The problem with mysteries, especially fair-play ones, is that if you've paid close enough attention and solved it ahead of schedule, then a table-setting episode like "Black Maps and Hotels Rooms," in which characters constantly explain how the pieces fit together, is nothing short of irritating. That's because solving a jigsaw puzzle, for instance, can never be as satisfying as the act of physically putting it together. (After all, if you'd wanted a finished picture, you could've just bought one.) That, of course, is just one perspective, and the real heart of the episode comes from the constant reminder that we all have different needs and wants.
For instance, Dani (Carla Vila) believed that her sister, Vera Machiado (Miranda Rae Mayo), had been kidnapped, and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) certainly thought as much when she rescued her from last week's Orgy Mansion. But when Vera's sobered up from her overdose of champagne and molly, she clarifies that she was happy being on the party circuit and that, in fact, all of the women were there by choice (and well paid for it). Sure, the occasional woman was murdered up in that blood-soaked cabin in the woods that Ani and Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) found in Guerneville, but that was only if they broke the rules and attempted to take blackmail photos of the rich clientele. Echoing a conversation she had with her sister, Athena (Leven Rambin), back in the first episode, Ani suggests from her high horse that Vera was perhaps "put on Earth for more than fucking," but that's an uncharitable view of things. Vera's happy, or, at the very least, she was getting the most out of a bad situation. "Everything is fucking," she replies, so why not at least profit from it? Then again, this sort of bleak worldview can't help but work against True Detective: If everything is awful, why bother watching any of it?