A Look at “Testament of Youth”

Testamenet of Youth- Poster

The Great War.  It will be over in no time, they said.  If all the other boys are going to serve their country, how will you look if you remain behind?  Well, chances are you have a better chance of keeping your life, but if you’re young and haven’t experienced war, it’s easy to think that the war won’t take very long.

Enter “Testament of Youth,” an adaptation of Vera Brittain’s memoir about the impact of World War I on the lives of women and Great Britain as a whole.  With a cast led by Alicia Vikander’s performance as Vera Brittain, the film shows that, yes, war is hell.

Testament of Youth- Vera Brittain, played by Alicia Vikander, walks through the crowd on Armistice Day

The film begins on Armistice Day- November 1918.  As British citizens fill the streets throughout and celebrate the end of the war, one woman in particular is too busy trying to make her way through the crowd.  She reaches a chapel and finds herself drawn to a particular of people being washed into the sea.

We then flash back to four years earlier where we see the same woman swimming in a lake.  This is Vera Brittain, played by Alicia Vikander.  She’s still having some fun in the water while her brother, Edward, played by Taron Egerton, and friend Victor, played by Colin Morgan, get dressed.  Edward teases Vera again about the possibility of her and Victor getting together, but Vera thinks nothing of that.

Testament of Youth- Vera tells her parents that she doesn't want a piano, she wants to go to Oxford

At home, Vera receives the surprise of her life when she sees a piano being delivered to her parents’ home.  Her father, played by Dominic West, and mother, played by Emily Watson, would like Vera to play something for their guests, and she does…briefly.  But she then stops and then storms off.  Now why is there a bee in Vera’s bonnet?  The money spent on this piano could have paid for a year of education at Oxford, which is what Vera wants.  But not Mr. Brittain.  He doesn’t want to waste, not spend, money on that.

Testament of Youth- Roland Leighton, played by Kit Harington, enters

Vera tosses all of her books out the window in protest.  She has no plans of getting married- just pursuing her education to further herself.  Just as Vera heads back downstairs, in enters another guest: Roland Leighton, played by Jon Snow himself, Kit Harington.  Roland joins Vera in retrieving her books and is personally concerned about the literature.  Vera thinks that Roland is already working on his anecdote to tell his friends at school…Vera, don’t be an asshole to someone you just met.

Anyway, Roland finds a note in one of Vera’s books.  He doesn’t tell her about it, though.

That night, Roland stops by Vera’s room and finds her studying for the Oxford entrance exam, which he himself has already taken.  It’s all about technique, he says.  Roland offers to help, as he learned better on his own than from his teachers.  He worked it all out on himself.  Vera promises to do the same.

The next morning, Edward tries to persuade his father to let Vera enter Oxford.  After all, it’s what Vera has her mind on.  Edward even offers to pitch in and share his allowance with Vera.  Dad points out that you still need tuition for the entrance exam, but Edward wouldn’t feel right going about this by himself if Vera didn’t have the chance.  The two overhear a noise and it’s clear that Vera is with close by.  Dad begrudgingly allows her to give the exam a shot.

Testament of Youth- Vera and the boys go for a walk

Later, Vera and the boys relax outside and talk of suffrage, of which Roland is a supporter.  As is his mother, who is a novelist that also writes for the paper.  Roland takes out the poem he found, but Vera snatches it from him before he can read it.

Roland didn’t know that Vera kept it a secret.  The only reason he held onto it was because it moved him.  He found it quite beautiful, knowing that Vera is an impossible person to say that to.  Vera says otherwise and asks Roland what he would think if she wanted to earn a living as a writer.  Actually, Roland wants to as well, but he lives in his mother’s shadow.  Roland tells Vera that she must write- something no one has ever told her before.

That evening, Roland slips a poem of his own under Vera’s door.  She gives him her assessment the next day before he and the boys leave: it’s well-crafted, but a bit dry, as if he was holding back.  She couldn’t find him in it, despite Roland’s word that it is his writing.  Before Vera can apologize for her unintentional slight, Roland and the boys head off.

Vera writes to Edward by letter- remember those?- and asks for news of Roland, thinking that she offended him.  Roland responds directly with his own poem.

Testament of Youth- Vera with Aunt Belle, played by Joanna Scanlan, to take her entrance exam

Next thing we know, Vera is on a train to Hogwarts- I mean to take the entrance exam.  She’s joined by her Aunt Belle, played by Joanna Scanlan.  Aunt Belle, you see, has promised to keep a proper eye on Vera.  She even made her an extra nightie.  That’s pretty considerate of you, Aunt Belle.

Testament of Youth- Oxford entrance exam

Inside, Vera overhears a bit of conversation regarding an essay portion on the entrance exam- something she did not know about.  Whoops.  Exam time comes and Vera gives it her damndest.  Afterward, she tells the instructor that she didn’t know an essay was required.  After all, she did prepare for this on her own.  The instructor notes that Vera was busily writing away, which is true, but Vera was writing in German, not Latin.

Side-note: while it would be easy to dismiss this as a simple mishap, the fact that Vera knows German does become a big plot point later on, so keep this little moment in mind.

But back to the film- Vera feels that the instructor has judged her already frivolous, but the instructor just thinks that Vera is keen to stand out.

Vera writes to Edward, thinking that her time so far has been a disaster.  Even more than that, Roland has not written back to her yet.

Later, as Vera and Aunt Belle prepare for school speech day, Vera receives some mail, including a letter from Oxford.  Just don’t tell Father.

Testament of Youth- Graduation ceremony

During the address, Vera and the rest of the family watch as the headmaster wishes the men well as they head to university and prepare to serve the glory of the Empire.

Testament of Youth- Vera learns that she was accepted into Oxford

When the speeches are all said and done, Vera catches up with Roland so he can read her Oxford results to her.  After a long bit of waiting, Roland shares the news that Vera got in!  Also, Vera, work on your Latin.

Testament of Youth- Vera learns why Roland has been so busy

Following an awkward introduction to Roland’s parents, the two head off on their own to catch up, since Roland never wrote back.  If it’s friendship that Roland wants, that’s fine with Vera, but she wants clarity.  In Roland’s defense, it has been a very busy term.  Exams and ending school can be quite time consuming.  Roland also did hold onto Vera’s letters and only didn’t write back since he’s not so great with words.

One day, when they’re both at Oxford, they can see each other every day.  Though Vera will be concentrating on her studies, Roland points out that she will need an escort.

Testament of Youth- Roland and Vera meet at the theatre

And then Aunt Belle shows up and sees the two holding hands.  She points out that this isn’t the way to go about it!  And how!  Roland asks Aunt Belle’s permission to see Vera again, and she grants it, but it will be fully supervised.

Testament of Youth- Roland and Vera have some alone time for a little bit

Indeed, Aunt Belle does chaperone the two and gives them little to no time alone.  She even goes as far as sitting in between the two during a play.  Now that is a cock block.  They go to an art museum and just when it seems like they have a moment to themselves, Aunt Belle is watching from above.

In between this, the three learn from the papers and train passengers about the approaching war and Germany’s ultimatum.  Some of the women figure that their boys will be the first to sign up, as there isn’t a lad in this country who doesn’t want to crush the Kaiser.  The women decide that this war will be over in no time.  Ha.

Testament of Youth- Edward, played by Taron Egerton, asks Vera to persuade Father to let him enlist

Edward wants Vera to talk to their father about Edward joining the war.  He’s an officer cadet and this is what he’s been training for, but father said he’d rather put a gun to his own head than let his son join.  All the other boys in town have joined and Edward wonders how it will look if he’s not among them.  Well, for my money, I think Edward will have a greater chance of living a long life.

So Vera talks to father, telling that, according to the papers, this war should be short and fast.  Again, the naïveté of these people.  Hell, Edward may not even see any fighting.  She argues that father should let Edward be a man, as Edward may not forgive him if he doesn’t allow him to sign up.  Why do people always make these things personal?

Vera writes to Roland.  Though the idea of war may be terrifying, she’s way too excited about her upcoming time at Oxford.  When the two meet up when Vera arrives on the 2:20 train, she finds that Roland doesn’t have any luggage.  He’s signed up for the war and will be joining a commission with the fourth Norfolks…starting tomorrow.  Roland’s uncle, Theo, is a military man who managed to pull some strings.

And Roland wasn’t pushed into this- he asked for it.  After all, how many generations get to serve in something like this?  He can’t ask others to do his duty for him.  He’ll be in Norwich- not even active service.  It’ll just be months of training.  At that point, the war could be over, so he and Edward could join Vera in the new year.

So it was, Vera begins her studies at Oxford.  She writes to Roland to inform him that Victor was turned down because of poor eyesight, but Edward’s joining the Sherwood Foresters.  At least Vera has the comforting knowledge that Roland is on English soil.  In response, Roland writes to Vera to let her know that he’ll be leaving for France on Thursday.

One of the headmasters disapproves of Vera gallivanting off to see her male friend since the women have to work twice as hard and be twice as good.  After all, what’s the point of fighting so hard to prove that they’re worthy of degrees?  When Vera explains that she’s going to say goodbye to somebody going to the front, the headmaster understands, as her brother is also involved with the war.

When Roland and Vera meet, Vera learns that Roland asked for a transfer.  He’s a bit under the weather.  Hopefully not that Spanish flu that’s ripping through the troops.

Testament of Youth- Roland and Vera say their goodbyes

It’s time for the train to depart.  Roland and Vera say their goodbyes and the two promise to keep in touch.  As the train pulls further and further away, Vera and the other women watch as the boys head off to war.

When Vera catches up with Victor, she tells him that she can’t stay there- she needs to do something.  Victor casually suggests becoming a nurse.  It makes sense, though, as there is a call for them.  The headmaster isn’t pleased with Vera’s sudden decision.  After all, not every person, let alone woman, gets the opportunity to embark on a promising career at Oxford.  Even if Vera is giving up a golden opportunity, her mind is made up.  She’s about to become a nurse for the war.

And that’s how Jon Snow and Vera Brittain went off to war.

While we’ve had war films that focus on the carnage and what goes through the mind of a soldier, I personally haven’t seen many that focus on those opposed to it.  I’m sure there are films out there like it, so I can’t exactly call Testament of Youth original in that regard, but it’s interesting to see a different perspective on war taken…eventually, which is one of my minor issues with the film that I’ll get into later.

Testament of Youth- Vera's father weeps

For now, though, the film does a good job at focusing on the naiveté of youth and people in general who feel that the war will be over in no time at all.  Not everyone, though.  At one point, Vera’s father tells her that he knows war and that it won’t just end before it begins.  And I can’t get too up in arms about how uninformed most people are.  They haven’t seen much, if any, war and are too focused on the obligation of serving your country.

Testament of Youth- Men prepared to serve

At several points in the film, men talk about the potential ramifications of what could happen if they aren’t on the front line alongside their buds.  It’s their duty and they can’t have others doing that for them.  If they aren’t allowed to serve, they’ll never forgive the ones who kept them from realizing their potential.  Vera even decides to give up her hard earned education just so she can be a nurse, even though she also has never seen combat.

To be frank, these people know nothing, and obviously I’m just saying this because Kit Harington is in this film, yes.  Hell, even when watching this in the cinema, a man said next to me of Roland, “He knows nothing.”  That’s cool.

Before war breaks out, we know it’s looming in the background just because of the film starting with Armistice Day.  There had to be a lot of death and destruction leading up to this point, but Vera and her friends are in a false of security.  They swim in a tranquil little lake and the boys look forward to doing their duties as men, never mind that there’s nothing saying that they’ll be safe from combat.

Testament of Youth- Germany's ultimatum to war

As the film slowly builds, we get snippets through the newspaper of the impending Great War.  Headlines about the Archduke of Ferdinand being assassinated and Germany’s ultimatum to war show that the once quiet world our British citizens live in is about to be shattered by war.

Testament of Youth- Vera gets a paper to learn about the war

Once war breaks out, though, we stick with Vera’s perspective.  I know that this is her story and she can only speculate as to what’s happening on the battlefield, but this is one of my minor issues with how the war is presented onscreen.  Here and then again, we get flashes of Roland and others in combat or stuck in trenches.  Luckily, there’s no obligatory trigger for these brief scenes, but I would have liked more of them and that they be a tad longer.

