway

"And Bezzerides?"

"Fuck should I know? She and that Woodrugh guy both thought I did Davis. Think I've been working for you the whole time."

"Too bad you weren't. Honestly, Ray, nobody had an idea you were this competent."

"You all bought your way into Vinci with the stones. Caspere made a deal with Chessani."

"Ben had a talent for dissembling." Concealing his true motives, in other words.

"And Dixon? He wasted his part of the take, yeah? He was looking to, what, blackmail you guys for a new piece?"

"Where is this going, Ray?"

"The Osterman woman had been seeing Ben for years. She was pregnant, and she knew things. When he tried to break it off, she threatened him. Ben didn't even want the first kid, much less another one."

"Amarilla. The shootout. How did that happen?"

"He may have gotten a tip about the raid." And that explains why Amarilla's guys shot first in episode four. "Closed everything out, didn't it?" It did at that.

"Now you got a piece of that central corridor. You know Chessani's dead, right?"

"Not the Chessani I work for. Cut the shit, Ray. Whatever happened in '92 isn't the issue. You want clear, we put this on Bezzerides. Geldof is already on board." That would be the California Attorney General who's running for governor.

Ray sees Burris and flinches.

"No sudden movements, son," Holloway says. "You're public enemy number one. Don't even need a reason to vaporize you."

"Couldn't you have just taken the stones? Way back? Did you have to kill those people?"

"The Osterman woman had been seeing Ben for years. She was pregnant, and she knew things. When he tried to break it off, she threatened him. Ben didn't even want the first kid, much less another one."

"The first one?"

"The girl. The little one. That was Ben's illegitimate daughter."

Len, who's been sitting behind them on the bench listening the whole time, snaps, jumps over the bench and tackles Holloway.

Leonard and Holloway, filled with bullets

Ray reaches for his gun but drops it. The portable recorder he was using to record the conversation flies out of his pocket, too. Gunshots ring out. Glass breaks. People scream.

Ani shows up. She shoots Burris, who's out of cover now, grazes his upper arm.

Len stabs Holloway over and over and over and over.

Someone in the crowd steps on Ray's portable recorder, destroying it.

Ani grabs Ray as the cops he walked past earlier ascend the escalator. Ani and Ray run for the door.

Holloway pulls a gun out and shoots Len.

The cops fill Len and Holloway with bullets.

Burris escapes in the confusion. Ani and Ray escape in the confusion.

The Black Rose singer in the bar

The singer at The Black Rose is standing up as she sings:

The mystery that no one knows
Where does love go when it goes
Lately words are missing from now on
Vanished in the haze of love gone wrong
There's no future, there's no past
In the present nothing lasts
Lately someone's missing from now on

Frank hands Ani a photo of Jordan

Ani, Felicia, Frank and Ray in The Black Rose

In one of The Black Rose's secret rooms, Felicia patches up Ray, removing glass from his face.

In an adjacent room, Frank looks at maps. Ani lights a cigarette.

"We met?" Frank asks Ani with a smile. No answer.

"Tell her I wanted to be there, and that story we told, it's still true."

"You're a cop, right? Lady cop."

"What gave me away, the tits?"

"I meant you're a lady, you have dignity. You like Ray? I like Ray."

"I'm sure that's important to him."

"Relationships are important. Maybe you disagree."

He tells her about Jordan. He wants her to deliver a message in two weeks in the park he and Jordan agreed to meet at. Frank knows the odds of his survival are low. This is his backup plan.

"Tell her I wanted to be there, and that story we told, it's still true." He hands her a picture of Jordan.

Frank and Ray discuss the future

Felicia and Ray enter the room, and Frank asks for some private time with Ray. He tells Ray his plan. He explains that Venezuela is the perfect place to go because of its lax extradition laws. Ray says he doesn't have much choice but to go, given how it went down at the train station.

Remember, Ani and Ray could have run earlier, but they made a choice to. They wanted to solve the case, to stay, to try and bring Burris and Holloway to justice, to do the right thing, to do it in honor of Paul.

Ray's response to Frank is a resignation. They tried. They failed. It's time to run.

Frank says they need money if they want to stay alive.

"This is just information, right? Shit in the air."

"You promised me the guy who set me up," Ray says, referring to the incorrect information Frank have Ray about his ex-wife's rapist.

"It was Blake. The guy you clipped was some shit stain had it in for him. Blake's gone. He did not go nicely," Frank grins. "Maybe I spared you that one."

Frank tells Ray about his plan. It's about getting revenge in the woods, stealing the money from McCandless and Osip.

"This is just information, right?" Ray asks. "Shit in the air."

That's exactly what Frank said to Ray more than a decade ago when he provided him with the information about his wife's supposed rapist.

"That guy they're saying you killed, he was your buddy, right?" Frank asks.

"Actually, I don't think I knew him that well, but, yeah, yeah, he was my friend."

"Maybe that means something. Call it what you want — revenge, justice, a retirement package."

"Men like this, they always skate."

"Not with me they don't. I did not live my life to go out like this. You?"

Ray looks at the guns.

Ani and Felicia in The Black Rose

Felicia explains to Ani how it's going to work: She uses a short cruise to ferry illegal immigrants. Usually the other way.

"We get you all to Venezuela."

Felicia is conflicted, and it shows on her face. She likes Ray. She's jealous of Ani. But she's here to help.

How does Felicia, the woman with the scarred face, know Frank and Ray, Ani wants to know.

"The man that hurt me, years ago. Ray took care of him. Put him in prison, I mean. Disabled wing. Frank gave me the money to buy this place. Never asked for it back. How do you know Ray?"

"Well, I guess we saved each other's lives," she says. And not just literally. They've restored each other's humanity.

Outside the secret rooms, in the public area of the bar, the singer leaves The Black Rose.

Ani and Ray hold hands

Ani and Ray in The Black Rose

Ani and Ray sit in a secret room, talking, sharing a cigarette.

"Tony and Betty. Pitlor. I want him on the record," Ani says. "His files. We can get confessions."

"I've heard enough confessions today."

"We got nothing to run on. And I owe these filth. I owe Woodrugh."


"We got nothing to run on. And I owe these filth. I owe Woodrugh."

Once again, Ray made a decision, based on information Frank provided him. And people will wind up dead, just like the framed rapist did more than a decade ago. Except this time, Ray's explaining to the woman he cares about beforehand.

"Would you run, now, if I asked, would you?" Ani asks.

"I might. I just might."

They hold hands.

Frank and Ray, driving

Frank and Ray drive silently to the location of the meeting that Frank learned about from Blake. McCandless and Osip and others will finalize the land deal. There will be tons of cash there.

Ani and Pitlor in his office

Ani visits Pitlor's clinic. She finds him dead in his office. His wrists are slashed, and all his files are gone. It's been made to look like a suicide, just like the late Mayor Chessani.

Pitlor, dead

Frank, Ray, McCandless, Osip and others at a cabin in the woods

Frank and Ray arrive in secret at the cabin in the woods. They sneak up, weapons drawn, the weapons Frank procured.

They kill three guards immediately with silenced weapons. They launch canisters of gas through the windows. People file out through the bottleneck of the cabin door. Frank and Ray kill everyone who tries to leave.

They enter the smoky cabin wearing gas masks. People are coughing, choking on the fumes.

McCandless is there, crawling on the ground. He looks up. Frank shoots him dead.

More shooting. More coughing.

Osip, begging for his life "I saved you, Frank. You're like my son."

Osip. Osip is there. Osip who screwed Frank and plotted behind his back before this season began. Osip who took ok over all of Frank's businesses. Osip looks up. Frank slips his gas mask off so Osip can see his face.

"Guess I was wrong," Frank says, referring to the phone call they had earlier. "It was today."

"Old times, Frank. I saved you. You're like my son."

That was the wrong tactic. Frank isn't so big into fathers.

Even though he's holding an assault rifle. Frank takes out a pistol and shoots Osip once in the head. Then he empties the clip into his corpse.

The only two survivors are Frank and Ray.

There are millions and millions of dollars in stacks of hundreds everywhere.

They load it into duffel bags, get into a Land Rover and drive back to their cars.

Frank and Ray at their cars

Frank and Ray say goodbye.

"See you down south," Frank says.

"Yeah," Ray says and nods, maybe a little too much.

"You're going right? Right?"

"Thinking about your boy? Now you can send him to Yale."

"That's the plan."

"Thinking about your boy?" Frank asks Ray, who nods. "Now you can send him to Yale."


Frank's not wrong, but Venezuela is a long way from the son he loves and may never see again.

"You taking the boat?" Ray asks.

"I made other arrangements, but I'll be there."

They shake hands. Look each other in the eye. It is as tender as their friendship gets, and that means something. The two tough guys don't hug it out. They don't thank each other. They use look into their old friend's eyes and know.

Frank torches the Land Rover. They both drive away in their cars.

Ani and Felicia at The Black Rose, Ray in his car

"They suicided Pitlor," Ani says to Ray on the phone. "Loose ends."

"Fuck it," Ray says. He's driving to the bar. He says he's on his way. They're smiling. It's unusual. It's happy. For the first time this season, Ani and Ray are genuinely happy.

They flirt. It's cute. They damn near say the love each other. They stop short, but they both know what they were thinking.

Ani gets off the phone and tells Felicia that Ray will be there shortly. Felicia is, well, sad. She liked Ray, but she knows that Ani won his heart. She hands Ani a box of hair dye.

Frank in a hotel, at the jewelers

Frank packs his money in a suitcase. He visits the Hasidic jeweler and takes $3.5 million in diamonds.

The hasidic jewler

Ray driving

Ray drives down the freeway. He looks at a picture of his son. He gets off the freeway.

Frank and the Armenian pastry guys

Frank visits the men who own the pastry shop, the Armenians he first visited to come up with a … business arrangement after he took The Lux over again. They got him the weapons he and Ray just used, too. He hands them a bag full of cash.

They give him a passport. They try to extort him, implying they might tell the Russians of his whereabouts. He offers them another $500,000 "when I'm where I need to be." They nod.

They give him the car he said he wanted. They shake hands. "Safe travels," they say.

He gets into an Audi and leaves, ready to disappear.

Chad with his grandfather's badge

Ray at Chad's school

Ray stands outside a chainlink fence overlooking a schoolyard. He's spying. He's looking for Chad. He's sniffling. He doesn't see him.

A black SUV pulls up to where Ray parked his car, but he doesn't see it.

He sees Chad, sitting at a table playing a board game. Chad has Eddie Velcoro's badge with him. Chad has friends. He's not being bullied. He's OK.

Chad looks up and sees his dad.

Ray salutes. Chad salutes. He smiles at his dad. They both know this is goodbye.

"Yeah, yeah alright," Ray says to himself as he walks back to his car high off the moment he just shared.

Ray's car is sitting on a puddle, and he notices something on the ground, a reflected red light. He gets down on his knees to look closer It's a trap, and he knows it. He grabs a knife to cut the device underneath his car off. But he stops.

He gets up, looks around, lights a cigarette. He leans on the car, looks around some more. He gets in the car. Turns it on. Starts driving.

The reflected red light of the tracking device on Ray's car

The SUV hauls ass and turns a corner to follow.

Frank driving

Frank sits at a red light behind a Cadillac. A truck pulls up behind him.

Frank looks at the Cadillac and then in rear view mirror at the truck. He realizes gels pinned in. He reaches down to retrieve the gun tucked in by his socks, but before he can, someone smashes his driver's side window to rubble.

Frank, kidnapped at gunpoint

It's the Mexicans, the Santa Muerte gang. They grab Frank, drag him into a truck, and two men hold guns to his neck.

"Why?" he asks.

No answer.

Frank says he's not going to make it

Ani and Felicia in The Black Rose, Ray in his car

Ani emerges from the bathroom in The Black Rose with short black hair. Her phone rings. It's Ray.

"I'm going to be late," he says. "Get on that boat."

He is firm. She says no, that he needs to get to the bar. That was the plan.

"I just wanted — I thought we had time. I just wanted to see my boy again."

"I just wanted — I thought we had time. I just wanted to see my boy again. There's a transponder on my car. Maybe they were watching from his school. I don't know."

"Dump it. Come on, get rid of it. Put it on a truck headed north. Come, on — shit, Ray!"

"I can't. They could have already been watching, see? And if they got eyes on me, it won't matter what I do with the tracker. I'd just lead them to you. You understand?"

"So what are, what are —" Ani manages Ina near panic.

"Just get on the boat! Just take the files, take the recordings and get on that boat. Look: I'll ditch the car in a parking garage. I'll jack another one. I'll be right on your heels."

