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True Detective Season 2 Episode 6 'Church in Ruins' Review

As 'True Detective' continues its second season, things start to get going. Velcoro finally moves on from his son, we get more info about Ani's backstory and Frank gets possibly his best scene so far. However is the season improving or is this a step backwards? 

Apart from the first two episodes, this is probably the one I was excited to see the most after the standout 'Other Lives' last week where it really starting to feel like the show was finally coming together and revealing hints about where it is all leading to. But just like everything else, the episode has a fair share of problems. Taylor Kitsch's character Paul did not move his story along at all here as he instead ends up being in here purely for the necessities of "he's a core character so he has to be in here". Most everyone else however get some scenes relating to their own personal story and all of that was great to see (however Ani's is still just getting teased and I feel like it is something they will save for the next episode judging by the ending of this). Ray Velcoro's scene with his son was fantastic as he is not quite sure how to interact with him while in the presence of a social worker inspecting his every move and continuously writing down notes (not really the audience you want when you are watching 'Friends' with your kid). You can clearly see how close he is from finally disowning him, something he ends up doing afterwards. At first I was wondering what led him to this conclusion but thankfully we immediately find out he wants his ex-wife to just drop the paternity test and never tell the kid he's not actually his father in exchange for leaving them alone. Really great and memorable moment and I can only speculate but I'm fairly sure he ends up doing more coke than anyone has ever coked before right after the scene ends. People are flat out calling this a bad season but I fail to see the badness in scenes like this. Colin Farrell's performance reaches near perfection as he breaks down and comes to his senses that he needs to give up his son, for all of the significant problems with the season, moments like this stand out.

As I mentioned earlier, Vince Vaughn as Frank gets his crowning moment in this episode where he tries to comfort a kid who just lost his father. He delivers a rather beautiful speech and delivers each line very well. It doesn't go on for very long but ever since I saw it, it has stayed on my mind, something that rarely happens in this season compared to the first.

Rachel McAdams also got a real cracker of a scene as she infiltrates a mansion posing as a hooker - the kicker is she was given drugs just seconds before and starts to get dizzy as she wanders around. It's shot really well and you truly feel like she is seconds away from passing out. The only problem I found with this whole section of the episode is how it intercuts with Ray and Paul outside trying to get in and the music they went with does not fit at all with anything they were doing. Whenever Ani was on screen it fit perfectly (obviously because that was the core focus of the scene) but everytime they cut to Ray and Paul, they kept the exact same music which just takes you out of the moment. I will say though, I am more intrigued than ever to find out more about Ani's backstory which I can only assume includes getting raped as a young girl based on the visions she had. She is definitely the second best character of the season and the best female character the show has had. Rachel McAdams performance sells every emotion the character is going through like a champ.

This is possibly the strongest episode thus far because more and more things that feel important start to take center stage and it doesn't waste too much time just being brooding for no apparent reason. Direction wise it was yet another highlight of the season (they just keep getting better and better don't they?), this time done by Miguel Sapochnik who also directed the episodes 'The Gift' and 'Hardhome' from season 5 of 'Game of Thrones', both of which were also highlights of that season. Overall though, I am looking forward to seeing where they are going with this and thoroughly enjoyed the episode.

★★★★★★★★
8/10

- Lucas

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