Testament of Youth- Roland in trenches

Vera learns a lot about the war, but one or two extended scenes from the perspective of the men would have been nice to help add more weight to their conflict.  Since Vera isn’t there, these scenes could be her speculating what she thinks is happening, and while it’s probably more valid that these flashes are what happened during the war, I just wanted to see these combat moments from the perspective of the soldiers.

Testament of Youth- Roland struggles to open up about the war

In fact, we get a scene just like that when Roland and the boys briefly get some time away to spend with Vera and the family.  After his brief time away, Roland is much colder and reserved to Vera compared to the cheerful man before he leaves.  War isn’t easy to talk about and you don’t want to appear soft or too much of a pacifist.

Testament of Youth- Receiving bad news

But if you don’t have an emotional outlet, all those raw feelings get buried underneath.  I personally see no issue with that, but for the purposes of this film, talking about the war allows the men to retain who they are instead of losing their minds and souls to combat.  It also allows the women to grieve instead of continuing as if nothing bad will come of the war.

Testament of Youth- Vera tries to persuade her father to let Edward enlist for the war

Though I’m talking a lot about the war portion of this film, there’s a lot of discussion of gender roles and assumed responsibilities that men and women fall into.  Vera’s father doesn’t want to waste his money on her education, even if Vera has devoted so much time to her studies.

Testament of Youth- Vera decides that she wants to be a war nurse

Once she gets to Oxford, one of the headmasters reminds Vera that the women have to work twice as hard and put in twice the effort just to prove to themselves and the world that they’re worthy of degrees.  Vera wants to run off to war, which many women would see as an insult to the amount of females who would gladly attend Oxford if it meant receiving a quality education.  While Vera never allows herself to be restrained by her gender, she decides that she’s destined for more than an education.

Testament of Youth- Women wave goodbye to the men going off to war

One of the most telling scenes detailing the divide between the genders is when Vera wishes Roland farewell as his train heads off.  While all the men ride off to war, the train platform is flooded with nothing but women wishing their sons, husbands, friends and so on farewell.  Unlike World War II, there’s none of that desire for women to take up a large effort in the war- they just go back to their designated matriarchal roles and await the men to return, unaware that many of them will not.

Testament of Youth- Tons of injured soldiers

Two scenes highlight this: there’s a moment where Vera looks through the newspaper and sees the many full page spreads naming the number of dead soldiers.  Coupled with this is a sweeping scene later on in the film where Vera and other nurses help injured soldiers and the camera pans further and further back, as if the number of injured soldiers was endless.

Testament of Youth- Vera on Armistice Day

The character herself is a rebel from the start, a character trait I appreciate.  Alicia Vikander is great at embodying this woman who constantly challenges authority figures around her because she knows that she’s destined for greatness and her performance is the best part of the film, in my opinion.  She’s a bit of a prat at the start, as Roland points out that she’s difficult to please, but she does soften to others who are trying to be genuinely nice to her.

Once she has her mind set on something, she commits to it.  Well, sort of, since she skimps out on Oxford after fighting for it, but she does still commit to volunteering her time as a nurse and seeing some of the bloodiest parts that the war leaves.  She’s horrified by the carnage she witnesses when tending to the wounded and unprepared at first on how to handle this.  This isn’t the simple war that would be over in no time.  This is real hell and she’s responsible for stitching up the men that barely managed to return.  Even though she’s doing beyond what’s expected of her, it’s a decision she’s willing to stick by, no matter what and who she loses.

Testament of Youth- Roland and Vera

Everyone else is fine in their roles, but it’s disappointing that you have actors like Kit Harington, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson, just to name a few, that aren’t fully utilized that much, though Harington does appear a bit more and I do like his chemistry with Vikander.  In addition, Hayley Atwell, one of my current favorite actresses, appears briefly, but I wish she’d been here for longer, if only because I enjoy seeing her on screen.

Testament of Youth- Vera wants peace

My issue with the film is that Vera’s pacifism comes too late into the film. At the same time, she has to experience the pain of loss in order for her opinion to change.  Plus, because she’s been pushing so hard for her brother to join the war, when she loses people close to her, she learns that she’s partially responsible for pushing others to go to war.

Before, many figured that the Great War would take no time at all.  As time progressed, opinions began to change.  This was no longer just about sending off boys to fight- it was about realizing that many of them were being sent to their deaths.  Testament of Youth, though it doesn’t go as far with its pacifism as it wants to towards the end, is still a very good movie that shows how quickly the naiveté of war can vanish once the horror hits you back home.  There’s a massive difference between the idealism and patriotism of war versus the reality of death.

A Look at “True Detective” Season 2, Episode 2: “Night Finds You”

Episode two, “Night Finds You,” expands this universe and shows us how much the state is itching to dig the rampant corruption in Vinci.  At the same time, the detectives dig more into Caspere’s background to learn what led to his murder, all while dealing with their personal drama.  Oh, and surprise ending to boot.  Let’s jump right in.

Night Finds You- Frank talks about a water stain on the ceiling

The episode begins in the dead of night at House Seymon.  Frank is unable to sleep, as he’s drawn to the water stain in the ceiling.  How did it get there?  It rained maybe twice this year.  It’s like everything’s papier-mâché.  Jordan, not nearly as invested in this riveting topic, tells her husband to stop thinking, but he’s stuck on this.  He doesn’t like being on a ledge, metaphorically speaking.  Nobody gets rich on their own money and Frank himself rarely knew what to do with it.

The two always wanted land, but you need children to pass it down to.  So really, the land was never yours.  Frank thinks back to when he was a lad, living with his father in Chicago.  The old man used to lock him in the basement when he went on a bender and would let him out the next day.  Figured he was keeping Frank safe.

One night, though, when Frank was six, he woke up one morning and was still locked in.  Frank figures that his father got himself arrested.  By the second morning, Frank was out of food.  On the third day, the light bulb burned out.  That’s when the rats started invading.  When Frank dozed off, he woke to find one of the rats nibbling on his finger.  Frank just grabbed and smashed it until there was nothing but goo in his hands.  Sticky goodness, am I right?

Frank remained in the dark until his father returned- two days later.  Ever since, Frank wondered what if his father never came home?  What if he’s still back in that basement?  Hell, what if he died down there?  That’s what the water stain reminds him of.

Funny.  Water stains just remind me of mildew.

Night Finds You- Coroner, played by Anjul Nigam, briefs the detectives on Caspere's death

But onto the dead body from last week.  Paul, Ani, and Ray listen as the coroner, played by Anjul Nigam, debriefs them on Caspere’s death: he died between four and nine in the morning and toxicology shows Xanax, alcohol and, for what it’s worth, gonorrhea.  In addition, hydrochloric acid on his eyes.  The burn pattern shows that he was on his back.  Also, Caspere was bound with a vinyl fabric.  The pelvic wounds are indicative of a 12-gauge at point blank range.  It had to come after the eye stuff, as the cause of death is a trauma induced heart attack.

To make matters worse, there’s no trace.

Night Finds You- Katherine Davis, played by Michael Hyatt, and Richard Geldof, played by C.S. Lee, speak with Paul

Following this, we get a series of scenes with the three officers being lectured to by their superiors- among them: Katherine Davis, played by Michael Hyatt, James O’Neal, played by Alex Fernandez, and Richard Geldof, played by Masuka himself, C.S. Lee!  The different agencies debate who will play what role, as Vinci detectives have been on Caspere as a missing person, but this probe is very important to the governor’s office.  In addition, the attorney general’s office has concerns about obfuscation on the part of Vinci PD.

Ani is placed as primary commander of this detail, and she’s told that Ray is bent, so she can leverage something to turn him.  Paul is promised a state detective shield and that actress nonsense goes away.

We’re given a bit of background on Vinci for those unfamiliar with the area.  It started out as a nice haven in the 1900s, but went industrial in the 1920s and pushed out residents from manufacturing zones.  It annually emits or processes 27 million pounds of toxic waste.  Geldof himself has been after Mayor Chessani since he won the last EPA suit.  It’s all about the money, you see.

According to Ernst Bodine, played by Alain Uy, Caspere was one of the architects of the community renewal initiative.  Passing legislature, the city gets to keep 75% of its county tax revenue for eight years.  That’s worth about $900 million being kept from the county general fund.

Night Finds You- Ray is told to control the flow of information

The state will use the homicide to dig into what they can, so Vinci PD needs Ray to run point and control the flow of information.  He’ll be working under a Ventura detective.  Okay, but one question: is Ray supposed to solve this case or not?  The department just doesn’t want any surprises.  Ray must accept that dualities have to be effected to serve public interests.

Night Finds You- Ray briefs Frank on Caspere’s death

Later, Ray briefs Frank on Caspere’s death.  Or rather, his torture.  Frank is well familiar with Caspere, as there are deals being made upstate with a lot of money moving around.  When Ray asks about the specific of such deals, he clarifies by telling a miffed Frank that the more he knows, the better he can deal with this.  All Frank says is that Caspere was important to this thing he had going on and now he has to fix it.

Night Finds You- Paul with his mother, played by Lolita Davidovich

Paul, the good son that he is, pays a visit to his mother, played by Lolita Davidovich.  Ma happened to run into Paul’s old prom date the other day- she got fat.  She was nice but, as Ma points out, all of the girls were nice to him.  Paul tells Ma that he’s going to be busy around Los Angeles and the coast on special detail, but doesn’t go into specifics.  Ma hasn’t been working as often due to her carpal tunnel.  She’d lose her state check anyway.  Paul thought that named Bill would let Ma work off the books, but Ma doesn’t want to talk about that motherfucker.

Night Finds You- Ray and Ani investigate one of Caspere's locations

Ray and Ani investigate the same Caspere location seen in the previous episode, though this time to list contents against insurance audits and find out what was stolen.  Maybe someone was looking for something- that could explain the torture.  Ani zeroes in on the fact that Caspere thought about fucking a lot.  Keep that little detail in mind.

Night Finds You- Ray and Ani go for a ride, Ani smokes an e-cigarette

We then see the two riding together, though Ani isn’t a fan of Ray tapping on the window.  Caspere was seeing a shrink, so the two need to call every appointment in his calendar and check the circled dates in his GPS.  So while Ani isn’t a fan of Ray’s tapping, Ray isn’t all that into Ani smoking e-cigarettes.  He tried one once and felt like the e-cigarette smoked him.  A real cigarette wouldn’t make him feel like that.  It was a little too close to sucking a robot’s dick.  I’m not gonna begin to guess how and why Ray picked that as his metaphor.

Night Finds You- Frank speaks with Jacob McCandless, played by Jon Lindstrom

Frank, meanwhile, is still in a money bind.  He speaks with a Mr. Jacob McCandless, played by Jon Lindstrom.  Caspere, Frank says, was his bank on this thing.  They took the risk, and that risk afforded the chance to buy into the corridor.  However, the buy was never made.

McCandless can only account for what purchases Caspere completed.  Sure, Caspere sold Frank the land while acting as a short-term holding company, and if Frank got this transaction legally documented, it shouldn’t be hard.  That’s an issue.  If there was a paper trail, Frank would handle this through banks.

As is, Frank is in the unfortunate position of being owed money by a dead man.  About $5 million worth of money owed.  Don’t you hate when that happens?  Frank was led to believe that his partnership was with Catalast, and had Mr. Caspere made payment, it would have been.  That and Frank’s name would have been added to the corporate charter for the development.  Since Caspere’s remaining interests have been voided, McCandless can provide you the same parcel, same price: seven million, though Frank was quoted 10.  Not by McCandless, though.  McCandless can offer a buy-in, but Frank is short.

Frank is in a tight spot, what with his business partner taking his money and then being tortured and murdered.  He doesn’t have any assets, as the house and poker room were double mortgated.  Frank wants everybody in on this now.

