A Look at True Detective- Season 2, Episode 7: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”

How do you recover from nearly being killed at an orgy with powerful figures?  Well, you can’t, really.  It’s hard to come back from that sort of thing without it fucking up your head.  We ended “Church in Ruins” with our detectives making some headway and finding the missing girl, Vera.  But instead of things looking up, they just get worse.  Oh, and everything is fucking.  Welcome to “Black Maps and Motel Rooms.”

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Ray regroup after the mission

The episode begins at the Molera Motel where Paul goes over the documents retrieved from the heist while Vera sleeps.  He receives another call from Emily, but ignores it.  Ani, meanwhile, feels fucked up from what happened at the mansion.  She tells Ray all the powerful men she saw during the operation and how she’s been waiting her entire life to gut a man like she did.  How sweet.

She talks about running out and being found in the woods, but drops it when Ray asks her to clarify.  She then starts putting the moves on Ray, who had very different plans for the night.  He lets a delirious Ani go as she tries to rest off the effects of the drugs.  Plus, Ani is too far out of Ray’s league, anyway.  Ray wants the ladies to stay while he and Paul report to Davis.  In the meantime, Ani can call Athena.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul and Ray go over the documents and signatures

Paul and Ray go over the documentation to new owners, including Osip and Anthony Chessani.  It includes mentions of new land parcels and a buy-sell deal that involves reselling Caspere’s land.  Paul receives an ominous text regarding Emily, but disregards it for the time.

Ani joins the two to discuss their next move.  Paul needs to check in on his fiancé, so he heads off for now.  Ray thinks that Ani should drop their information on Davis when the next opportunity arrives.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank plays by himself, Jordan joins him

At the casino, Frank assembles a game with himself when Jordan joins him.  He fills her in about new people helping out at the club while being gangbanged by forces unseen.  What can Frank pull together right now?  Maybe $2 or even $3 hundred thousand.  That’d be 45 years of his life gone.  He can’t see himself working at Applebees, though.  Soon, Ray enters and sits with Frank to tell him about his strange night.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul and Emily talk

Paul tells Emily about his text message involving the undercover case.  He wants her to be safe for a couple of days so he can clear this situation up.  He’s just trying to be a good man, but Emily thinks that he doesn’t try hard enough.  Well, she’s not completely wrong.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani fills Athena in on what happened at the orgy

Ani fills Athena in on her night and tells her to disappear for awhile.  After all, Ani did use her name.  Maybe she can go up north to Oregon to be safe.  For how long?  No idea.  And Ani is seeing someone and starting school soon, but Ani needs her gone now.  She won’t go back home.  Ani tells Athena that she saved her a girl and that she herself was given something at the party, as Athena had done before, but leaves out the killing details.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul drops Emily and Cynthia at a motel

Paul drops off Emily and Cynthia at the motel where they’ll be staying.  It’s too complicated to go to his superiors at this point and this may be nothing, but Paul needs them to be safe for two, maybe three nights.  He advises them to not answer the door or phone if it isn’t him.  All they need to do is relax.  I’m sure that’ll be easy.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank and Ray talk about personal attachment and investment

Frank talks to Ray about personal attachment and investment.  For what?  This goes bigger than Blake, Ray says.  He mentions the documents from holding companies and how it involves Chessani’s kid.  Ray also mentions a European-looking man by the name of Osip.  He’s actually Russian-Israeli and part of a deal to fuck over Frank.  Frank fills in Ray about Irina Rulfo’s involvement and how he found her…dead.  Frank promises through word of honor to have a name for Ray by the end of the day.  Ray calls Paul to let him know about Rulfo’s involvement.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Vera looks through some photos

Ani speaks with Vera about her disappearance and the contents of a mailbox that Vera kept- some photos.  Vera apparently forgot about the box and the contents that must have been sent from a woman named Tascha.  Vera met Ben Caspere at the Panticapaeum Institute and that’s where Vera had been hooked up on the circuit.  Tascha was his favorite and had photos of these parties.  Maybe the photos were backup.

As for the diamonds, Vera says that Caspere showed them to Tascha once.  But what happened to Tascha?  Wherever they were up North, someone had a camera.  There was a cabin out back where Tony Chessani and his men took Tascha…

Vera refuses to testify and she clarifies to Ani that she never tried to get out of the mansion.  Hell, she didn’t want to.  She was never missing, despite the condition she was in when Ani found her.