"Then I'll wait."

Ani on the phone with ray, crying

"You stick to the plan. Please. Please get onto the boat. Trust me. I can lose these assholes with a tricycle."


"Yeah. Listen, let me talk to Felicia. Please. Alright? Just for second."

"I'm going to talk to you again, right? We're gonna see each other again?"

"I don't care if you have to tie her up, you make sure she gets out. You get her out."

"Are you kidding? You're going to need a restraining order."

"No, no I won't."

"OK," Ani says and hands the phone to Felicia.

"I'm not going to make it," Ray says. He says not to ask and to listen. She owes him, right? And she does, we know, because she told Ani earlier that Ray put the man who scarred her into a disabled wing. It's time for Ray to cash that in.

"I don't care if you have to tie her up, you make sure she gets out. You get her out."

"OK. I promise."

This is Ray's last stand, his decency shining through. He's sacrificing himself so that Ani can live.

Ani asks what he says. "To make sure you get on that boat."

Ray continues to drive.

Frank and the Santa Muerte gang in the desert

Frank and the Santa Muerte gang in the desert

Two cars and a truck meet an SUV parked in the middle of the desert. It's more Santa Muerte.

Out of the back of the SUV comes the guy from a few episodes ago, the one who appeared in The Lux demanding a business arrangement, the one who provided Irina Rulfo and then killed her — and his partner, who Frank once called the Cisco Kid.

"You? What the fuck is this?" Frank asks.

No answer.

Ray records a voice recording for Chad

Ray in his car

Ray drives up the highway, pulls out his phone and starts talking. He's leaving a voice recording for Chad, as he does. As always, he is his best self on these recordings. He is a good father. He's apologizing.

"A turn here, a turn there, and it goes on for years," Ray says. "Becomes something else. I'm sorry, you know, the man I became, the father I was. I hope you got the strength to learn from that. And I hope you got no doubts how much I love you, son."

Ray looks in his rearview mirror and sees the black SUV following him.

"You're better than me. If I had been stronger, I would've been more like you. Hell, son, if everyone was stronger, they'd be more like you."

He hangs up the phone and continues to drive, leading everyone away from Ani.

Ray's gas tank reads empty.

Ani and Felicia on a bus, on a boat

Any and Felicia get off of a bus at a dock and board a boat. Felicia gives the man taking tickets a knowing glance.

Frank and the Santa Muerte gang in the desert

"We made a deal," the leader of the gang tells Frank, answering the question Frank posed earlier. And he's right. Frank made a very favorable deal with them a few episodes ago. That's how bad he wanted to talk to Irina Rulfo, who he believed could lead him to the hard drive Catalast Group's Jacob McCandless wanted him to find. They put him in contact with her, and he promised to let them run their drugs through his clubs.

But Frank torched The Lux on his way out to screw Osip. And now the Santa Muerte gang has no deal.

frank santa muerte leader The Santa Muerte gang leader

Frank puts the blame for the fires on the Armenians and the Russians. The Santa Muerte leader wants to know where the Armenians get their supplies — the guns get got from them, for example. They known an awful lot, and it's not clear how.

Frank's a quick thinker with a temper to rival his quickness. He delayed his trip to Venezuela to prepare documents, change cash into diamonds and be generally smart about his exit. Now, at just the moment he needs it, he has leverage.

"You want to get square?" he asks the leader. "There's a flat million in the suitcase. That's my trade."


Ray races his car up a dirt road. It is the very same dirt road we saw every week at the very end of the title sequence, in the middle of a redwood forest. He's breathing heavily. His gas tank reads lower than empty. He's trying to upload the voice message he recorded to his son, Chad.

He pulls off the road, stops his car, grabs the duffle bag full of millions. He trips over it, cash files out. He leaves it and runs into the forest.

Ani and Felicia at the dock

Ani and Felicia board a boat. The man taking the tickets gives Felicia a knowing glance.

Frank and the Santa Muerte gang in the desert

A Santa Muerte gang opens Frank's suitcase, verifies that the cash is in there and nods to the gang leader.

"We're square then, our business?" Frank asks.

"That'll buy you something," the leader says and the entire gang starts getting into their cars.

"A million dollars doesn't buy me a ride into town?" Frank asks.

A gang member, speaking Spanish, tells the leader that he wants Frank's suit. The leader relays the message.

Frank gets stabbed

To be clear: Their plan is to leave Frank in the desert to die, naked. But what choice does he have?

The man who wants his suit approaches. "You want my suit? Alright. I didn't even wear a suit until I was 38."

Frank attacks the man, hitting him in the face and tackles him. A member of the Santa Muerte gang runs up to Frank, stabs him in the side and twists the knife.

"We made a nice bed for you," the leader says. "Lie down, Frank."

They leave. Frank, in excruciating pain, stands up.

"It's OK," he says. "It's OK."

Limping, clutching his blood red side, Frank starts walking into flat miles of desert hardpan.


Ray runs through the forest among the sequoias. Five armed men pursue him, including Burris, whose left arm is in a sling because Ani shot him.

And if they're here in the woods chasing him, then they're not chasing Ani. Ray's plan is working.

Ray, panting and exhausted, takes cover behind a redwood and then runs again. They're gaining on him.

Ray takes cover behind a redwood

Ani and Felicia on the boat

Ani is on the boat with Felicia. She looks over the bow as it pulls away from the dock.

Ani and Felicia on the boat


Frank continues to walk. He's crying out in pain from his stab wound, but he carries a look of angry determination on his face.

He starts hallucinating.

"I don't know, boy," says his father — the drunk, the man who once locked him in a basement full of rats when he was a small boy. "I don't think them other kids like you. I don't think anybody does. Who the fuck wants some lanky loudmouth pissing in their ear, huh? Your mother sure didn't. That's what made her sick. Your fucking whining. That's why she's gone."

Frank and his father in the desert

"Shut up!" Frank yells through gritted teeth. "Shut the fuck up!"

"Faggot. Scared of the dark. Yeah, I never loved you."

"I never asked you to," Frank says in a near whisper. "Shut up. Shut the fuck up."

Ray and his pursuers in the redwood forest

As Ray hides behind another redwood, his pursuers have spread out.

"Still got time, Ray," Burris yells into the vastness of the forest. "Where's the papers? Where's the woman?"

One of his pursuers approaches the tree Ray's hiding behind. Ray pops out of cover, fires several times, hits him in the head, killing him. He runs and manages to kill a second pursuer. He's out of pistol ammo. He's only got a shotgun.

He runs, ducking gunfire and hides behind another enormous redwood.

Ani and Felicia on the boat

Ani, with short black hair, continues to stare over the side of the boat. Its name? The Great Escape.

The great escape boat

Frank in the desert

Frank limps through the desert, bleeding and hallucinating about the worst things in his life.

Frank and his former black bullies

He sees a group of black men taunting him for being a "gawky motherfucker." They're dresses like RUN DMC, they reference Larry Bird, so it's a memory of his from the '80s. They told him they'd mess him up if he came around again.

"Stop and lie down, you dumb motherfucker," one says.

"Fuck you," he says. "I never lie down."

Ray and his pursuers in the redwood forest

They're closing in on him, and Ray knows that he's running out of time. He gets his phone out of his pocket to send the message to Chad. He sets it down next to a redwood.

He looks up. Stares at the enormity of the redwoods. He's so small, just like his father told him he was in episode four's dream sequence. He listens to his pursuers as he catches his breath.

It is one last piece of precognition. Ray sees the future one last time. He looks up, and he's taken aback. He sees the last thing he'll ever see.

Ray looks up at the redwoods

"Last time, Ray," Burris yells. "Let me help you. Bezzerides. Where is she?"

"In a better place!" Ray says to himself. This is his plan. He's saving her.

Ray jumps out from his hiding place behind the tree, shotgun in hand, but he's not fast enough. Shot after shot after shot fills him with lead. He dies instantly, looking up at the redwoods.

Ray Velcoro, dead in the redwood forest

Ani and Felicia on the boat

Ani stares at the water rolling by, at the shore in the distance. The moment Ray dies, she seems to know it. She gets faint.

Ani, overcome at the moment of Ray's death

Burris and Ray in the forest

Burris approaches Ray's corpse

Burris approaches Ray's corpse.

Behind them, we see Ray's phone, which reads "Failed to Upload Recording to chadvelcoro@gmail.com."

It is 3:21 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20, 2016.

Ray's phone, showing a message that failed to send

Ani and Felicia on the boat

Ani is Crying. As she looks back to the land, she knows.

Frank, a man in a suit and Jordan in the desert.

Frank walks through the desert

Frank's next hallucination deals with the bad things he did — and explains how he coped with them.

A man in suit, his face bloodied, kneels on both knees.

"Please, Frank," the man says. "They don't have to do this. Tell them. Tell them I'll make it up. I got stupid. Frank, you could let me go. They'll never know. Please."

"It's not me," Frank says. "I didn't put you here." Frank never so much as glances at this apparition.

Frank walks by the man in the suit

"But you could get me out. Please, Frank. I got a family."

"It isn't me," Frank says. And that's how he lived his life. In his mind, Frank did thing that he had to do — things that were going to happen anyway. Dealing drugs, running prostitutes, killing people: It was all going to happen anyway. He didn't have to like it. He just accepted it as part of human nature. Though he played a part in all of it, he did so believing, sincerely, that he was only doing things that would be done anyway, so he figured he might as well make a profit off of it.

"It's not me. I didn't put you here."

But he never took part in it himself. Frank always saw himself as a reluctant participant. An opportunist. The man about to die did it to himself. Now he has to face the consequences. It's not Frank's role to save the man. It's his role to do his job, to carry out the consequences of the man's actions. The man made his bed. Now he has to lie in it.

So does Frank.

Carrion birds, vultures, have already landed behind frank, attracted by his long blood trail.

Frank nearly falls. His vision is getting blurry. But he recovers and keeps walking. Or at least, that's what he believes.

"Hey, there, handsome," he hears Jordan say. He looks around, confused. Then he sees her, stand there in front of him. She's in the white dress they spoke of earlier, the one he's use to identify her in Venezuela.

Frank sees Jordan in her white dress

"You made it," he says. "You OK?" He has a little smile on his face.

"I did. I'm fine. I'm safe."

"I'm coming. Hold on." He grunts and limps to close the distance between them.

"What's a guy like you doing in s place like this?"

"What's a guy like you doing in s place like this?" Jordan asks. And that's a question Frank could have asked himself. Because that's who Frank is. He's a good man with a good heart who does bad things.

Suddenly, Frank is walking fine. He's walking just fine.

"Just making my way, baby," Frank says. He smiles as he approaches it. "I told you," he says with confidence. " I'd make it."

"You did," Jordan says, smiling. She's proud of him. "You made it. You can rest now." She's celebrating him.

Jordan looks sad

"No rest," Frank says and shakes his head gently. "Never stop moving."

"Babe," Jordan says. "Oh, babe. You stopped moving way back there."

Frank furrows his brow. His lower lip quivers with fear. He glances at Jordan, then over his shoulder, then back at his wife. He turns around to see his body lying motionless on the hardpan, behind it a long trail of blood. He turns around, and Jordan is gone. There is nothing but desert all around him.

Standing, he breaths heavily, half out of anger, half out of sadness. His consciousness, the only part of Frank Semyon still kicking, projecting itself into the desert, collapses. He dies.

Frank, dead and alone in the desert

The aftermath: Ani, Eddie Velcoro, Jordan and Nails

Eddie Velcoro

Eddie Velcoro shits on his couch, booze and pot at his side, watching TV, just as he was when Ray visited him in episode four. He watches a TV news report that confirms that the bad guys won. Ray died as the chief suspect in Davis and Woodrugh's murder.


Ray's ex-wife, Gena, opens up the paternity test. It confirms that Ray was, in fact, Chad Velcoro-Brune's biological father. She begins to weep as she looks at pictures of a younger, happier, better Raymond Velcoro. Pictures show them young and in love. Pictures show him as a young father, sleeping with Chad as an infant sleeping on him. This is the good man Ray used to be, the man he managed to be agains at the end of his life, though Gena wouldn't know that.

She throws the pictures and the paternity test in a plastic bin and puts a lid on it.

Emily and Cynthia and the baby

Paul's fiancee and mother attend the dedication of the CHP Officer Paul C. Woodrugh memorial Highway. Emily holds Paul's baby.

