Confession time: I never watched the first season of HBO’s word-of-mouth hit, True Detective. The first season was a huge sensation, but I simply never caught up with it. Will my perspective be completely skewed since I didn’t see Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson pairing from the original outing? Comparisons are inevitable, but luckily we have an anthology series on our hands, people!
If you like your drama super gritty and grimy and dra-ha-ma-tic, True Detective Season Two will be right up your alley! There is a LOT going on in this first hour, and it’s natural if everyone has a question or two. We meet our four main characters, but they aren’t interacting with each other just yet.
Colin Farrell plays Ray Velcoro, a burned out detective in every sense of the word. Within the first five minutes, we learn that his wife was brutally raped and became pregnant. She had the child, and Ray did the right thing by raising him as his own. Ray’s problem seems to be the bottle (ah, that dependable cop cliché), because this episode also shows us Ray drunkenly pressuring his son to squeal on a schoolyard bully. He goes to the bully’s house and beats his father to a pulp right in front of him. Ray won’t be winning any Father’s Day awards this year.
Vince Vaughn (who has never looked taller!) is quiet as Frank Semyon, a mobster who helped track Ray’s wife’s attacker years back, and Frank wants Ray to find the city manager, Benjamin Casper. The town of Vinci is apparently LA’s roughest and most dangerous borough, and the town is under investigation from a pesky reporter. Ben’s disappearance could mean trouble for Frank and his seedy casino.
The other two primary characters are Paul (Taylor Kitsch), a highway patrolman put on leave after refusing a blowjob from a fleeing starlet, and Ani (Rachel McAdams), a sheriff with a slew of family drama. Paul seems to have a death wish (he speeds around on his motorcycle with the headlights off), but that doesn’t compare to anything Ani is going through. Her sister, Athena, is caught in a webcam sex ring, and it appears that she was raised in some sort of cult by her “wellness leader” father. And you thought your family reunion was awkward…Oh! And her mother committed suicide by walking into a lake.
The four main characters don’t meet until Casper’s body is discovered late one evening at the end of the episode. Will the second season truly kick off now that they are all assembled?
There is a lot to take in here, and it feels like it will require a second viewing just to make sure all the threads are clear. The four actors are drenched in drama. Colin Farrell proves that he’s an underappreciated actor by delivering this with such gusto. He’s gross and seedy in this. It’s kind of the embodiment of a barroom floor in the first episode. Vaughn seems to be holding back, so hopefully we will soon see what he has to offer the show, but the standout is McAdams. She is never allowed to do anything big in her career, and this feels like a step in the right direction. Ani seems more complicated than all the movie wives she’s played in the last five years combined. I’m personally stoked to see where she’s going as the show progresses.
As far as the comparisons go, it seems a bit unfair to judge the first season’s greatness from 55 minutes of a new season. Let’s see where it goes. Let it breathe. But what do I know? I know nothing.