To say "True Detective" Season 2 has been hard to follow would be quite an understatement. With dozens of characters coming in and out of the fold and more than a few twists in the story, the plot has been pretty elusive, even for the show's most loyal viewers. However, with the last episode approaching Sunday, everything is starting to come into focus. To help the more confused fans, here is a breakdown of the most important characters in the HBO series and how they factor into the show's big finale.
Though he never appears alive in the series, Ben Caspere is the key to this whole tale. The corrupt city planner had a deal in the works with gangster Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) to buy up a large chunk of land from an organization called the Catalyst Group. The two were buying the land cheap thanks to Frank's waste management company illegally dumping waste in the area, eliminating the possibility of any agricultural development on the land. However, Semyon, Caspere and their Russian business partner Osip (Timothy V. Murphy) know they can turn the land around for a huge profit because the state hopes to build a high speed rail line through the property.
Business was not the only dirty aspect of Caspere's life. The city planner had a penchant for high end prostitutes at elaborate, private parties organized by Tony Chessani (Vinicius Machado), Vinci City Mayor Chessani's (Ritchie Coster) son, and Blake Churchman (Christopher James Baker) with European girls supplied by Osip.
Season 2 was jump started when highway patrolman Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) found Caspere dead along the side of the road. Caspere's body had been castrated and his eyes had been burned out with acid. It was later determined he was driven to the site by someone wearing a crow mask.
When Caspere died he seemingly took $5 million of Frank Semyon's money with him. The gangster could not recover his cash and he was subsequently forced out of the Catalyst Group deal. Semyon had hoped to use the deal to legitimize his career and leave the criminal underworld behind. However, after Caspere's death he taps back into his criminal network to find out who wronged him, including regular informational meetings with detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell)
When the season began, Ray Velcoro was a Vinci city detective. However, the alcoholic cop had a sordid past. Years ago his then-wife had been raped and, likely, impregnated by her assailant. Ray learned that Frank Semyon had information on the crime and paid him a visit. Frank gave Ray a name and Ray killed the man, an action that led to the deterioration of his marriage and life in general. It also made him Frank's lackey despite his police affiliation. Unfortunately, when a man is arrested late in Season 2 with DNA evidence that he is Ray's ex-wife's true rapist, Ray learns someone had lied to him.
So, Velcoro entered the Ben Caspere murder investigation as a compromised man. He was both feeding information to Frank, who had a big stake in the outcome of the case, and being pressured by the uber-corrupt Vinci Police Department to solve the case without exposing any of the city's shady dealings.
One of Ray's partners State's Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams). Bezzerides father, Eliot (David Morse), ran a commune in the 1970s where he was associated with Mayor Chessani and Dr. Pitlar (Rick Springfield), Ben Caspere's therapist and a plastic surgeon who worked on many of the girls for Tony Chessani's parties. Ani once went missing during that time and it seems she was sexually abused -- She remembered the face of her assailant while undercover in the prostitute party in episode 6.
Ani entered the case under pressure from her boss, State's Attorney Katherine Davis (Michael Hyatt), to expose corruption in Vinci in addition to solving the Caspere murder.
Woodrugh, who discovered Caspere's body, has a tortured past. He is a closeted gay man struggling to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend, Emily (Adria Arjona), which becomes more complicated when she finds out she is pregnant. He also was formerly in the military, working for a mercenary group called Black Mountain, where he had a relationship with another soldier.
When the series began Blake had worked his way up to being Frank's right hand man. However, his loyalty was not intact. Worried about what would become of him after Frank cashed out of crime, Blake had begun setting up the prostitute parties with Tony Chessani and working behind Frank's back to torpedo the Catalyst Group deal. After Frank confronted him, Blake confessed Osip and Caspere always meant to push him out of the deal, even if Caspere had not died -- he claims Osip and Chessani had nothing to do with the murder. On top of that, Blake revealed Osip also was using the money from the European girls to buy up the liens on Frank's clubs. After hearing news, Frank killed Blake and, later that night, set fire to his clubs. Frank now plans to crash a cash exchange with Osip and the Catalyst Group that Blake told him about, get his money back and skip town.
One more thing, Blake was the one who gave Frank the phony-rapist's name to give to Ray. In truth, the man Ray killed was a meth dealer enemy of Blake's, and Blake had seized an opportunity to earn Frank's trust by helping him acquire influence over a cop.
Early in the season, Ani had followed up on a missing person's case and interviewed a woman who said her sister, Vera (Miranda Rae Mayo), was missing. When Bezzerides went undercover she found a strung out Vera and brought her to safety.
Despite actually not wanting to have been rescued, Vera gives Ani some invaluable information about a girl named Tasha. Tasha had been trying to blackmail some of the men from the prostitute parties and was likely the person murdered in the cabin Ani found early on in the season. Tasha was also one of Caspere's favorite girls, which would explain why the blood found in the cabin had traces of gonorrhea, from which Caspere suffered. When Ani and Ray looked at the blackmail pictures Vera's sister had given her they noticed another girl in the picture covered in blue diamonds.
Ray and Ani recognized one of the girls in the pictures as Erica, Ben Caspere's assistant from the film set, who has now, apparently, skipped town. From comparing pictures, they deduced that Erica/Laura was the daughter of jewelry store owners killed by Dixon (W. Earl Brown) -- the detective killed in episode 4's shootout -- and Burris (James Frain) -- the man who killed Paul in episode 7. In episode 7, Paul discovered the pair had killed the store owners to steal millions of dollars in blue diamonds with the oversight of Caspere and Vinci Police Chief Holloway (Afemo Omilami). Caspere had been keeping the diamonds in a safety deposit box, from where they soon went missing, but -- as Frank learned from investigating the Mexican drug dealers -- after Caspere died, Burris paid a Mexican girl named Irina to pawn Caspere's watch to shift the blame for Caspere's murder and all police attention on the Mexicans, leading to the big shootout in episode 4. Laura might be the one responsible for Caspere's death in retaliation for her parents.
The corrupt Vinci cop killed Paul after Holloway -- who was at the prostitute party and in cahoots with the Catalyst Group and the Vinci corruption -- fails to get Paul to cooperate. Burris is also likely responsible for killing Katherine Davis and framing Ray, as it seems the Catalyst Group wants all three detectives silenced. Luckily for them, Ani is already a fugitive because she killed a guard at the prostitute party.
The Crow Mask
Who is the mystery assailant in the crow mask? In addition to transporting Caspere's body, the unknown person was the gunman who shot Ray and took the hard drive from the prostitute's house. That hard drive allegedly contains some serious blackmail fodder from the parties and Catalyst Group boss Jacob McCandless (Jon Lindstrom) had offered Frank his cut of the property again if he could recover the hard drive. The identity of the masked killer could be the key to the whole case!
Does Season 2 make more sense now? Tweet your thoughts and questions to @Ja9GarofaloTV.