1. The sprawl of the Caspere case has finally started to take shape.
About half the suspect pool in Caspere's death was at the sex party Ani (Rachel McAdams) infiltrated, including the Catalyst exec who wants Caspere's missing hard drive; Frank's (Vince Vaughn) Russian rival; the Vinci police chief; and the attorney general-turned-candidate for governor who now has his hand in the same pockets he was ostensibly investigating a few months earlier.
All that suggests Ani and Co. are getting much closer to bringing the disparate threads of the case together. Based on what the audience has been presented so far, it seems likely that some powerful person or people got wind of Caspere's blackmail scheme, his shady dealings with the rail corridor, or both, and had him killed.
With the scope of the case now having gone way past the corrupt little burg of Vinci, it also seems headed potentially for a similarly compromised resolution that season one of the show had: The task force may get its hands on the person or people who actually did the deed with Caspere, but the larger network of powerful men running things could easily go on unchecked.
2. The stuff about family and fatherhood was better integrated in this episode than it has been in the past.
Your mileage may vary on the effectiveness of Ray's (Colin Farrell) New York Dolls-fueled coke-and-booze bender, but Farrell played comedown extremely well. The lead performances have been the primary draw week to week, and Ray's desire to do something decent for the kid he'll probably never see again was touching, even if he was walking around the wreckage of all the models he and Chad had built.
Likewise, Frank's talk with the son of his murdered henchman Stan was one of Vaughn's better moments of the season, and it worked even though the show never really explained who Stan was or what he meant to Frank.
The audience also gets some more insight into why Ani is so repelled by her father's commune. In her molly-fueled haze at the party, she flashes a couple times on a super-creepy bearded man who led her into the woods when she was a kid and presumably did awful things to her. No wonder she's always carrying knives now.
3. These extremely wealthy and powerful men should really chip in for some better security at their next mansion orgy.
The big set piece at the party was nicely directed by Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones, House), and Ani's escape with Vera -- the missing woman she first learned about in the season premiere -- hit a lot of great notes. In particular, the big brute holding Ani by the throat collapsing after her knife work does its job was a nice riff on a scene viewers have watched a thousand times in other movies and shows.
The blurry camerawork depicting Ani's fuzzy-minded state also worked better than a lot of other drug-haze shots do. But as Ray and Paul (Taylor Kitsch) took out guard after guard and popped a window latch with a pocketknife, it was hard not to wonder why these super-wealthy men didn't have 65 security cameras and three times as many goons around their sex palace.
The hero(es) storming a heavily guarded citadel and overcoming long odds is a well-worn trope, and it's never been high on the realism scale. Something about this particular citadel-storming -- that giant moon at the end, maybe? -- just seemed a little more farfetched than usual.
What did you think of True Detective this week?