And so it ends. The second (and as far as we know final?) season of True Detective. There were a lot of expectations going in and I’m not sure it was possible to meet any of them. If HBO would have tried to recreate the first season it would have fallen short and felt stale, so they tried something different and got flack for being different. It was a lose/lose situation.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The first few episodes of True Detective season 2 were admittedly slow. There was a never ending stream of characters to get to know and it was often hard to follow all of the details. Season 1 was such a simple story, in a simple place with simple people that you never felt lost. Not so much with season 2. By episode five the show began to take shape and it felt like we were finally going somewhere.
This HBO watcher was very satisfied with the final three episodes, including the finale, but I do feel like it was a 5 hour offering stretched to 8.5 hours. This was the main problem as many people felt “lost” and overwhelmed with the plot. It’s hard to be excited when you don’t understand what’s going on exactly.
As for the acting, overall the three main characters did well. I’m not sure we’ll see the Emmy gold flying their way next year but Vince Vaughn was particularly surprising given what you’re used to seeing him in. McAdams and Farrell were both serviceable while Kitsch had a slightly better performance throughout.
I wish we’d have learned more about each of the character’s pasts. We got to look at their anguished faces while they revealed their one deep, dark, secret but who were all those people following Frank as he died? Couldn’t we have dug in there a bit? Frank staring at a ceiling talking about his dad for 10 minutes didn’t cut it for me. Show us!
In the end (spoilers) all of the men die. One in a desert, one in a forest, one in an alley: none of them graceful. No one gets a happy ending, even those who survived. At the end of True Detective season 1, the bad guy was caught but you knew nothing was going to happen to the REAL bad guys at the top. In TD2 we didn’t catch anyone but there’s hope for the future.
One thing I was looking for was some sort of vague connection to season 1. Is it the same shady organization with the “Yellow King” that runs both operations? It appears not. I was hoping for a tiny string that would run through each edition that we’d get clues to but it appears this isn’t the case.
If you took a step back and look at True Detective season Two as a premium cop show with no relation to True Detective season 1 you would probably have said it was a “very good” show. But as the successor to a truly great season of an HBO series it didn’t live up. It was something different. Not better, not horrible but totally different.
This writer actually enjoyed most of True Detective season 2 and the final 2.5 episodes were almost as good as a normal episode of season 1 in my mind. Trim it to three main characters, lose some of the bloated plot and dive deeper into these characters and you could have had something in the same ballpark.
There is no word on True Detective Season 3 yet. HBO says they want one but it’s up to the show’s creator. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. This season was delayed half a year due to scheduling conflicts with the show’s stars. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. Maybe limit it to a single star and a optimize the story a bit. We hope it still happens because there is still greatness in this series– even in season 2! There were truly moments of stardom and greatness this year. We just hope it shines a little brighter as a whole next year.