'True Detective' Episode 4: Another Big Shootout Could Lead to Heavy Fallout

The HBO series reaches its halfway point with a spectacular shootout
HBO

True Detective has reached the halfway point of its second season, and just as in its first go-round it left jaws on the floor with a bravura action sequence to close the episode.

The scene that ended Sunday's episode, "Down Will Come," wasn't as showy as the six-minute tracking shot that capped off the fourth episode of season one. As staged by director Jeremy Podeswa (an HBO regular who most recently helmed the controversial "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" episode of Game of Thrones), it turned what should have been a routine bit of casework into a chaotic, potentially season-altering bloodbath.

It ends with several civilians and more than a few cops  including Ray's (Colin Farrell) Vinci PD partner, Teague Dixon (W. Earl Brown dead, along with the suspect they were tracking and several other perps. Ray, Ani (Rachel McAdams) and Paul (Taylor Kitsch) are left gasping and repeating "Fk" over and over in the street while the camera pulls back to reveal more carnage and the late arrival of other cops.

It's an excellent sequence all around, and Podeswa and the True Detective editors deserve credit for keeping the action coherent even as the scene was cutting back and forth. It also serves a very different purpose than the shot in season one's "Who Goes There."

Director Cary Fukunaga's long take in that episode served more to illustrate just how deep Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) would go to get a breakthrough in the case than it did to actually advance the case. Rust ended up with what he needed from the raid with his former deep-cover targets, but the blowback on the case was basically nonexistent.

It's virtually impossible to imagine an outcome like that after the events in "Down Will Come." Ani, Ray and Paul are on the hunt for a guy who's been pawning some of Ben Caspere's things. They take precautions (and a considerable amount of backup) approaching the warehouse where the suspect is supposed to be, but up to that point the guy is just another puzzle piece.

Until, that is, someone opens fire with an automatic weapon from the top floor of the warehouse. By the time they're done, Ani, Paul and Ray will have killed the suspect and his crew, but at least as many civilians are also dead. News media were just around the corner covering a protest, and they will have stumbled into a great story that they won't let go of for days, perhaps even weeks.

Although the three leads were shown doing the right thing during the shootout, it likely means very thin ice for all of them, given that Ani and Paul are currently suspended from their regular jobs and Ray is not exactly warmly received in Vinci.

It also leads one to wonder if Mayor Chessani (Ritchie Coster) was doing more than just quoting Hill Street Blues when he told Ani and her team to "be careful out there." The episode laid some groundwork for the Chessani family's long and deep history of shady doings (and interactions with Ani's dad), and it's not above the realm of possibility that Chessani could have tipped the suspects to the cops' approach.

Whatever else happens next, Caspere's murder is about to become much more public and much more scrutinized, and given the current climate surrounding police shootings, could threaten to derail the official case altogether. That should make for some good drama in the coming weeks.

What did you think of True Detective this week, and that final sequence in particular?

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