Okay.  So who is the other girl in the photos?  Probably Laura.  She wasn’t dumb enough to end up at the cabin.  Vera just wants to get back to her life, but she’s not looking forward to reuniting with Dani.  She has nice things and had something well going on with Tony Chessani.  But Ani tells her that maybe she was put on this Earth for more than fucking.  To Vera, everything is fucking.

How very profound, True Detective.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Dani and Vera reunite

Dani arrives, though Vera isn’t pleased to see her and won’t be going with her.  Ani tells Vera to lay low until it’s safe.  After all, Ani is the only one who can get her out of danger.  And if Vera doesn’t abide, Ani can just spill that Vera talked to a cop.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul looks into Dixon's background, sees that Ani is wanted for questioning

Paul looks into Teague Dixon’s background.  His chief accountant?  Ben Caspere.  Paul also learns that Ani’s wanted for questioning in the death of a security guard.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Blake alone with Frank

Blake meets with Frank and talks of a private thing he had last night.  He made $15,000, so he’s like a natural born pimp.  Frank saw a difference between a whore and a pimp.  A whore has integrity.  Blake says that he can be moved up, but there’s nothing he can be moved up to, Frank says.  All Frank’s shit has been taken down to the street.  Blake assures Frank that he’ll make it back to the top.

Stan followed Blake, Frank says.  Frank wants to know what it is that Stan saw that led him to die.  Blake fucked up by letting himself be alone with Frank right now.  That’s just arrogance.  Frank smashes his glass into Blake’s face.  He lays into Blake, who tells Frank everything that Ray already told him.  Osip and the other powerful names reached out to Blake, who just took the opportunity.

No one knows who killed Caspere, though.  Caspere was always going to fuck over Frank out of his money.  Where were all of Frank’s plans going to leave Blake?  Stan?  He did always teach them to make their own opportunities.

Frank then asks about the man who hurt Ray’s wife.  It was some meth head that said Blake ripped him off.  He was going to come after Blake, but then Blake heard about some deputy’s wife.  Blake says that he can get the money back, though, which stops Frank from choking him to death.  There’s a cash exchange tomorrow- $12 million.  Blake doesn’t know who will be at this handoff for sure, though.  Osip, at least, is sure to be present.  Osip’s people are taking it all.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Blake bleeds out on Frank's carpet

Blake can work on the inside as a triple-cross since Osip doesn’t know he’s been found out, but Frank decides to shoot Blake in the stomach instead.  He relays the tale of how he first found Blake, who had potential, and is now bleeding out on Frank’s carpet.  So his tale has come full circle, I suppose.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ray finds Davis dead

Meanwhile, at an industrial plant, Ray receives a surprise when he goes to meet with Davis, only to find her dead in her car.  He speeds off.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani shows her father some photos

Ani shows some photos to Eliot, who had no real relationships with the others.  Everyone was passing on separate journeys.  Some wanted freedom, many came and went.  He regrets so much of this time.  Ani tells her Eliot she finally remembered the face of the man who took her away, even though she said she couldn’t remember anything.  True, but people came and went.  There was a man and Ani thinks that she always remembered it.

Eliot searched the forests for four days.  He wishes that he could give that time back to Ani.  He wanted to be like his strict father.  God damn everything.  Ani won’t and can’t turn herself in, but she can fix this.  Though Ani’s life hasn’t been easy, Eliot still thinks that Ani is the same, innocent person he’s always known.  I can’t tell if that was meant to be a joke.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani says goodbye to her father and sister

Elvis shows up and lets her know her place is being watched because of the APB.  The two make amends, with Elvis admitting that he was jealous.  However, Ani admits that she fucked up on that one.  She admits that she may be unfair to people at times.  Understatement of the fucking season, Rachel McAdams.  Ani says her farewell to her family and tells Elvis to tail them until Eugene.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Jordan sees Blake's body

Back to Frank, who acknowledges that he’s in a secret war.  He wants Jordan brought inside.  She sees Blake’s body and isn’t aghast at the sight.  Frank tells her that others are gunning for him.  As for what Jordan can do, Frank tells her to pack a bag since she can’t stay home anymore.  Nails will accompany her.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank looks into the diamond exchange rate

Frank looks into the diamond exchange rate, where the owner doesn’t wish to partake in such exchanges, even though the money would be untraceable.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank and Armin talk about the consignment

