TelevisionEverything that happened on the True Detective Season 2 finale
Who lived? Who died? Who was the Birdman? Was Ray the biological father of his red-headed son? All this and more, finally answered.
True Detective Season 2 ended with a plurality of shootouts, some last-second character introductions, a flash-forward to one year later that shows a dead man’s one-night stand baby.
Who were these people?
What happened to everyone in the finale?
Here's a quick re-cap, scroll on for an in-depth recap below.
Ray Velcoro: Dead at the hands of Lt. Burris and his cop henchmen.
Ani Bezzerides: Alive. Living in Venezuela with Jordan Semyon. Gave birth to Ray’s child. Gives a journalist the evidence of Vinci corruption
Frank Semyon: Dead at the hands of the Gonzalez boys.
Paul Woodrugh: Considered a hero that was murdered by Velcoro, Woodrugh gets a highway named after him.
Gena Brune: Ray’s ex-wife receives the results of the paternity test that reveals Ray was Chad’s father all along.
Chad Velcoro-Brune: Last seen playing Dungeons and Dragons in the schoolyard, carrying his Grandfather’s badge. Salutes Ray from a distance when his father shows up to say goodbye.
Jordan Semyon: After a romance filled goodbye, ends up in Venezuela with Ani raising Velcoro’s child under the protection of Frank’s henchman, Nails.
The diamonds: The original diamonds seem to be back in the hands of Chief Holloway and his crew.
Ben Caspere: Killed by Leonard Osterman, the orphaned son of shop owners that were killed for the bribery diamonds.
Lt. Kevin Burris: Kills Ray Velcoro and lives to corrupt another day.
Chief Holloway: Killed by Leonard Osterman after a standoff with Ray.
Mayor Chessani: "Suicided" (killed) by his son (?).
Birdman/Leonard Osterman: Leonard was the birdman all along. Is killed by police while stabbing Chief Holloway to death.
Laura Osterman/Erica: After her brother goes crazy, is allowed to escape by Ani.
Tony Chessani: After setting up almost everyone, becomes the new Mayor of Vinci.
The Gonzalez Boys: Kill Frank and drive off into the desert.
Osip Agranov and crew: Killed and robbed by Frank.
The Singer: Sings one last song. Over and over.
Wait, what? Let’s try to make sense of this:
The episode opens on Ani Bezzerides and Ray Velcoro having the grimmest pillow talk of all time, with her reflecting on how she was an imperfect victim when she was abducted by the hippie-creep back in the day, and Ray recounting the time he murdered the guy he thought raped his wife.
In Frank and Jordan’s last interminable scene together, he struggles to convince her to fly to Venezuela with his henchman Nails for safety while he finishes up some business before he joins them in two weeks or less. Jordan’s a ride-or-die chick, but she acquiesces. Nails reveals how he got his nickname and become so loyal to Frank: a teamster shot him in the head with a nail gun and Frank rescued him. (Lovely story, I’m glad we were filled in on.)
Cut to Lt. Burris overseeing Paul Woodrugh getting zipped in, adding insult to fatal injury. He answers the dead man’s phone and tries to pin his and Katherine Davis’ murders on Ray (presumably he killed her too, but there’s no real resolution for the attorney). Ray tells him that he knows about Caspere and the 1992 robbery and everything. Ani Bezzerides is sad that Woodrugh is dead. Ray gets hit by a bolt of idea lightning and pulls it out of his ass that the movie set photographer he briefly talked to about the parties up north in episode two was named Lenny and he’s the other orphan, Laura/Erica from Caspare’s office’s brother.
They go to Lenny’s house and find Laura/Erica handcuffed to the fireplace. She reveals that she and her brother were separated after their parents’ murder and she was put in foster care while he went through a series of brutal group homes. She ran away at 16 and became “to work the streets.” She met Tasha, who introduced her to Tony Chessani and the sex parties and Ben Caspare. She recognized him, and changed her name and dyed her hair and got a job at his office in order to get more information on him. She had reunited with Lenny and helped him get a job on the movie set. They confronted Caspare in his Hollywood fuck-den to get him to confess, which he did, and Len got carried away during the interrogation and killed him. And so the mystery of Caspere’s murder is solved.
