For the last eight weeks, I have dedicated my Monday posts to True Detective theories and random thoughts that come with watching such an odd show. So in the interests of closure, I am taking one more look at this season. I know there are many of you out there that didn’t like True Detective this season, but I did enjoy it for the most part. There were many parts of the series that worked really well, but there was so much that did not. I am going to get the negative out of the way and try to end things on a positive note.
Too Many Storylines
Season one was about two very opposite people trying to develop a partnership and being placed in a situation where they have to work together to find a killer. Season two was all about…I’m not sure. Redemption…Facing your demons…Corruption? It was very convoluted with the whole closeted former mercenary making a relationship with a girl work and trying to get his job as a highway patrolman back, AND the corrupt cop working for both the police and a gangster while fighting for custody of a boy who may or may not be his son, AND another cop trying to come to terms with her sexual preferences and her past, AND a gangster trying to go legit but getting screwed by his own people and losing all of his money while his wife is trying to get pregnant but can’t, AND some diamonds that were stolen in a jewelry heist in the 90s that orphaned two kids, AND a prostitution ring. Oh yeah, a city manager was killed and they need to find the killer. Frank’s storyline could have been cut from the show entirely and it would have made the flow of it all so much better. There is no info Frank didn’t find out that Ray couldn’t have gotten from bribing or beating on a CI.
Odd Chemistry Between Cast mates
Taylor Kitsch as Paul was okay throughout the series, but he was out of his depth in the role and against his co-stars who carried their parts like the pros they are. Some of that can be blamed on the oddness of his subplot. The not so good was Vince Vaughn. He was not bad per say, he was just patchy and stiff at best. He mostly interacted with the “B” members of the cast and that is probably what kept him from looking too bad. His best moment came at the end when he was walking thru the desert and his final conversation with “Jordan.” Kelly Reilly was criminally miss-cast (like Michelle Monaghan before her) and the awesome James Frain was almost unseen as some shady detective that pops up every now and then.
Dull Storylines for the Women, Again
Season one’s treatment of women was just horrible. They were either whores (or women sleeping with a married man then called whores for doing it) or they were Monaghan, who was relegated to being the shew wife. Season two gave the same treatment to Reilly’s Jordan and added the bonus “I need a baby now” plot, but was marginally better with McAdams’ Ani Bezzerides. She got to be a bad ass detective, but there were hints in early episodes that her sexual preferences trended towards the not so accepted normal for women and she was ashamed of this. She attempted to shut down a porno ring her sister was a part of despite its legitimacy and was told by both her sister and father (kinda ew) that she needed to get right with what she wanted. Then the big revelation that she was kidnapped and molested by a stranger drops while she is hallucinating on Molly (not touching the stupid Molly thing again). I was angry and frustrated because there are many women out there that enjoy the same sexual preferences Ani is shown to take pleasure in (watching porn, possibly enjoying anal sex, having no strings sex) that have no history of sexual trauma. Just look at the popular book sales in the erotica section on Amazon, lots of books being sold that are about BDSM and I guarantee you the women (and some men) buying them have no stories of creepy dudes convincing them to get into their vans. This type of character realization is so over used for women and I didn’t understand why this was needed for her. Her affinity with knives is easily explainable with the fact that she is a cop and lots of cops carry knives along with their service weapon. It just felt so hackneyed for a writer that has managed to give us many other interesting characters.
What made season one so brilliant is there was one director for all eight episodes. Cary Fukunaga was still a fairly new director when he came on board, but he had already a distinct sense of style and vision. His involvement for every episode allowed him to develop a trust with his main actors and he was able to help them develop a feel for the dialogue because he knew exactly how everything was to fit together. This season, Justin Lin was at the helm for the first two episodes and then each one after was directed by someone else. There was no clear vision for how the season was to look and feel because each episode was a reflection of the director. As a result, the actors developed bad habits. For example, Farrell’s garbled “accent” which made some of his dialogue unintelligible, Kitsch’s squint-face when he wanted to look intense, or Vaughn’s stiff and disjointed movements.
Great Chemistry Between the Two Leads
Rachael McAdams and Colin Farrell were the only ones in the cast that were able to mirror the same great chemistry Mathew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson had, so thankfully their shared scenes took up most of the run time. Those two were able to communicate volumes with just a few shared looks. The few moments we had with Kitsch and Farrell were well done, they played the broody looks off of each other well. The three of them all together was pretty okay, but there were so few of those scenes in the series.
The most shocking for me was the death of Paul in the second to last episode. I did but I didn’t see it coming. The brutalness of his death was a big shock as well. Same with Frank, but that is mostly because I didn’t see his death happening over something so random. If he was to go, I expected it to be in some kind of blaze of glory while killing the gangsters that muscled him out of his businesses. Even though I hated Detective Dixon, he being shot in the face during episode four was a “holy shit!” moment for me. I honestly thought the charming Mayor of Vinci was going to make it through without a scratch because the buildup in the show was that men like him never get punished for the horrible things they have done.
Rick Springfield as Dr. Pitlor
So weird and so genius.
The Maudlin Singer
Her music added to the downbeat nature of the series and its characters.
Changing Lyrics in the Opening Credits
Nevermind by Leonard Cohen is long with many choruses to it. Changing which chorus is used in the main titles to reflect what is going on in that particular episode was a great use of the song and a great way to keep the audience guessing as to what the story is about.
What did you think of season two? What did you hate about it? What did you love about it? Are you hoping for a season three? If so what would you like to see happen? Let me know in the comments section.