He then speaks with a travel agent about plans and even gets some passports made.  At the bakery, he arranges with Armin on how he’ll pay the consignment them the day after tomorrow.  He fills them in about the Russians’ takeover plan.  If the owners help Frank now, he’ll pay them back later.  Right now, he needs two clean cars and a clean passport to get where he’s going.  If that’s done, there’s another half million for the owners.  His ship has come in.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani, Paul, and Ray discuss Davis' murder

Ani, Ray, and Paul discuss Davis’ murder and how the three are covering their tracks.  Ray even changed his license plates at a fucking mall because he’s being set up as Davis’ murderer.  Burris and Dixon served together under Holloway in 1992.  It’s possible that Caspere helped them move the diamonds.  The diamonds are how they bought in.  But Dixon?  He checked in on the diamonds before our characters knew about them.

In addition, Burris arrested Ledo Amarilla in 2006, but soon released him after interrogation.  Hell, there weren’t even any notes left over from that arrest.  The shooting from a few months back also turned out be a setup, as it’s possible that the key players involved thought it would go down different.  That would explain why Caspere’s place was tossed- a frantic search for those diamonds.  Tascha was going to blackmail Caspere.

Caspere’s death kicked off everything, but why wasn’t he tortured for the diamond?  It doesn’t add up.  There are also few places to take this to since Davis is dead and this investigation was off the books.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank talks with Mayor Chessani

Mayor Chessani talks it up with a woman when Frank arrives and tells him about Tony’s involvement with Osip.  He’s getting fucked over by his own son.  You don’t see that too often.  Frank, while leaving a gun behind the bar, serves some drinks to Osip, who later arrives.  The clubs, Osip says, are now his.  He’ll be doing a lot of business in California.  Frank admits he was out of his element with this land stuff, to which Osip finds it surprising that Frank is taking it so easily.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Osip talks with Frank

Osip tells Frank that his board wanted to take him out, but Osip spoke on his behalf as a smart businessman.  He offers Frank a chance to help run the club, even though Frank wants out.  It’s time to find something new to build on.  That’s all Frank hopes for, going into the future.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul meets with Miguel

Paul, on his own and having received some compromising photos, calls Ray and lets him know something that no one else knows.  He tells him that someone sent photos of him and how he thinks that he’s walking into a trap.  He meets Miguel, who has to take his gun on orders.  Paul isn’t in a position to protest, as there are eyes all over, watching him.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Paul go through some photos

Ray tells Ani that they need an exit strategy, since there’s no way they’d be allowed to go to trial.  Ani mentions a woman named Laura.  The two go through the photos and Ray notices a woman named Laura, Caspere’s secretary.  One of the orphans in the robbery was also named Laura.  Ray pulls out the photo and they put it against the more recent photo of Laura.  Coincidence?

They plan to move forward, but when they call Paul, they only get a voicemail.  All to do now is wait.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul is brought before Chief Holloway

Paul is brought before, to his surprise, Chief Holloway, to answer some questions.  The tunnels they’re in go throughout the city.  Dixon was keeping an eye on Paul, which is what led to the photos.  Documents were stolen from a private gathering and Holloway knows that Paul had them.  He asks about Ani and Ray’s whereabouts.  Paul offers to call them and set up a meeting.  Davis used them all, but she’s dead now, and Paul could give a shit about either Ray or Ani.

Problem is that Paul doesn’t get any service.  He gets Holloway subdued and manages to make an escape.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank kills a henchman after announcing a gas leak

Back at the casino, Frank tells a henchman that the club needs to be cleared for a few hours due to a gas leak.  Time to cash in those chips.  One of Osip’s henchmen asks about the gas leak.  He’s killed for his troubles.  So Frank does indeed start a gas leak, starts a fire, and leaves.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Cynthia and Emily watch a movie

Emily and Cynthia bond over some old-timey movies since they have nothing else to do.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Ray drink

Ray doesn’t think that this will go over well with Chad, given what his son will learn about him when this gets out.  Ani apologizes for bringing Ray back into this, but that’s no big deal to him.  A long time ago, Ray thought everything came from something else, but it came from there.  She had something like that too, right?  No.  That’s not something that Ani talks about, which is something that Ray admires about her.  Well, now.

After a long silence, Ani admits that Paul isn’t a bad man, but he disagrees.  He is, in fact, a bad man.  He asks Ani if she misses it- anything.  She responds by taking his hand into hers.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul on the run

Paul, meanwhile, continues his escape, but the men are closing in on him.  He manages to take out two men and slowly makes his way out, but he’s forced to run as bullets start flying his way.  He takes cover and ambushes two men searching for him.