Mayor Anthony Chessani

Anthony Chessani is sworn in as the mayor of Vinci. Burris is there. So is the former mayor's right-hand man, Ernst.

And, most importantly, standing just behind Ernst are the men who killed Frank: The head of the Santa Muerte gang and his right-hand man, who Frank once called the Cisco Kid.

Governor Geldof breaking ground

The California High-speed rail authority breaks ground in the California wilderness. Governor Geldof is there to shake hands and have photo opportunities. There's a sign for Catalast Group in the background.

True Detective season two's final scenes pick up more than a year later, as Ani tells its story to South American reporter.

The evidence

"A lot of the rest was in the papers over the next year," Any says, "if you know where to look. These facts were paid for in blood, so honor that. I don't know if it'll make any difference, but it should because we deserve a better world."

The tagline for True Detective season two is "We get the world we deserve."

"And I owe him that," Ani says. "And I owe his sons that."

She motions to he hotel room's bed, on which reams of paper sit.

"Anyways," Ani says, choking back tears. "This is evidence. Most of it's here. Some of it's not. The truth. It's naked larceny, open murder and cascading betrayals." She moves to leave.

"Come with me," the reporters says. "Testify. I can bring this to the Times."

"It's your story now," she says. "I told it."

"But wait, there's—" he says, but Ani interrupts him.

"Stay here," she says, snapping right back into tough cop mode. "Don't leave this room until I've been gone for an hour. Understand?"

He nods.

Ani leaves.

Jordan Semyon and a baby

In another hotel room. Jordan Semyon soothes a baby. Ani arrives and nods as if to say, "It's done." Jordan smiles.

"He's restless," Jordan says of the baby and hands him to Ani.

"Long trip ahead," Ani says. She puts the baby in a sling. It's Ani's son. And Ray's son.

Ani puts her knife in her boot. They leave.

The four of them head into the Venezuelan streets. People are celebrating. Lighting sparklers. The crowd laughs, dances, celebrates. It is likely carnival, a festival celebrated before Lent begins every year. Lent, it's important to note, precedes Easter. And Easter is about Jesus' resurrection. It's about Jesus dying to absolve the world from sin. It's about God, who so loved the world that he gave his only son so that, whoever believes in him won't have to perish, but will have eternal life. It's Jesus Christ giving his life so that others may live.

It is about our ultimate victory over death.

True Detective season two ends during Lent, with the hope of victory.

Music swells, sung as always by the unnamed woman who played The Black Rose. She sings, this time with a full band:

Lately, words are missing form now on
Vanished in the haze of love gone wrong
There's no future, there's no past
In the present, nothing lasts
Lately, someone's missing from now on

Lately, I'm not feeling like myself
When I look into the glass, I see someone else
I hardly recognize this face I wear
When I stare into her eyes, I see no one there
Lately, I'm not feeling like myself

The mystery that no one knows
Where does love go when it goes?
The mystery that no one knows
Where does love go when it goes?

Ani, the baby and Jordan disappear into the Venezuelan carnival crowd, past hoisted statues of the Virgin Mary.

Nails watches from the shadows. He follows, protecting them. He is Frank's last loyal man, his final gift to Jordan, the love of his life.

People celebrate in the streets in the final shot of episode eight and True Detective season two The final shot of episode eight and True Detective season two

Time well spent

Many tens of thousands of words ago, I began this watchthrough with a goal and a theory. My goal was to help viewers, myself included, understand True Detective season two, which I found inordinately confusing. My theory was that making sense of the confusion would also help us predict the future.

My theory was, I'm happy to report, largely true. The devil was often in the details, and I think it was worth the effort to chronicle the show and connect its dots. It was fun to discover the little details, hidden and unstated but there to find. I enjoyed season two much more because I did this.

But close examination wasn't a foolproof method. There was misdirection. When I hazarded a few guesses, I sometimes guessed wrong. I owe an apology to Eddie Velcoro, who I speculated might be the man in the mask.

Ultimately, season two's most intriguing mystery — the identity of the person in the raven's mask who killed Ben Caspere and shot Ray — was, I think it's fair to say, impossible to know before episode six. When Paul visited a retired LAPD officer, we learned of the Sable Fine Jewelers robbery and the children, Laura and Leonard, who were left orphaned after the blue diamond heist. Even then, it would've been speculation. By episode seven, it became clearer.

Then again, we met Leonard way back in episode three, when he spoke to Ray on the set of the movie filming in Vinci. Here's the entirety of what I wrote about him, the set photographer, at the time:

Ray talks to the set photographer. Asks about Caspere. He's seen him. Said he heard Daisun, the director, and he partied together. Said he was at a party with a bunch of … "pussy."

I watched the scene again, knowing what I know now. It is less than a minute long. There is nothing to get there. His sister is there, too. Their scenes are miniscule. But I'll be damned if the writers don't hint at what's to come. Press play to watch a precious few seconds below in which, weeks before we had even a whiff of their actions, Laura and Leonard meet on the movie set. You can watch it by pressing play below.

But the truth is that Ben Caspere's murderer wasn't all that important. It certainly looked important. It seemed important. But, in truth, it was little more than a MacGuffin, a plot device that put the characters and the story into motion. Alfred Hitchcock is usually credited with coining the terms. Here's how he described it:

"It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'Oh, that's a MacGuffin.' The first one asks, 'What's a MacGuffin?' 'Well,' the other man says, 'it's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.' The first man says, 'But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers, 'Well then, that's no MacGuffin!' So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all."

In other words, it's something of relatively minor importance that gets the action going.

Ben Caspere's murder was the inciting incident. It set the show in motion. It brought most of the main characters together. But it wasn't the point of the show.

Eliot, lecturing at Panticapaeum "You see only truth."

Love in a meaningless universe

If True Detective season two isn't about Ben Caspere's murder, and it isn't really a cop show as much as it is a show with cops, then what is it about? As far as I can tell: Love in a meaningless universe.

We learned about this way back in episode one, "The Western Book of the Dead," from Ani's father, Eliot. They are estranged, Ani and Eliot, but Vera the missing sister brings her to The Panticapaeum Institute, the commune he now runs.

She arrives as he's lecturing to a group of fellow travelers. He doesn't know she's there. Here's what he says:

I was told something a long time ago. Let me share it with you. When you see only with God's eyes, you see only the truth. And you recognize a meaningless universe. Ginsberg said this to me once, and it was a gift. So, today's exercise is to recognize the world as meaningless — and to understand that God did not create a meaningless world. Hold both thoughts as irrefutable and equal. Because this is how we must live now, in the final age of man.

It is a philosophical conundrum that we must all answer for ourselves. If you believe in God or a higher power, however you define that, then the universe ultimately has meaning, imbued through the divine order. If you don't, then the universe is ultimately meaningless, a collection of happy evolutionary accidents that led to human beings, and it's up to you to apply meaning — which is, ultimately, a human construct.

This is about as close as we get to the divine in season two. Nobody goes to church on Sunday or temple on Saturday. I think it's safe to say our main characters are all irreligious at best. The closest we get to any sort of religiosity is Eliot, and he's presented as new age and, well, a little off.

Each character has a moral code, even if it's not given through more traditional means. At a few points, characters talk about a natural and law. That's more philosophy, and you can define it in a couple of ways: as emanating from the divine or from a generally understood code of ethics, absent the divine.

From a religious perspective, The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines moral like this:

The moral law is the work of divine Wisdom. Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God's pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it proscribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love.

Natural law, from a secular perspective, is more about the laws of nature, focusing more on personal choice within the context of cultural norms. It can be, as Webster's New World College Dictionary defines is under its "natural law" synonym, the "rules of conduct supposedly inherent in the relations between human beings and discoverable by reason; law based upon an assumed innate moral sense" or "a law of nature."

How you define natural or moral law and where comes from is less important than their common core: They exist outside of us.

Either way you define it, moral law doesn't have to be codified in a legal document. It may be, and there are certainly examples of laws on the books that grow out of moral law concepts, but it doesn't have to be.

Natural law makes itself known most explicitly in the context of Ray Velcoro, who once killed a man he believed raped his wife. The revenge he took was was, by any written legal definition, illegal. But he justifies is by saying he had a right to do it.

He and his ex-wife, Gena, discuss it in episode two. They're arguing about their son, Chad, and Gena says that the boy gets nervous around Ray. She wants sole custody.

"He needs me, alright?" Ray says "Even if he doesn't know it. And if he gets anxious, it's probably because he knows he's going to have to listen to his mom talk shit about his dad."

"You're bad, Ray," Gena says. "You're a bad person, and you're bad for my son."

"Don't say that," Ray says. "You know me. We had something and — and what I done for you. Things started to slip away from me."

"No, you didn't do that for me, Ray. Don't you dare say that you did that for me."

"I had a right by any natural law," Ray says. "I had a right."

This is a reason, to be clear, why we have a system of laws that exist separate from natural and moral law. We create processes to temper passions.

And if there is no divine, then Ray can do whatever he wants without fear of ultimate retribution. The only thing he has to keep from doing is getting caught.

The upshot, though, is that even if Ray was right from a natural law perspective, murdering that man ruined his life. At different points in the season, Ani and Frank both say that they think Ray was in the right. It still ruined his life, still started him down the path where he believed he was worthless and began acting like it.

The lone exception to his miserable life is Chad, his son. And boy does he ever try to be a good father. Unfortunately for Ray, killing the man he believed to be Gena's rapist infected every bit of his life from there on out.

So, from the perspective of characters who may see the universe and life as ultimately meaningless, each creates meaning for themselves. And they do that with love. It's about human beings applying meaning to the world with love. Sometimes that's kids. Family. Sometimes it's supposed to be those things, but t's not.

Ray loved his son. Ani repelled love until the very end, when she fell in love with Ray, let herself feel for her family, fell in love with her son. Paul rejected the love he found and attempted to love those he wasn't attracted to. Frank loved Jordan. Sometimes they loved, and it didn't work out. Sometimes, they push love away from a sense of self-loathing.

In every instance, though, the underlying assumption is that love is the answer. It's just messy.

If I'm right, then it makes Pizzolatto's previous comments more meaningful. Here's a quote from his Vanity Fair interview that I mentioned in the combined watchthrough for episodes two and three.

Think about everything and everyone you know from season two when you read this:

"The forced intimacy of two people sharing a car, the intimacy of connections you don't get to decide. I write best about people whose souls are on the line. Whatever we mean when we use that word. I certainly don't use it in a religious sense. But the essence of who you are — that's on the line. At its simplest level, everything I've ever written about, including this and season one, is about love. We transpose meaning onto a possibly meaningless universe because meaning is personal. And that question of meaning or meaninglessness really becomes a question of: What do you love? Nothing? Then you've got a good shot at a meaningless existence. But if you love something—how do you love within the necessities of life and the roles you have to play? I can see that that's been one of the defining questions of my adult life and work: How do you love adequately?"

True Detective season two is about love in a meaningless universe.

Ray Velcoro

True Detective season two postmortem

There is so much to talk about that it's almost overwhelming. But there's no way to due True Detective season two justice without reflecting back on what we've seen, what happened and what it all means. We did the work. Now let's see what we learned.

Everything with purpose, including death

Three-fourths of the main characters didn't survive True Detective season two. Frank Semyon, Paul Woodrugh and Ray Velcoro are dead. That is depressing, if not surprising.

But here's what you should understand, above all else: Nic Pizzolatto gave every one of those deaths meaning. Better: That meaning exists only in relation to other people, only in relation to love. Their deaths, willing or not, were sacrificial. They happened in the context of helping others, people they cared about, people they loved.

Paul Woodrugh died in the line of duty, shot in the back by Lieutenant Kevin Burris. When Ani and Ray learn of it, they make it explicit. Paul already saved their lives twice. His death at the hands of Burris made it three times. And the people he died to save know it.

Frank Semyon died being the man he wanted to be, the many who never gave up. . Of course he didn't make it in the literal sense. He dies in the desert alone. But he did make it out. He made his way out of the life of crime. He accomplished his goal.

Ray Velcoro, who was once a good man, then a bad man, dies a good man.

"I see you," the dream version of Eddie Velcoro tells Ray, "running through the trees. You're small. The trees are like giants. Men are chasing you."

"I'm right here," Ray says.

"You step out of the trees. You ain't that fast. Oh, son, they kill you. They shoot you to pieces."

Love über alles

True Detective season two is about love over and above everything else.

I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but hear me out, and consider this: Love is the only thing that ever turned bad into good.

