I’m not in favour of reviewing TV episodes ‘as they come’. Unless each episode has a contained story, it doesn’t make much sense to me. You might as well size up a TV season like this as one long movie and if it isn’t too impressive at first, it could pick up later. Steven Spielberg remarked once that an audience can leave a decidedly average movie satisfied, providng you win them back within the final 20 minutes. With this season of True Detective opening poorly, then not getting any better, this past weekend’s extended finale was the final shot. And it resolved nothing in terms of viewer satisfaction. I guess the pressure got to Nic Pizzolatto to follow up the first, a categorical inversion of quality, and possibly the pressure of warring A-list agents didn’t help. The second season is not good.
This time around, since we’re following the anthology format, it’s a totally new deal separate from the classy first season. When a rail line is planned between L.A. and Southern California, poor man’s Tony Soprano, Vince Vaughn, wants to cash in on the developmental action and go legit. However, to make this transition he must hedge his bets with some shady underworld figures. Meanwhile a special investigative squad comprised of Taylor Kitsch, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams are recruited to root out corruption brewing within the deal, including finding a mysterious hard drive (I was disappointed to see a series of this calibre use such an old chestnut). Each of these cops have their own troubles, from closet homosexuality to trauma-induced nymphomania and good old fashioned Bronson-ite revenge murder.
The biggest problem with True Detective: Season 2 is that the plot is a mess. At times, the whole thing might as well have been filmed in (pick your foreign language) Chinese. Reconciling the above plot into a coherent series, let alone individual episodes is abysmally frustrating. The exposition is such that it can’t even be compared to wading through quicksand, rather quick-setting concrete. The story of True Detective the second season revolves within its own little near impregnable axis and the viewer is not welcome.
Worse, the finale doesn’t tie up those ends – I mean it does literally – but not in a satisfactory way. There is another glaring problem that we can’t let pass. Vince Vaughn is a terrible mob boss. His demeanour and his physiognomy betray him during every scene. He’s more like the neighbour you meet at the end of the driveway to ridicule some local representatives every now and again. The type who’ll always agree with you too. Poor Vince was out of his depth. Any Martin Scorcese movie street enforcer would’ve eaten this man alive.
My favourite thing about this practical disaster was Colin Farrell’s story arc. This site covers entertainment aimed at the male demographic and Farrell’s problems here were engaging. I really dug Farrell’s problems, and how well he conveyed dealing with them. With his less than perfect, less than manly millennial son and his resolute conviction to raise the boy despite his flaws. And for all the complaints of alleged feminism being promulgated through McAdams’ character, I took this as an acceptable counterweight. Farrell’s Daddy got the shit end of the stick, custody-wise. It happens, we don’t hear enough about it. Oh, and McAdams has an ass sent from the Gods.
Perhaps the main problem with season two is that season one was so good, that too many A-listers stuck their oars in and Pizzolatto lost his creative shit trying to cater to all of them. But I don’t have a real explanation, other than a summary – this season was isn’t worth looking at ever again. I gave season one a 9/10, I’m giving this a 5.