There's something about birds on True Detective Season 2. It might be something, or it could be nothing, because it is frequently impossible to tell with True Detective. However, seeing as how a bunch of bird imagery has popped up over the course of the season, I want to think it means something. Otherwise, True Detective is just dangling plot devices in front of our face and making me obsessive over birds for nothing. I'd like to think Pizzolatto wouldn't do that to us — especially when Season 2 is already testing our patience every week.
It's still anyone's guess as to what the final endgame of Season 2 will be, since it feels like our detectives are no closer to catching Caspere's killer than they were in Episode 1. They've been lead on a twisty, turn-y chase through the corrupt city of Vinci and, even though none of the pieces really make sense yet, one thing keeps popping up: birds. They're just subtle bird references here and there, nothing huge and blatant — unless we're counting the masked raven who shot Ray point blank — but birds keep popping up.
And they're not just little robins and blue jays — we're seeing images of birds of prey, like ravens and eagles. These aren't birds you necessarily want to mess with. So, what does this all mean? How does it relate to the greater story? Let's talk it through.
1. The First Time We Saw A Bird
Birds imagery starts off in the first episode — there's something on the seat next to Caspere and, at first, I thought it was a bird statue. I think I — and the rest of the internet — assumed this was setting up an allusion to the Maltese Falcon (about a missing bird worth a fortune), which is why we've been hell bent on thinking this season is some film noir.
That's probably not the case. That bird isn't some allusion to a film genre, it's got a greater meaning and symbol.
2. The Masked Bird That Shoots Ray
Caspere's sex-hideaway has animal heads hanging on the wall. But it's someone wearing a bird mask that shoots Ray in the chest. We can infer that this is the same guy who was driving Caspere's body out to the middle of nowhere. But, is it the same guy who actually shot Caspere? That's still up for debate, but there's no mistaking that the giant bird is a crow/raven and he clearly doesn't want Ray poking around.
3. The Giant Bird Totem Pole
Everything on True Detective means something — if we've learned nothing else over the past two seasons, we've learned that. So, it's intentional that we watch Ani talk to her father while a giant totem pole watches over them. While it's hard to make out the exact features on the giant pole, we can see one thing clearly: it's got wings.
4. Birds In Dr. Irving Pitlor's Office
When Ray goes to visit Pitlor (aka, Rick Springfield) he sits in front of a giant picture. What's the picture of? It looks like a black raven/crow to me. The same thing that was driving Caspere, the same thing next to Caspere, and then same thing that shot Ray. That can't just be a sheer coincidence. (Hint: it's obviously not.)
5. The Bird Behind Chessani
Once again, everything that happens and appears on True Detective is intentional. So, when we see Chessani scolding Ani, he's got a globe next to him. And, on top of the globe, it looks like a giant eagle about to take flight. Not exactly a raven, but birds of a feather flock together, right?
6. Some Birds Guide Ani And Paul
Yes, I know that's Rust. It's to remind you that maybe these two seasons are more connected than we think.
When Ani and Paul take a trip to the secluded cabin in the woods, it's a bunch of birds flying around in the sky that point them in the direction of the secret cabin (with lots of blood).
7. Ray Kinda Looks Like A Bird
One image from the season premiere that I can't get out of my head is when Ray goes to rough up the reporter. He puts on a black ski-mask, like criminals trying to hide their identity to. But when he puts it on, he looks like the black raven/crow that shot him. It could be foreshadowing or it could simply suggest that anyone causing harm to someone else is going to be dressed in black like that. (If that turns out to be true — black masks signal bad stuff — then whoever lit the stolen film car that transported Caspere's body on fire wasn't the bad guy. He was wearing a white mask that was very V for Vendetta.) But, if we want to dig a little deeper, it could be suggesting that Ray is more wrapped up in this Caspere murder than we realize.
8. There's Also Caspere's Death Itself
His eyes are blacked out. Let's think of this as Caspere's eyes have been pecked out. Caspere was a known voyeur, so maybe he saw something he shouldn't have and his death is to send a message? If you remember, Frank's henchmen Stan met the same fate.
What does this all mean? I'm still really rooting for this season to end with a beautiful Greek mythology homage (and that includes something about Antigone), but instead, all these birds could lead back to some bird-cult. Then again, it appears that Ani's father had some hand in a mysterious group as a child, and its members are still around and prominent today. These birds could be the key to figuring out who's behind this whole mystery and why people keep turning up dead.
However, this is not the answer to the mystery of the sex clubs, because that is still anyone's guess.
Images: Lacey Terrell/HBO; screengrab/HBO (6); Giphy