"A good woman mitigates our baser tendencies," Frank tells Ray in episode one, "The Western Book of the Dead." We learn that he's speaking from experience. His wife, Jordan, is his inspiration for wanting out of a life of crime, for going straight. As the season unfurls, as his situation gets worse and as Frank devolves into ruthlessness, Jordan becomes his savior. As he's pushing people away, she pulls him close to her. Jordan, in short, mitigates his baser tendencies.

Ray bets his entire life on his son, but it's too much for Chad to handle. And so, at his lowest point, he declares himself irredeemable and gives a gift to his ex-wife and son: His absence. He can accept the probability that their lives would be better off without him. But that doesn't really change him. Ray doesn't really change until the final episode, when, for the first time in years, he allows himself to feel for another person. He allows himself to fall in love with Ani. And in doing so, he reconnects with Chad. In doing so, it gives his death meaning. He dies to protect Ani, who mitigated his baser tendencies.

Ani spent nearly her entire life preparing for another man to try to take advantage of her. She, by her own admittance, put herself into situations where that could happen. It finally did at the party, and she proved that she was no longer helpless. But that didn't immediately change her. Validation wasn't transformation, but it showed the path there. She made peace with her sister, made peace with her father. She was even tender with them, a monumental change for someone so deliberately standoffish. She spoke of the molestation with her father, not because she had to but because she wanted to. In that moment, he stopped preaching and started apologizing. At the end of episode seven, she reverted to her closed self. But by episode eight, just a few hours later, she came clean to Ray. She confessed to the man she'd fallen in love with and saw a future where that didn't define her. Ray, in short, mitigated her baser tendencies.

Paul never got the chance to redeem himself. He saw a future that he believed could have. But he died before getting there. Paul's death is the most tragic, in this sense. He live may have been, too. He was a good man, a loyal friend and a valiant warrior. But he never accepted himself for who he was. And the part he disliked most about himself, his same-sex desires, ultimately led to his death. But he did not die in vain. He died in the service of his friends. Paul Woodrugh died a savior.

Fear is the enemy of love, the opposite of love. It leads to introversion. It is the manifestation of self-hate. It's obvious why one should turn away from it.

But love is difficult, too. Just as Conway Twitty told us as his song played at the beginning of episode four, as Ray, shot and unconscious, laid wounded in Caspere's secret house.

Some say love, it is a river
And that it drowns the tender reed
And some say love, it's like a razor
And that it leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, it's only seed

It's a heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's a dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who can not seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In spring becomes the rose

I think, ultimately, everyone got to see the rose bloom. Everyone got that chance, and there is comfort in that.

Title card

The whole conspiracy, chronologically

True Detective season two is a complex web of conspiracies, false leads, dead ends, varied locations and bizarre characters. Now that it's all over, it's possible to weave them together into a single, cohesive narrative. And unlike the way in which the information puffed out in fits and spurts, we can organize the events with more linearity to better understand them.

The events of season two take place in three major chronological divisions:

We'll explain each in turn.

Season two part zero:
before it begins

To understand True *Detective season two, you need to what happened before the first frame of the show began playing. There's a lot of that. Many of these events don't have specific dates associated with them, but to keep it all straight, we'll subdivide the past into four sections, separated by decades.

The 1980s

In the early 1980s, the future mayor of Vinci, California, Austin Chessani, and a future psychiatrist and plastic surgeon, Irving Pitlor, palled around on a commune run by Eliot Bezzerides. The group was known as "The Good People."

Eliot, who practices a New Age version of Eastern spirituality, oversaw the commune and raised his two daughters, Antigone and Athena, there. His wife and the girls' mother died under mysterious circumstances involving a river. Eliot did not stop whatever led to her death. Since 1978, he's practiced a policy of non-interference in others' lives. That applies not only the people who visited the commune but his own family.

Antigone, Ani for short, was molested as a young girl by a man who entered the commune's porous borders. She spent four days with him in what she remembers as a cave. She has an immense sense of guilt surrounding the event because one of the few things that she remembers about it is that the man didn't have to convince her to come with him into his Volkswagen minibus. She went willingly, defiantly, proud that he called her pretty.

Sometime during this decade, Cynthia Woodrugh, an unspecified kind of dancer (possibly exotic), has a son, Paul. She does not know who the father is. It is possible that the pregnancy stemmed from a one-night stand, a rape or prostitution. Her relationship with her son blurs the line between motherly and inappropriately sexual.

The 1990s

In the early '90s, Kevin Burris and Teague Dixon were Los Angeles police offers working under William Holloway. Ben Caspere was an Internal Affairs auditor in the same division, too.

Caspere has an affair with Margaret Osterman, who owns Sable Fine Jewelers with her husband, Leonard. The affair produced a child, Laura. As an adult, Laura remembers Caspere visiting her mother, though she doesn't know who Caspere is or what his relationship is with her mother. The affair lasted for years, and Margaret became pregnant with a second child. When Caspere tried to break it off, Margaret threatened him with the knowledge she had about his nefarious activities.

In 1992, in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, there were large scale riots in Los Angeles. They lasted from April 29 through May 4.

Laura and Leonard as children Laura and Leonard Osterman

On April 30, 1992, during the riots, there was a robbery at Sable Fine Jewelers. The criminals executed the store owners, Margaret and Leonard Osterman, while their two children, Laura and Leonard, hid. The murdering thieves took the security tape and escaped with four rare blue diamonds worth $2.5 million. Shortly thereafter, the store was looted, destroying any crime scene integrity and any chance of solving the case.

Two investigators were assigned to the case, officers Johnson and Brown. In the wake of the riots, the LAPD was swamped. Officers couldn't handle the sheer number of cases coming across their desks. If one didn't wrap up quickly, the cops in charge moved on to the next thing. It was triage born of necessity and overload, and the Sable Fine Jewelers was a victim of this triage.

Laura and Leonard, the orphaned children, were split up. Laura got a foster family. Leonard entered a group home. They lost touch.

Burris, Dixon and Holloway were behind the robbery and murder. Caspere helped them cover it up and acquired the diamonds, which he kept in a safety deposit box as leverage over the other three.

Sometime after ‘92, the four corrupt public servants moved from LA to a tiny, corrupt suburb called Vinci, using the diamonds as their buy-in. Vinci has only about 100 residents, but tens of thousands of people move in and out of the city every day for work, many of them in the country illegally. Despite its size, which is only a few square miles, Vinci is the state's leading producer of industrial waste.

Mayor Austin Chessani Mayor Austin Chessani

Vinci is under the control of a political dynasty. Mayor Austin Chessani is the current, unchallenged ruler. Caspere negotiated the four corrupt officials' move to Vinci using the diamonds as a buy-in.

Chessani's first wife and the mother of his children, Betty and Tony, dies at an unknown date. She was schizophrenic and, at the time of her death, under the care of Dr. Pitlor.

Holloway became Chief of Vinci PD. Burris became Lieutenant. Dixon floated down the lazy river as a cop. To protect himself, he made it his mission to collect incriminating evidence on, well, everyone of importance he came in contact with. Caspere became Vinci's city manager. For the next two decades, they operated out of Vinci, enriching themselves, being general scum.

Ani leaves the commune, becomes estranged from her family and eventually becomes a law enforcement officer. One night, she has an affair with her partner, Elvis Ilinca.

Cynthia Woodrugh raises her son, Paul, alone. She know from a young age that her son is gay, even though Paul dates women. She also may have been inappropriately sexual with him, up to and including molestation. Paul denies his homosexual impulses.

The 2000s

In about 2003, Ray Velcoro was a Los Angeles County sheriff married to a woman, Gena. His father, Eddie, was a cop, too.

Around that time, Gena was assaulted and raped by a serial rapist, though nobody knows his identity at the time.

A young Ray Velcoro

Sometime after the rape, Frank Semyon, a man Ray didn't know, approached him with the name, location and a photograph of a man who fit the description of the rapist. He said he was doing it out of a sense of fairness.

Frank employs several henchmen: Blake, Ivar, Nails and Stan. At least Blake and Nails were at the meeting with Ray.

Ray murdered the man Frank's source identified, believing that he had a moral right to do so. Frank helped Ray dispose of the body. Thus began Ray's entanglement with Frank, a local club owner and gangster, in which he'd do some dirty work for him.

Blake provided his boss with the information about about the alleged rapist, but the information was wrong, and Blake knew it. He was a meth addict giving Blake grief, and Blake saw an opportunity to take care of a problem and impress his boss. Neither Frank nor Ray knows this or will know it for more than a decade.

Nine months after the rape, Gena gave birth to a son they named Chad. Ray raises him like his own son, but both mother and father suspect that he is not, in fact, Ray's biological son. Their suspicions seem justified, given the timing of his birth. Also, Chad doesn't resemble his father. He's overweight. He has red hair. He's very sensitive. Ray is gruff, dark haired, tough.

Ray's decision to murder the apparent rapist is a pivot point in his life. Once a decent man, he spirals out of control, drinking, doing drugs, doing illegal jobs for Frank. At an unknown point, he leaves the sheriff's office and becomes a Vinci law enforcement officer. He and Gena get divorced. She remarries. Ray's son, Chad, is the only bright spot in his universe. It makes no difference to him whether or not he's his biological son, and he raises him as his own. Chad, however, seems to be somewhere between exceedingly nervous and uncaring around Ray.

Frank meets and marries a woman named Jordan. He is deeply in love with her, and she with him. She is Frank's redeemer. She makes his terrible life before she showed up meaningful.

At some point before season two begins, Frank also owned a club called Lux Infinitum. At an unknown point before season two begins, he divests himself of that and other investments and sells the Lux to an obese Latino man named Santos whose most distinguishing characteristic is his front teeth. They're gold and the spell out FUCK YOU. Likewise, Frank used to offer protection — extortion, mafia style — and sell drugs through the Lux. He also did odd jobs for others, including once getting Mayor Chessani's son out of charges from a hit and run accident that he was in while high on cocaine.

Frank also owns a waste disposal business, Acheron Waste Management. He works with Vinci Mayor Austin Chessani to dispose some portion of Vinci's industrial waste in the California wilderness, on land previously used for mining. The Environmental Protection Agency, unaware of the illegal dumping, condemns the land, presuming that it's been poisoned by the legacy of the mines.

Ani becomes a sheriff deputy.

Laura, the orphaned girl from the jewelry robbery and murder, runs away from her foster family at 16 and becomes a prostitute.

Caspere, at a point unknown, hooks up with Santa Muerte, a Mexican gang that worships a blasphemous folk saint. He adorns his house with a shrine to her.

Anthony Chessani, Mayor Chessani's son, begins plotting against his father, recruiting Burris, Frank's henchmen, Caspere, Holloway, Osip and others — including a local Mexican Santa Muerte gang.

Paul joins the armed forces and fights in the Middle East. There is every indication that he served with distinction and is a valiant warrior. At some point during his deployment, he crosses paths with Black Mountain Security, a private military contractor. At an undisclosed date, Black Mountain is involved in an incident and suspected of killing innocent civilians.

During his deployment, Paul has an affair with Miguel Gilb, who also has ties to Black Mountain. Paul is deeply ashamed of this incident.

In 2006, Vinci PD Lieutenant Kevin Burris arrests Ledo Amarilla, a local drug dealer, meth manufacturer and pimp. He releases Amarilla released after interrogation. He keeps no notes of the arrest. He charges him with nothing. Amarilla becomes a Vinci asset. Amarilla belongs to a group — something like but not quite a gang — called Santa Muerte. Made up of latinos, the group revers a folk saint that is condemned as blasphemous by the Catholic Church, Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte. She is, in True Detective as in the real world, a favorite of criminals.

The 2010s

Paul returns from war with $20,000 in savings. He hides it in a duffel bag in his mom Cynthia's trailer, He becomes a California State Highway Patrolman. He is depressed and confused, about his sexuality and about his place in the world. He was at home on the battlefield. His job as a motorcycle cop brings him peace and gives him something to do. Paul is miserable when alone with his thoughts.

Vinci City Manager Ben Caspere is what you could charitably refer to as a sex addict. His home, a mansion like those enriched from Vinci dealings can afford, is filled with provocative, sexually explicit art and sex toys, many of them depicting fetishes — orgies and the like.

Caspere also had a secret second home in Los Angeles and a luxury car, both of which a company called Catalast Group paid for. The second house is explicitly for sexual escapades. It has soundproof padding on the walls, a sex swing dangling from the ceiling. Several animal masks that can be slipped over a person's head adorn one wall. What looks like an uninteresting door to closet overlooking the room with the sex swing actually contains a two-way mirror. Behind it is a video recorder attached to an encrypted hard drive. It records the perversions in the next room that at least Caspere and Catalast head Jacob McCandless perform there.