After taking a moment to regain his composure, Paul heads to a ladder and makes his way up.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Ray kiss

He’s not having as good a time as Ani and Ray, who start to have their fun.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank burns it down

Back at the club, Frank empties alcohol all over and turns on the gas.  Then, from a comfortable distance, he watches the fire.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul is shot by Lieutenant Burris

Ray escapes, but just as he’s about to make a call, he’s shot and killed by Lieutenant Burris.  Burris nabs Paul’s phone and flees as the episode comes to a close.

So instead of our detectives having some feeling of accomplishment after their convenient rescue of Vera last week, “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” showed that things only got worse for them.  And they aren’t getting any better, from the looks of it.

Kind of like how Rust and Marty tried to make sense of the occult stuff from the first season, our four protagonists learn that this corruption goes deeper than they imagined.  The shootout from the end of “Down Will Come,” Davis’ murder, Blake’s involvement with Osip, all of them set-ups for the main characters.

And there’s little to no recovery time because they all realize that they’ve been screwed over by a corrupt system.  Much like “Other Lives,” this episode mostly dealt with the fallout of the previous one, but the stakes and consequences are much larger here.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul with Miguel

Let’s go straight to Paul, as he’s an unfortunate casualty due to being betrayed by Miguel.  Of the three detectives, Paul, I feel, is the most shrouded in mystery.  We’re given hints about his past, but we know the least about him compared to Ray and Ani.  What we do know is that, despite the shit thrown his way, he’s a fighter to the very end.   But he couldn’t let his closet homosexuality get out.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul making his way out

Despite the impossibility of his situation, he fought his way out in an impressive sequence that, to be frank, impressed me a bit more than the shootout of “Down Will Come,” if only because Paul appears to be better than Ray and Ani at adapting to his environment and using anything to his advantage.

The problem is that Paul got too deep.  He learned more about the diamonds than necessary and managed to connect the investigation to an unlikely source: Lieutenant Burris.  Burris has had a number of appearances, but he’s mostly been a background character popping up every now and then to speak with Ray.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Lieutenant Burris kills Paul

We learn this week that Burris was involved with the likes of Dixon and Caspere as far back as the 1992 robbery with the jewelry store being their district.  When Tascha was going to blackmail Caspere, Holloway and Burris killed Caspere instead.  So these two officers of the law that, for the most part, just stick to making sure Ray did his job, have been orchestrating part of this affair for years.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Chessani talks with Frank

Yes, we’ve known since the season premiere that Vinci is a corrupt hellhole, but unlike someone like Mayor Chessani- who turned out to be naïve all along- nothing gave me the impression that Burris and Holloway had a corrupt slant to them.  Maybe a bit of darkness in their lives, sure, but that they’d be behind this was a bit of a surprise to me.  This makes Burris out to be even more dangerous, I think, because of how unassuming he is.

Caspere is dead, but Burris is still alive and can put a stop to anyone that learns too much, as we see with Paul.  The threat didn’t have to be some looming, shadowy presence.  It ended up being someone that we knew this entire time.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Blake under Frank's heel

That’s a constant in this episode, with characters being screwed over not by some unknown force, but by those within their inner circle.  Take Blake, who felt that Frank couldn’t be touched, only for us to learn that he’s been touching Frank the entire time.  Phrasing, I know.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank strangles Blake

Rather than remain a lackey, Blake wanted to rise above his mentor.  Okay, that’s fair, but that came at the expense of his life when he decided to try and screw over Frank.  Blake is that lackey who’s unhappy with playing second fiddle.  He’s tired of playing the game and wants to be a kingmaker, but his methods are sloppy.  He gets involved with the very people already screwing over Frank, thinking that he’s one step ahead of him, but he forgets how much Frank utilizes Ray.  That or he didn’t count on Ray spying on him.  He got in over his head.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Frank watches the casino burn

And Frank just wants out at this point, but not before screwing over everyone that screwed him.  It’s understandable why he’d kill Blake, but now he wants to make sure that Osip doesn’t get his hands on the casino after his power play.  It may be part of his legacy, but if it’s out of his hands, Frank sees no need to let others have what he’s lost.  He may be down, but he’s taking down as many people with him as possible.