Night Finds You- Ray and Ani speak with Ernst about Caspere’s background prior to his death

Ray and Ani speak with Ernst about Caspere’s background prior to his death, specifically at a party he attended that celebrated breaking ground on the Red Line extension and the imminent production of a major Hollywood movie.  Caspere was with a Miss Tascha.  Ernst knows that Ben maintained an active social life, but the two didn’t cross paths that way.  They only met over business.  No photos from the party to help identify the girl.

Night Finds You- Ani, Ray, and Paul go over Caspere evidence

Paul goes through some bank records and Caspere’s phone calls while Teague…supervises, I suppose.  Ani and Ray show up soon.  Nothing huge jumps out except for a $4,000 cash withdrawal.  The withdrawals come around the time of the blank days in his calendar.  They have his GPS, but there’s nothing on certain dates and the car didn’t go anywhere.  His Mercedes was a lease from the Catalast Group.  Ray heads off while Ani continues working.

Night Finds You- Ray meets with Alicia, played by Abigail Spencer

Where’s Ray off to?  Meet up with Alicia, played by Abigail Spencer.  Ray is meant to be meeting with Chad, but Alicia says that he’s not coming.  More than that, she’s pissed about word from police that someone beat up Wit Conroy that started with a schoolyard confrontation.  Ray claims to not know anything, but he does believe that a good beating provokes personal growth.

Alicia tells Ray that Chad gets anxious around him, despite Ray claiming that the two bond.  Ray says that if Chad does get anxious, it’s because he knows he’ll have to listen to his mother talk shit about his father.  Alicia comes out and calls Ray a bad person.  She and Richard are getting an emergency writ for supervised visits and petitioning for sole custody.  This can’t go on, Alicia says.  Ray was decent until something happened.  After that, she says, he wasn’t strong enough to stay decent.  Ray is incensed about this revelation, promising to burn the city to the ground.  He admits to being a piece of shit, but Chad is all he has.

Night Finds You- Frank helps a man who just his ass beaten

Frank, meanwhile, goes to help a man who just got rear-ended and a subsequent ass-beating.  He asks the man why he would randomly be targeted for an assault and plays up the nice guy routine.

Night Finds You- Ani and Ray talk with Rick Springfield about Ben Caspere

Ani and Ray head to the cosmetic surgery clinic that Caspere attended.  They ask the owner, played by Rick Springfield, if there was ever any indication that Caspere was in trouble, but even if there was, the reputation of the clinic rests on discretion and confidentiality.

Okay, so what was Caspere being treated for?  A few things: neuroses, anxiety, and guilt over his weakness for young women.  He frequented escorts, which brought about self-loathing.  His relapses became less frequent in the three years he came here.  And though Caspere was sexually obsessed, he was not aggressive.  That’s about as detailed as the two will get on Caspere’s personal life.

The owner notes the full name on Ani’s ID: Antigone Bezzerides.  He recognizes her connection to Elliot, as he did some social therapy with the Good People.  Ani calls her childhood a fucked-up place, though.  Five kids lived there- two are in jail now and the other two committed suicide.  The fifth one became a detective.  How’s that for an origin story?

Night Finds You- Frank talks to the mayor about Caspere and money

Frank heads to the city hall to speak with the mayor just as Geldof announces, on television, that offices are conducting a criminal probe into the incorporated city of Vinci in LA County.  Frank gives Chessani some money, though he’s short.  He’s pulling some stuff together and adding revenue streams, but needs a few more weeks.  He still owes the poker room kickback, though, but Caspere died with his money in his pocket.

Chessani informs Frank that he’s had outside interest in the poker room.  Frank is insulted that the mayor would bust his balls over ten grand.  After all, Frank kept this place as tight as a drum for years and even helped out Chesssani’s son, Tony, who may be losing his fucking mind.  Catalast is taking over Caspere’s action.  Frank is fucked out of his life’s work and needs a direction to turn to or he may start pulling down walls.

Chessani gives Frank an ultimatum: kickback is an extra 15 next week.  22.50 for the week after.  If Frank doesn’t come through, Chessani will have to entertain other interests.  Frank, meanwhile, wants time alone with whoever is responsible for this.

Night Finds You- Ani and Ray come up with theories regarding Caspere’s money withdrawal

Ani and Ray come up with theories regarding Caspere’s money withdrawal, such as a hooker blowout.  Maybe pimps wanted access to assets, but Ani thinks that this is more twisted than that.  The two drive past a suburban zone that, according to Ray, profits off of immigrant labor and sweatshop economics.  In his view, we get the world we deserve.  Ani asks Ray why he’s in this line of business.  His response?  He did time in the LA Sheriff’s Department and needed better pay with regular hours.

Ray figures that Ani’s superiors filled her in all about him.  He comes clean about any rumors about him killing a piece of filth that harmed his wife.  What about Ani?  What’s her deal with all of the knives?  Well, it’d be hard to do this job if everyone she encountered could physically overpower her.  Fundamental difference between the sexes is that one of them can kill the other with their bare hands.  If a man lays a hand on her, he’ll bleed out in under a minute.  Luckily, Ray supports feminism.

Though Ray is trying to effect transparency between the two, he doesn’t think that this investigation is supposed to work.  The state attorney’s investigation?  They must have tapped not just Ani and Ray, but Paul as well.  Why not have a team of state grand jury investigators working this case?  Why no full court press?  It’s an interesting point.  Ani drops Ray off and asks how compromised he is.  He doesn’t give a straight response.

Night Finds You- Paul and Emily, played by Adria Arjona, argue

Paul and his lady friend, who I can now properly identify as Emily, played by Adria Arjona, argue about the tabloid, though Paul maintains that he’s innocent.  He didn’t tell Emily because he didn’t want to think about it.  He won’t lose his job, as he’s got a new assignment through the state attorney that requires him to work in Los Angeles for some time.

Emily is fed up.  Paul barely talks and the two don’t know each other’s families.  She doesn’t want to hear from him while he’s away.  Paul doesn’t shy away from telling Emily that she’s doing this, not the other way around.

Night Finds You- Frank meets Danny Santos, played by Pedro Miguel Arce, at a nightclub

Frank heads to a nightclub and meets with the owner, Danny Santos, played by Pedro Miguel Arce, to talk with some of the women there about whether they’ve seen Caspere.

Night Finds You- Ani calls Hollywood Division Vice Squad before taking a call from Elvis and then going back to watching Naughty Cali Angels

Ani calls the Hollywood Division Vice Squad again to speak with a detective, but gets nothing but voice mail.  No matter.  She can immerse herself in Naughty California Angels.  A call from Elvis concerning the missing girl’s old roommate momentarily distracts her.  It turns out that Vera last called a few months ago.  Elvis checked the phone records and a call came from a Guereville address.  Fine.  Ani goes back to watching her porn.  Yet she does not masturbate.  What do, HBO?  What do?

Night Finds You- Ray and Frank meet to discuss Caspere

Ray and Frank reconvene.  Caspere had another house where he brought in girls.  Frank doesn’t want to go near it, and his people aren’t proficient in evidence handling.  He wants Ray to go in as police and grab anything that pushes towards Caspere’s dealings with land purchases.  What’s that all about?  Money.  Frank tells Ray that if this all goes Frank’s way, Ray could be chief of police this time next year.

That’s not what Ray wants, but Frank isn’t interested in what Ray wants.  He’s lining stuff up for Ray- a job that pays $300,000 a year.  Remember how they got there?  A body was dumped.  Ray sees no reason to keep at this, but life in prison isn’t a healthy alternative.  Everybody’s got the one option, but Ray is tired.  Maybe he should get some sleep, then.  Frank slips Ray his money and tells him to never talk like that again.

Ray leaves a bit after Frank, leaving the money behind.

Night Finds You- Ray is ambushed and shot by Birdman

In the dead of night, he investigates Caspere’s apartment and finds blood on the floor where the murder occurred.  Before he can notice, he’s ambushed and shot twice by a man in a bird mask as the episode comes to a close.

Well, that was a cliffhanger.  “Night Finds You” ramps things up by creating complexities for not just the detectives, but Frank and everyone around them as the state begins to dig into Vinci to learn all about this corrupt city.  Vinci pretty much exists in its own little world, but due to Caspere’s death, the door is about to be blown open.

Night Finds You- Ani is placed in charge of the investigation

In fact, just two episodes in, the detectives are turning on one another.  Not intentionally, but by order.  Bezerrides and Woodrugh are looking into Vinci because that’s what they’ve been assigned to do, while Velcoro needs to stay one step ahead without blowing his cover, even though Ani already knows that he’s compromised.

Night Finds You- Ani asks Ray how compromised he is

Despite that, she doesn’t think any different of him.  Hell, she may have more issue with his opinion on e-cigarettes than anything else, in my opinion.  Sticking with these two for a moment, I think the car rides between the two were my favorite scenes in the episode.  The first season of True Detective had plenty of these, giving us many moments to take in the chemistry and dynamic between McConaughey and Harrelson.

Ray says to Ani that we get the world that we deserve, and though that’s true, that doesn’t mean that we can’t change it for the better instead of being stuck in a vicious, corrupt cycle.

Night Finds You- Ani and Ray go for a ride

Though I’m not completely sold on the chemistry between Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams just yet, I did find myself drawn into their conversations as Ray talked about the corrupt world he lives in and how he’s ended up here.  He’s trying to be an honest man and wants out of the dirty business, but he’s too far in with the wrong crowd.

Night Finds You- Alicia talks to Ray about the beating he delivered

More than that, we see that his actions have consequences.  The brutal beatdown he delivered during the premiere came back on him quicker than I expected.  Since it was unrelated to the ongoing crime story, I didn’t expect this incident to come up as soon as it did, but this only goes to harm his personal life and further erode the rumbling relationship between him, Chad, and Alicia.

Night Finds You- Ray threatens to burn down the city

It’s interesting to see Ray get very worked up about the idea of losing custody versus how he works on the job.  When doing detective work, little seems to outrage or anger him, but the thought of not being able to spend time with Chad makes him want to burn the city.  It shows how much he does care for his son, but also how unhinged and on the fence he is.  Though he wants to get his professional life together, his personal life will take much longer to resolve.

Night Finds You- Ani talks about her siblings

Ani, though, for the most part, manages to keep her personal life in check, even though we know she has a few problems with her own life as well.  She’s very defensive and isn’t keen to discussing her family, but that doesn’t make her passive or a pushover.  As we see through her talk with Ray, she’s more than capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone who tries to overpower her.

Night Finds You- Ray leaves while Ani keeps working

She’s probably the most committed of the detectives to solving this case, as she wants to cut through the bullshit and ask the serious questions.  Hell, when she and Ray investigate one of Caspere’s locations, Ani figures that Caspere was just into fucking a lot as opposed to there being some large conspiracy related to his demise.  And when Ray wanted to cut out so he could handle some family business, Ani chose to remain and keep working.  She’s not the best at what she does- though, none of the three are- but she’s at least committed.

Night Finds You- Ani searches for Naughty Cali Angels

That and she’s got a thing for porn, yet she may be the one person I know of who is mesmerized by porn, but didn’t appear to have the urge to masturbate.  I’m thinking too much right now.

Night Finds You- Paul speaks with his mother

Then, of course, there’s Paul, who has an odd and slightly creepy relationship with his mother that, for a second, reminded me of the bond that Jimmy had with his mother, Gretchen, on Boardwalk Empire.  I hope I’m wrong and that it doesn’t come to that, but from what I can grasp, they are very comfortable around each other.

Night Finds You- Paul tells Emily that she's doing this

As far as the investigation goes, Paul seems to be going about business on his own.  The scenes with him aren’t as connected to the overall plot as the ones with Ani and Ray, as he has to deal with the drama between him and his girlfriend.  Paul seems like the kind of man who would rather be by himself just so he can work.  He doesn’t care about the fact that Emily is breaking things off just because he’s emotionally distant.

Like Ray, something happened in Paul’s lifetime that permanently changed him.  We get another reference to this Black Mountain mission or whatever it is that Paul was involved with, but he still doesn’t want to address this.  I’m still expecting this to be explained later on in the season.  Otherwise, why refer back to it if not just to tease?

