On “True Detective,” public transit riders have it even worse than usual
In this installment of Green Screen, we highlight the greenest parts of your favorite TV guilty pleasures (spoiler: There are a lot of them!).
After watching last night’s True Detective, I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating and panting, from a nightmare about — I kid you not — public works. Specific details elude me, but it either means that the deeply buried focus of the show really is the dysfunction of urban infrastructure, or that I should drink fewer vodka-based beverages before bedtime. You decide!
Yesterday’s foul episode opens with Frank berating his gardener for a dying avocado tree (Frank – we’ve talked about this: California is in a goddamn drought!), which is apparently failing to bear fruit due to soil quality. This is a not-at-all overwrought metaphor for Jordan’s barren womb, which might be failing to live up to its potential due to enduring one of the most unpleasant and chemistry-devoid relationships to ever grace HBO’s airwaves – which is really saying something, I know.
Speaking of: After Paul recognizes that, once and for all, he actually is into dudes, his long-suffering girlfriend discloses that she’s pregnant. “I thought you were on the pill,” Sad Riggs stammers. “It’s not 100 percent,” Em replies. It most certainly isn’t! Em, predictably, doesn’t believe in abortion, and so Paul takes the opportunity to do the right thing and influence her into a tortured, loveless, Viagra-sponsored marriage.
But back to the dirt: Soil quality is a theme in this week’s True Detective, although — in keeping with literally everything else this season — not in a way that is easy to follow or understand. The show’s two remaining Not-Totally-Unlikeable Characters, Ani and Velcoro, take a trip out to a Fresno-area field that’s tainted with arsenic, mercury, and lead from mine runoff. Why are they there? Caspere the Kinky Ghost used to hang out there, plus Vinci Mayor Bad Man had a bunch of soil readings and maps in his nightmarish Bel Air manse. Beyond that, no real idea. We learn from the Friendly EPA Man that farmland across the county is suffering because of the contaminated soil.
To review: In California, everything is poison. Moving on.
In this episode, True Detective sticks with its chosen construction of 55 minutes of awful/five minutes of “what — fucked-up — shit — is this?” Here, the last twelfth of the episode is dedicated to the most botched shoot-out in police history. Said shoot-out takes place — where else? — at the site of a protest of Vinci’s criminally sub-par public transit system.
Over the course of this bloodbath — which draws to a conclusion with an SUV crashing head-on into what is probably the city’s only bus, to add insult to injury — conservatively 75 percent of Vinci’s population of 100 are murdered. On the plus side, that really resolves any need for better bus service!
We are now halfway through this season of True Detective. Everything is dirtied and ruined, and almost everyone — except, somehow, three of our grumpy protagonists – now has a bullet wound in the head. It’s not looking good at all, folks (though still probably better than the forecast for the other end of this dumb coast). Anyhow, we will continue to rue the day we said this season could maybe turn out to be actually good, so check back with us next week for our review of another hour in Hellhole, Calif.