True Detective: “Other Lives” Season 2 Episode 5 Review

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It’s a risky move to essentially restart a series just four episodes in, but I’m sure there are shows smart savvy enough to pull it off. True Detective isn’t one of them.

After the explosive shootout that closed last week’s entry, it was a big question where everyone would end up with the case essentially solved. It’s been two months since then, but none of our detectives seem to be doing what they were doing. Ray primarily works security for Frank, Paul is investigating insurance fraud, and Ani has been temporarily demoted. Despite all these changes, most of their storylines remained about as interesting as they were before.

Ray’s fight for visitation rights with a kid that may or may not be his child gained a little bit of steam, with Farrell continuing to be the only actor on this season willing to exhibit emotion. It was also interesting to see him show concern for Ani when they all too briefly met in “Other Lives.” His redemption arc has been fun to watch, and with three episodes left, the best thing about True Detective season two is how he brings the others with him.

Ani’s story had no forward movement this week. She pointed out some double standards toward women in her group therapy session with other cops. Then she got back on the case, which is right where she was before the big shootout. Was any of this really necessary?

Then there’s Paul, who is now marrying his pregnant girlfriend. Last week, the show pointed to him moving closer to accepting his homosexuality, but as with many storylines continuing from “Down Will Come,” it appears to be one step forward, two steps back.

With Ani and Paul remaining stagnant or even moving backward, it was time for Frank’s story to take shape. Slowly but surely, Frank and Jordan pulled the curtain back for each other concerning their marriage. The moments after were healthy enough to start the process of humanizing Frank. We’re not quite there yet, but the path is at least lit.

Still, after two episodes that gave season two some promising elements, “Other Lives” failed to continue the trend. Most of what was going on here was just boring. Ray’s story still works, and Frank’s finally had some worthwhile moments this week, but as a whole, the show is still a mess. If there’s a time to save this season, it’s now. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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