Q.V. Hough

Understanding the Reveal: True Detective ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ (Recap)

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Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the “reveals” of True Detective. In fact, these “reveals” are not true reveals at all, and in the opening minutes of “Maybe Tomorrow,” the blatant homage to David Lynch’s neo-noir Blue Velvet serves as a reminder that not everything is as it seems. By now, we should be focusing less on the hard drinkin’ and groanin’ noir stereotypes, and instead shift our attention to the perceived throwaway lines, as there are no throwaway lines. It’s all about misdirection.

After last week’s “reveal,” everybody wanted to know whether or not Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) was alive. Given that he took a blast to the chest, it was a valid concern, even if the character’s death was highly unlikely. With the Lynchian opening dream sequence of “Maybe Tomorrow,” series creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto quickly provided answers about Velcoro, almost brushing off the shooting incident entirely. But who would put down the alcoholic detective without actually killing him? Who would use “riot shells,” or as Velcoro noted to Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), “the kind that cops use.” It seems that Velcoro’s new partner may be involved to some extent, and in my opinion, she likely is — just not in a murderous way.

I’ve read a few pieces on “Maybe Tomorrow” and always find it troubling when viewers base their character interest level solely around the reveal of information. While some perceive Bezzerides to be less interesting upon the most recent chapter of True Detective, I find her more interesting than ever. At one point in “Maybe Tomorrow,” Ani and Ray visit a movie set, and a potential witness says, “I drink, so it makes my recollection unreliable.” With that being said, it’s my opinion that either Ray has been deviously creating his own narrative (putting on a front), or he’s being manipulated by someone close. You know, someone “uninteresting.” When a hard drive with damning evidence goes missing, and a drunk detective becomes disabled from buckshot, I naturally find his partner more interesting, especially given her downward Internet spiral from the season premiere.

In last night’s episode of True Detective, Pizzolatto had supporting players insult Bezzerides with terms like “Xena” (the Warrior Princess) and “cunt.” In other words, she’s being portrayed by unreliable characters as a weak female detective obsessed with work. In a conversation with the mayor, Velcoro was asked to “pimp” his partner, but earlier in the episode, Bezzerides was asked to use her charm on Velcoro. In the final moments of “Maybe Tomorrow,” a car just happens to be torched and Velcoro just happens to save his partner’s life. Misdirection? It’s important to understand how a faux-reveal establishes a true reveal.

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Speaking of faux reveals, the old war buddy of Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) knows that he likely didn’t take advantage of the speeding starlet from the season premiere, and that’s because the two men were romantically involved overseas. REVEAL! Well, once again, Pizzolatto’s dialogue reveals a misdirection, as that entire scene was based around Woodrugh deflecting the truth about himself along with a deeper problem. The “reveal” isn’t that Paul is attracted to men, it’s that his combative and self-hating nature makes him easy to manipulate, and the scene ends with Woodrugh going buckwild on his old pal/lover.

In the end, “Maybe Tomorrow” demonstrates the idea that we’re living in a world of noir-like characters, but there’s humanity behind the posturing personas, or at least deeply personal issues that need resolution. Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) can rip out a man’s gold teeth, but he can’t bust out an erection at home for his wife. We’re out of the tough-guy past, and Pizzolatto even includes a scene in which Velcoro’s ignorant father takes comfort in a 1951 Kirk Douglas film noir, Detective Story, which might as well have been the actor’s 1947 film noir Out of the Past. It’s not about the reveals – those obvious water cooler moments — it’s about the misdirection and understanding the importance of the set-up.

Q.V. Hough (@qvhough) is a freelance writer and founder of Vague Visages. He lived in Hollywood, California from 2006 to 2012 and has bachelor degrees in Communication-Mass Media and History. He now resides in Fargo, North Dakota.

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