Spoiler alert: Do not read unless you’ve watched “True Detective” episode 2.08: “Omega Station.”
For a series named after a lurid men’s crime magazine, the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” was woefully short on pulp, and tonight’s feature-length finale was no exception. While last week’s ungainly info-dump managed to unmask the killers of both Caspere and Stan, expose two conspiracies, introduce a love story and kill off a main character, tonight’s underwhelming conclusion barely had enough plot to fill up 30 minutes, let alone 90.
The episode – whose title “Omega Station” sounds like a generic direct-to-video thriller, appropriately enough – begins with Ray and Ani in bed together, confessing their darkest secrets. Ani’s memories of molestation continue to haunt her, while Ray finally admits to killing the man he (wrongly) suspected of raping his wife.
Unfortunately, Colin Farrell’s raspy vocal fry renders the scene virtually inaudible once again. It’s difficult to recall a series that’s relied as much on muttered dialogue as this season of “True Detective.” Closed captions are a must if you hope to make sense of it.
A phone call to Burris alerts Ray to Paul’s murder. He in turn tells Burris that he knows about the 1992 diamond robbery that set the whole plot in motion.
What’s most surprising about this scene is how disappointingly subdued Ray and Ani’s reaction to Paul’s death is. Neither one seems all that broken up to learn that he’s been killed, which is odd since he was perhaps the most likeable character on the show. “He was better than us,” Ani says, concluding her two seconds worth of grieving.
Sherlock that he is, Ray instantly makes two outrageously convenient deductions. First, he somehow knows that Laura/Erica’s brother Leonard is the film set photographer they briefly spoke with in the third episode. Second, he decides that Laura/Erica must have the missing hard drive that everyone’s been looking for. Now that’s detective work!
After finding Laura/Erica handcuffed in her home, Ray and Ani discover that Leonard is on his way to meet and kill Vinci Police Chief Holloway, who helped orchestrate the jewelry heist that left he and his sister orphans. As for the hard drive, it has somehow magically “deleted itself.” Yet another dull McGuffin written off in a single line of dialogue.
Why Ray feels the need to intercept Leonard before he can kill Holloway isn’t entirely clear. Like many plot twists in the episode, characters are continually putting themselves in danger for seemingly no reason at all.
What follows is the first of three by-the-numbers action sequences, this one involving Ray and Leonard trying to trick Holloway into incriminating himself on audio tape. The whole thing is patently absurd and awkwardly staged, with Ray’s cowboy hat and sunglasses disguise seeming more like something out of an episode of “Reno 911” than an HBO event series. A shootout commences, and Ray and Ani once again find themselves on the run.
Meanwhile, Frank is busy making plans for revenge. After sending Jordan away to Venezuela, where he’ll join her in two weeks’ time, he visits Mayor Chessani’s mansion and finds him floating dead in the pool. Another loose end tied up all too neatly. Later in the episode, a similar fate befalls Dr. Pitlor, who’s found with his wrists slashed.
From there, Frank heads to the Black Rose bar, where he, Ray and Ani hide out in a secret room above the kitchen. Their plan is to sail away to South America, but first Frank and Ray decide to raid Osip’s cabin in the woods and make off with a few million dollars in traveling money.
Thus begins the episode’s second action sequence, this one involving Frank and Ray donning gas masks and taking out a group of heavily-armed Russian gangsters. It’s a lot less exciting than it sounds. There’s a humdrum quality to this episode’s gun battles, as though they’re only included to mark time and provide a minor thrill or two.
With Osip and Jacob McCandless dead in the woods, Frank and Ray abscond with the loot and prepare to leave the country with fresh passports and new identities. Complications ensue when Frank gets captured by the Mexican drug cartel and Ray finds himself being tailed by Burris and a team of Black Mountain mercenaries.
The episode concludes with each of the remaining characters facing the music on his or her own: Frank finds himself stumbling across a barren desert, clutching a bleeding knife wound in his side, while ghosts from his past taunt him. A lovely vision of Jordan helps usher him into the great beyond, while hungry buzzards wait to pick his dead body clean.
Ray desperately tries to leave a final voicemail for his son, while simultaneously holding off an armed assault. In the end, he goes down in a hail of bullets, the phone message never sent.
And that leaves Ani, who winds up in a South American hotel along with Jordan and a surprise addition to the family. A parting gift from her night with Ray, perhaps? Cute kid, regardless.
Ultimately, this season of “True Detective” barely seemed concerned with who murdered Ben Caspere, or why. The mystery and the crime itself were never more important than the atmosphere of dread and corruption that permeated those early episodes. If only that was enough to hold more interest.