Caspere's sexual obsessions don't stop there. He attends private, secret parties with rich and powerful men dressed in tuxedos where they live out their sexual fantasies with European women of vaguely Russian descent. He has a favorite prostitute, Tascha, of Eastern European descent.

Frank's henchman, Blake, appears to have ambition beyond what Frank can satisfy. And in that assessment, he may be right. There's only so far a thug or a henchman can climb in an organization controlled and run by one man. At an unknown point before season two behinds Blake begins working with Tony Chessani and the others to gather the women and organize the parties. He's doing so behind Frank's back as he continues to work for Frank. He provides information about Frank and his plans to his secret partners.

Dr. Pitlor Dr. Pitlor

Caspere, interestingly enough, is ashamed of his sexual desires. This is according to his psychiatrist, Dr. Pitlor, the same doctor who treated Mayor Austin Chessani's wife. He now runs a clinic where he also performs plastic surgery on the legal side of his business.

Vera Machiado gets a job at The Panticapaeum Institute, a commune that Eliot Bezzerides, Ani's father, now runs. She meets Ben Caspere there and, through that relationship, starts working at the drug-filled sex parties he organizes. She does so willingly. At an unknown point, Vera rents a post office box as a sort of failsafe, in case something goes wrong. She forgets about it eventually, but not until she tells Tascha, Caspere's favorite European prostitute, about it.

After Vera joins the sex party scene, her sister Dani, who has several children and an apparently abusive husband, believes her sister to be missing. Dani doesn't know where she is or that she entered the sex party scene willingly. She reports her as a missing person, but nothing comes of it.

Tascha learns about Caspere's blue diamonds and hatches a plan to extort him. At a stone cottage in rural Guerneville, California with wagon wheel-like chandeliers, she takes covert photographs of a sex party. She also photographs the diamonds. She sends those photographs to Vera's post office box.

At some point, Laura and Len, the orphaned children from the jewelry store robbery find each other and reunite. Both had been though a lot and had rough lives, stemming from their parents' execution and murder at the hands of the men who moved from LA to Vinci.

Laura, who's been working the streets since she was 16, starts working at the infamous secret sex parties.

Laura meets Tascha, Caspere's favorite hooker, who introduces her to Tony Chessani. Tascha told Laura about Caspere's blue diamonds. Laura meets Caspere, and she knows he was one of the men who ruined her life. She remembers him visiting her mother. She changes her name, dyes her hair red and gets a job as Caspere's secretary. He did not recognize her. Her position gave her access to Caspere's files, and she began researching, digging up dirt. Caspere's secret Hollywood sex house is among her discoveries.

In his position as city manager, Caspere negotiates a deal for a movie to be shot in Vinci in 2015. He, of course, prospers from his arrangement, receiving a co-producer credit and being promised money off the movie's profits. He occasionally visits the set.

Laura Laura

Laura gets her brother, Len, a job as the set photographer. He sees Caspere there.

Sometime in the mid-2010s, before season two begins, California voters pass a proposition to build a high-speed railway corridor in central California. It runs through Vinci and north through the countryside. Some of that land is the same countryside that Frank Semyon's waste disposal company dumped toxic waste on, at the behest of Vinci rulers like Mayor Austin Chessani. After the proposition passes, the value of the once unusable land adjacent to the corridor immediately increases because it will soon have thousands of commuters flowing through it every day.

For years before the proposition passed, Catalast Group, a company run by Jacob McCandless, quietly purchased the poisoned land. It can now sell parcels to investors at its discretion and reap the windfall profits.

Frank Semyon, the man who also provided the information about Gena's rapist, is a career criminal, ruthless when he needs to be, but he has a good heart and wants out. He wants to start a family with his wife, Jordan, just as soon as his life of crime is over. Ensconced in Vinci and rubbing elbows with its elite rulers, he enters a business arrangement with Vinci City Manager Ben Caspere to purchase land adjacent to the railway corridor. He believes that his investment in land is his ticket out.

Shortly before True Detective season two begins, he only runs the poker room at the Vinci Gardens Casino. He is allowed to do so because he pays kickbacks to Mayor Chessani. To buy into the land adjacent to the railway corridor, he sold the clubs to local gangsters, his low income housing and his waste disposal business. He double mortgaged his mansion in the hills and the poker room. He "went liquid," in his words, to raise $5 million as a buy-in for the land.

Osip Agranov Osip Agranov

Not long before season two begins, Frank meets with the Russian-Israeli gangster, Osip Agranov, in Paris. They agree to a deal: Each will contribute $5 million to buy land adjacent to the railway corridor. Caspere, for reasons unexplained, will act as the effective bank, creating a holding company to purchase the land, sealing the $10 million buy-in between Frank and Osip on one side and Catalast Group on the other.

Unaware of the plot against him — which includes Osip, Frank's henchman Blake, Tony Chessani and the Santa Muerte gang — Frank gives his $5 million to Caspere, who doesn't do what he's supposed to do with it.

Lieutenant Kevin Burris Lieutenant Kevin Burris

Mayor Chessani's son, Tony, organizes these parties with the cooperation of Caspere, Mayor Chessani's old commune pal, Dr. Pitlor, and Osip Agranov, an Israeli-Russian gangster. Osip provides the women while Pitlor enhances their beauty cosmetically and provides them to Tony.

Osip visits Vinci Mayor Chessani and offers to take over the poker rooms that Frank runs.

Just days before season two begins, the orphaned woman, Laura, visits Caspere's secret Hollywood sex house, apparently with Caspere, apparently to seduce him. She leaves the door unlocked. She puts a pill in Caspere's drink. Her brother, Len, arrives at the house, sees inside and understands what his sister is doing. Len, "went bad," in Laura's words.

Len's original plan was to torture Caspere into confessing about who else was part of the robbery. Caspere confessed everything. He begged for his life. He told Len about the railway corridor.

Ultimately, Len's anger overcame him, and Caspere died during his torture.

As Caspere is missing, but before anyone knows he's dead, someone breaks into and ransacks his house, presumably looking for the diamonds.

The first show of season two, a field with property markers The first shot of season two
Season two part one
October and November 2015

The morning of Oct. 27, 2015

Season two begins with a shot of California countryside. In the distance, smooth, rolling mountains meet the setting sun high on the horizon. In the foreground, dozens of wooden stakes stick out of the ground. Tied at the top of each, only a few feet off the ground, are florescent pink strips of plastic. Someone with a black marker has written latitude and longitude coordinates on each to denote property lines.

This is the polluted land that Frank Semyon's waste disposal company dumped toxic waste onto for year. This is the once cheap, unusable land that Catalast Group purchased. This is the land over and around which which the high-speed railway will one day run. It's Oct. 27, 2015.

Ani storms out of her bedroom, and her boyfriend follows. They just didn't have sex. Something went wrong, but we don't know what. He's apologetic. He says he wants to take the relationship to the next level. She deflects, plays it off and asks him to leave her apartment. She has to go to work.

Ray is dropping his son, Chad, off at school. He's very clearly a loving and caring father. Chad, however, seems somewhat indifferent to his caring. Chad is worried. He doesn't want to go to school. Ray gives him some manly advice, which doesn't help at all. He reminds him of his new shoes, hoping that'll cheer him up. It doesn't. Chad gets out of Ray's car and Ray tells his son that he loves him.

Ray meets with an attorney because he wants more visitation with his son. She tells him it will be expensive. She asks about the obvious: the rape, Ray's biological parentage. He's adamant that Chad is his son. The attorney asks if there's anything else that she should know about — anything, in other words, that would hurt Ray's chances in front of a judge determining custody. Ray says no, which is a lie, and that he welcomes judgment, which may be true on some level.

California State Highway Patrolman Paul Woodrugh is cruising down the highway on his motorcycle when he sees a red convertible peel out, pull in front of traffic and cross the center lane line. He pulls the car over. Inside is a beautiful blonde woman, an actress, Lacey Lindel. She is clearly drunk or high, and she's wearing an ankle bracelet. She pleads for mercy, saying she's almost home, that she takes care of her elderly parents, that if she gets in trouble again, she's going to jail. She offers a sexual favor in return for getting out of the ticket. Paul likely doesn't accept the bribe.

The afternoon of Oct. 27, 2015

At Caspere's secret Los Angeles home, Len sits Caspere's dead body in the back of an old burgundy Cadillac. He stole the car from the movie being shot in Vinci that Caspere negotiated. Len had access to the set because he was the set photographer. All throughout the day, he drives the corpse to many of the locations Caspere confessed about during his torture. On the passenger's seat, Len places one of the masks from the Los Angeles house. It's a raven.

Ben Caspere in the Cadillac The body formerly known as Ben Caspere

Paul sits in his boss' office and hears that Lacey, the actress he pulled over, is claiming that he curried a sexual favor to get her out of a ticket. As a result, he is suspended from the CHP pending investigation. He hates the idea because he isn't good at being alone with his thoughts and having nothing to do.

His boss also mentions an investigation into Black Mountain Security, which is being investigated for war crimes. Paul either worked for or with the private military contractor and is embroiled in that investigation, too. He says he was working for America. His boss is sympathetic.

Ray sits in Mayor Chessani's room, surrounded by the Vinci elite: Lieutenant Burris, Chief Holloway, the mayor's righthand man, Ernst. In the background, for reasons unexplained, is Catalast Group's Jacob McCandless. Ray's bosses give him an assignment: Find Caspere. At this point, he's dead, but they don't know it. It's a missing persons case. The powers that be in assign Teague Dixon as his partner, and Ray bristles because Dixon is a worthless slacker.

At Caspere's office, Ray interviews the city manager's secretary. She says she's new on the job. She's only been there six weeks. She is, unbeknownst to them, Laura, the girl whose parents were murdered at the 1992 jewelry store robbery. Unbeknownst to everyone, she's Caspere's illegitimate daughter.

After interviewing the secretary, Ray and Dixon visit Caspere's house, which has been ransacked.

Based on a tip, Ani leads a raid on a house suspected of running prostitutes. It isn't. Instead, it houses women who do webcam porn. Ani finds her sister, Thena, there and castigates her. Thena defends herself and her chosen profession.

Next, Ani and Elvis, in their capacity as sheriffs deputies, deliver a foreclosure notice to Danielle Delvayo, who tells them that her sister, Vera, is missing. Vera last worked at The Panticapaeum Institute, she says, the commune where Ani's father works. They visit the commune, Ani talks to her father, but they find nothing to move the case forward.

Blake hands Frank a newspaper open to an article that exposes the rampant corruption in Vinci.

Frank meets with Ray under a freeway overpass and tells Ray to shut the reporter up.

Abusing his law enforcement powers, Ray finds the reporter's apartment, drives there and gets drunk and high to numb his mind while waiting for him to arrive home. When he does, Ray puts on a ski mask, kicks down the apartment door and beats the living hell out of the reporter.

This is his entanglement with Frank. This is Ray Velcoro's life since murdering the man he believed rapes his now ex-wife.

Still tanked, Ray surprises Chad after classes have let out. In the school parking lot, with Chad's stepfather, Richard Brune, standing right there, he notices that Chad's new shoes are gone. He threatens his son in public, in front of a protesting Richard. He wants the name of the kid who took his shoes. Chad tells him.

In a scene we don't see, Richard tells Gena what happened at the school.

All throughout the day, unbeknownst to anyone, Len drives Caspere's corpse to the locations that the dead man confessed about during his torture.

The evening of Oct. 27, 2015

Frank is hosting a party at the casino for contractors, builders and other investors who would have an interest in developing land alongside the railway. Caspere is supposed to pitch the assembled crowd, but, of course, he's nowhere to be found. Nobody knows why. (It's because he's super dead.)

Osip Agranov, the Israeli-Russian gangster, is en route to the U.S. As far as Frank is aware, according to their agreement in Paris, he'll arrive with $5 million of his own, given it to Caspere and, together with his partner Frank, purchase some land adjacent to the railway corridor. Osip arrives at the casino party with his lawyer. He's noncommittal about the deal he had with Frank, ostensibly because of Caspere's absence. This pisses Frank off. Frank gives the pitch to the assembled crowd in Caspere's absence.

Leonard disposes of Caspere's body at a resting area on the side of a highway, propping him up at a picnic table. The section of highway is maintained by Catalast Group, which Len learned about when Caspere confessed to everything. He leaves the body there, as far as his sister can figure, because he thought it was funny.