Night Finds You- Frank in money trouble

Frank, meanwhile, is in serious money trouble.  It’s unfortunate that he’s now owed money by a dead man, but more than that, he needs a way to regain the assets and revenue that are now lost.  It’s a sharp contrast to the Frank we saw in the premiere that spoke of optimism about the future and leaving a legacy behind for the next generation.

For Frank, though, he feels that he’s earned this.  After all, he’s done his part helping make Vinci the way that it is and he’s deep in with city politicians.  Why should he be denied what he feels that he’s owed?

Night Finds You- Frank tells Jordan about his father

The opening scene where Frank discusses the water stain to Jordan is a fine metaphor for Frank’s life, but I think it teetered a bit on trying to make this a Rust-esque monologue.  I don’t have a problem with Vaughn’s delivery, but this was one instance where I felt the show trying to recapture what made Rust such an intriguing character.  I’m not going to be one of those who says that only McConaughey can deliver such lines.  No.  I’m just saying that I need more time to appreciate Vaughn’s character compared to Farrell or McAdams.

Night Finds You- Birdman shoots Ray

Oh, and I’d be crazy to not talk about the ending.  First, off, no.  I don’t believe that Ray is dead.  Not because of his casting, but because it’d be too easy to just throw in a main character death so soon.  This isn’t Game of Thrones, and I find morbidly humorous that Game of Thrones is now sort of the standard for how to kill off a beloved or main character.  Anyway, the scene was tense and the shooter moved fast, but I don’t think that Ray’s time is up.  The way he talked about wanting a vacation and how that would only come through death would be too telegraphed if this was his final moment.  He’ll be back, I’m calling it.

“Night Finds You” is a solid follow-up, I say.  It thickens the plot by opening up the city of Vinci to the state around it, gave us a greater sense of the corrupt world these people live in, and makes me wonder, like Ray, if they’re even supposed to solve this case.  Ray’s superiors told him that they don’t want any surprises, but this being True Detective and there being many moving parts and people with questionable morals, surprises are to be expected.

A Look at “You’re the Worst” Season 1, Episode 8: “Finish Your Milk”

Something else I’m guessing couples aren’t ready for at first: meeting the parents.  This is the main plot of the eighth episode: “Finish Your Milk.”

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen has Jimmy cover for her

Gretchen is set to fly out and spend time with her parents- and get out of going the gym at the same time- but doesn’t want Jimmy to take her to the airport.  He insists and only intends to drive her there without any sort of awkward confrontation between the parents.  Fair enough.

Finish Your Milk- Shit Stain and Honey Nutz deduce that Gretchen is trying to hide Jimmy

When all is said and done, Jimmy intends to spend the day at the cinema, where he runs into Honey Nutz and Shit Stain.  It’s worth noting that the only reason Jimmy is at a Black cinema is because he can yell out character insistencies and other issues.  Such things can’t be done at a White theatre.  However, Honey Nutz and Shit Stain find it odd that Gretchen is out of town, given that they’re supposed to meet with her later.

One phone call later, they learn that Gretchen is still in town and at an art gallery with her parents, which begs the question of why she would lie to Jimmy.  The two rappers realize quicker than Jimmy that Gretchen is trying to hide him from her parents, similar to Richie and Margot in the Royal Tenebaums.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy joins Gretchen at the art gallery

So Jimmy heads to the art gallery, much to Gretchen’s surprise.  Jimmy doesn’t buy her elaborate excuse of how her parents showed up when she was supposed to be visiting them.  Even typing that out, her excuse sounds stupid.  Jimmy refuses to leave until Gretchen produces her parents.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy meets Gretchen's 'parents'

So she does.  Though Jimmy hasn’t met the parents before, the conversation doesn’t last too long.  Gretchen’s father is having a surgery, anyway, so they have to get going.  Jimmy seems to buy it, but when Gretchen leaves, he starts piecing a few things together: Gretchen mentioned a Dr. Pablo, and they’re in an art gallery, her father is having back surgery, which leads Jimmy to notice a woman with a back brace, and the procedure is experimental, as it reads on an art brochure.  Jimmy returns to the couple and learns that they are not, in fact, Gretchen’s parents.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen's parents

After a bit of snooping, and the return of that moustache, Jimmy soon meets Gretchen’s real parents, Fred, played by Stephen Mendel, and Vanessa, played by Rebecca Tilney.  Gretchen’s parents are the definition of upper echelon: they’re snooty, play tennis for sport, and criticize their daughter’s tennis prowess.  They don’t think little of her, but Gretchen looks like she wants to make them happy, so she creates another elaborate tale- this one about Jimmy.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy meets Gretchen's real parents

Apparently, Jimmy and Gretchen met at a fundraiser.  He’s from the fancy part of London and one of his novels is being turned into a movie starring Zach Braff.  Gretchen is doing all of the talking for Jimmy, who intends to leave, but can’t take this charade.  He fesses up: he’s not from the fancy part of London- he’s from Manchester.  He may not always agree with Gretchen, but he doesn’t like the way her mother bullies her.  Gretchen isn’t some fancy philanthropist- she lives off 7-11 hot dogs.  That’s a bit too much, Jimmy, but whatever you think works.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy and Gretchen argue about truths and lies in relationships

Gretchen isn’t pleased by this act, though, but Jimmy doesn’t back down.  He thinks that people should prefer having a fractured, combative relationship based on truth as opposed to an unpleasant, artificial one based on lies.  Jimmy values honesty, and I really can’t disagree with that.  Gretchen, though, doesn’t call it honesty.  She says that it’s bullying and that Jimmy himself is a mean person.  But, as Jimmy retorts, at least he is a person.

Damn.  Again, I’ve never been in one of these situations, but it’s immediately clear to Jimmy that he didn’t just insult Gretchen right there- he hurt her.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen finds an engagement ring

Now hurt, Gretchen goes off and heads to Jimmy’s room.  She wants to blow her nose and dry her eyes, but there’s no tissue in the box by his bed.  Go figure.  Anyway, she goes through his shirt drawer and finds not just a shirt to wipe her face with- why do people do this?- but an engagement ring as well.

Realizing her future based on Jimmy’s upcoming move, Gretchen decides to end things between them right there and then.  She said from the start that she hates relationships, but now she’s in one.  This is her last chance to hop off this speeding train.

Now, we could call this the breakup episode, but there are still two episodes left in the season.

“Finish Your Milk” tackled what I’m guessing is one of the more awkward moments of a relationship: meeting the parents.  This has the potential to be rewarding if the parents like the significant other, or it can be an interrogation sequence as you’re grilled on your intentions with the parents’ sweet, innocent child.  Of course, innocence is subjective, but I’ll assume that people in relationships don’t want to disappoint their parents with the choice they made.

That’s a large assumption and in no way universal, but some of us may just throw caution to the wind and commit to the person that we like, regardless of everyone’s opinion.

Not Gretchen, though.  Of the two relationships Jimmy describes, Gretchen’s is the latter: artificial and based on lies.  She’s focused on making her parents happy, even if that means lying to them.  They exist in two different worlds: the parents are very posh and come off as very wealthy and well-read, but Gretchen is more laid back and down-to-earth.

Finish Your Milk- Fred tells Gretchen to finish her milk

Granted, we don’t get to know much about Gretchen’s parents and I don’t think they’re as demanding or bullying as Jimmy makes them out to be, but I get the impression that Gretchen is the kind of child who may have let her parents down with her life choices.  She’s now paralyzed with the fear of letting them down yet again.  As such, she first tries to hide Jimmy from them altogether, but when he finds them himself, she tries to make him seem better than he is.  This kind of deceit can and does only get worse as Gretchen digs herself deeper.

She has a point that Jimmy shouldn’t be telling her how to have a relationship with her parents, but it’s still her decision.  It’s not the best decision, in my opinion, but it’s still hers and she’s allowed to have that.  Gretchen wants to maintain this wholesome image that she’s a good daughter, but she keeps disappointing her parents, even when she tries her best.  Should she ignore their opinion altogether and just bring Jimmy out into the open?  Sounds like that would make more sense, but she fears letting them down again.  Instead of taking that risk, she tries to keep Jimmy separate from her family life altogether.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy speaks in defense of Gretchen

Jimmy, however, doesn’t care about that and prefers to just be honest, even if means making someone angry.  After all, that’s who he is.  When he tells Gretchen’s parents that they don’t know the real her, who is brave and spontaneous, Gretchen sees firsthand that Jimmy really does care for her, even if he has a weird way of showing it- it’s devotion, but odd devotion to a person who he knows is as toxic as he is.  He wants them to see Gretchen for who she really is because she’s unhappy with this facade, and so is he.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy realizes that Gretchen lied about her parents

And he’s at least smart enough to pick up on Gretchen’s crap, such as when he puts the context clues at the art gallery together and realizes that Gretchen tried to play him for a fool.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy sees Gretchen with her real parents

When he finally spots her playing tennis with her parents, his facial expression says it all.  Gretchen saying ‘Mommy?’  Playing tennis and getting upset when her mother criticizes her backhand?  This isn’t the cynical, brash Gretchen that he knows.  Something about this doesn’t fit.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy tells Gretchen that at least he is a person

Is honesty really the best policy?  As much of an outright prick as he is, I have to side with Jimmy here.  I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a perfect relationship, but I do think that basing it on lies and deception only hurts the people involved.  Better to have a more combative relationship based on honesty because at least everything is out in the open.  There’s no need to hide behind deceit.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen calls Jimmy a mean person

Gretchen disagrees with this, and that’s what, I think, made the argument feel so raw and real.  We know that these two are cynical, but Jimmy is the more outspoken of the two.  Gretchen is at least trying to be a grown-up about some things, but even that’s not saying much.  Her behavior around her parents is artificial, which is what prompts Jimmy to deliver the stinging comment of saying that Gretchen isn’t a person.  His quick reaction to his own words shows that even he believes he may have gone too far.

Finish Your Milk- Gretchen ends the relationship

I liked the use of the split-screen during their confrontation.  When it was first used in the pilot, the two actually weren’t in the same space.  Now, however, they’re both at Jimmy’s place, but the split-screen just shows how the two couldn’t be further apart than at this moment.  It’s a confrontation that I think the show has been building to, as Jimmy is quicker to take a person down a peg than Gretchen.  She’s right to call him mean, but I would say she’s wrong for lying to herself.  I don’t find a clear answer here, but it’s another reason why I enjoy You’re the Worst and how it deconstructs relationships by slowly putting two toxic people together.

Finish Your Milk- Paul and Lindsay

But they’re not the only ones having problems in this episode.  Lindsay has her own share of issues.  Becca confides in her that Jimmy tried to kiss her, which Lindsay flips out about, for some reason.  Becca isn’t happy in her marriage, either, which she realizes is a commitment she continues to struggle with, 24/7.

Finish Your Milk- Becca and Lindsay talk about cheating

Lindsay struggles with whether to tell Paul about her infidelity.  Unlike Becca, Lindsay doesn’t show any restraint when it comes to being with fooling around with someone outside of her marriage.  As such, like Gretchen, she can’t bring herself to be honest with herself, so she finds herself spending the day with Paul and even rides with him on his tandem.

Finish Your Milk- Lindsay gets a nose bleed while hanging out with Paul

By the way, sitting in a semi-reclined position on a tandem provides a better distribution of body weight and better blood flow to the anus and testicles.  Paul’s words, not mine, but words of wisdom to live by nonetheless.  It’s also worth noting that four Presidents were home brewers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Barack Obama.  Who knew?  These are the kind of things Paul must think about even when he’s not with Lindsay.

Finish Your Milk- Lindsay enjoys spending time with Paul

Interesting enough, Lindsay actually finds that she enjoyed spending time with Paul, even if she didn’t admit to cheating on him.  If Lindsay weren’t so repulsed by Paul or the type of woman who enjoys watching television shows with adultery- apparently that’s all she watches- she could probably have a healthy relationship with Paul.  As is, she’s just the adulteress that likes sitting on people’s faces.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar at the V.A.

