Five key questions that need to be answered in the True Detective season finale

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There’s no question: series two of True Detective has been a mess. Its sludgy narrative and clumsy plotting has meant trying to follow it has been like wading through a field of mud with the biggest plate of ribs at the other side teasing you with their slippery deliciousness and sweet, barbequed smell. Characters and their dialogue have often lapsed into cliché, set pieces that were supposed to be mind-blowing were sometimes laughable in their ostentatiousness and the sheer amount of characters and their sub-plots have been dizzying. Too dizzying at times. But it has flickered; flickered enough to both keep me interested and serve as a reminder to what might have been. Here we are at the season finale and we’re edging towards a resolution, and we need some questions answering. After the jump I’ll pose some of those questions, while there’s also a trailer for the series finale to whet your appetite.

1. Who killed Ben Caspere?
Lest we forget, in among all the layers of confusion, subterfuge and dense character overload there has been a crime to solve. In the first episode, troubled motorbike cop Paul Woodrugh found Frank Semyon’s financial fixer Ben Caspere by the side of the road, his body stiffly sitting on a bench and his eyes burnt out. Ever since then the investigation has taken ever more strange and convoluted turns, sometimes leaving us scratching our heads as it has descended into high-class prostitution rings, sex parties, gangsters, land ownership and much more. At the moment everything points to the two (now grown-up) children orphaned after the jewellery store raid in 1992, which left their parents, the store proprietors, dead. Killing Caspere – a corrupt Vinci cop at the time who carried out the raid in the shadow of the LA riots – would provide them with ample motive. But that wouldn’t solve everything. Is the person – or people – who killed Caspere the same person who donned the bird mask and shot Velcoro in episode two? Caspere had a scam going with Osip and Chessani Jr, scamming Semyon out of everything. I’ve seen Ray Velcoro’s name mentioned as a suspect on some websites today. Me? I think if it isn’t the two vengeful siblings, it’s Jordan Semyon, Frank’s demure wife.

2. Is Paul Woodrugh dead?
Well, from what we saw at the end of episode nine, the sexually repressed, war-scarred cop certainly looked dead. If he did die from bullets shot from Lieutenant Kevin Burris’s gun he died a hero’s death, but this is True Detective here, a series that always fails to kill off its big characters. One of either Rust Cohle or Marty Harte (or both) should have bought it at the end of series one and Ray Velcoro should have shuffled off his mortal coil in episode two. It seems the only way to kill a main character in this series is to nuke them. Then immolate them. Then put them into a sausage grinder. Then shoot them.

2. Will Frank Semyon survive?
Throughout the series we’ve seen Semyon morph from one character to another and back again. One minute he’s a gangster trying to go legit, then revert back to a street-level thug, exerting his muscle to find out who has been screwing him. He and his wife, Jordan, have been trying for a baby and she’s been nudging him to just walk away with the money he has left and start over, with her. In episode nine, after he found out the extent to which he had been screwed by Osip, Caspere and Chessani Jr, he put in place a plan – he obtained false passports, talked about going to Venezuela and torched his club so it wouldn’t fall into Osip’s hands. The question is: will Frank (and Jordan for that matter) survive this whole affair and be able to start again?

3. Will Ray Velcoro and Ani Bezzerides ride off into the sunset together?
There’s a good argument that says these two, yes, troubled homicide detectives will end up together. At the end of episode nine they were holed up in a motel, hiding from the forces that were after them for revenge against the shenanigans at the sex party. The two lonely, angry people sought solace (a quantum of, perhaps?) in each other. The question is whether this was a one-off coming together, fuelled by a desperation to feel some sort of positive emotional connection in worlds where they have none, or whether these two damaged souls finally realised they were a good fit for one another. After all, Bezzerides keeps banging on about how she thinks Raymondo is a good man. She’s about the only person who has. Can you imagine the spin-off? Ray And Ani’s Suburban Love In.

4. Will Chessani Sr and Burris get there’s?
All throughout the series Vinci head of police Tony Chessani has displayed himself to be a nasty piece of work, happily and arrogantly skimming off from gangsters like Semyon and anyone else he can sink his claws into. He employed and placed Velcoro on the investigative team alongside Bezzerides and Woodrugh with instructions to not only monitor their progress in the Caspere murder hunt but also occasionally hide some truths from them. Burris meanwhile was out in the LA tunnels in episode nine, shooting Paul Woodrugh in the back. The obvious assumption is that these men, who let’s not forget have also been screwed over by Chessani The Younger, Osip and Caspere, will get their comeuppance. But I wonder… they’ve made it known that Vinci has always been corrupt, and it’d be a very True Detective kind of ending to keep that corruption going ad infinitum. The message? If the current’s strong enough you’ll never be able to swim against it.

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