'True Detective' Episode 4: Ani's Roots and Paul's Past Hint at Deeper Connections

Lost amid the hoopla over the big shootout are several potentially important developments.

Discussion of episode four of True Detective has understandably tilted heavily toward the massive bloodbath at the end of the episode. But "Down Will Come" also touched on several other things that could end up being important in the second half of the season.

What the heck happened in the desert?

The show has made a few oblique references to Paul's (Taylor Kitsch) time in the military and his involvement in the Black Mountain operation. Sunday's episode gave further hints at just how bad things were there. After spending a night he can't remember with his Army buddy and apparent one-time lover Miguel (Gabriel Luna), he retraces his steps to the hotel where he left his motorcycle.

There, he's confronted by a pack of paparazzi who shout questions about Black Mountain at him — amid the din, the phrases "war crimes" and "abusing women" are clearly heard. Later, he more or less admits to Ray (Colin Farrell) that he went along with whatever he was told. It's still unclear how that will tie into the case or his story, but it doesn't look good.

Frank gets back to business

Frank (Vince Vaughn) remains somewhat disconnected from the case in this episode, but watching him in scramble mode plays better for Vaughn than the overly buttoned-up version of the character in the first couple of episodes.

He lets Ray know about his renewed interest in the other side of the law, but if he's going to scare up several million dollars in a short span of time, he's likely going to have to make a bigger play, which of course will make him more of a target for the other cops.

Ani's family ties

The case again brings Ani (Rachel McAdams) into contact with her guru dad (David Morse). She discovers that the psychiatrist who had Mayor Chessani's (Ritchie Coster) first wife committed was Dr. Pitlor (Rick Springfield), who mentioned knowing Ani's father in episode two.

From her dad, she learns that both Caspere and the Chessani family came to Panticapaeum in the '70s and '80s, and he mentions the "Chessani Lodge" — which seems to lend some credence to the idea that some sort of Bohemian Grove-esque secret society will come into play before the end of the season.

Sober Ray is better Ray

In a meeting with Ray, Frank tells him, "Sometimes your worst self is your best self." Yet the sobered-up, clear-headed Ray in the episode seems like the guy who at one time would have been worthy of having a wife like Gena (Abigail Spencer) and could have been a decent cop.

With his partner (W. Earl Brown) killed in the shootout, however, that worst self may again show up.

Outside help

For the first time in the show's history, creator Nic Pizzolatto shared writing credit on an episode with novelist Scott Lasser (Say Nice Things About Detroit) credited as co-writer. Lasser declined an interview request from The Hollywood Reporter, but before the season began he told the Aspen Times that he worked with Pizzolatto on storylines for the season.

The two met at a literary conference in Aspen several years ago and struck up a relationship that led to Lasser's work on True Detective.

True Detective airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.