Again, Edgar is a complex character with some deep, psychological issues that do deserve attention, but he doesn’t get it from either Jimmy or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  He’s reduced to recycling in order to get money for Ambien and doesn’t want to go to the V.A. because he believes there are veterans out there with real problems.  I’m sure that waking up with a knife is a problem, but okay.  Edgar’s decision.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar at the Veterans Affairs office

The scenes at the office where Edgar tries to make his case are indicative of how we don’t give veterans that much attention or focus after all they’ve done.  The office is filled with unopened boxes and veterans line up like they’re waiting to take their examination at the DMV.

Finish Your Milk- Jimmy tells Edgar to head back to the V.A.

What’s worse is that Edgar just ends up getting turned around and around.  After the first visit, he goes to Jimmy, thinking that he’s taking advantage of him…

Finish Your Milk- Vet turns in his hook

…but he ends up back at the V.A. and ends up having another veteran turn in his hook.  Whoops.

Finish Your Milk- Edgar helps Jimmy cook

In the end, though, Edgar is still a good friend to Jimmy and is there to console him after the break-up.  He even helps him cook after being so surprised that Jimmy would even try in the first place.  It’s a warm moment to end on as the two have both had terrible days, but can still be there for each other at the moment.  “Finish Your Milk” brought Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship to a screeching halt as the two grappled with what’s the better policy: honesty or deception.

Jimmy prefers everything out in the open, but Gretchen wants to hold back when necessary.  The friction between them leads to their break-up, but there are still two more episodes in this season, so let’s keep moving.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #143: “A Union”

The Walking Dead #143- Cover

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Rick and Carl had a falling out?  Well, let me clarify: they still see eye-to-eye on many things, but Carl’s brief time with Lydia- and by extension, The Whisperers, I suppose- has given him a fresh, albeit quick, outlook on the path he’s walked and how he’ll move forward from here.

Issue 143: “A Union,” is quite the deceptive title.  We do have unions and reunions, but we also have a shaky relationship between father and son.  But we’ll get to that in a moment, as I want to touch upon some other quick storylines first.

The Walking Dead #143- Pete and Ezekiel discuss Michonne

Let’s start with Michonne.  Or rather, the story concerning Michonne.  We’ve known for a while that and Ezekiel have been on shaky ground for some time, even before the time skip, but even now their bond is very fragile.  Despite how much time she’s had to spend on the sea, we learn from Pete that she’s still very much a loner.  It’s a personality trait that she’s been unable to fully shake off, despite opening up to Rick and the others.  Whether she and Ezekiel remain friends or go back to a relationship, I’d like something to happen, and given Pete’s push, hopefully Ezekiel makes a move.

The Walking Dead #143- Jesus and Maggie discuss how to tell Rick about Gregory's execution

I said before that it was interesting how Maggie didn’t mention Gregory’s execution, and at least we know why, as seen through her brief talk with Jesus.  Rick had enough on his plate and Maggie wasn’t exactly looking to cause even more friction between the two of them.  So at least we know she does intend to tell him.  It won’t go over easy, I’m presuming.  Rick has been pushing to prove Negan wrong, so to hear that Maggie went against that would be a huge blow to him.  I expect Jesus to be somewhat of a mediator during this confrontation, as he’s the one who eased Rick off and told him that Gregory tried to kill Maggie.

The Walking Dead #143- Eugene and Rosita talk about the baby and their future

Also, we get a brief appearance of Eugene and Rosita, who are still deep into their relationship, but all is not well.  Remember that Eugene is not the father of this baby, but he vows to stay by Rosita’s side anyway.  Again, I like how Eugene has more of a leadership role in the community, but he’s still fiercely devoted to Rosita.  He even remarks in this issue that what she looks like doesn’t matter to him- he’ll still care for her.

Rosita is grateful, but I can’t help but wonder if she feels a bit ashamed of herself as well.  Despite all she’s done, Eugene has shown her nothing but kindness and it makes me wonder whether she feels she’s good enough for him because she hasn’t always been the nicest person.  Eugene could have walked away the moment he learned that Rosita’s baby wasn’t his, but he’s remained with her because he cares.

The Walking Dead #143- Dante and Rick talk about Carl's disappearance

Now onto Rick and pals on the road.  Remember how much Rick blew up at Maggie for not spending more time locating Carl?  Well, now he regrets that and mentions to Dante that he doesn’t expect people to risk their lives for his son.  How very generous of you Rick, but I don’t really buy this sort of double talk.  It was in the heat of the moment that he exploded at Maggie and he even made a fuss that his son should have been worth more than two days.  At least be consistent, Rick.  You weren’t short with Dante- you were short with Maggie.  She’s the one who should get an apology.

The Walking Dead #143- Carl says that the world, not Rick, is his father

And then Rick reunited with his son.  You know, Carl really gained quite a bit of insight for the brief time he’s been with Lydia and the rest of the Whisperers.  But then, part of me wonders if Carl’s speech about Rick Grimes defending everyone isn’t also a comment on Rick’s portrayal in both the comic book and television show.  Rick isn’t invincible or untouchable, but he’s damn durable.  He’s endured so much and lost friends and family close to him, but he still keeps moving forward.

Carl is similar, but ever since Carl lost his eye, he- pardon the pun- sees the world in a different light.  It’s the first time we’ve heard him really address this, but he feels that Rick and most of the people around him look at him differently.  That’s partially true, as Negan saw Carl for who he really was.  He brought Carl into his inner sanctum, despite his appearance, and never thought different of him.

The Walking Dead #143- Carl says that Lydia understands him for who he is

Yes, the shooting has permanently scarred Carl, but Rick hasn’t treated him any differently as his son.  Few have, really, so I don’t fully get where Carl is coming from when he says that Lydia sees him for who he is.  I don’t want to make this accusation, but I would chalk this up to him still being in love with the girl.  He knows Lydia intimately, but like Maggie mentioned a few issues ago, he doesn’t know her that well.  He just met her, but already he’s come to the conclusion that Lydia is the one person who can accept him for who he is.  Now he’s ready to become his own man and carve out his destiny without- for the moment- his father.

Carl, are you out of your mind?  You’re in no position to come to this conclusion with someone you’ve just met versus people you’ve known for most of your young life.  I don’t recall many people flinching at Carl since his injury.  Have any felt uncomfortable?  Yeah, probably, but he’s still been accepted as the same Carl Grimes as before.  And Lydia’s smile during Carl’s rant looks as if she’s the happiest gal in the world.  Yeah, thanks for the being part of the reason for fracturing Carl and Rick’s bond.

The Walking Dead #143- Alpha tells Rick that he's in no position to threaten

Oh, but Rick’s not out of the woods yet.  Alpha returns from the fair quite sooner than I expected and apparently experienced some trouble on the road.  What’s the trouble?  We’re not told, though Rick thinks that something happened to Michonne, Andrea, and Dante.  We’ll see.  Oh, and by the way, Carl flipped out about Alpha’s disappearance, but we last saw the two talking before Alpha said she needed to learn more about Carl’s group.

But anyway, Alpha manages to put Rick in his place by reminding him that he isn’t in a position to threaten, and she’s right.  Rick is in unfamiliar territory and he doesn’t have the others by his side.  Sure, Carl is with the Whisperers, but Rick already knew from Maggie that Carl went of his own volition.  Recognize that you’re outnumbered, outmatched, and don’t try to be a hero.  Carl already said he didn’t want to go with you.

The Walking Dead #143- Alpha leads Rick on

As for the ending, there was a good amount of tension to it, as we had no idea where Alpha planned on taking Rick.  But the reveal of that massive horde of roamers was a sight to behold.  We’ve seen swarms and herds, but nothing quite like this.  At least, not for a long time.  It makes me wonder where all these roamers even came from.  Did Alpha and the Whisperers manage to corral them to this point or are they just stuck here?

The Walking Dead #143- Alpha shows Rick a horde of roamers

Either way, Alpha has a powerful weapon at her disposal or at least a way to prove she’s not screwing around.

A Look at “True Detective” Season 2 Premiere: “The Western Book of the Dead”

2014’s True Detective was critically lauded for many reasons: it’s engaging and often creepy storyline with occult elements interwoven throughout, great writing and direction- not to mention the show’s now well-known six minute tracking shot, and the casting, led by the strong lead performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Marty and Rust

It was a different sort of television show from what you expected and it managed to deliver on many counts.  Now if you’re going to follow up to this, you don’t want to just create a carbon copy or it’ll seem like you’ve run out of ideas.  At the same time, you want to make sure that viewers remain for the same reason they were invested in the first place.

The point I’m getting at is that Season Two of True Detective had a large hill to climb before we even saw the first trailer.  As months went by and we received more details, we learned that the next season would be akin to American Horror Story and Fargo with a new storyline and characters not connected to the previous season.  Time progressed and we found out that there would be not two, but four lead characters.

When the trailers debuted, I got the feeling that this new season would be a bit more…streamlined, as it was, and something a bit more inviting to viewers, new and old, than the occult storyline of Season One.  Don’t get me wrong- I love True Detective’s first season, but I can see how it would turn people off because of how strange and downright creepy it could be.  It would be unfair to spend the entire time comparing this season to the previous one because they’re two different beasts.

We shouldn’t expect Marty and Rust banter or philosophical talks about time.  If we can’t separate this season from the first one, how can we enjoy it if we’re constantly drawing comparisons?  Let’s see how this season can stand on its own two feet.  Welcome back to True Detective.

The Western Book of the Dead- Detective Ray Velcoro, played by Colin Farrell, speaks with his son, Chad, played by Trevor Larcom

The season begins with the first of our ruff, gruff detectives: Ray Velcoro, played by Colin Farrell.  He’s speaking with his son, Chad, played by Trevor Larcom, about any issues he may be having with the other kids at school.  Okay, Chad is a pudgy ginger, so it’s pretty easy to tell that he either is already or will be the subject of some bullying.  Call it a hunch.  Anyway, Chad is getting ready for a camping trip in two weeks and he’s got a brand new pair of shoes to wear as well.  I imagine that will be important.  As Chad leaves for school, Ray watches as some of the other kids ridicule his son for his shoes.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray interviewed by an attorney, played by Molly Hagan

We then cut to Ray being interviewed by an attorney, played by Molly Hagan, and learn that, a few years earlier, Ray’s pregnant wife had been beaten and raped.  Chad was born nine months after this, but the man who assaulted Ray’s wife was never caught.  As far as his relationship with Chad, Ray thinks that it’s solid enough that his visitation rights should be expanded.  He even bought digital recorders for the two of them so they could send each other messages.

Ray raised Chad on his own for two months when his wife came back and started talking divorce.  Neither requested a paternity test.  Ray is convinced that Chad is his, but the attorney is just giving him this question now because others will ask that question more rudely than she did.  Right now, Ray needs the attorney to come up with something and slides her a wad of cash as an incentive.  Instead, she asks if anything from Ray’s eight years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will hurt him now.  Ray, though, says no- he welcomes judgment.

The Western Book of the Dead- Flashback, Ray speaks with Frank Semyon, played by Vince Vaugh

The episode then flashes back to Ray in a bar years earlier as he meets with Frank Semyon, played by Vince Vaughn, who knows about man that attacked Ray’s wife but he’s not affiliated with him.  He’s just some amphetamine freak.  Sometimes, everybody’s not always on the same side.  He happened to brag about it and it matched the wife’s account, but this is only information.  What does Frank want in return?  Nothing.  Maybe they’ll talk later.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank gets ready with help from his wife, Jordan, played by Kelly Reilly

Following this, we cut back to the present as we see Frank get ready for a big day with the help of his wife, Jordan, played by Kelly Reilly.  Frank hasn’t slept much- he has a big day ahead of him, but Jordan doesn’t think he needs to put on any false airs.  He’s better than that.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank’s consigliere, Blake Churchman, played by Christopher James Baker, discusses an LA Times article on corruption in Vinci

We then cut to the Vinci Nine Garden Casino as Frank watches from above while citizens gamble.  Frank’s consigliere, Blake Churchman, played by Christopher James Baker, shows him the first of an eight part mini-series in the Los Angeles Times.  This series in particular focuses on corruption in Vinci, but Blake feels that there’s nothing connecting it to Frank.  They wonder what a man named Osip can tweak from this, which is that they’re not buttoned down at the least.