Ray uses his police power to find the home of the kid who stole his son's shoes. He knocks on the door, and his father answers. He says he's there to talk to the son about something, and if the father beings the kid out, they can take care of it quietly. Instead, Ray beats the living hell out of the kid's father with a pair of brass knuckles.

Afterward, Ray meets Frank in a bar called The Black Rose. A waitress with a scar is kind to both of them. She hits on Ray, who says he's not interested in romance anymore. Frank leaves, and Ray stays behind to drink his feelings away. He passes out at the table.

Paul visits his girlfriend Emily's apartment. He has to use Viagra to get intimate, but he takes it in secret. Emily doesn't know. Paul, remember, is gay but doesn't want to be. They get intimate. After, Paul says he has to leave. He always leaves. He never stays over anywhere. They fight, she breaks up with him, and Paul leaves the apartment in anger, saying this is on her. He never told her about his day.

Paul drives his motorcycle down the California highway. In his anger and frustration, he flips the headlights off and accelerates. Having second thoughts, he turns the headlights back on and pulls into a rest stop where he discovers Caspere's body.

Paul calls 911.

Ani, meanwhile, is drinking and gambling in a casino. She gets kicked out. She gets a phone call to report to the crime scene because she's a sheriff's deputy in the county where the body was discovered.

Ray, passed out at the bar, gets a call to report to the murder scene because he's already investigating Caspere as a missing person.

The investigation into Caspere's murder begins, pulling all of our characters together.

October and November 2015

In a meeting, Burris and Holloway from Vinci PD, as well as representatives from the state attorney's office, the state highway patrol and the sheriff's office fight over who will head up the investigation. Each has their reasons for wanting to be in charge. Ultimately, the state attorney's office oversees a task force involving Ani, Dixon, Paul and Ray.

The state has two representatives: California Attorney General Richard Geldof and State Attorney Katherine Davis. In two separate, private meetings, they tell Ani and Paul that the real mission is to investigate corruption in Vinci, using Caspere's murder as their way in. The state gets Ani and Paul to play along by promising that they'll be rewarded, promoted, their troubles — like the accusing actress and the mounting Black Mountain Security investigation — will be taken care of. They put Ani in charge. Ray and Dixon will also be part of the investigation, but their secret mission is to investigate them and turn Ray if possible. Davis suggests that Ani should seduce Ray.

Katherine Davis and Richard Geldof Katherine Davis and Richard Geldof

Geldof holds a televised press conference to announce the corruption investigation into Vinci.

Paul visits his mother, who is grossly inappropriately touchy with him. He's clearly uncomfortable. She invites him to stay the night, but he declines. He tells her that he'll be spending time out of town on an investigation, the details of which he doesn't disclose.

Ray is the only one they don't approach about the ulterior motive. The Vinci powers that be, meanwhile, tell him to keep them abreast of the investigation of which he is now a part. They know what's going on. No surprises is the mandate.

Ray goes to meet his son, but he finds his ex-wife, Gena, instead. Against the advice of her husband, Richard, she meets with Ray to tell him in person that they are petitioning for sole custody of Chad. He's furious. This is the polar opposite of what he wants. He says that, if Chad dislikes Ray, it's probably because she bad mouths him. She admits to that. She tells him he's a bad man. Ray agrees, and he pleads with her not to do this. She's not here to hear arguments. Her mind is made up.

In a conversation with a worried Frank, Mayor Chessani says he's not concerned about the investigation. It's a money grab from the state, he says. He'll pay them off, the investigation will end, and everything will go back to how it was before Caspere's death. Chessani, who's always drunk and clearly a weasel, seems to have things under control despite himself.

They speak briefly of the mayor's son, Tony, and it's clear that father and son don't get along. Mayor Chessani's plan for Tony is to send him off to run a club in Oakland, hundreds of miles north of Vinci.

At the meeting, Frank brings his payoff to Mayor Chessani, just as he has for six years, but it's short. In response, Chessani tells Frank that there are outside interests who want to run the poker room. He won't tell Frank who it is. It's Osip.

Osip continues to balk on the deal that he and Frank made to pool $10 million and buy railway corridor land. Frank learns from a conversation with land owner Catalast Group's Jacob McCandless that Caspere never delivered Frank's $5 million. McCandless says Frank is welcome to buy in for $7 million, but Frank has nothing, and his $5 million has disappeared. He concludes that Caspere's murderer was after his money and has it.

Miguel Gilb, Paul's old war buddy, is working for Catalyst's private insurance company. It used to be Black Mountain Security. Now it's Ares Security. He gets orders to check on Paul.

Frank uses his old connections at the Lux, the club he used to own and he sold to Santos, the man with the FUCK YOU teeth, to find out information about Caspere who died with his $5 million. He interviews working girls, one of which tells him of the dead man's secret Hollywood house. Frank passes this information onto Ray and tells him to investigate. Ray, at this point, is investigating Caspere's murder from two angles: The state investigation and Frank.

Ray visits Caspere's Hollywood house at Frank's behest. He breaks in and discovers the camera behind the two-way mirror and the hard drive. Before he can retrieve it, Len the orphaned boy and Caspere's murderer, wearing Caspere's raven's mask, sneaks into the house behind Ray, shoots him twice at point blank range with a shotgun. It's filled with riot shells. It was Caspere's gun.

Ray survives, but as he lies unconscious on the floor, he has a dream in which is father tells him that he can see him running through giant trees as he's being chased. His pursuers kill him.

Ray visits his father, Eddie, after being shot. They don't talk about much, but Eddie does mention the bad effect the ‘92 riots had on police work. Ray asks his dad if he knows Burris and Holloway, and his dad basically says they're tough and smart because they got out of the feckless LAPD and made their own way in a time where police work became a joke. For reasons unknown, Eddie has thrown his police badge into the garbage. Ray takes it and says he'll give it to Chad.

Eddie Velcoro Eddie Velcoro

Paul gets a call and meets with his old war buddy, Miguel, who he once had an affair with during the war.

As Paul and Miguel walk together, we see Teague Dixon, the lazy Vinci cop, covertly taking pictures of them.

Miguel starts to romanticize about the past, and Paul agrees that the war was the last time anything made any sense to him. But he soon realizes that Miguel is talking about their hookup. Paul would rather pretend their affair never happened. He's ashamed, as always. Angered, Paul pushes Miguel to the ground and leaves.

Later that night, Paul gets blackout drunk. The next morning, Paul, who never stays over anyone's house, wakes up in Miguel's apartment. He remembers nothing, but they were clearly intimate. He leaves in a hurry, heads to his apartment where a flock of reporters are waiting for him. They shout questions about Black Mountain Security and his possible involvement in alleged war crimes.

The cops investigate for several episodes, following leads, finding dead ends.

Driving together, Ray asks Ani why she carries knives. The way she sees the world, the biggest difference between the sexes, she tells Ray, is that one can choke the life out of the other with his bare hands. She carries knives because, if a man attacks her, she'll gut and kill him, and he'll bleed out in under a minute. This is the attitude she's had since being molested as a girl. It will not happen to her again.

Ani and Ray interview Mayor Chessani with his righthand man Ernst present. Chessani says that the last time he saw Caspere was at some kind of party in September. He was accompanied by a woman, a Miss Tascha, Ernst says. They don't know who she is at this point. It's the first mention of her name. She's Caspere's favorite European prostitute, the woman who took covert photos of the blue diamonds and the sex party.

Ani and Ray visit Caspere's house, which is now a crime scene, and someone mentions that they'll cross-reference what they find against what the dead man had insured to determine what's missing.

Ani and Ray visit Dr. Pitlor, and Ray notices the plastic surgery wing of the psychiatrist's office. His client being dead, he tells them of Caspere's perversions and sexual shame, though not in detail.

Ani and Paul visit Mayor Chessani's Bel Air mansion, where they meet the mayor's second wife, a drunken Eastern European woman half his age. They also meet his his son, Tony, who throws a topless woman off his balcony into the backyard pool.

Mayor Chessani, furious at the intrusion, says he wants Ani's badge.

Ani and Paul gain access to Caspere's safety deposit box, where they find several documents pertaining to founding corporations and the blue diamonds from the jewelry robbery and murder in 1992. They don't know what they are or what they mean.

The investigators set up shop in a Vinci warehouse, and Ani delivers some news to Paul and Teague: A traffic camera took a picture of a burgundy Cadillac pulling onto the Pacific Coast Highway the night of the murder. According to the license plate, it's registered to the movie being shot in Vinci.

Ani and Ray visit the set of the movie that Caspere arranged to be shot in Vinci. They interview several people on the set to see if they can learn anything about the dead man and the Cadillac. They talk to somebody who seems like nobody, the set photographer. He says he saw Caspere on the set occasionally and heard that he and the director visited parties to get laid. The set photographer, unbeknownst to them, is Len, the orphaned boy and Caspere's murderer.

As they leave the set, they run into Caspere's secretary. She gives a perfectly reasonable explanation of why she's at the set: to collect tax records. The speak briefly and leave. She is, unbeknownst to them, Len's sister and Caspere's illegitimate daughter.

They discover that the burgundy Cadillac went missing a few weeks ago and that a man quit around that time because of unspecified family problems.

Ani and Frank visit the house of the man who quit the movie set. As they're interviewing him, they hear something, run around the corner from the house and find someone in a mask torching the burgundy Cadillac. The unidentified person, Len, runs when they see him. He was trying to frame the man they were interviewing. They give chase but lose him. Ani has such tunnel vision that she nearly gets hit by a truck in the middle of a freeway, but Ray grabs her and pulls her to safety. He saves her life. They both believe that they let the murderer get away. They're right.

Ani breaks up with her boyfriend at work. He's pissed.

Ani's boyfriend reports their relationship to internal affairs. That department begins an investigation, during which they question her partner, Elvis, who reveals their one night stand.

Broke and desperate, Frank spends his next several scenes getting back into his old life of crime. He takes the Lux back, ripping Santos' gold teeth out with a pair of pliers in front of an assembled group of gangsters. He sets up an extortion racket at a construction site. He reacquires his interest in a low rent apartment complex. Frank, who still wants to leave his life of crime behind, devolves back to his most gangster form to stay afloat and, eventually, buy back into the land deal.

Paul meets with his ex-girlfriend, Emily, who tells him she's pregnant. Paul welcomes the news and says they should get married. She agrees, halfheartedly.

Blake Blake

One of Frank's henchmen, Blake, disappears for a few days. Frank distrusts Blake. He thinks he's cocky and arrogant. Frank respects loyalty and believes that hard work is paid off over time. He suspects that Blake is trying to get ahead before he's earned it. He has another henchman, Stan, follow Blake to see if he's up to no good.

Blake reappears, shaken, with bad news: Another henchman, Stan, is dead. Blake leads them to Stan's body, and his eyes are burned out like Caspere's.

In truth, Blake is working with Dr. Pitlor, Anthony Chessani and Osip behind Frank's back. They throw drug and sex parties for the rich and powerful. Osip provides Eastern European women. Pitlor performs plastic surgery on them. Tony plans the parties. Blake is the partnership's treasurer.

Together, they are plotting against Frank.

Stan found out what Blake was doing while following him, but Blake discovered Stan and killed him. Frank doesn't know this. He assumes this is all about his missing $5 million.

Blake killed Stan, but of course he doesn't tell his boss. He even burns Blake's eye out to make it look like its related to Caspere's murder. It's all misdirection.

The party planners are doing all of this behind Frank and Mayor Chessani's back. Blake and Tony Chessani have similar desires and motivations and relationships with their superiors.

Not long after Stan's funeral, Blake visits Stan's widow and asks strange questions about anything Stan might've mentioned or seen, but she doesn't know anything. He's actually fishing for information, trying to see if anyone else knows what Stan discovered. Satisfied that nobody does, he never visits the widow again.

Ani's boss calls her into his office. She debrief a him on the investigation's progress, including her belief that Ray didn't fake his own shooting. It's an evolution of their relationship. There is every reason to distrust Ray, and everyone knows is. But he's earning her trust.

Her boss tells her that her boyfriend reported their relationship. It is forbidden because she is his superior. Internal Affairs also learned from Ani's affair with her former partner, Elvis. There are also rumors of her having gambling debts. She's being set up. It is almost certainly happening at Vinci's behest, born of Mayor Chessani's anger over her and Paul visiting his mansion. She's suspended from her job at the sheriff's office, but she's still in charge of the state investigation.

