So, I know I wrote a whole article on the evils of Season 2, but I now have to eat my words. Episode five was a standout and spells out the strengths of this season in a way I could not have foreseen.
Velcoro shaves the ‘stache
This episode takes place sixty-six days after the shootout that’s now been named the “Vinci Massacre,” and as ominous as that sounds, the aftermath of it seems very tame for something that today would warrant twenty-four hour news coverage and congressional investigations. In response to this, Velcoro has quit the force and is now openly working for Frank as muscle. Ever since the trailer for this season I’ve been referring to Velcoro’s impressive lip decoration as a “desperation ‘stache.” It was a visual manifestation of how he’d fallen as a person. This new mustache-less Velcro has accepted what type of a person he is and largely (we think) resolved his moral conflict. He’s no longer a dirty cop. He’s a monster, and he seems mostly comfortable hurting people to get the information he needs. The only time he hesitates is when he’s making rounds collecting rent from illegal immigrants in one of Frank’s apartment complexes and one doesn’t pay up. He doesn’t threaten violence, just deportation if they don’t get him the money in time.
Frank is his worst self
But as he said previously, “Sometimes your worst self is your best self.” The erstwhile land developer has now largely regained his criminal empire from those he’d sold it to at the cost of his failing marriage. His wife confronts him, saying that she didn’t want to be a gangster’s wife. In the midst of this, Frank does find an out, Catalyst (the company behind the high speed rail system), or more specifically its managing partner, Jacob McCandless, is looking for the hard drive connected to Casper’s camera we saw in episode two. We find out through a couple of different perspectives that the hard drive had very incriminating evidence that implicate some very powerful people in misdeeds. If Frank can find it, then he can get a stake in the rail system.
Bezzerides is locked in a cage
After the sexual misconduct complaint by a lower ranked officer, and the shootout that went sideways while under her command, Bezzerides has been demoted and stuck in the evidence locker. This, however, hasn’t stopped her from investigating the case. She is the only one who sees, or cares, about these various plot threads we’ve seen all season, specifically a missing girl who got mixed up in prostitution, the Mexicans getting the blame for Casper’s death, and how downplayed the Vinci Massacre was. She manages to pull together enough evidence that the team is brought back together by an official from the attorney general’s office to launch a secret investigation to reopen the Casper case. In this way, she and Woodrugh are led to one of the bigger WTF moments of the episode.
Woodrugh is probably a war criminal
This guy is becoming the most interesting character. Bezzerides, Velcoro, and Frank are all one note characters that follow basic archetypes, Woodrugh, however, can’t be pinned down. Every time I think I know what he’s about some new twist happens and makes me realize I don’t know who he is. At this point he could even turn out to be the killer for all we know. After finding out that he’s an extremely closeted gay detective and veteran, who has now impregnated his girlfriend whom I think he genuinely loves (even if he’s not attracted to her) he then goes to his mom’s trailer, pulled a camo bag out of a closet. Inside the bag is supposed to be money. Not just a little bit of money, but A LOT OF MONEY. So much money that when he found out his mother spent it I thought he was going to strangle her to death. The most shocking part was when he said the money ($20,000 by the way) was his “take” from Afghanistan. I could understand that meaning his combat pay, but with all the implications of a atrocity having been committed by his unit while he was deployed makes me think this was not gained the honest way. I don’t know how he could have gotten that much money, but I’m sure it’s going to make my jaw drop.
- The first of these I discussed above. Finding out the Woodrugh is probably a war criminal is a pretty big deal, even for this show.
- The chair. When Woodrugh and Bezzerides walked into that shack, covered by crows, I was expecting a dead body, not a place where the walls are covered in blood with a torture chair in it. That combined with what Velcoro was told about the Chessani family being an “inventive” family made me think that there’s more to this than a simple smut film. I could be wrong, but we are probably talking about ritual sacrifice if last season can be used as a guide. This is the first sign, outside of the creepy masks and constant bird motifs, that this season is getting as weird as the first.
- When Velcoro first showed up at the psychologists office I didn’t see he was wearing his gloves, but once I saw him pull the sap out and start beating the good doctor I realized very quickly what kind of encounter this would be. I didn’t expect him to start spitting teeth out by the end either.
- For the biggest moment: When Velcoro found out that the man who’d raped his wife had been arrested I could see the barely restrained rage in his eyes. Velcoro lost his way when he let his desire for vengeance overcome his duty for justice and it additionally set him down a path where he was beholden to Frank for helping him find his wife’s rapist and helped him bury the body. Now to know that not only had he killed an innocent man, he’d also been lied to by Frank, the only person he seems to trust. This is going to set up an epic encounter next episode. I. Can’t. Wait.