True Detective: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” Season 2 Episode 7 Review

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So here we are, at the precipice of a completely disastrous season and True Detective finally shows some life. Sure, only one of the four main characters’ stories worked tonight, but it really freaking worked.

I’m talking about Paul, our uptight closeted detective with a baby on the way. After season one ended with a satisfying conclusion on the case, but a majorly unsatisfying resolution for the characters’ personal lives, season two’s endgame appears to be remedying that.

Paul is mailed photos of him and his lover being intimate, which freaks him out and has him ship his girlfriend and mother away. But the episode closed with the best scene of the season, as he’s confronted by one of the season’s criminals, who happens to employ his lover. He tells Paul that if he was true to himself, these threats wouldn’t matter. I’ve been writing in these reviews since the beginning that, in 2015, a person like Paul is simply on the wrong side of history. He failed to grow out of that, and in storytelling, there has to be consequences for that.

Well, he sure faced them, but not before a phenomenally constructed shootout in the dark (Taylor Kitsch for Batman after Ben Affleck is done?). Just when he seems victorious, he gets a shot in the back followed by one in the head. This isn’t like the ending of “Night Finds You.” There’s a lot of blood coming from his head. It would be shocking, and probably pretty terrible, if the finale opened with another Lynchian Elvis impersonator. True Detective doesn’t need Paul anymore. Killing him off here is the smartest decision of the season.

But hey, this season has been a lot of give and take, so Ani officially became the worst character on TV this year in “Black Maps and Motel Rooms.” Starting with her begging Ray for sex, any feminist angle the series was trying to take got thrown out the window in this episode. Ani suddenly became the weak woman that just needs a man to fix her up. It held true to the very end, when they started hooking up. Bring on the cliche and the steps backward.

So for once, Frank’s parts of the episode weren’t the worst thing going on. He still did nothing all that interesting, but hey, not as bad as Ani’s story.

I audibly groaned during the preview for the finale when they said it was 90 minutes. This episode was both the best and worst of season two, making it potentially the most bipolar episode of TV all year. Whatever, let’s just get the finale over with. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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