It’s hard not to compare Season 2 of True Detective to Season 1, even though HBO warned us that Season 2 was going to be different. HBO has its reasons for changing the formula of the show, but why go so far off the rails? Nothing but the opening credits was similar between the two shows. At least give us something in the same vein as Season 1, right?
When I go to flip on the new season of Game of Thrones that will be premiering in the near future, I know what kind of feel it’s going to have based on watching previous seasons. It’s going to be mystical, have a sense of fantasy, and so on. It’s not going to turn into a show about flying UFOs.
Now, I know that Season 1 and Season 2 were not extremely different. They both had that cop drama feel to them, but they didn’t seem connected by a commonality. Season 1 had a deeper shadow lurking in the woods, Lovcraftian feel to it whereas Season 2 could have easily been called CSI: Hollywood.
As promised, True Detective Season 2 was a hard-boiled, noir, crime-drama. So in that respect, it lived up to what it was billed as. I consider Season 2 to be good, not great, but not horrible either. Would I watch Season 2 again? No, but it was good Sunday night TV to consume and ponder.
This season had its highs and its lows. A lot of viewers expressed their displeasure with this season, and I think I know why. Last season was built around solving the murders of innocent victims. In this season, the victims are anything but innocent. The main victim of this season was Casper; a corrupt public employee who got what he deserved. How can the majority of the viewing audience emphasize with that? They can’t. Additionally, the episodes didn’t seem to move the story forward, instead they were full of red herrings or continued to rehash character threads that ultimately didn’t add anything.
As episodes 5 through the finale rolled on, I had a difficult time following the pieces of the puzzle and why they mattered to the overall story. It took us a long time to get to the payoff (the finale) and when we finally did, it didn’t really matter. The bad guys won, and (if you can call the main protagonists good guys) lost.
There were brief moments that this season felt like the last, the shotgun carrying Raven-head-guy, the vision of a singing cowboy, blood-splattered cabins, etc. But for the most part, all those things that had a weird twist were easily explained or unimportant. They were just there. And that’s my complaint with this season – a lot of stuff was just there for no reason. It seemed like this season didn’t have an identity because it bounced around from straight forward crime drama to odd, out of place, Twin Peaks moments. It never gave you that feeling that something bigger in the background was pulling the strings, as did Season 1.
From what I was able to gather between Episode 5 – the Finale, a couple of corrupt cops killed a mother and father that owned a jewelry store in order to steal some diamonds. This all happened during the confusion of a riot and that cops thought they pulled it off without a hitch. Unbeknownst to them, the son and daughter of the jewelry storeowners witnessed the murder of their parents.
Many years later, the dirty cops have moved into high-ranking positions within the law enforcement community making them untouchable. Casper ends up with the diamonds and a hard drive full of videos with affluent and powerful men-of-town hooking up with prostitutes; some of those men being the Attorney General.
As Paul Woodrough, Ani Bezzerides, and Ray Velcoro try to piece together the importance of the prostitute ring to the murder of Casper; a corrupt cop murders Paul Woodrough. Woodrough knew he was walking into a trap, but he had to do it because evidence of him and his male lover (which was held over his head to motive him to walk into the trap) would be damning to his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend.
Now all that are left to solve the mystery of Casper’s death is Ani and Ray who develop a romantic relationship. What spawns from that romanticism is something that seemed highly unlikely; Ani and Ray deduce that Casper’s secretary is the grown up version of the little girl who witnessed her parents get murdered by the corrupt cops. Sorry, but that’s way to far of a jump to conclusion. Much farther than the “green ears” jump to conclusion in Season 1.
In the finale, Ani and Ray track down Casper’s secretary and discover that it was her brother who killed Casper while trying to interrogate him. Ani and Ray are further informed that the brother (who is now in possession of Casper’s hard drive) has set up a meeting with the corrupt cops in hopes to kill them instead of give them the hard drive. Ray tracks down the brother and convinces him to assist Ray to bring the corrupt cops to justice; however, that plan goes to hell. The brother and one of the corrupt cops get killed – all for nothing because the hard drive was blank anyways.
The death of Woodrough is pinned on Ray by; you guessed it, the corrupt cop who killed Woodrough. To make matters worse, all the evidence to convict the corrupt cops of the jewelry heist is destroyed. Ani and Ray are all out of options and seek the help of Ray’s mob friend Frank to escape the country. Frank asks of one last favor of Ray and that is to kill the Russians and the businessmen who screwed him over regarding the railroad deal. Turns out a lot of cash was to be exchanged between the Russians and the businessmen. In a classic 1990s style action movie, Ray and Frank mow down the competition in a hail of bullets.
Ani escapes out of the country, but Ray and Frank meet their end because of their character flaws. Ray still the concerned father visits his son one last time which gives the corrupt police enough time to track him down and kill him. Turns out Ray was the father all along and that he is not the child of his wife’s rapist. Frank in his arrogance decides not to pay off the Mexicans who have been looking to make some action they missed after Frank took over their spots. Those Mexicans end up taking Frank out into the desert to kill him, but decide not to after Frank hands them a suitcase of cash. Unfortunately, Frank, again in his arrogance, picks a fight with one of the Mexicans who ends up stabbing Frank leaving him to die in the desert, which he does, but in a Twin Peaks kind of way.
As the series wraps up, the Mayor’s corrupt son (who organized the upscale sex ring) becomes Mayor while all his corrupt buddy cops watch on. Frank’s wife, holding a newborn (possibly that of Ani and Ray), has met up with Ani and the two of them tell a reporter all that they know about the corruption of Vinci. And at that the series concludes with a glimmer of light in sky of darkness.
Consume. Review. Repeat. gives True Detective Season 2, a 6 out of 10 shinning stars.