Season 1 of True Detective was a stylish, gritty affair, with the focus on a murder case and two main characters. It differed from other TV detective shows by telling half the story in flashbacks, but by also presenting the audience with two fascinating characters. This season, gone are the flashbacks -- other than one small scene in the first episode -- but we now have four just-as-fascinating characters to invest ourselves in, and these people are every bit as flawed as writer-creator Nic Pizzolatto's first two from season 1.
I was impressed by just how well the storytelling was weaved into the opening episode, as we learn who the four new players are and how this new dynamic works. By dropping the flashback format, Pizzolatto has been allowed to elaborate more and develop the characters far better and more quickly than with McConaughey's Rust Cohle and Harrelson's Marty Hart.
Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn
21 June 2015
Ed's Grade: A
Colin Farrell plays Detective Ray Velcoro, a hard-drinking, hard-living cop, who's been pushed from the straight-and-narrow some years back after his wife was beaten and raped. To make matters worse for Ray and his wife, young Chad was born 9 months later, leaving the paternity of the child wide open. It's during this tragic time that we flashback to a younger, uniformed Ray, and where he's tipped off by Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), a crooked businessman, to who the rapist is. This establishes how Ray comes to be in Frank's pocket, and links Frank to the murder case that's about to fall onto Ray's lap.
Next up is Sheriff Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams. This is another cop with a whole lot of personal baggage being dragged around the True Detective universe. In only the first episode we establish she has issues with the men in her life, ranging from her current fling, Steve, to her father. During a bust on a suspected brothel, Ani and her deputies discover Ani's sister among the online sex workers that "perform" over the internet for subscribers.
Taylor Kitsch plays CHiP Paul Woodrugh. Paul has a secret past, and as many outer scars as inner ones. To have sex with his stunning girlfriend, Paul has to sneak into the bathroom to swallow viagra. Paul was also with the military, and to what extent we don't yet know, but obviously it's something that effected him greatly.
As we work our way towards the murder that will bring the three cops together as a team, Frank, with wife Jordan's (Kelly Reilly) assistance, is trying to put a huge deal together. However, his partner, Ben Casper (and major sex addict), has went missing, which will possibly put the deal on hold. When Paul finds Ben's body propped up at a roadside bench late at night, Ray and Ani are called in, bringing them all together for the first time. Now we're ready for some serious detective work to begin.
While this season doesn't have the flashback storytelling, one of the things that made season 1 so appealing, it has a fantastic cast doing outstanding work; arguably some of their finest. There's also this constant feeling of foreboding, helped along by a pulsing score. Yes, it doesn't have Matthew and Woody to chew up the scenery, yet I think this season looks even stronger. Time will tell.