Irina Rulfo, who's in the employ of Lito Amarilla, the drug-dealing pimp Vinci PD Lieutenant Burris apprehended in 2006 but let go without any charges and member of the broad latino Santa Muerte cult/gang, pawns Caspere's watch at a local pawn shop.

Teague Dixon, in his single, even vaguely police-like action, says he got a tip from a confidential informant that someone pawned something that belonged to Caspere. And, sure enough, he and Paul find Caspere's watch at a pawn shop. They knew it was Caspere's because of the dead man's insurance records.

What looks like police work was a setup, a manufactured discovery designed to lead the state investigators to a conclusion. And it works.

Lito Amarilla Lito Amarilla

The investigators discover Irina's identity from the pawn shop security cameras. Because Ani, Ray and Paul don't know anything beyond who she is and who she works for, a theory emerges: Irina learned about Frank's missing $5 million, which he gave Caspere. She told Amarilla, and Amarilla killed him for it. It would explain the torture, everyone reasons, because that's how they got Caspere to confess about the money's whereabouts.

The investigation culminates when the cops believe they have enough evidence to charge Amarilla and Rulfo with Caspere's murder. They plan a takedown, with various law enforcement officials dressed in bulletproof jackets.

The cops go to apprehend Amarilla, but Amarilla's gang sees them coming as they walk down the street. The Vinci elite warned Amarilla and expected a shootout that would solve all of their problems and end the investigation. They did not count on Paul the war hero.

There's a massive shoutout on the streets of Vinci. The meth lab on the top floor of Amarilla's hideout explodes. Dixon dies in the crossfire. Amarilla takes a hostage, kills him and also dies. Paul is a hero, saving the lives of his partners. He likely accounts for anything good that came of the shootout.

Irina Rulfo is nowhere to be found.

Bloody corpses after the shootout The first shot of episode five: bloody corpses after the shootout
Season two part two:
January 2016

Season two's fifth episode picks up three months after the shootout. Everything has changed, everyone has felt the fallout.

Ani, punished, is relegated to working an evidence room. The implication is that she'll take her lumps and return to being a sheriff's deputy.

Paul is stuck in an office, wearing a suit, doing insurance investigations. Sitting alongside his boss and State Attorney Kathleen Davis, across the table from Lacey Lindel, the woman in the red convertible he pulled over in episode one, the woman who accused him of currying sexual favors in lieu of a ticket, and her two attorneys. Paul denies any wrongdoing. One of her attorneys plays good cop, the other bad cop, bringing up things like the Black Mountain Security investigation. Lindel remains a liar and a horrible person. They settle the case under undisclosed circumstances.

Ray quit the force and now woks for Frank, doing odd jobs like collecting rent at the apartment complex that Frank reacquired a stake in a few episodes earlier. He's been off drugs for about three months, cleaned up in anticipation of the upcoming custody battle over Chad.

None of the cops really believe that Amarillo and Rulfo were behind Caspere's murder.

Frank lost his mansion in the hills. He and Jordan live in a modest home as he tries to rebuild his fortune, and their marriage falls apart because of his devolution into a thug.

One day, while in the Lux, two Mexicans show up and demand that they work out a business arrangement. They had one with the previous owner, the toothless Santos. Frank declines.

Santa Muerte The Santa Muerte

California State Attorney Richard Geldof announces two things at a press conference: The Vinci corruption investigation is over, and he's running for governor. He has a campaign war chest filled with money because, just as Mayor Chessani said, he got paid off to drop the investigation.

Dani, the woman from the first episode whose house was foreclosed on, calls Ani. She received a Manila envelope filled with pictures, believing them to be from her sister, whose post office box they came from. The covertly taken pictures show the blue diamonds, Caspere, a California state senator and some wagon wheel chandeliers among other unknown people at a private sex party.

They were in a PO box that her missing sister, Vera, kept. It took a while to get to Dani because they were initially sent to her now-foreclosed old house. They believe Vera took the pictures and put them there. In fact, it was Tascha, Caspere's favorite hooker, who wanted to extort him.

Ani contacts Ray, and they meet at The Black Rose, where she shows him the photos. Ray says he's not a cop, and she's not supposed to be investigating anyway.

The custody hearing between Gena, her husband Richard and Ray does not go well for Ray. The judge orders him to have supervised visits for now. And he doesn't have the money he'll need to fight it. Gena insists on a paternity test, which is basically the trump card. Proving that, Ray fears, will help her win the custody battle, because he's as sure of the result as she is.

Ray has his first supervised visit with Chad, and it's a disaster. He's is clearly way more into Chad than Chad is into Ray. Chad doesn't want to put together models with his dad. It's awkward to talk. All he wants to do is watch Friends. Ray lets him, speaks to the woman supervising the visits a few time even though he isn't supposed to, but it's a disaster of a visit.

That night, Ray, realizing the terrible situation he's in, goes on a cocaine and booze-filled bender. He reaches his lowest point. He calls Gena, his ex-wife. He says he won't fight the custody battle anymore under one condition: She must not tell Chad that Ray is not his biological father. She resists, weighs her options and agrees. He makes her promise: Do it, and he'll leave them alone. She promises.

Ray is super high

His undefined suspicion mounting, Frank has Ray tail Blake. He follows him to Dr. Pitlor's clinic where he sees him with Anthony Chessani, Pitlor and several beautiful young women. He follows that group to another location where they meet Osip.

Frank meets with Jacob McCandless of Catalast Group. McCandless called him to his office because he's looking for the hard drive that was once connected to the video camera. It was taken from Caspere's Hollywood home. We know it was Len who took it. They do not. If Frank can find it, McCandless says, he can have the land he once thought he would. The cops don't have it, so Frank starts an investigation of his own, starting with the Santa Muerte Mexicans who are officially seen as being involved with Caspere's murder. He wants to find Irina Rulfo, the woman who pawned Caspere's watch but who never turned up after the shootout with Amarilla's gang.

During the course of his investigation, Frank and his goons tie a Mexican man to a chair and question him about Irina, under the assumption that, if she had Caspere's watch, he might know where the hard drive is. Frank thinks he'll know her because he's Santa Muerte, same as Ledo Amarilla, the same as Irina. Santa Muerte, remember, is a folk saint, predominantly in Mexico, condemned by the Catholic Church. Lots of criminals and drug dealers pray to her. After a bit of light torture involving nails, the man talks after Frank pays him $1,000 in cash and promises that the next nail will go through his eyeball. The man says Frank can find Irina at a house in El Monte.

Jacob McCandless Jacob McCandless

Frank and his goons break into the El Monte house. The first thing they see is a shrine to Santa Muerte. Out of various room file other Mexicans, including the two men who came into the Lux demanding a business relationship. He gives them a very favorable deal for running drugs through the Lux. In return, they'll have Irina call him.

Irina calls and tells Frank that a tall white cop gave her the watch to pawn, surely Burris. Frank asks if they can meet. He wants more information. She's hesitant, but she agrees.

Frank and his goons arrive at the designated meeting place. They find her dead, with her throat slashed. The Santa Muerte Mexicans appear. They killed her, they explain, because she talked to a cop. Frank thinks he's sunk.

State Attorney Katherine Davis and Ani talk. Davis decides to launch a new secret investigation into Caspere's murder and corruption, which now includes California Attorney General Richard Geldof, who's running for governor with a huge war chest he amassed after dropping the first investigation. The first order of business is to track down Irina Rulfo. She wants Ani, Paul and Ray. Ani approaches Paul, who agrees to help, in large part because wearing a suit and investigating insurance fraud working from an office doesn't satisfy him. He needs to be out, in motion. Ray meets Ani, Paul and Davis. They want him to join. He balks. Davis says that, if he helps, she can help him keep his son. He agrees.

Ray learns privately from Davis that DNA tests identified Gena's rapist. She assumed he knew, but Gena didn't tell him. That means he killed the wrong man, and he is horrified. He suspects Frank set him up and shows up at his door prepared to kill him. After talking, he's satisfied enough that Frank will give up the person who provided him with the wrong name and had him kill the wrong person. Though Frank acts like he doesn't remember who told him, he knows damn well that it was Blake.

Ray visits the rapist pegged by DNA evidence in jail. He gets in by bribing a prison guard. The rapist says he has no memory of the event. Ray lets him know that he'll kill him if he ever gets out and maybe even if he doesn't. The rapist looks nothing like Chad, either, which Ray notes.

During Ani, Paul and Ray's new investigation, it becomes clear that the private sex parties are a nexus of sorts for all of the nefarious activities this season. They just don't know how. Ani wants to infiltrate one. She takes vacation time off from her job and approaches her sister, Thena, who's cleaned up but still has connections from that world. She wants her to use those connections to get an invite to a party.

Paul investigates the diamonds that he and Ani discovered in Caspere's safety deposit box. At an insurance agency, he discovers a claim dating back to 1992. That leads him to the house of a retired LAPD officer who investigated the murder/robbery when it happened. The officer explains the riots and the triage that left the case unsolved. He is haunted to this day by the two children left behind. We hear about and see a picture for the first time of young Laura and Len Osterman.

Thena gets Ani an invitation to the party. Ani will have to pose as Thena, who warns her sister of the danger.

Before going to the party, Ray meets with Chad secretly in Chad's backyard. He gives him Eddie's badge and says he can use that to remember him. He's saying goodbye, and though Chad doesn't know why, he understands. It is a genuinely tender moment, perhaps the first time Chad understands his father this season. It is the high point of their strained relationship to date.

Posing as Thena, Ani gets onto a bus filled with women. Its destination: a sex party in a mansion in the California countryside. Paul and Ray follow her there in two separate cars.

At the party, Ani is forced to take ecstasy. A rich oilman hits on her. She excuses herself, goes to the bathroom to throw up and discovers Vera the missing sister there.

Meanwhile, Paul and Ray take down security guards and make their way to the mansion where the party is taking place. They discover Osip and Catalast Group's Jacob McCandless at finalizing a deal and signing papers. They've cut Frank out and are moving forward on the land deal together.

Paul breaks into the house and steals the paperwork. They reveal that they're using a shell company owned by Anthony Chessani, the mayor's son. Blake is listed as the treasurer on the documents.

Ani at the party

Ani grabs Vera, who's super high and incoherent, and starts to take her out of the house. The oilman, believing she's a hooker, makes to grab her. Ani knocks him to the ground and smashes his junk with her foot. A Russian thug grabs Ani to stop her. He holds her against a wall, choking her, killing her with his bare hands. Out of instinct, she grabs a knife she palmed from a table full of food. He bleeds out in under a minute. She has fulfilled her lifelong fantasy.

Ani, Paul, Ray and Vera escape.

They hide out in a rural motel.

The next morning, Vera is passed out. So is still under the influence of the drugs she was forced to take. Paul leaves to do some investigating. Ray stays behind.

Ani, barely coherent, sits in Ray's lap and goes to kiss him. He politely declines. He says she's out of his league, anyway, and it's not just to ease the tension. He means it.

Ray leaves and drives to meet State Attorney Davis and hand over the documents they've gathered, proving the conspiracy. Ray opens the door to Davis' car. She's been shot through the chest. He's being framed for her murder. He yells, runs back to his car and peels out of there.

When Vera wakes, she tells Ani that she didn't run away. She was there by choice.

Paul visits a police department and does some computer research. He finds the definitive link between Burris, Caspere, Dixon and Holloway, the blue diamonds and all. While he's on the computer, an unidentified person looks on from the shadows. On the computer screen, a window appears saying Ani's been identified from the party. There's an APB out on her.

Paul brings his fiancee and his mother to a motel, where he tells them to hide until things blow over. He spares them the details on the danger.

Paul's texts

Paul starts getting texts with photographs of him and Miguel having sex. He's been set up. After Dixon died, Burris and Holloway discovered the pictures he'd taken of Paul and Miguel and are using it to blackmail Paul, who doesn't know who's behind this yet.

Without telling anyone what he's doing, Paul goes to meet the unknown person blackmailing him. Before he does, he calls Ray and tells him something might be wrong. He Durant give details, but Ray is expecting another call from Paul.

At the location he was told to meet his blackmailed, Paul finds Miguel, his sometimes lover. Miguel says he works for what remains of Black Mountain Security, which is now the official security of Catalast Group, rebranded as Ares Security. (This is another reference to ancient Greece, where Ares was the god of war.) He takes Paul's gun and escorts him into a tunnel under a building, assuring him there's a way out if this.

Several armed guards are in the tunnel, as is Vinci Police Chief Holloway. He knows Paul is investigating him, and he needs to stop or the whole world will know what they know about his sexuality. Paul says he'll turn on Ani and Ray under the condition that Holloway destroys every copy of those photos in existence. Holloway agrees.

