True Detective, Season Two (USA, 2015)

ferrellCreated by: Nic Pizzolatto. Oh boy, where do I start with this one? First of all, I just want to declare that I wanted to avoid the bandwagon of hatred for this second season just as much as I wanted to avoid the bandwagon of praise for the first—in both cases, I caved in and watched it because I’m curious about weighing the opinions of the masses with my own opinions, and because the shows just seemed really interesting. Of course, like everyone, I was cautious of Vince Vaughn, but I was trying to keep in mind The Cell, which I assumed was good even though I only half-saw it 12 years ago. The rest of the cast, including Colin Farrell in a moustache and Rachel McAdams (not in a moustache), was intriguing to me. And, you know, even though this was a really confusing, muddled, and occasionally downright poorly done show, I still kind of enjoyed it. I must say, though, I’m very conflicted about this show, and it relates to the specifically confused way that I watched the show, so if you’ll forgive me, I’ll go into more personal detail than I usually like to bore you with. Basically, I started watching from the beginning (of course), and like everything that takes cues from potboiler noir/police procedural type stuff, it was a little dense, lots of names, lots of shadowy, mysterious motives, a bit of stuff to keep track of in the first episode or two, but I was interested, so I kept with it. Basically, after the first season, I was ready for anything; I was kind of expecting this show to dovetail into some “weird shit”: with the strong whiff of Lynchian California this show was giving off, I was ready for anything, and after the first episode or two, with the appearance of the giant crow head and the guy wearing the giant crow head, I was pretty excited. I felt like this show was barking up some tree, some pretty interesting, dark, grandiose tree, the way it was pulling in real estate development, civic politics, transit systems, corrupt officials, critique of capitalism, environmental degradation, that little dink town of Vinci, California itself as a symbol of America, etc, human weakness and sexuality, from Colin Farrell’s strained family tragedy, to Rachel McAdams’s subplot and the issue of her sexuality being an issue in the police force, to the other guy Taylor Kitsch and his whole arc, and then the side plot with Vince Vaughn and his sweet wife Kelly Reilly (who I remembered instantly from her great role in the dumb Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies which I secretly love). My point is—there was potential. Now leaving aside all of the awful dialogue and bad characterization, etc, which I’ll take everyone’s word for—I found this whole thing really hard to watch and hard to judge for the following reason. There was the episode—maybe the third?—where Colin Farrell investigates a house (I don’t remember why), and finds a camera recording shit, and then a guy in the crow head costume shoots him point blank in the chest with a shotgun and then hovers over his body and shoots again, and then the episode is over. I thought that this was a bold move, to kill who is apparently the protagonist, or at least a main character, within a few episodes. And then I thought that, maybe the reason why everyone hates this show is because they went and did something weird and perplexing like bring him back from the dead, or maybe he’ll be dreaming or a half-ghost or some weird shit that they’ll explain later. Either way, I was pretty open to all of that, because hey, why not? But then, in the next episode, when he’s walking around just fine, and no one mentions the shooting at all, they just carry on like normal, I found it a bit confusing, but I thought, maybe they’re going somewhere with this—maybe an alternate reality/dream ghost, etc etc etc, I don’t know, but I’m willing to carry on and see where they go with this. Meanwhile, the whole thing was getting harder to follow, a lot of names I didn’t recognize, or half-recognized, and I kind of understood what was happening, but not really, and then the big distractions like Vince Vaughn and his weird, cartoony dialogue and acting, but I wasn’t sure if that was all accounted for in the self-knowledge of the filmmakers or what. Basically, from there to the end of the show, I just gave up and let the show wash over me, to see where it was going, and it kind of went nowhere. The men die, the corrupt power systems stay in power, and the women survive to South America, with a baby (whose baby again?) and a plan, and they go to the media, and maybe everything will get blown open, but we don’t know, the end. So I had to agree with the judgments of the culture at large that this second season was, in fact, a fucking mess. But then, reading back to myself, free of spoilers, I wanted to see what people had to say about the part where Colin Farrell gets shot and the show never mentions it again. What was that? It went way over my head, that’s for sure. Well, I found out to my eternal frustration that I somehow skipped an episode, and that’s why I had no fucking idea what was going on. And the only way to really see if I actually liked this show, or if I actually agreed with anything that anyone says about it, is to re-watch the entire thing from the beginning to end, because there’s no way that just watching that one episode I missed will enlighten me at all, being out of context, and now that the names and events have started to fade from memory. So I’ll just have to accept for now that I just don’t have a solid opinion about this show that I’ve invested 7 (but not 8!) hours of my life into.

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2 responses to “True Detective, Season Two (USA, 2015)

  1. Pingback: Closed Circuit (UK/USA, 2013) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2015 | Offhand Reviews·

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