I was SUPER pumped up for True Detective Season 2. Season 1 was some of the best TV I had seen in a long time since The Wire. And I know that’s a very lofty comparison but some of the lines that Rusty says were deep yet pretty epic in a non pretentious way (cue “Time is like a . . .”). So Season 2 had a lot to live up too. And I was afraid too. Maybe not afraid but I definitely had some trepidation about it. So much of what was right about Season 1 was gone by Season 2- Cary Joji Fukunaga, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (and Alexandra D’addario).
2 of the most important reasons for the success were Cary Fukunaga and Matthew McConaughey. Cary Fukunaga’s suppressed, neo-noir, gothic atmosphere is what made the tension so unbearable. And for all of McConaughey’s exaggerated southern Texas drawl, he was really REALLY good. Who else could have pulled off those lines, which a lot of the time teetered between super deep and preposterous. There was so much hype about this season, especially around the casting choices. Everybody was wondering if Colin Farell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch could escape the long shadow of Rusty and The Yellow King.
And I have to say, I am mostly disappointed with Season 2.
- I have to say this- Vince Vaughn is fucking awful, just plain unbearable to watch. Every time he comes on screen, I feel like scratching my eyes out and damaging my ears in a way so violent that I can never hear anything again. That monologue in episode 2 was so bad and horrible to watch. And I think Nic Pizzolato shares as much blame as Vince Vaughn- most of Frank Semyon’s dialogues are bullshit, pardon my Polish. His interactions with everybody except Ray (Colin Farell) are exceptionally robotic and annoying, and this includes all the interactions between him and his wife. I don’t have a problem with Kelly Reilly per se and she’s pretty hot but she adds nothing meaningful to the story line except acting as the listener to all the cheesy dialogues that Frank says.
- The direction has ranged from good to subpar to horrible. Cary Fukunaga is sorely missed here as I cannot bear even a single shot more of the decrepit intertwined highways. Justin Lin was pretty bad in the first 2 episodes as all he did was use extreme closeups and umpteen shots of highways. Since then, the direction has never managed to recover, even though there have been a few bright sparks. The opening few minutes of episode 3 were brilliant and so was that insane shootout in episode 4. Both these episodes were directed by Janus Metz. Episode 5 was pretty horrible but the final 10 minutes of episode 6 are pretty awesome. Overall, there have been a few good moments but like everything else, the direction has been wildly inconsistent.
- A huge reason for Season 1 being brilliant was the choice of music- from the theme to the soundtrack, it was spot on. I still have the OST on my phone and listen to a lot of the songs on a daily basis. But it’s not just that the songs were good, but that they really fit the scenes. This season, the soundtrack has been disappointing, to say the least. The title track sounds like a husky voiced guy saying random things over a basic bass line. And the soundtrack has mostly been a weird attempt at trying to create a suffocating atmosphere.
- The pacing has been pretty terrible and the characters are either not interesting enough or too over the top. The scenes which have been specifically written for character development are pretty useless and eat up a lot of time. That scene where Ani keeps on stabbing a wooden cutout as her sister tries to talk to her is pretty bad. Nobody is even remotely normal and everybody has some skeletons buried in their closet. I get that this is a fictional show but who behaves like that all the time?
- Nic Pizzolatto has to take his fair share of the blame here. Most of the writing here is terrible. Without Matthew McConaughey or Woody Harrelson to pull off those dialogues they sound cheesy, pretentious and cringe worthy at the same time. The setting of Los Angeles isn’t nearly as interesting as post-Katrina Louisiana. The tertiary characters are way over the top and it seems as if everybody is dysfunctional in the show. I seriously do not care who killed Caspere or what is happening by now.
But the show also gets a few (only a few) things right:
- The casting is mostly good. Colin Farell as Ray Velcoro is pretty entertaining (although the voice he puts on for the character starts sounding ridiculous sometimes). When Ray is dealing with everyday things, he’s the most watchable person in the show. Rachel McAdams does what she can but she can do only so much to cover up Nic Pizzolatto’s shoddy character development. Taylor Kitsch is unwittingly cool although I keep fearing he may drop the word ‘faggot’ any time to bottle his latent homosexuality, which I guess is one way of keeping the viewers on edge.
- Some of the direction and camerawork is pretty good. The closing shot of episode 1, the start of episode 3 and the ends of episode 4 and 6 are some examples.
- Most of the times Pizzolatto misses but sometimes he gets it right. When Ray Velcoro says “I will skullfuck your dad in front of your mom while you watch,” he somehow sells that line and it works. That’s the kind of outrageous line that the characters of Season 1 could pull of with ease.
I am not too interested or intrigued anymore but I’ll watch the rest of the season nevertheless, if only out of respect to the show’s legacy. I have some hope that the season may redeem itself yet but I’m not counting on it.
So yeah, Time is like a flat circle.
P.S. Rachel McAdams has an amazing derriere. Also, that dig at Cary Fukunaga with the man bun wearing Asian director in one of the episodes was not cool.