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True Detective season finale recap: Omega Station

An ambitious, busted season comes to a bleak, unfulfilling conclusion.

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Lacey Terrell/HBO

True Detective

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:

Ray Velcoro died in the wilderness, suicide by bad cops. Frank Semyon bled out in the desert, gutted by foul, pissy buzzards that came home to roost. Ani Bezzerides was made a figurative widow and crossed the sea to wander South America with a pack of exiles that included a literal widow (Frank’s wife, Jordan), a baby boy (Ani’s son, the parting gift/consolation prize of her night of soul-bonding sad sex with Ray), and Nails, good ol’ Nails. As Mother Nature, that heartless femme fatale, shrugged at the strivings of desperate, doomed anti-heroes and claimed their corpses with the cool indifference in various symbolically loaded environments, the corrupt machine that was the malignant municipality of Vinci rolled on under the latest pervert patriarch of those Bush-league Kennedys, the trashy Chessanis of Bel Air. In the end, hope for widespread institutional reform and social justice in this mythic microcosm of fallen, f’d up Western culture hinged on… good journalism. Oh, well.

“Omega Station” brought True Detective’s busted exercise in California Gothic to an end with a maddening mix of rigorously conceived cynicism, campy drama and dialogue (“I am the blade and the bullet!”), and noisy spectacle that fell short of spectacular. So it was a microcosm of the entire season. The saga’s many mysteries—most notably, the murder of Ben Caspere—were resolved with a surplus of backstory exposition and barely seen bit players that turned out to be majorly important to the whole damn thing. Like the show’s many mesmerizing shots of L.A. freeways, these eight episodes formed a confusing sprawl of tangled story lines that was somehow watchable despite itself, though that’s not the same thing as “good.” “Omega Station” proved that everything that rises chaotically tends to converge with a mess.

I’m probably overthinking things, but I took the title as a nod to “Omega Point” theory, the optimistic, dubious proposition that the humanity is evolving toward a transcendent singularity in which death itself might be conquered. If so, then True Detective was surely snorting at the notion: The season was practically Kubrickian in its dim view of capitalism and society and our collective and individual capacity for positive, redemptive change. Of course, True Detective doesn’t deserve the flattery of “Kubrickian” (or “snorting”; it implies a sense of humor the season lacked or bungled), and its most interesting ideas and themes were subverted by undercooked and overwrought execution. The finale—and the season—fancied itself a friend to those who prefer their existential pulp pitiless and philosophically pessimistic (which is to say, those who hated the conclusion to season 1 of True Detective), and to those who are sick and tired of so much TV about hideous men chasing immortality projects and the women who love them; the subtitle of this episode could’ve been Ray’s early season laugher, “Well, just so you know, I support feminism.” But rigged game bleakness is just as phony as unearned happy ending, and spoiling badly broken men with screen time just to lay waste to them isn’t progressive, it’s just more of the same.

“He thought it was funny.” Turned out the killing of Ben Caspere really was a “collapse of civilization revenge flick” plot after all. Your murderers: Leonard (“Lenny”) and Laura (or Erica) Osterman, the survivors of the Blue Diamonds heist and massacre perpetrated by Burris, Dixon, Holloway, and Caspere, all former L.A.P.D. officers and employees who later left for/sold out to Vinci. Both kids grew up bad. Laura/Erica became a prostitute; she met sex monster Caspere while working one of Tony Chessani’s hump parties for the rich and famous. Leonard was used and abused by a series of foster families before reuniting with Laura, who got her movie buff bro a job as the set photographer on the aforementioned movie shooting in Vinci. (That’s a lot of juice for a city manager’s secretary.) After learning about his sister’s new connection to Caspere and the men who killed their parents, Leonard went dark knight: He wanted to avenge their death with brutal vigilante justice. He only meant to torture Caspere for information on all of his dirty deeds, but he went too far with the acid to the eyes, and kinda-sorta accidentally killed him. Why did Leonard and Laura leave the body to be found? Just ‘cuz. “He thought it was funny,” explained Laura.

Leonard Osterman: Not just some batty Batman, but a Joker, too, trying to bring The Vinci Powers That Be to their knees with nihilistic, psychotic anarchy.

NEXT: In which the wisdom of Ecclesiastes is dramatized: The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem/’Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity./What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.’”