Ray takes his cell phone out to call Ray to begin the setup. Instead of doing that, he grabs Holloway, using him as a human shield, makes the security guards drop their weapons and turn off their flashlights. Paul runs into the darkness, slips into warrior mode and kills everyone pursuing him.

As he escapes the tunnel, Burris is waiting for him. He shoots Paul in the back twice and kills him. He leaves the body there and enters a car that drives him away.

Ani and Ray, both fugitives, hide in the motel. They are scared and screwed and, perhaps for the first time this season, utterly without pretense. They allow themselves to their emotions, rather than suppressing them, as each had been for tears. They fall in love. They consummate the relationship in the motel bed. Ani conceives.

In bed, after the deed is done, both tell the stories of their worst moments, the molestation and the murder that shaped and ruined their lives. They are true to themselves for, really, the first time in the series. Instead of keeping people away, they embrace another and allow for love. And their natural next reaction is to confess their sins.

Frank summons Blake, his betrayer, to his office. He nearly kills him. Just like Caspere did with Len, Blake tries to save his life by giving away information: McCandless, Osip and others are closing the land deal soon at a cabin in the woods that will be filled with millions in cash. They were always going to turn on Frank. He never had a chance. Osip is taking over all of Franks' properties. Every one of Frank's henchmen, except Nails, has already turned on him. But, Blake says, there is every opportunity to infiltrate the meeting and steal all the money together and regain control of everything. Frank thinks the plan is a good idea, except for one part. He kills Blake.

Ani gathers her father and sister and tells them to get in a car and head to Oregon for a while, where they'll be safe. Her old partner, Elvis, follows them to make sure they're not being tailed.

Vinci Police Chief Holloway Vinci Police Chief Holloway

Frank invites his wife, Jordan, into his office overlooking the poker room he runs and shows her Blake's body. She stands by her husband, even though they both want to be out of this life.

Frank walks down to the casino bar, where Mayor Chessani is hitting on a prostitute. He tells the hooker to leave, and she does. He tells Chessani to leave, but not until he tells the drunk mayor that everyone, including his son Tony, is betraying him. Chessani leaves.

Osip Agranov, the Israeli-Russian gangster, arrives in the casino, approaches the bar and confirms what Blake said: the Russians are taking over. Frank plays along, acts like he knows he's beat and he'll be happy to become a middle manager of Osip. Not long after, he makes up an excuse about a gas leak, evacuates the casino, takes all the money from the safes in the casino and the Lux and burns both places down.

Frank visits several of the people he extorted earlier. He uses his contacts to get fake passports made. He buys tickets to Venezuela from a travel agency. He sends his last loyal man, Nails, with his wife, Jordan and says he'll meet them there in two weeks or less. He acquires an arsenal of weapons and a new car.

Ani, Frank, Ray and Felicia, the woman with the facial scars who works at The Black Rose bar and likes Ray, meet in a secret room above The Black Rose. She typically uses it to smuggle illegal immigrants. All meet and discuss the plan: Frank and Ray will infiltrate the meeting, steal the money and then the three of them will leave the country and meet Jordan and Nails in Venezuela.

Frank and Ray arrive at the cabin in the woods where the deal will go down. They kill everyone — McCandless and Osip, notably — take the money and run. They ditch the SUV they drive away from the cabin. Frank torches it. He and Ray shake hands and say goodbye. Frank knows that Ray's son, Chad, is on his mind, but he says with money like this, he can send him to an ivy league school. Ray nods in agreement, but he's still troubled.

Things unravel.

As he drives away, Frank gets pinned between two cars. It's the latinos who killed Irina Rulfo. They break his car window and abduct him. They drive him to the desert to punish him for burning down the Lux and ruining their business arrangement. They're about to leave, and one of the men says he wants Frank's suit. Frank lunges at him and gets stabbed in the side. The Santa Muerte gang drives off, leaving him bleeding in the desert.

Frank, tough as he's ever been, refuses to give up and starts walking to safety. Hallucinating, visiting ghosts from his past, he continues. He sees his wife, Jordan, in the white dress they spoke about. He says he'll never give up, never stop walking. She says he already has. Horrified, he turns around and sees his body lying motionless on the ground. Frank Semyon dies there, alone, in the desert.

Frank, dead

As Ray drives back to The Black Rose, where he'll meet Ani and Felicia and board a boat to Venezuela, Chad is still on his mind. He calls Ani to let her know things went well and that he's on his way back. They are genuinely happy to talk to each other. They smile, a rare occurrence this season. They nearly say they love each other, but they stop short.

After hanging up, Ray thinks he has time, so he stops by Chad's school, tries to find him on the playground. He sees him sitting at a picnic table. Chad has the badge, Eddie Velcoro's badge, that Ray gave him. Chad looks up, sees his dad. Ray salutes. Chad salutes back. They exchange a loving, knowing glance, and Ray walks back to his car, having had an honest, loving and true moment with his son.

Ray arrives back at his car and notices that there's a red light glowing underneath. It's tracking beacon. He's sunk. He calls Ani, and says he'll meet her later. But he knows that isn't true. He has her put Felicia on the phone, says he won't make it, and tells her to make sure Ani gets on the boat.

A black SUV follows Ray, whose Dodge Charger is running out of gas as he drives down the freeway. On his iPhone, Ray leaves one last, tender message for Chad, but he doesn't have a signal and can't send it.

Ray drives to a forest. Amid giant trees, Burris, accompanied by several state and city police, chase him.

Just as his father predicted in a dream, Raymond Velcoro dies small among the giant trees. His message to Chad fails to send.

Ray, dead

The aftermath, California

Ani and Felicia board a boat. Usually, Felicia says, they use this path to get people into the U.S. Today, she and her coconspirators are doing the opposite.

Eddie Velcoro sits on his couch, just like he did when we last saw him, when Ray visited him after being shot. He watches a TV news report that confirms that the bad guys' conspiracy has taken hold. Ray died as the chief suspect in Davis' murder.

Ray's ex-wife, Gena, sits at her kitchen table and opens up the court ordered paternity test. It confirms that Ray was, in fact, Chad's biological father. She begins to weep as she looks at pictures of a younger, happier, better Raymond Velcoro.

Geldof breaking ground Geldof breaking ground

Paul's fiancee, Emily, and mother, Cynthia, attend the dedication ceremony for the CHP Officer Paul C. Woodrugh memorial highway. Emily holds Paul's baby.

Anthony Chessani is sworn in as the mayor of Vinci. Burris is there. So is the former mayor's right-hand man, Ernst.

The California high-speed rail authority breaks ground in the California wilderness. California Governor Geldof is there to shake hands and have his photo taken. There's a sign for Catalast Group — not Catalyst Group — in the background.

The aftermath, Venezuela

The final scenes pick up some time after Frank and Ray die, perhaps a year, as Ani tells the story of True Detective season to two a reporter. They are in a hotel room somewhere in Venezuela.

The evidence

"A lot of the rest was in the papers over the next year," Any says, "if you know where to look. These facts were paid for in blood, so honor that. I don't know if it'll make any difference, but it should because we deserve a better world."

The tagline for True Detective season two is "We get the world we deserve."

"And I owe him that," Ani says. "And I owe his sons that."

She motions to the hotel room's bed, on which reams of paper sit.

"Anyways. This is evidence. Most of it's here. Some of it's not. The truth. It's naked larceny, open murder and cascading betrayals."

"Come with me," the reporters says. "Testify. I can bring this to the Times."

"It's your story now," she says. "I told it."

Mayor Tony Chessani

"But wait, there's—" he says, but Ani interrupts him.

"Stay here," she says, snapping right back into tough cop mode. "Don't leave this room until I've been gone for an hour. Understand?"

He nods.

Ani enters another hotel room. Jordan Semyon is there, holding a baby. Ani nods, as if to say, "It's done." Jordan smiles.

"He's restless," Jordan says of the baby.

"Long trip ahead," Ani says. She puts the baby in a sling. It's Ani's son. It's Ray's son.

Ani puts her knife in her boot. They leave.

Ani, Jordan, and the baby head into the Venezuelan streets. People are celebrating. Lighting sparklers. They laugh. They dance. They celebrate. It's some kind of festival, and the streets are full.

Music swells. It's the woman who played The Black Rose.

Lately words are missing form now on
vanished in the haze of love gone wrong
There's no future, there's no past
In the present nothing lasts
Lately someone's missing from now on

Lately I'm not feeling like myself
When I look into the glass, I see someone else
I hardly recognize this face I wear
When I stare into her eyes, I see no one there
Lately, I'm not feeling like myself

Ani, the baby and Jordan disappear into the crowd.

Nails follows, protecting them.

A street party, the final shot of True Detective season two The final shot of True Detective season two

Goodbye, Vinci

With the benefit of hindsight, I think I know one of the primary reasons why so many people were taken aback with True Detective's second season: It is a crime drama in only a superficial sense, and there was no way to anticipate that masquerade.

I think that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. It slapped their expectations in the face. They totally understandably expected a heady police procedural. They got a dark study in humanity that happened to star mostly cops. They got a straight up modern tragedy.

You see cops, you expect cops. With Pizzolatto, not so much. Here he is, in his Vanity Fair interview, by way of explanation:

He described the new season as a detective story in the manner of Oedipus Rex, in which "the detective is searching and searching and searching, and the culprit is him."

Oedipus Rex, for those of us who may be a bit rusty on Ancient Greek drama that predates Christ, is a play by Sophocles that twists the classic dramatic formula. In plays of the era, it was usually the Fates that control the outcome. In Oedipus Rex, it's the titular character's own shortcomings that are directly responsible for his downfall.

In True Detective season two, there are many characters with many shortcomings who reach a bad end. There's even a character who kills his father, just as Oedipus did. He doesn't become king, but Anthony Chessani becomes mayor. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he married his late father's wife, too.

The interview continues:

If you've thrown out everything else, why even stick with detectives?

"It puts you in everything," he explained. "That's why they're great engines for stories. They go everywhere. A detective story is really just the way you tell a narrative—you start with the ending. At the end, this person is dead. Now I'm going to go back and piece together the story that led to it…. It's about the final unknowability of any investigation."

So that answers two questions, at least. He uses detectives because they're good vessels for carrying stories. And he can continue calling it True Detective next season with credibility because people in that profession are his singular, constant vehicles.

Well, that and they're not just detecting their cases. They're detecting themselves.

If you were among those waiting for the character studies to slow and the crime solving to begin, you were left unsatisfied. True Detective didn't outright ignore those things, but they took a backseat to the characters.

That's why the beginning of the season felt so strange. It felt like extended setup, like lots of back story. It felt like the show was spending an inordinate amount of time telling you who was in it instead of watching detectives solve a crime. But the characters weren't prologue to the story. They were the story.

Ben Caspere's murder was never the point, despite its appearance. Ani, Frank, Paul and Ray were the point, all along. And that is weird, for sure. But I like it. I've written maybe 80,000 words on it, for crying out loud. I think it's worthy of the effort.

I fully understand if you don't.

Is it as good as season one? Not by a long shot, if you ask me. But it isn't nearly as bad as all the internet fussing makes it out to be. Pleasure, if you can call it that, came not from the moment-to-moment act of watching. It came from thinking about what I'd seen, working it out, talking to you about it.

That is a weird thing to say about a TV show, but I've enjoyed my time with it immensely, and in an entirely different way than I have with any other show I've ever seen.

So to answer a question I posed weeks ago — Is it schlock, it is it genius? — I'll plant my flag closer to the genius camp. Reasonable readers should feel free to disagree.

Wherever your flag rests, you can blame it all, the love and the hate, on Nic Pizzolatto.

I think he's is a smart guy who sometimes teeters dangerously close to wanting to be the smartest guy in the room. I think that works to his advantage. I think he would be be satisfied with something that was less than odd and deep and complicated.

I think if you don't like True Detective season two, you could reasonably conclude that he's an effete blowhard.

I don't.

I think the line between genius and quack has always been pixel thin, and Nic Pizzolatto can't help but walk it. I assure you that, when he sits down to dream up True Detective three, whatever he produces will be anything but ordinary.

Sometimes he'll stand tall. Sometimes he'll teeter. Sometimes he'll fall. It'll still be worth talking about.

Wherever he goes and whatever he produces after he throws everything from season two away just like he did with season one, whatever detectives he fishes out of his strange and fascinating primordial soup, it will almost certainly never be less than interesting, even if it's not, strictly speaking, fun.