Len is meeting Chief Holloway in a train station to trade Caspere’s hard drive full of incriminating sex party home movies for diamonds (except the hard drive is blank; it had some sort of security protection that caused it to erase itself when they tried to unlock it). Ray puts on a cowboy hat and sunglasses disguise, comes up behind Len and asks him to please not kill Holloway here. When Holloway arrives, Ray acts like he killed Len and is doing all this to get his hands on the blue diamonds while Len sits behind them concealed in a hoodie. Holloway tells him all about he ended up in Vinci: they bought their way into Vinci with diamonds from the heist, and Caspare kept these blue ones in case he ever needed to blackmail the cops. Holloway tipped off Ledo Amarilla, the pimp, about the impending raid on his stash house, and that’s why he was so well-prepared to act violently when the cops arrived, which still doesn’t explain why. Ray asks why they had to kill the Ostermans, the owners of the jewelry store, and Holloway says that Mrs. Osterman had been having an affair with Ben Caspare. She was pregnant with Caspare’s second child, the first being the girl, Laura. Caspare didn’t want to deal with her anymore, so he had her killed. This last disclosure sets Len off, and he stabs Holloway with a huge hunting knife. Len is killed in the ensuing gunfight.
After they escape from the train station, Ani and Ray join Frank in a secret room above Black Rose Cocktails, the bar where Ray and Frank would meet. The bartender, the scarred Mexican woman who Ray had saved at one point from an abusive man, also help people move get into the country, and this room is where those people stay while she’s in the process of moving them. The scarred woman is going to lead them all to Venezuela. This was her narrative purpose all along, it just wasn’t known in earlier episodes. (Also, the singer was there performing to an empty room, naturally.)
Frank convinces Ray to go with him to go on a heist and crash the handoff between Osip the Russian gangster and McCandless the crooked businessman. They drive up to Ojai and ambush McCandless’ cabin with smoke grenades and machine guns. It’s crazy. Frank kills McCandless and Osip, and they leave with a big bags of cash.
While Ray is driving back to Vinci, he calls Ani and they have a tender moment. He almost says “I love you.” She tells him to hurry back. But then Ray has to see his son one last time, so he goes to his school and sees him sitting by the playground during recess with his grandfather’s badge next to him. They salute each other from afar. Ray goes back to his car, and he sees the reflection of a tracking device in a puddle under the car. Burris correctly guessed that Ray would show up where his son was. So Ray and Ani will not live happily ever after. He calls and tells her to go to Venezuela without him.
Meanwhile, Frank is on his way to leave for Venezuela when he is captured by a bunch of Mexican gangsters out of central casting. They take him to the desert, where the Gonzalez brothers are mad that he violated the terms of their deal by burning down the club where they were slated to sling. He gives them a million dollars, but one guy wants his suit, too. Frank can’t handle the disrespect (and remembers the diamonds in his suit pocket) and hits the guy. Frank is then stabbed in the abdomen and left for dead. He manages to walk through the desert for awhile, hallucinating traumas from his past and his reunion with Jordan in Venezuela, but then it’s over. He’s food for the vultures.
Ray drives into a redwood forest with Burris and some other cops in hot pursuit. They have a shootout, and he is killed. Tragically, his last voice message to his kid failed to upload, because there wasn’t good service amongst the trees.
Ani cries on the boat to Venezuela because she knows Ray isn’t coming.
Then there’s a montage: Ray’s dad is sad that his son is dead. Gena gets the results of the paternity test, and it turns out Ray was biologically Chad’s father all along. Paul Woodrugh gets a stretch of highway named after him. Tony Chessani is sworn in as mayor of Vinci (he never had any speaking scenes after his first; the True Detectives were looking for him, and he murdered his father and Dr. Pitlor offscreen, but no one ever talked to him about it). The rail corridor is built, with whoever took over the Catalyst Group leading the way.
It’s now one year later, and Ani Bezzerides is in Venezuela telling the story to the Los Angeles Times reporter Ray beat up in the first episode. She gives them all the evidence, and then she goes into another hotel room, where Jordan is holding a baby. It’s Ray and Ani’s baby, and there’s some sort of implied relationship between Ani and Jordan where maybe they’re raising the baby together, and then they put on big hats and set out for a long journey.
And that’s how True Detective ends.