Because the characters can meet their end at any point, they take steps necessary to protect their loved ones.  Frank entrusts Nails to travel with Jordan, Paul sends Emily and Cynthia to a hotel, and Ani has her father and sister sent out of the state and escorted by Elvis.  All because they don’t fully know what they’re dealing with and want to keep their families safe.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Eliot

Ani gets a chance to make well with her father and sister and while they’re still a screwed-up bunch, at least they get to end on a good note for now.  I’m mixed on the interaction this episode between Eliot and Ani.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Eliot asks if Ani will turn herself in

Eliot calls Ani the most innocent person he’s ever known, and that is seven kinds of fucked up.  There are few to no honest people on True Detective.  If this is meant to be an emotional moment, I think it fails because Ani, who has been pretty blunt from the start, should have rebuked that because she’s far from innocent.  Hell, she’s far from even being a good person.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani won't turn herself in

I get that she wants to end on good terms, but I think she had a chance to admit that she’s not this angel that her father thinks she is.  And not that Ani has been shy about admitting how much of a fuck-up she is.  But then, the people who she tries to make amends to aren’t all that much better.

I mean, they’re a notch above her, but they also aren’t innocent.  Even if Athena was out of the game, she still did webcam shows, Eliot’s lifestyle may have led to Ani losing her innocence, and Elvis sold out his partners.  It can be argued that these things aren’t as bad as Ani killing two men, but again, there aren’t many honest people in this world.

Even though Ani managed to rescue Vera, she’s still reeling from the effects of the drugs and what she did.  For all the turmoil caused by the shootout, the sting was, I feel, much more dangerous for Ani because she stepped into that den alone.  She had Paul and Ray outside, but she had to fend for herself and almost died as a result.  That sort of stuff can really fuck with your head, and we see that here with Ani.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Ray join hands

She tries putting the moves on Ray for, I think, just some form of attachment.  I repeat, just some attachment.  Even before Davis suggested that Ani make advances on Ray, it was clear that there was no sort of attraction between Ani and Ray.  For them to get intimate seems to be them just going through the motions of two fucked-up people finding one another.  I doubt much will be made of this next week and I certainly don’t expect them to pair off and ride into the sunset when the season ends.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ani and Ray on the bed

And the second go, though I’m not a fan of it, at least felt more natural than when Ani put the moves on Ray earlier.  There, the effects of the drugs still lingered, but come episode’s end, they’ve both accepted that they are, in fact, bad people.  They may have good intentions, but in general, like most characters in True Detective, they’re not good people.  And when they try to do the right thing, fate fucks them over in the worst ways possible.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Ray realizes that Davis is dead

Ray, one of the few to constantly acknowledge that he’s a fuck-up, has his share of personal issues already, but now he’s being implicated in Davis’ death.  Davis, one of the few with some semblance of integrity, winds up as a victim.  And though it looked like a brutal murder, what made this moment so impactful, I think, is that we’re not given time to dwell on it.  Sure, we see Davis’ body before Ray does, but we don’t get much time to soak in the murder.  It’s just body on a growing pile, but it’s made worse because Davis actually wanted to solve Caspere’s murder.

And it happens pretty early in the episode as opposed to being a final moment.  Davis is dead, Ray learns this, move onto the next scene.  You can’t absorb it because there’s too many other things to deal with at the moment, which I like because it keeps things moving.  If we stayed in the car, we’d just get Ray realizing that Davis is dead, but we know that and there’s nothing more that can be done at the moment.  Despite Davis being a relatively straight arrow, even she wasn’t immune to death.  It’s a bleak world these characters live in, but as Ray said, we get the world that we deserve.

Black Maps and Motel Rooms- Paul dead

As we head into the season finale, what took seven episodes to build up to is slowly giving us pieces of an incomplete puzzle.  “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” gives our characters room to breathe, but little more than that.  Their situations have gone from bad to worse as the conspiracy around them involves almost every single powerful figure around them, with the exception of Mayor Chessani.

It put Ani and Ray in dire situations with them both wanted for murder, gave Frank motive to burn bridges and the casino along with them, and put Paul in the crosshairs of Lieutenant Burris.  We did learn more about this growing mystery: we learned of Burris involvement way back in 1992, who died in the cabin, how long Dixon had been looking into the diamonds, and overall, just how fucked-up this world really is.  Our protagonists are navigating into unknown territory and already one of them has been taken.  What happens next?  We’ll see as we head into the season finale.

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