Let the record reflect that I’m a fan of the first season of True Detective, and when I found out a second season was in the works, I renewed my HBO subscription. We are now four episodes into season two and my interest in the show is starting to diminish, and I think I know why.
So far, season two hasn’t been bad, but it’s definitely been different. Instead of following two detectives, season two has us following the lives of four individuals; Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), and bad guy Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn). To keep track of the events going on with the four characters is a bit daunting. I had to watch episode 1 twice in order to make sense of everything because the episode kept jumping from character to character.
Looking back on season 1, things were a lot more straight forward and simple – two detectives were looking for a killer who killed in a ritualistic manner. This season the plot deals with the gruesome murder of a dirty City Manager; a simple plot but it’s the headache you get as you try to keep track of all the characters involved in solving the murder that takes away from the enjoyment of the show.
One of the reasons that this season has been a slow burn for me is that a lot of character development is going on between the four characters and not much is going on with the investigation of the murder. Season 1 balanced character development and plot a lot better because there were only two main characters to introduce to the audience. It’s a lot harder to keep that balance with this season due to the number of main characters.
The main characters in this season are broken/flawed characters just like in season 1, but to a degree that isn’t quit relatable. On top of that, the “good guys” don’t trust each other and therefore their isn’t a chemistry between them like there was between Harrison and McConaughey.
After four episodes have aired, here is what we know:
The Vinci City Manager Ben Casper liked to hang out at some seedier clubs and pay to watch girls get it on. He was paid ten million dollars by bad guy Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) to assist in the acquiring land for a high-speed railroad system to be built, which Frank would profit from. On or about the day that Casper was to present the idea of the railroad system to financial backers, he turns up dead. His eyes were burnt out with acid and his privates were removed with a shotgun (How else do you expect someone to die in True Detective, by a gunshot?).
Casper’s body was discovered by Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) who works for I believe the California Highway Patrol Unit, specifically the motorcycle division (You know like CHIPS). He was prior military, has a mother who wants to get with him, is accused of soliciting sexual favors from a Hollywood star who wanted out of a ticket, has a girlfriend he knocked up, has burns over the majority of his body, and it turns out he’s been taking viagra while with his girlfriend because he’s homosexual.
Woodrugh has been teamed up with Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) to find Casper’s killer. Velcoro works for the Vinci City whereas Bezzerides works for the State. While trying to solve the murder, Velcoro and Bezzerides are trying to pump information out of the other in hopes of uncovering something that will give one of them a leg up over the other. So far, it seems like Bezzerides is the only clean cop, although she has recently been alleged to have sexually harassed a subordinate.
Velcoro is the dirtiest and craziest of them all. He works for Frank (Vince Vaughn) because years ago Frank gave him a tip about who raped his wife. But he also works for the Mayor since the Mayor oversees the City Police Department. The Mayor seems to have a vested interest in how things play out with the Casper murder; I get the feeling that the Mayor doesn’t want the murder to be solved and has almost said as much to Velcoro. Interestingly, the Mayor is getting kickbacks by Frank, for who knows what, but Frank hopes that the Mayor will leak to him who killed Casper.
In episodes 3 and 4, we find out that Casper wasn’t spending the money Frank was giving him for the railroad system, and therefore, Frank is out 10 million dollars without nothing to show for it. Those working for Frank are starting to turn up dead, which is making Frank paranoid and super-agitated, like so agitated he will pull out all your teeth with pliers if your cross him. Frank has now turned to shaking down old business partners in hopes of raising the money he lost. The Attorney General has launched a corruption investigation into the City of Vinci and it appears that Woodrugh and Bezzerides have been recruited by the AG as informants. Velcoro, Bezzerides, and Woodrugh get a tip about the Casper murder that leads to a Heat-like movie shoot out that leads to nowhere but a bunch of dead innocent bystanders.
If you haven’t been watching yet, you really haven’t missed that much. Is it as good as the first season? No. The acting isn’t all there and, at times, things get a bit derailed by Twin Peaks-ish occurrences. That being said, it’s still a good show if you are into political corruption and murder mysteries. Consume. Review. Repeat. gives True Detective Season 2, episodes 1-4, six out of 10 viagras.True