The L.A Guide to True Detective: Hangover from Hell


The L.A. Guide to True Detective is a regular roundup of the neighborhoods seen on the HBO show—and what you’ll find if you go there

So, that went well. Anyone who watched the excruciating final minutes of “Down Will Come,” the fourth episode of True Detective, found our trio of troubled cops in so deep, their toes are touching the earth’s inner core. For those who didn’t watch, rest assured, this post isn’t going to spoil anything—but it probably won’t come as a surprise that every single person in this episode had a monumentally bad few days, from Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon, who’s in full gangster shakedown mode, to a few unlucky extras who got caught in the crossfire.

It all started with Taylor Kitsch’s Officer Paul Woodrugh’s hangover. Note: this wasn’t just any hangover. It was the kind of blackout, cringetastic, what-did-I-do-and-who-did-I-do-it-with? kind of ethanol sledgehammer that one can only really suffer when experiencing it in Hollywood. What locals know—and what Woodrugh (and non-Angeleno audiences) may not realize—is that Hollywood is the worst place to have a hangover in the world. There’s no official term for the blindingly bright, scorched pavement stretch of Sunset Boulevard roughly between La Brea and Highland avenues where Woodrugh is staying, but between the strip clubs, the strip malls, and the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum, you might call that area “Hell’s Dell.”

We know Woodrugh is in Hell’s Dell because he takes a taxi (not Uber—guess he’s old-fashioned) to the Day’s Inn Hollywood Near Universal Studios (yes, that’s the full name of the real motel), just east of La Brea. (There’s a shot of Woodrugh crossing the street with the IHOP on Sunset, across from the Off Broadway Shoes outlet, in the background.) Let’s set aside for the moment that this Day’s Inn isn’t all that close to Universal Studios—at least not enough that it should be included in the real-life name—and consider the mob of reporters waiting for Woodrugh outside the hotel to question him about his shadowy special-ops days in Afghanistan and practically chase him down like a Beatle. There are barely enough non-celebrity news reporters left in L.A. to fill an elevator, never mind enough to create a human barricade outside Woodrugh’s motel.

But for Woodrugh, it gets worse. He ends up calling Colin Farrell’s Detective Ray Velcoro for a ride to work—and here is where the pair makes their greatest mistakes. I’d argue the fate of the entire day could’ve changed had they avoided these two errors that no Angeleno would make. First, it appears Velcoro heads north via Wilcox (you can see the Lido Apartment sign on the left). No surprise, the traffic is so bad he has to deploy his cop car siren to cheat their way through the clogged streets. Somebody take that guy’s badge.

But the second—and even graver—mistake? The Days Inn is next door to an In-N-Out Burger on Orange, right across from Hollywood High. Woodrugh is a few steps away from a double-double and a chocolate shake—known by any self-respecting Southern Californian as science’s best known near-antidote to near-alcohol poisoning. Yet what does Woodrugh do? He accepts Velcoro’s offer of a swig from a pint of Smirnoff that’s tucked into the glove compartment instead, choosing hair of the dog over the healing potential of a hamburger. I’m not saying the outcome of this episode would’ve been any different if Woodrugh and Velcoro had done the right thing and hit the drive-through, but it’s just one in a series of bad choices that ended with gunfire.