Frank wants Ray on top of this, as he knows that Ray won’t get carried away.  If this catches fire, it could become a state investigation.  Blake still feels that Frank isn’t touched, but Frank and his wife disagree.  Everyone gets touched.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams, makes coffee while Steve, played by Riley Smith, tries to talk

After a brief scene of a car taking off, we’re then introduced to the next protagonist of the season: Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams.  Ani and her boy-toy of the morning, Steve, played by Riley Smith, are talking.  Well, that’s not accurate.  Steve is trying to talk about their night and going forward, but Ani doesn’t have time for this.  She’s got work to do.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani and her partner, Elvis Ilinca, played by Michael Irby, perform a raid on a farmhouse

Does she ever.  Ani and her partner, Elvis Ilinca, played by Michael Irby, along with other detectives perform a raid on a small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that, according to a tip, is supposedly a brothel.  However, not only is it just webcam shows, but everything going on in the farmhouse is 100 percent legit.  Private subscribers and all of the women involved are American.  Hell, the owner even has a business license.  Now that is funny.  How often do you see raids on television shows where the business is illegal?  Here, though, it’s all by the books.  Nice change of pace, True Detective.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani's sister, Athena, played by Leven Rambin, argues with Ani about their lives, Ani's problems, and drug use

So who tipped off Ani?  Turns out it’s the green haired woman in the farmhouse that happens to be Ani’s sister, Athena, played by Leven Rambin.  It’s not porn, as Ani believes, but just entertainment.  Ani asks Athena if she’s off her meds, implying that she’d rather her sister stop screwing people and start taking drugs.  That’s some sisterly love right there.  From this scene, we can tell that there’s some huge friction between the sisters.  Athena believes that what Ani says are her sister’s problems are really her own.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray talks to Police Chief Holloway, played by Afemo Omilami, and Lieutenant Kevin Burris, played by James Frain

Ray reads the Los Angeles article while listening to his superiors: Police Chief Holloway, played by Afemo Omilami, and Lieutenant Kevin Burris, played by James Frain, right after his appearance on Orphan Black this year.  City Manager Ben Caspere has been missing for two days and there are many people looking for him.  His phone has been shut off as well.  Mayor Chessani is on DEFCON.  Ray is ordered to investigate the city manager’s office with the help of Teague Dixon, as Caspere’s disappearance now makes this a missing persons case.

The Western Book of the Dead- Paul Woodrugh, played by Taylor Kitsch, stops Lacey Lindel, played by Ashley Hinshaw

Then we meet another of the main characters: Paul Woodrugh, played by Taylor Kitsch.  Woodrugh is a highway patrolman and he happens upon a pretty young blonde named Lacey Lindel, played by Ashley Hinshaw, speeding along in her convertible.  She’s pulled over in no time, but wouldn’t you know it?  She doesn’t have her license or registration, but she is sporting a fancy ankle bracelet.  She tries to barter with the officer, saying they could talk if he just escorted her home.

The Western Book of the Dead- Commissioner Floyd Heschmeyer, played by Matt Battaglia, talks to Paul about the blowjob solicitation

Next thing we know, Paul is receiving a lecture from Commissioner Floyd Heschmeyer, played by Matt Battaglia.  Why?  Because soliciting a blowjob to avoid a citation is bad news.  Now Floyd knows the claim is bullshit- Paul isn’t that kind of guy.  Ms. Lindel probably just violated her parole to score and got caught doing so.  Even still, Internal Affairs needs to investigate this matter, so Paul is placed on administrative leave with pay.  He’ll be reinstated soon.  Paul loves his bike and feels that he’s no good on the sidelines.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank greets Bart Sallis, played by Chet Grissom, and Mayor Austin Chessani, played by Ritchie Coster

Back at the casino, Frank greets Bart Sallis, played by Chet Grissom, and Mayor Austin Chessani, played by Ritchie Coster.  They aren’t worried about the newspaper miniseries.  Once the federal contracts come through, writers can write whatever the fuck they want.  Now, though, is a time for celebration.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray does some investigating into Ben Caspere's disappearance

Ray does some investigating into Ben Caspere.  No family and no trips on the books, as he wasn’t the type to just up and disappear.  He had been going to the Monterey and Russian River Valley a lot, but he was never as out of touch as he is now.  No real kind of bad blood.  Mr. Caspere holds the purse strings for a lot of stuff.  A lot of folks have to go through him.  Time to head to his location.

The Western Book of the Dead-Ray and his partner, Teague Dixon, played by W. Earl Brown, check out one of Caspere's locations

Ray and his partner, Teague Dixon, played by W. Earl Brown, check out a trashed, weird as fuck looking home.  There’s even some weird sort of penis statue thing.  No, I don’t get it either.  Dixon immediately orders Ray to burn anything of his, should anything happen to him.  It helps to cover your bases, you know.  But anyway, Caspere’s computer has been taken.  Ray examines a map in a book and decides that the two need a tech crew for prints.  Dixon wants to let the bosses know, but Ray thinks they already may be aware.  He wants this to be treated like a 207- a kidnapping.  They don’t belong on this.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank meets and greets Osiv Agronov, played by Timothy V. Murphy, and his attorney, Michael Bugulari, played by Solomon Shiv

Over at the casino, Frank meets and greets Osiv Agronov, played by Timothy V. Murphy, and his attorney, Michael Bugulari, played by Solomon Shiv.  Jordan shows Osiv around to meet some developers and contractors.

The Western Book of the Dead- Man falls over in car

We then get a brief scene of the car from earlier, still on the road.  The man in the back falls to the side.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani and Elvis deliver a foreclosure notice

Following this, we return to Ani and Elvis delivering a foreclosure notice to a small family.  The owner would rather the officers locate her sister, Vera, who she hasn’t heard from in some time.  More than that, her phone is disconnected and her old roommate says that she moved out awhile back.  She worked as a maid at a couple of places, but others said that she quit.  Despite telling city police, there was never any word back on Vera’s disappearance.  The last place she worked at was a religious institute that Ani immediately knows: the Panticapaeum Institute.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank speaks about the future high speed rail in central California

Time for Frank’s presentation.  Proposition 1 has passed.  Starting next year, construction will begin on a $68 billion high speed rail in central California.  An undeveloped valley adjacent to the rail and the coastal highway has been purchased by several holding companies anticipating a commercial development that will be in line for hundreds of millions in federal grants.  The feds have guaranteed cost coverages.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani speaks with her father, Elliot, played by David Morse

At the Panticapaeum Institute, Ani overhears a man giving his students a task: recognize the world as meaningless and to understand that God did not create a meaningless world.  Hold both thoughts as irrefutable and equal, because this is how we must live now in the final age of man.  This man, it turns out, is Ani’s father, Elliot, played by David Morse.  He spoke with Athena a few days ago and is fully aware of her job.

Unlike Ani, he doesn’t have an issue with her life choices.  Ani calls it porn, but Athena calls it theater.  Ani wants to know why, but Elliot has never been good about guessing what Ani wants or needs.  He wants her to convey some kind of guidance, but Elliot isn’t and hasn’t been comfortable imposing his will on anyone since 1978.  Not even to stop them from walking into a river?

Perhaps if mom’s flair for the dramatic had been channeled into her acting, she might have gone onto great things.  Elliot directs Ani’s attention to the totems: they watch over departed spirits and, sometimes, Elliot can feel his wife.  She abandoned the girls, but he didn’t.  He tells Ani, quite bluntly, to spend less time in a state of resistance making up problems for herself: a failed marriage, a few relationships, Ani is angry at the world and men in particular out of a false sense of entitlement for something she never received.  Hell, does Ani even like what she does?

Great father-daughter talk.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray stalks senior staff writer, Dan Howser, played by Stevin Knight

Oh, and Ray waits outside the home of one senior staff writer, Dan Howser, played by Stevin Knight, dons a ski mask, and heads in after Howser to start wrecking shit.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray demands to know who took Chad's shoes

He then heads to the school to pick up Chad, who is talking with Richard, played by Christian Campbell.  Ray gives Chad a sleeping pack to take with him on his trip, but said trip was last weekend and Chad ended up having a stomachache.  He also lost his damn shoes and there’s blood on his sleeves as well.  What happened?  Some boys took his shoes out of his gym locker and cut them up.

An enraged Ray demands to know who stole Chad’s shoes, and if Chad doesn’t start talking, he’ll spank him in front of the cheerleading squad.  Very specific threat.  Chad eventually coughs up the name Aspen Conroy.  Feeling guilty about this later, Ray leaves Chad a message, apologizing for his actions.  Dispatch then transmits the Conroy address to him: it’s in Sherman Oaks.

The Western Book of the Dead- Paul has some alone time with his lady

Paul, meanwhile, meets with his lady friend of the day, now that he has some extra time.  Before the two can get down, he needs to shower, even though she likes when he stinks.  Okay, I guess.  He pops that oh so familiar blue pill while in the bathroom and then heads over to receive his blowjob.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank informs Osip that Caspere’s absence means nothing, talks about the future

Frank informs Osip that Caspere’s absence means nothing.  It’s happening, though: Vinci tapped fed money from the subway line, and the same thing will happen on a much, much bigger scale with the rail corridor.  All owned by their holding companies and set up through Catalast.  This goes way beyond them- it could lead to a legitimate legacy.

Osip needs some time to speak with Frank alone.  He has complete confidence in Frank, but the organization has very old rules.  Checks and balances.  He must perform his due diligence.  He’ll close when he’s ready to close and is in no need to hurry.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray addresses Wit Conroy and his son, Aspen, played by Cooper Roth

At the Conroy residence, Ray first arms himself with brass knuckles before meeting Wit Conroy and his son, Aspen, played by Cooper Roth.  He asks Ass-pen about the stolen property, and then calls him evil as fuck for already being 12 years old.

Then he proceeds to beat the living hell out of Wit before threatening Aspen with one of the most memorable lines of the episode: “If you ever bully or hurt anybody again, I’ll come back and butt-fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.”  Damn.  Ray leaves just as Mrs. Conroy comes out to check the commotion.

The car from before stops on a dirt road.  The driver pulls out the old man.

The Western Book of the Dead- Asking about Paul's scars

Paul’s lady friend inquires about a scar on his arm.  It’s not from his Army days, but before.  He gets dressed to go work on something, even though he’s currently not working.  It’s just a side job.  Right now, his life is all sorts of fucked.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray and Frank meet

At a bar, Ray delivers files and a laptop to Frank.  There won’t be any investigative piece written anymore.  Ray goes through his drink fast, despite Frank’s suggestion to savor it.  Frank asks if Ray spoke with the attorney he put him up with, and he did.  She’ll see what she can do.  As for Ray’s personal life, Frank wants to know more, such as whether he’s seeing anybody.  He’s not, though Frank feels he should, since a good woman mitigates a man’s basic tendencies.  Frank congratulates on a good job with the thing.

The Western Book of the Dead- Paul finds Ben Caspere's body

Paul goes for a motorcycle ride on the highway and comes potentially close to breaking the sound barrier when he stops on a dirt road.  He finds the old man sitting on his own and not moving.  Sitting on the lifeless man’s lap is his wallet and identification.  Paul then calls it in.

The Western Book of the Dead- Arriving at the scene of the crime

At the same time, Ray and Ani, both plastered, leave their respective locations and are called to the scene.  Why?  Because the body of Ben Caspere has been found.  His eyes are gone, possibly due to chemical burn.  COD can’t be called in yet, but he bled out somewhere else.  It’s mentioned that Ray is from Vinci.  The fuck is Vinci?  A city.  Supposedly, anyway.

