True Detective Season 2, Episode 1 Review
Warning! Spoilers Ahead!
I’m not sure I’m going to be doing this for every episode but the debut of the gritty crime series feels monumental enough in its own right (at least with the people I know) to not only watch when its initially airs- something I never do- but to give some thoughts on what was done right and what was done…boringly.
“‘Boringly’?'”you ask? “It’s only the first episode!” Well allow me to answer your question with another question– Where was Matthew MaConughey?!? Looks like I win.
First things first, let’s go over this intro. They’ve really got these down, don’t they?
I like that they’re changing the song while keeping with the theme of darkly despair which, judging by the first season, True Detective is all about . All of these characters are quietly dealing with their own messed up lives in different ways be it through drugs, alcohol, and their jobs in such a way that the intro music couldn’t remain the same, right? Different time, different place. Nevermind by Leonard Cohen is the song is you’re interested.
The layering of city landmarks and streets are still great visuals they’ve got going, and combined with the music set us up for the Fincher-like show that is to be. I could go on about it, but we’ll just leave it at that- changes are appreciated, given that it’s not season 1, but it’s still effective.
As for the cast, I don’t really need to comment that this isn’t as strong as season 1 right off, but McConaughey and Harrelson are done so let’s move on, shall we? There’s no reason to whine about how different things are with the new cast, so let’s just see what they do. I’m not a fan of Taylor Kitsch either but if Ben Affleck and Tyler Perry can both be in Gone Girl without ruining it, I’ll give Kitsch the benefit of the doubt and keep watching.
Still, Colin Farrell seems to be a natural when it comes to playing belligerently violent drunks, eh? He spends most of the episode, uh, drinking, and have us wondering by the end of each one of his scenes if he’s a bad guy with good tendencies or a good guy with some seriously bad tendencies. How about that scene where he beats up his son’s bully’s dad on the porch in front of the bully? It was somewhat funny/horrifying example of how far this guy is willing to go when it comes to personal vendettas.
It’s also interesting to note where Vince Vaughn’s character mob boss Frank Seymon and Farrell’s character Ray Velcoro start off and where they end up. Ray has Frank look up some off-the-record information about a man who evidently had a violent run-in with Ray’s wife. It begins with Frank assuring Ray he doesn’t want anything return but the episode ends with the realization that years down the road, Ray has just become another one of Frank’s thugs while Frank seems to have risen to the top. Ray, not so much.
I like the parallel and the subtleties of this episode in that sense because True Detective is full of stuff like that you don’t even need to notice to understand what’s going on.
The more negative side of this episode and something I noticed but didn’t mind so much is all the set-up. We’re seeing the main cast’s lives separately before they come together for the case of the season. So there are several introductions throughout and every time we begin to take interest in one character, we’re taken to another have to start over, in a manner of speaking. The tension begins to rise and then it just drops.
Most seem to be holding their ground in character though it will take a couple more episodes for us to figure out if they can keep our interest and while it’s not the show’s main concern but will still come up- do we like them? We don’t need this to keep watching sure, but since we are watching them, we might as well root for them right? I mean, I can root for Kelly Reilly all day but she’s not the only one in this show unfortunately.
Now listen. I’m seeing several articles from major publications talking about the drop-off in quality from season 1 and this season. Are we children? Wanting the same things over and over and never wanting any changes? The article in this link is title ‘How True Detective fell from grace after just one season.‘ with links to other articles saying the same nonsense. Why is it nonsense? it’s one episode, people. I don’t remember having my mind blown onto the wall behind me after the first episode of season 1 so much as I was just thinking “Huh. Let’s see where this goes.”
Now I’m not the biggest True Detective fan and maybe that’s a strength in all this. Since my expectations aren’t sky-high, I can’t really be let down in a major way. So with this episode starting off slowly, I can’t really complain about all the set-up because I know that just because it can’t be what the first season was doesn’t mean that it can’t be awesome in its own right.
Postives: The slow burn is beginning and the tone is nicely set. Rachel McAdams is a great actress but only seems to be in things I hate so I’m looking forward to what she does here. Everything looks cool, keeping me interested.
Negatives: Entire episode is a lot of set-up.