Maybe Tomorrow Plot Summary:
Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) isn’t dead. Shot only with riot police rubber bullets, he’s severely banged up and now begins to question…everything. Frank (Vince Vaughn) begins to revert back to his thuggish ways even more when another of his business partners is killed. Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) investigates Mayor Chessani’s involvement in Caspere’s murder.
A man walks into a bar. On stage a singer in a cheap, powder blue Elvis-inspired jumpsuit is crooning a Vegas-y anthem. The man sits at his favorite booth, drinking his usual drink, when his father appears across the table from him. His father is old, haggard, and as besotted by alcohol abuse as his son. The two talk about dreams, and fear. The payoff of this entire scene must be that the man is dead — stuck in hell or some sort of purgatory. However, this is not the payoff…
Ray Velcoro is alive.
The decision to keep Colin Farrell’s character alive leaves this writer riddled with ambivalence. First, you couldn’t really kill off one of the main characters of the series in the second episode, right? Right? This is True Detective — it’s an unconventional series. And this is HBO — home of the big character death. So, in all feasibility Ray could’ve been dead. However, Farrell has proven too valuable an actor (his performance so far has been outstanding) and Velcoro too valuable a character to waste so quickly. Of course, you could’ve weaved Velcoro throughout the series in flashbacks, and what not. His death would’ve been a huge game changer for every character on the show. Listen, we could debate for hours over whether or not Ray should have been killed off.
The major issue with Ray being alive is why he’s still alive (truth be told, the dream sequence for all it’s weirdness was excellent). He was shot with basically rubber riot cop bullets at very close range. He’s injured as all hell, but still alive. That’s what we’re saying? Riot cop bullets? When this matter-of-factly explained to us, it really diminished last week’s episode ender. It’s a huge let-down. However, when Ray says, ‘You know the kind of bullets a cop would use’ there is an air of suspicion cast upon things. It was a passing comment, but could some form of police be involved in the Caspere murder?
Luckily, this did not taint the rest of the episode as Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch took over the entire episode.
This was Kitsch’s coming out party on the series — and yes, the pun was intended as my theory about Woodrugh’s sexuality was proven true. In all seriousness though, when Kitsch was announced as one of the stars of this season, was anyone else a bit worried? Sure, he had a nice run on Friday Night Lights, but this is the same guy who’s been at the forefront of some really, really terrible movies. He washed all those fears and doubts away in this episode. The pivotal performance scene for Kitsch was when he’s surrounded by gay male escorts and is questioning them about Caspere. Kitsch’s performance makes the scene almost unwatchable, in the best possible way. His pounding of alcoholic beverages, his raw nerve energy, and his panicked eye movement all make what could’ve been a standard scene absolutely claustrophobic and nerve-shredding.
Woodrush’s struggle with his sexuality is a really nice touch to this season of True Detective, and it works because of Kitsch’s performance. They do have to temper how much they dip into this well, though. It could easily go overboard quickly, and if they build it like they did with Marty’s (Woody Harrelson) infidelity last season, it’ll be a terrific narrative element. If they try to push it too hard like they did with Rust’s hallucinations at times last season, then we’ve got a problem.
Then there is Vince Vaughn. You want to talk about last year’s McConaissance – let’s talk about the rebirth of Vince Vaughn, dramatic actor. Vaughn is an extremely likable actor, and no matter how much you want to crap on his series of subpar comedies, he always gets you to laugh (even a little) and you always like his characters. Here, you’re seeing this amazing dark side that Vaughn has been seemingly hiding in the back of his closet for the past decade or so. Every single moment Vaughn was on the screen reminded me of every single McConaughey moment last season. Granted, these characters are wildly different, but the impact is the same.
It doesn’t matter if he’s struggling to receive oral sex from his wife, or using pliers to extract the grill from someone who’s pissed him off — he’s just a dramatic force in these scenes. And he’s completely believable. The scene where he’s basically pummeling the hell out of his former associate, who is twice his size, completely believable. The death stare he gives Kitsch when they bump into each other? Frighteningly real.
In the end, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ overcame a disappointing follow-up to last week’s explosive ending with two extremely impressive performances. From a narrative perspective, the addition of the man (or woman) in the white mask was a nice to touch to give us some sort of tangible villain, but we’re still deep in the weeds when it comes to what’s actually happening in this series.
Rating: 8 out of 10