“The Western Book of the Dead” manages to squeeze in a lot for a premiere, which it has to, but also set the stage for the season to come and assure viewers that this is a new world for True Detective.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray interrogates Aspen

Creator Nic Pizzolatto is back, but we’re without director Cary Fukunaga.  Stepping into the director’s chair is Justin Lin and he does a good job at establishing the tone and feel of this new season.  His take on the series is one I can accept.  Watching True Detective is like watching a slow burn, and this premiere is no different.  We’re given ample time to take in the environment around us and learn about each of the new main characters, which is both a good and bad thing, but I’ll get into that later.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank and Osip talk

There are a bunch of various themes and messages discussed that will no doubt play out as the season progresses: corporate corruption, abuse of power, self-discovery, seeking your destiny, and battling demons.  Lots of demons.  We had figurative and actual demons last year, and now we’ve got them again with our characters battling within themselves.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray smokes

Let’s begin with Ray, as he’s the first of the characters we’re introduced to and, in my opinion, Colin Farrell’s performance was the most memorable.  Ray is a shell of his former self.  The moment we see him first talking to Chad, we can tell that his life isn’t all together.  He’s struggling to be a good father and detective, but he’s abusive and corrupt, as he’s deep in Frank’s pocket.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ray threatens to butt-fuck a man with his wife's corpse

He takes advantage of his authority to get information about an ongoing case to a businessman who he must owe tons of favors, might be in danger of losing his son, he beats the living hell out of a father because his son is a little shit, and he drinks himself stupid.  He wants to do the right thing and be there for his kid, but he’s in way too deep.  Farrell wears the facial expressions of a worn man who has been through some shit, but manages to get up, day in and day out, to keep on going.  Hopefully with this case, Ray has a shot at some redemption.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani and her father

Ani seems to be exactly what her father and sister make her out to be: the person who seems to have a problem with everyone and everything in the world but themselves.  She advises her own sister to give up webcam videos just so she can get back on using drugs.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani and Elvis go for a drive

Ani has a rebellious side and isn’t interested in forging friendships or relationships, as seen through the brief scenes we get between her and Elvis.  Between them, it’s all business, no time for just shooting the shit.  She drinks alone, doesn’t want to talk about sex from last night, and blames her father for her mother’s suicide.

The Western Book of the Dead- Ani drinks in a bar

Like Farrell, Rachel McAdams is just wearing depression on her face and it paints Ani as someone with a lot of personal issues that she’s clearly not ready to work out.  It would take too much effort on her part to admit that she’s to blame for how her life has turned out.

The Western Book of the Dead- Paul gets a blowjob

Then we’ve got Taylor Kitsch, who just looks depressed all the time.  Seriously, the man gets a blowjob and he looks like he’d rather be any place else.  However, unlike Ani or Ray, Paul is, as far as we can see, a good cop and decent man, as even his superiors figured that he wouldn’t try to take a blowjob from a speeding driver.  We get a bit of insight into Paul’s past, but unlike Ray, he isn’t keep to opening up about his past life at all.  There’s a brief mention of something called Black Mountain and how Paul fought for his country, which I assume we’ll learn more about as the season progresses.

The Western Book of the Dead- Paul goes for a fast ride

When we see him riding out on the highway at speeds that could have killed him with one wrong move, it’s clear from the look on Paul’s face that this is what he’d rather be doing instead of laying around and doing nothing.

The Western Book of the Dead- Frank speaks with Ray

Finally, there’s Frank, who we don’t get to learn much about, but I get the sense that he’s an opportunist.  He helps Ray out of a jam and Ray is now indebted to him.  More than that, he’s looking to the future and what kind of legacy he’ll leave for himself and his kids.  Though we do learn that he and his wife have had challenges conceiving, Frank comes off as a man who will do anything to achieve his desires.

The Western Book of the Dead- Jordan watches Frank at work

Side-note, I love his wife, Jordan.  There’s not much to say about her yet, but she doesn’t come off as a trophy wife.  She’s authoritative and has her own input to her husband’s doings.  Also, she’s not afraid to get involved and speak her mind.  In a way, she kind of reminds me of Anna- Jessica Chastain’s character from A Most Violent Year.

If I had any qualms with the episode, it’s how Caspere’s death brings Ray, Ani, and Paul together.  Okay, Paul I understand because he was there, Ray is looking into the case, but why is Ani- or Elvis, for that matter- there at all?  Is it even her jurisdiction?  This is the one issue I have with introducing us to all of the main players off the bat.  I would’ve much preferred maybe introducing two or three of the main characters, and then have the discovery of Caspere’s body lead us to the rest of the cast.  It’s not a major issue, but it felt like a way to unite the three by episode’s end.

“The Western Book of the Dead” is a pretty strong start for True Detective’s second season.  It’s a fresh start for the series that enthralled us one year ago.    I’m very interested to see what direction the show will go in with the new cast, new plot, and new folks developing it behind the scenes.  I know I’m saying ‘new’ a lot, but only to avoid constantly calling comparisons to the previous season.  This season does have a lot to live up to, but based on the show’s first outing, I’m optimistic that it can and will deliver.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #142: “A Gathering”

The Walking Dead #142- Cover

Issue #142: “A Gathering,” pushes the story forward by bringing the groups of the Alexandria Safe Zone and Hilltop together for the fair.  After so much development has taken place as a result of the time skip, we see the culmination of hard work citizens have put into this festival.  Oh, and hey, brief reappearance of Magna and company.

The Walking Dead #142- Maggie addresses the Hilltop citizens after Gregory's execution

But before getting there, let’s start with the beginning of the issue, which picks up directly after the ending of the previous one.  So Maggie knows that Gregory’s execution is sure to cause division amongst citizens.  Hell, there’s already division within the neighbors anyway since many of them don’t like Maggie’s style of leadership.  However, with Gregory’s death, this may lead to more of a headache for her.

She doesn’t want it to be the start of something, but there has been something brewing long before this.  I’d say that it started when some of the local boys attacked Carl and Sophia, but right now, Maggie wants calmness in a sea of so much division, but she has to know that this won’t be the end of the conversation.  And she probably wouldn’t expect it to be.  If anything, maybe there will be less of an uprising now that people know what Maggie is capable of, but that would go against Maggie and Rick’s leadership styles if it’s based on fear.  All just speculation here.

The Walking Dead #142- Andrea is overjoyed at the idea of the fair

In Alexandria, it is amazing to see how society has progressed.  I know I’ve said that before, ever since we got to the time skip, but the look on Andrea’s face really shows just how much even she can’t believe that she’s living in the same world where people used to spend their lives running from roamers.  Sure, roamers aren’t a thing of the past, but they’re less of a threat now.

The Walking Dead #142- The fair

 

As such, we have some semblance of normalcy or a close return to it.  It’s too good to be true, but these people have worked for it.  It’s nice to see their work actually bearing fruit.

The Walking Dead #142- Jesus and Maggie tell Rick about Carl and The Whisperers

It was only a matter of time before Maggie informed Rick about what happened to Carl and the introduction of The Whisperers, and Rick’s anger is justifiable.  Even though Carl isn’t a kid anymore and should be responsible for himself, Rick still entrusted him to Maggie and not only is Carl gone, but Rick is only now just learning this, after everything the two have endured.  And Rick hasn’t had to go through any major hardships lately, so this is a shock to him.

The Walking Dead #142- Rick learns that Gregory tried to kill Maggie

However, that’s exactly the point, as he didn’t have someone try to poison him.  Now Rick is a reasonable man, but he’s not one to just calm down easily unless someone forces him to, so I’m a bit surprised that he chilled out as soon as he did when Jesus revealed why Maggie had such a hard time.  It’s also interesting that Maggie left out the part about executing Gregory, since that would put her and Rick at odds so soon after they’ve reunited.  But given how much Rick is determined to make this life work and prove Negan work, things won’t go over well once he learns what Maggie has done.

The Walking Dead #142- Rick, Michonne, Andrea, and Dante ride off to find Carl

Oh, side-note, I love the panel of Rick, Michonne, Andrea, and Dante riding off.  Such a cool shot, in my opinion.

The Walking Dead #142- Carl speaks with Alpha

As for the Whisperers themselves, Alpha seems a very different sort of…well, I can’t call her an antagonist or villain, in the same way I would Negan or the Governor, but just a different sort of leader.  The Whisperers have a different way of living, but for the most part, they want to be left alone.  They can’t do that when they’ve got people like Carl tailing them because he’s lovesick for Lydia.  This doesn’t mean that everything they do is civilized, as they don’t go by names and still commit certain acts that Carl doesn’t approve of, but they want to remain amongst themselves.  And with Alpha managing to infiltrate the fair, it remains to be seen just what she wants to learn.

A good issue, really.  Rick and Maggie reunited while learning about their potential common enemy, while Alpha has slipped within the confines of the Alexandria Safe Zone to learn about Carl’s group.  There’s no follow-up to the Negan situation, which is a bit disappointing, considering how much of the last issue it took up, but maybe that’ll be saved for later.

 

A Look at “Orphan Black” Season 3 Finale: “History Yet to be Written”

Not the best finale, but still a very good episode nonetheless.  We get a few unexpected surprises, some plot points I could have done without, and a sense of happiness when all is said and done.  It’s a good episode, but not great.  This is “History Yet to be Written.”

History Yet to be Written- Rachel finds a note

The episode begins with Rachel having flashes to her childhood before awakening and realizing that she has a patch on her eye.  She awakens in a room she doesn’t recognize, finds a note on the table, and then heads over to the mirror to discover…

History Yet to be Written- Rachel's new eye

…voila.  A brand new eye!

History Yet to be Written- Art brings Sarah and Felix to the hiding spot

Meanwhile, Art brings Sarah and Felix to a safe room where Scott is already hard at work.  Mrs. S soon follows with Kendall Malone.  Sarah asks Scott why Malone doesn’t look anything like the clones, and it’s all because Malone has two different cell lines in her body, meaning that they express differently in combination.  Isolate the female genome, and you get the clones.

S promises to incinerate Malone if it looks like even one speck of her flesh will end up in Castor’s hands.  Such a nice daughter.  Everyone is aware that Castor and Topside will be on them now that they have the original, but they have no intention of avoiding them.

History Yet to be Written- Dr. Coady and Mr. Benchman speak with Rudy about Sarah and the Castor original

Dr. Coady and Mr. Benchman inform Rudy that Sarah found the original.  Hence, Rudy is needed on the ground in two hours and he’s told that the director appreciates his services.  Because Sarah has gone to ground with the original, this only leaves one of her people visible.

History Yet to be Written- Alison campaigns on election day

On cue, we cut to Election Day as Alison speaks with voters while Marci talks about some possible violation for using a loudspeaker.  Whatever.

History Yet to be Written- Jesse returns

Donnie, meanwhile, has a surprise for Helena in the form of Jesse.  That certainly came out of nowhere.

History Yet to be Written- Cosima comes to try and apologize to Shay

To my irritation, we get another scene between Shay and Cosima, though this one is for Cosima to apologize on behalf of Delphine’s deplorable behavior.  And this is before Cosima learns that Delphine threatened to cut open Shay’s veins and let her bleed out in the bathtub.  Cosima still wants to know why Shay didn’t tell her that she was in the military- not that it was ever of Cosima’s business.

Shay’s not practicing Chinese medicine either- she’s an R.M.T.  As for why Shay supposedly lied?  Well, the two did meet on a dating app where you reinvent yourself online.  Not the biggest lie in the world, and though Shay is still left in the dark on what’s going on, Cosima still can’t bring herself to be honest.  So Shay asks her to leave.  I have a big problem with this scene that I’ll get to later.

History Yet to be Written- Ferdinand speaks with Delphine about Sarah, Rachel, and the Castor original

At DYAD, we get a brief scene of Delphine arming herself with a gun before Ferdinand enters.  Ferdinand knows that Sarah found the original and believes that Rachel has been eliminated.  Delphine thinks that Ferdinand may be overplaying his hand, and he agrees.  He likes to be under the heel of a woman.  He wants the original, and once she’s returned to Topside, he can have a seat at the table.  Delphine doesn’t accept that.

History Yet to be Written- Sarah and Delphine arrange with Ferdinand

And neither does Sarah, who reveals that she was playing Rachel during her first encounter with Ferdinand.  She reminds Ferdinand that he only needs Malone’s genetic samples.  With her genome, Topside can reproduce Duncan’s cloning trials.  However, they want Castor gone and Ferdinand is the lesser of two evils.  Coady is still trying to weaponize the pathogen, but without her science and the original, Castor dies.  If there’s any bullshit, Sarah swears to incinerate Malone, but Ferdinand calls her bluff, saying that she wouldn’t kill Leda’s one chance at a cure.

