This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a mystery baby. And so, as True Detective’s second season screeches to a halt, the body count continues to pile up.
True Detective has never been about its central crime so much as it is about the lives of those impacted by it. However this season’s murder of Ben Caspere, even in the final episode, feels completely vestigial.
After last week’s information dump, there’s not a lot left to be done or said. And so, despite a feature-length runtime, “Omega Station” is remarkably thin on plot. There are three shootouts; mostly everyone dies. Some people get comeuppance; mostly everyone is left completely alone. We begin with Ani and Ray in bed, confessing their deepest secrets in a moment of post-coital openness. It almost feels like fan service to give viewers one final scene of unintelligible mumbling.
Ani and Ray are then informed that their partner Paul has been murdered. Because, in the world Nic Pizzolatto has created, there are no feelings — only cigarettes — the two mourn for approximately two seconds. This call leads Ray to magically solve two of the show’s biggest questions: Lauren’s (or Erica’s) brother is the film-set photographer with whom he briefly spoke, and they must have Caspere’s missing hard drive. Ray comes to these conclusions based on zero new evidence, and apparently we could have all saved ourselves a lot of time if he’d just thought a little harder earlier.
Anyway, we’re off to meet Leonard the photographer/diamond heist orphan/murderer. The detectives find the crow mask he wore when he shot Ray, but if you’re expecting that to mean something or go somewhere, you’ve clearly not been keeping up with the second season of True Detective. They also find Lauren (or Erica) handcuffed to a wall. Leonard is headed to murder Vinci Police Chief Holloway and the hard drive has deleted itself, never to be heard from again. Wonderful! At this point, it remains unclear if we even needed the first seven episodes to tell this story.
We’re quickly whisked into the episode’s first shootout, wherein Ray tries to trick Holloway into confessing his crimes. For a show whose female lead exists almost entirely as a response to its first season’s representational failures, Ani is relegated to spending a large percentage of the actual police work waiting for men to do men’s work. Anyway, as expected, things do not go as planned. Some people get shot, Ani and Ray are on the run.
You might be wondering what Frank has been up to since we last saw him torturing his nefarious right-hand man and torching his clubs. Well, he’s made arrangements for Jordan — who still has nothing to do — to go to Venezuela. The two of them argue and throw away their wedding rings; perhaps being so careless with money is what got them into these financial dire straits in the first place.
Frank is now hiding out in a secret room above the Black Rose bar with Ray and Ani. He’s found Vinci Mayor Austin Chessani dead in his pool, a staged suicide. Later in the episode we’ll see Dr. Pitlor with his wrists slashed; two more plot threads tied up with little to no fanfare.
It’s clear the concept of this episode was “more guns” — which leads us to shootout number two. Frank and Ray slap on some gas masks and take out a bunch of mobsters, including Osip.
Our sorta-heroes now have cash, fake passports, and a plan to start a new life in Venezuela. They only have to make it to the boat, which proves harder than it sounds when Frank is carjacked by the Mexican cartel he allowed to sell drugs in his club and Ray is hunted down by the Black Mountain mercenaries Paul failed to gun down prior to his death.
And here, a stunning hour and a half later, we find ourselves at the end. Each of our main characters winds up alone. Frank dies in the desert after a vision of Jordan and the future they’d planned together. Ray manages to hold off the mercenaries for a bit while he tries to… upload a voice memo to his son because… voicemails aren’t dramatic enough? Honestly, who knows. In the end he is also shot; the voice memo never uploads. If you’re anything like me, the emotional weight of that moment never lands because you’re too distracted wondering why Ray didn’t just leave a voicemail. Or what happened to those walkie talkies they had? Ani’s got a brand new pixie cut and she’s headed to Venezuela.
Some time later, we meet back up with Ani, who’s provided an LA Times reporter with all the necessary evidence to report on the Catalyst Group corruption. And then she meets up with Jordan and her mystery baby, likely the result of her and Ray’s one-night stand, to walk through a crowd until the scene blurs.
It doesn’t exactly feel clear what kind of story Pizzolatto was trying to tell with his significantly less critically acclaimed second season. None of our leads really made any strides or changed at all. Their lives were ruined by what ultimately turned out to be just two siblings looking for revenge. Perhaps this is the show’s central mystery: the one who can solve the puzzle of what True Detective Season 2 was trying to do is the truest detective of all.