A look into ‘True Detective’s’ second season


This is an article containing spoilers.

After Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective aired its debut season on HBO last winter, it quickly became a success and a stakeholder in HBO’s new era of original content. Last week, True Detective’s second season premiere aired and this Sunday its second episode will air.

The lead roles this season are delved out to Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch. Where last season was treated as Southern Gothic, this season is LA based Film Noir.

When the episode begins, we are introduced to Farrell, who plays Ray Velcoro, a broken and unfit cop who’s child may or may not be a product of rape. Velcoro is struggling with expanding his visitation rights and is willing to bribe himself there. Vaughn, who plays Frank Semyon, is a career criminal attempting to legitimize himself. Semyon and Velcoro have a history with a flashback showing Semyon identifying who raped Velcoro’s wife. Present day, Velcoro is in Semyon’s pocket. This includes paying Velcoro to break into a journalist’s apartment, beating him and taking his notes to stop an unwanted story.

The two other central characters are police officers Ani Bezzerides and Paul Woodrugh, played by McAdams and Kitsch respectively. We get introduced to Bezzerides when her lover is freaked out by what she wants in bed that the audience is never able to identify. She has a sister dabbling in porn and a father who leads a cult like a religious circle with what can only be described as a loose hand in parenting. Woodrugh has been recently put on leave after an actress offers oral sex in trade for not getting arrested. His far away looks, and general angst tell the audience he has scars in more ways than one from his past. Scars that require long winded motorcycle rides and popping Viagra.

The biggest problem with this episode is the narrative. There is none. I would say about fifty minutes into the episode actual plot is delved into. Some would argue it’s the nature of the first episode, but the majority of the episode read as long winded backstory in a novel that needs serious editing. As enjoyable as the first season was, the parody True Detective writes itself. Grouchy and broken men smoking in corners and delivering long winded dialogue about their past or/and the nature of human existence. The first episode read as that, with only minor breaks to keep me entertained.

Farrell’s Velcoro is the strongest character that could potentially fill the hole Matthew Mcconaughey’s Rust Cohle left. McAdams is shortly behind him with interesting enough backstory and ability. Vince Vaughn’s character arc is set up so far to be potentially surprising or incredibly boring. Only further episodes will tell.

Kitsch’s character is so far a cliche that I can’t bare to take seriously. Woodrugh utters the line “We were working for America, sir,” and takes a fast speed motorcycle ride into the dark with his lights off, seemingly with the intention to crash. His most interesting moments are the open ended possibility that he took the actress up on her offer or his ridiculous face while receiving oral from his girlfriend.

Having characters, no matter how theoretically well written, stare off into moody space for periods at a time is never interesting. What is interesting is having well written characters share pieces of their story and unpeel their layers through actual plot and turn of events.

The episode comes to a close when Woodrugh finds the dead body of the city manager that has been missing that is involved in Semyon’s business venture. At that moment, Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch all meet at the scene. Then, I finally got interested.