History Yet to be Written- Cosima comes to extract a sample from Malone

Cosima arrives to get a sample from Malone, who is just as peachy as always.  Malone doesn’t owe Cosima anything, but Cosima owes her something: the stuff of life, as Malone is the closest that Cosima will get to a cure.

History Yet to be Written- Sarah and Felix confront Gracie and Mark

With some directions from Art, Felix and Sarah head to the apartment room to confront Gracie and Mark.  Felix even manages to kick in the door.  They remind Mark that Coady won’t let him walk away, but he doesn’t care about that.  He and Gracie just want to spend time together before he’s killed.  Mark can still help since the others need to know Coady’s next move.

History Yet to be Written- Mrs. S shows Kendall Malone some sulfuric acid

Back at the safe point, S shows Malone some sulfuric acid that she plans to use if it looks like Castor has located them.  It’s some satisfaction for S after what Malone did to John Sadler, though Malone is convinced that John got what he deserved.

History Yet to be Written- Dr. Nealon and Delphine with Krystal's body

Delphine speaks with Dr. Nealon about Ferdinand poking around about Rachel’s condition.  The plan is to move Rachel to a private facility.

History Yet to be Written- Krystal awakens

When Nealon leaves, Delphine examines the body when, all of a sudden, Krystal awakens, completely unaware of what’s going on and has both of her eyes.  Well, that was a discovery.

History Yet to be Written- Helena catches up with Jesse

While Rachel examines her new eye, Helena and Jesse catch up, with Helena informing Jesse about her new mother.  Before the two can get hot and heavy, Helena gets a phone call and learns that her family needs her.  No worry.  She’s waited a long time to be back with her first- despite the science baby inside of her- and she can wait longer.  Luckily, so can Jesse.

History Yet to be Written- Rudy stalks Alison

Back to the election, Alison speaks with voters and the press while Rudy stalks her.  As Alison and Donnie head off in the campaign bus, Rudy follows from a distance.  Donnie is fully aware of this and lets Sarah and the others know that they’re being tailed, just as expected.  Over at the safe point, the others put their plan into action, starting with Sarah punching Mark in the face.

History Yet to be Written- Rudy finds Helena in the garage

Alison departs from the bus and Rudy pursues her, but ends up finding Helena in the garage.  She promises him that only one of them will live- as prison rules dictate- and with Rudy constantly having flashes, Helena has the obvious advantage.  She proves this by kicking some tape in Rudy’s face in one of the most effective uses of tape as a weapon that I’ve seen.  Hell, she even manages to shove a screwdriver through his arm.  Rudy is unable to put up any sort of fight due to his flashes and he falls to the ground.

History Yet to be Written- Rudy and Helena talk about their upbringings

On the garage floor, the two talk about their upbringings and how they are so similar.  For example, Helena was once ordered to kill a puppy when she was nine years old.  Isn’t that precious?

History Yet to be Written- Ferdinand meets Dr. Coady

Dr. Coady gets a call from a bloodied up Rudy, who informs her that he went after Alison and instead found Helena, who led him right to the prize.  Not long now.  But then Dr. Coady gets a surprise visit from Ferdinand and his assistant, who shoots and kills Coady’s driver.

History Yet to be Written- Kendall talks about how she brought S and Sarah together

Time for character development and revelations.  Sarah, S, and Malone talk about Sarah specifically, as S wants her to understand who she is.  It all goes back to Duncan.  Five or six years after Malone had been harvested, Duncan returned and admitted to cloning her.  Now he was in fear for his life from something called Neolution.  From that point forward, he didn’t know who to trust.  He said they polluted everything, poisoned the science, and corrupted his wife, Susan.

However, Duncan managed to hide Malone from everyone.  Duncan said there was one child outside it all- lost in the foster system.  Malone sent Duncan to S.  So yeah, Malone ended up steering S and Sarah together.  She never expected forgiveness, but she wanted S to have her.

History Yet to be Written- Delphine confronts Dr. Nealon

Delphine confronts Dr. Nealon on Rachel being transported to Australia under Krystal’s name and was admitted to a private hospital.  Nealon has Delphine turn on the screen, which shows Rachel alive and well in her room.  You see, Topside pursues its profits, the military pursues its weapons, while they steer it from within.  They?  Yes, Neolution.

Leekie was useful for seeding ideas, but they run far deeper.  Nealon explains that they’ve infiltrated and maneuvered all of the players since day one.  Castor and Leda are Adam and Eve.  Soon, Topside will deliver the genome right into Neolution’s hands.  Nealon offers Delphine a one-time offer, but Delphine shoots it down.

History Yet to be Written- Dr. Nealon almost puts the lizard into Delphine's mouth

The two struggle and we get a payoff to Delphine arming herself, as she uses the gun to shoot Nealon before he can slip a lizard into her mouth.  An actual lizard, mind you.  Nealon tells Delphine that she won’t live to the next morning.

History Yet to be Written- Ferdinand learns that he's been played

As Ferdinand and his henchman arrive to extract a sample, Sarah receives word from Delphine about Ferdinand being a pawn in a much larger game.  Sarah informs Ferdinand of this and the fact that Rachel is still alive, but in Neolution’s possession.

Ferdinand, reasonably pissed about this revelation, rages at his assistant and beats him to a pulp.  Looks like Neolution really is everywhere.  There’s still a safe place to keep Malone, but Ferdinand does not want to know where.  He’ll be in touch.

History Yet to be Written- Alison learns that she won the election

That night, at Bubbles, everyone celebrates Alison’s victory, and she gives a speech about family and such.

History Yet to be Written- Delphine makes amends with Shay, sort of

Delphine makes a stop by Shay’s and lets her know that what she did was unforgivable- no shit-she won’t be in the way anymore.  She can tell that Shay and Cosima care for one another.  She then hands Shay a DYAD card with the code 324B21 written on the back.  Delphine wants Cosima to start being honest with Shay, even though that’s still Cosima’s decision.

History Yet to be Written- Delphine and Cosima kiss

Following this, Delphine heads to Bubbles to meet outside with Cosima.  She needs the clones to keep the sequenced genome safe and Kendall Malone far away.  Mrs. S is on top of that.  Then the two kiss.  Again.  I do hope we don’t see more of that in the future.

History Yet to be Written- Delphine gets shot

Oh wait, Delphine is shot in a parking lot not too long after this after wondering aloud what will happen to her.

History Yet to be Written- Charlotte greets Rachel

Rachel receives a visit from Charlotte, who informs her that she’s going to be her new mother.  Why?  Because Duncan said so.

History Yet to be Written- Professor Mama Duncan

As in Professor Mama Duncan.

History Yet to be Written- Sarah, Mrs. S, and Kendall unite with Kira

The season comes to a close as Sarah, Mrs. S, and Kendall Malone head to Iceland to meet up with Kira.

So that was a season.  “History Yet to be Written” was a good episode, but I don’t know if I’d call it a great season finale because of some scenes and moments that I didn’t like all that much, but let’s focus on the positive.

History Yet to be Written- Alison gives a speech about family

If there’s an overall theme of this episode and this season in general, it’s about family.  Though the clones started in different places this season, and Alison’s story in particular felt completely separate from the Leda and Castor plot, they soon coalesced in order to deal with Castor.  And despite never knowing who within or outside of the club could be trusted, the clones managed to band together to go through hell and back while dealing with a common enemy.

This was a moment where the clones and their allies had to set aside their differences in order to deal with Castor and Topside looming not too far behind.  You can’t just bicker about who you can and can’t trust because there are bigger issues to deal with right now.

History Yet to be Written- Malone gets honest with S and Sarah

I think this was a good time for S and Malone to try and find common ground after being at each other’s throats in the previous episode.  The scene where Malone explains how Sarah and S came to find each other was great.  Sure, this didn’t make up for Malone killing John Sadler, but her heart was in the right place when she pulled strings to make sure Sarah ended up with S.  Even if she was ice cold to almost everyone she came in contact with, we saw the shades of a good person beneath that rough exterior.

History Yet to be Written- Helena and Rudy

Another instance of tragic characters exploring their lighter sides came with the confrontation between Helena and Rudy.  Sure, it started with a fight, but both Helena and Rudy have been trained to be killing machines.  The difference is that while Helena still has a dark side, she gradually opened up to the other clones.  She’s still a killer and has a dark side, if the previous episode is any indication, but doesn’t always act on those tendencies, as Rudy and the Castor clones have been trained.

I’m glad that Alison got the success she wanted, though her storyline is one that feels the most open.  After all, will there be any repercussions to Helena’s bloodbath last week?  And what happened to Jason Kellerman?  Again, Alison is my least favorite of the clones, but this season did soften me to her just a bit and I hope she’s given humorous storylines like this as opposed to us having to endure her being an unhinged wife.

History Yet to be Written- Shay has no idea who Cosima is

Shay, Cosima, and Delphine.  I wasn’t a fan of the three way conflict between these three before and I’m still not.  Delphine’s apology felt forced and just a way to hopefully put her and Shay on good footing, even when that’s obviously not the case.

History Yet to be Written- Cosima won't open up to Shay

And it’s really uncalled for when Cosima harped on Shay for not being completely honest when Cosima wasn’t even willing to open up a bit about her life.  That’s unfair.  Oh, and also selfish and a dick move.  Scott’s been brought into this mess, so why not bring Shay in as well?  I don’t sympathize with Cosima at all here.

She’s upset about a few minor details not being true, but she won’t share even one aspect of her complicated life?  Why not open up if she was so willing to take Delphine’s word that Shay could have been a Castor spy?  Whatever Cosima ends up doing next week, I hope it’s more entertaining than this cheap drama because I don’t like the direction the show has taken her character this season.

History Yet to be Written- Delphine is shot

Then Delphine gets shot.  It’s one of the few examples of consequence for Clone Club this season, but whatever happens is anyone’s guess.  Sure, we could assume that the shot kills Delphine, but we linger on her body for quite a bit and we never actually see her die, so as of now, I don’t think Delphine is dead.  Possibly on her way out, but we’ll find out next season.

History Yet to be Written- Gracie and Mark

Same goes with Mark and Gracie.  If Castor is no longer a threat, then they may be able to live out what little time they have left together in peace, but if not, I’m curious to see what happens, especially since we never find out when and how Gracie got in contact with Castor.

History Yet to be Written- What about Krystal

And what about Krystal?  She’s been left in the dark about Clone Club, but then got caught in the middle of it.  Did Delphine tell her anything she didn’t need to know?  I assume that waking up in a building and knowing little about where you are isn’t something to easily forget.

As far as the grand story, bringing Neolution back in felt a bit out of left field since the bulk of this season had been Castor vs. Leda.  Even Topside pulling strings would have made more sense since we’ve at least been exposed to them this season while, to my knowledge, Neolution hadn’t even been addressed this season up until this episode.  This, I think, was just to set up the conflict for Season Four.

Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the reveal of the other Dr. Nealon- aka mother, to Rachel, who finally got herself a new eye.  This, I think, will make for an interesting storyline.

History Yet to be Written- Alison thanks her family

It’s fitting that one of the last scenes of the episode ended with most of the main characters celebrating together, mirroring Helena’s dream from the beginning of the season.  Though not technically as impressive as the dance party in Season 2, in my opinion, it was still a great scene and a nice way to bring the season full circle.  The season started with Helena envisioning a happy life.  Now, for the moment, she has that solace with her family.  Now to see how long that lasts.

Again, “History Yet to be Written” is a good episode and has some great character moments, but little things like the Shay/Cosima/Delphine storyline, Jesse’s pointless return, Art’s sudden return after a temporary absence, kept it from being as great as I would want it to have been.  It still had strong moments.  Helena’s fight with Rudy was entertaining, Alison won her race, and S and Malone putting aside their differences was a warm moment in an episode with so much drama.  Very much looking forward to Season Four.