OK, I accept that sad fact that True Detective is not currently the cultural or critical phenomenon it was last season, but some of us think Season 2 is superior to Season 1 (*raises my hand*). Although the ratio of philosophical chatter to action sequences has felt a little uneven throughout the season, Nic Pizzolatto deserves recognition for listening to the Season 1 critiques and addressing them — mainly by adding female characters who are there to serve as actual complex human beings rather than mindless background characters who contributed absolutely nothing to the storyline. By giving us a more interesting and diverse assortment of characters, I've found it way easier to get sucked into this season's mystery. As much as I'm invested in the futures of the characters, as well as all of the True Detective Season 2 theories, and the main question on my mind is who killed Ben Caspere and why?
Last week's episode presented us with new evidence and breakthroughs, a heartbreaking death, and a hookup we all saw coming. I have nothing against Ray and Ani as a couple, but don't we have more important fish to fry at this point? Let's round up the top suspects one last time before Sunday night's finale. They are ranked in order from least to most likely (in my opinion, of course).
3. Lieutenant Kevin Burris
We went into last week's penultimate episode with Burris already looking pretty shady, and he looked a whole lot guiltier by the time he put two bullets in our beloved Paul Woodrugh's back. At this point, we can assume his motive for murdering Paul is related to the fact that Ani, Ray, and Paul are closing in on Caspere's killer. (I mean, they have to be — the finale is up next!)
Burris's role in the initial killing of Caspere, which set off the even deadlier chain of events throughout the season, would boil down to his entrenchment in Vinci's corruption. Dustin Rowles of Uproxx points out the following evidence against Burris: He's the one who assigned Ray Velcoro to the Caspere case, despite the fact that it was outside his jurisdiction. Burris was likely less interested in solving the Caspere murder and was far more invested in looking for what Caspere had been hiding — specifically, the disk drive.
When Ray was shot by the Birdman, it was clear the intention was to incapacitate him, not kill him. We learned that after a week of wondering whether or not Ray had been offed just two episodes into the season, but I digress... Burris could have been dressed as the Birdman in another effort to obtain the drive before Ray did. After the shooting, Burris continued to remain over-involved by arriving at the crime scene the following morning and asking Ray multiple questions about whether or not he got a look at the Birdman/shooter's face.
Many fans suspected that Felicia, the bartender, was the daughter of the Blue Diamond theft victims. This theory was disproven last week when we learned that Caspere's secretary, who now goes by the name Erica, is the orphan shown in the photo. She and her brother spent hours next to their parents lifeless bodies as they waited for police to arrive. Reddit user mayordada points out that Frank has asked "what's the difference?" between justice and revenge. It's safe to assume that Erica feels the same way and took the job with Caspere in order to avenge the deaths of her mother and father.
Her brother is likely Leonard, the photographer. It would be interesting to see this case come down to victimized children who have turned into adult killers. It would take away the black-and-white element of a cold blooded killer like Burris who murders for the purely selfish motives of protecting his wealth and status. It also reminds me of dialogue from The Killing, where Pizzolatto used to work as a writer. Recurring themes on that show (from the series pilot to the series finale) were "who is the real bad guy?" and "are all killers truly evil?" If Erica and her brother are indeed the killers, we may leave Season 2 feeling more sympathy for the perpetrators than for Caspere himself.
1. Jordan Semyon
As we go into the 90-minute finale, Burris and Erica definitely have the most evidence stacked against them — both circumstantial and motive-based. But my hunch that Jordan Semyon is the killer simply won't go away. I think she could be the wild card killer who has been under our noses this entire time. Frank has been played up as the villain who many viewers can't help but sympathize with, but what if this role applies to Jordan rather than Frank?
Jordan looked pretty nonplussed when she saw Blake's lifeless body on the floor in Episode 7, and she was shown holding a gun in Episode 6. There's evidence that Jordan was a victim of the trafficking ring and/or is working for Osip and therefore has been spying on Frank this whole time. Like her husband, Jordan is someone who came from an underprivileged background and fought for her current status and wealth — she's surely not going to let all that slip away from her without a tremendous fight.
The state of Caspere's body after his murder suggests the killing was highly personal. The only suspect on this list who would have a reason to shoot off his genitals is Jordan, who could have been involved in, and had a traumatic experience because of, Caspere's trafficking ring. Jordan would be the killer who falls somewhere between evil and sympathetic. Like Burris, she is highly interested in protecting her wealth and status. And, like Erica, she may have a traumatic past, too. If Jordan turns out to be the killer, we would feel simultaneously reviled and sympathetic — and I can't think of a perpetrator more thought-provoking than that.
We don't have much longer to wait, one sure thing we can expect in the finale is a roller coaster of emotions. We've already lost one beloved character this season, and I hate to be a downer, but I don't see a happy ending in sight for anyone.
Images: Lacey Terrell/HBO; Screengrabs (2); mametupa/Tumblr