MAJOR "TRUE DETECTIVE" SPOILERS AHEAD.
"Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."
If Coach Eric Taylor's famous catchphrase applied to all of Taylor Kitsch's characters, we would all be living in a happier world. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world. We live in the world where "True Detective" season two exists to crush our Kitsch-craving hearts, via bullet to the back, and a subsequent head shot for good measure.
The penultimate episode of the HBO detective anthology's second season was a packed hour of death and rebirth, with virtually every single character undergoing massive status quo shifts along the way. Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) finally sealed the deal after several weeks of a simmering flirtmance, for one. For another, after being betrayed by his inner circle, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) packed up his ball and went home — by which I mean he burned down his businesses, bought a whole bunch of firepower, and is now waiting to get revenge against the people who screwed him out of his life's work.
And then there's Paul, the motorcycle cop played by Taylor Kitsch. He died.
There's nothing ambiguous about this one, either, like Colin Farrell's almost-death at the end of episode two. There's no buckshot to be found here, no mysterious bird men toying with our emotions. There are two actual bullets, shot by Lieutenant Burris (played by the phenomenal actor James Frain, he of so many eminently punchable bad guys), one of the crooked Vinci cops at the heart of the season's main mystery. Burris killed Paul because he possessed incriminating evidence against him, and had to pay the proverbial iron price for his sins.
What's worse, Burris now has Paul's cell phone, and can use it to contact Velcoro and Bezzerides. The stage is set for an incredibly tense showdown in next week's finale.
But Paul himself won't be showing up for the showdown. He's face down on a dirty Vinci street, killed by a dirty Vinci cop. He won't bring justice upon the people who killed Caspere, the people behind the elaborate Northern California sex parties — any of them. He won't get to see his unborn child grow up. He won't get to resolve his lingering issues with his mother. He won't get the chance to explain himself to his fiancé, should she ever find out about the secrets in his closet.
It's an abrupt ending for Paul, who still had so much story and potential up in the air. Will we ever know how he got his scars? Will we ever know the full extent of his Black Mountain past? Maybe, maybe not. If those secrets come out, they won't come out from his lips.
Paul is dead, and it's not a hoax. He's actually gone, and it's a huge bummer. Here's hoping at least Velcoro and Bezzerides can make it out of the finale alive, but given the prophetic words of Ray's father earlier in the season ("They cut you to pieces," he warned Ray during an intense dream sequence), I wouldn't count on it.
In the meantime, here are some happy Tim Riggins GIFs to get you through your grief:
See Tim ride with the wind in his hair.
See Tim shirtless. He don't care.
See Tim sipping his favorite drink, beer.
And now we imagine that Paul Woodrugh is doing all of these things in that great Pacific Coast Highway in the sky. Rest in peace, buddy. I hope they have bikes up there.