‘True Detective’ Shocker: Final Moments of Episode 2 Puts Major Character in Jeopardy

Dark HBO hit could be taking notes from “Game of Thrones” with a jaw-dropping ending

True Detective, Season 2: Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch (HBO)

(Spoiler alert: Do not read any further if you have not watched Sunday’s June 29th episode of HBO’s “True Detective”)

For fans and critics bemoaning a slow start to the second season of “True Detective,” the end of Sunday night’s second episode floored the gas pedal on the dark drama starring Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch.

When we last left a group of world-weary investigators and a highway patrol cop (Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch), they begrudgingly assembled to solve the gruesome murder of a businessman tied to Vaughn’s shady land developer.

Leads sprung up between brooding car rides and a dazzling amount of boozing by all characters in spite of weighty responsibilities like childcare and, you know, a murder case. The final five minutes of the episode brought a major adrenaline boost that’s likely to spark social media outrage and keep fans in agony until next Sunday.

Farrell’s Detective Ray Velcoro stumbles on a sound-proofed Hollywood apartment, decked out with a sex sling, various ornate animal heads that double as face masks and a dark, syrupy pool of blood.

Before has the chance to unpack the scene, a figure wearing a crow’s mask (seen laying on a car seat in the first episode) blasts him with a shotgun from across the room. The ominous crow then stands directly above Farrell and fires another shot, close-range, into his chest.

Wait, what?

“True Detective” is a show in which anything bad that can happen will — but to burn off a major star like Farrell in episode two? That’s just “Game of Thrones”-style dirty. While we can presume him dead, we’ll wait for episode three for verification and to see what sort of ripple it sends through Nic Pizzolatto’s universe.

Some other “True Detective” housekeeping:

  • We knew that  McAdams’ Detective Ani Bezzerides has a sketchy guru for a father, as evidenced by episode one’s visit to the canyon compound of his organization. Tonight we learned she was raised in a similar cult with four other siblings, two of them dead and two strayed from the path.

  • Vaughn’s Frank Semyon is unraveling as quickly as his fragile land deal. In a harrowing monologue we learn his alcoholic father would lock him in the basement as a child to “protect” young Frank from his old man’s drunken violence. After a particularly bad bender, Frank is left for days in the darkened room, eviscerating rats with his bare hands to stave them off. “Everything is Papier-mâché,” Semyon says. Amazing business mantra.
  • The unspoken torment stretched across the handsome face of Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh is coming into focus, pointing heavily to a his repressed homosexuality. It’s not the most groundbreaking storyline for modern television, especially given the grip “True Detective”‘s first season had on audiences. We’re curious where this character is headed.