Many of you probably thought about quitting on True Detective Season 2 after the first 3 episodes. There were valid reasons for you to do so, but I also told you that Episode 4 was going to make or break the season…
(This is where I warn you that there are spoilers ahead, but you already knew that.)
Thankfully, Season 2 got better.
We found parallels to Season 1, they cut some of the bullshit that muddied the story, and 3 out of the 4 major characters have developed into people worth investing in (Taylor Kitsch still sucks). There are still slow points and plot detours that will make you pull your hair out, but it’s hard to say the past 3 episodes haven’t redeemed the season at all.
Ray Velcoro and Rust Cohle Would Be Great Partners
There are common trends between Seasons 1 & 2. State government corruption is the overwhelming issue. The detectives have epic falls from from grace, or whatever resembles such a thing for them. There are also mid-season baddies who don’t go out quietly who serve as the “fall guy”, but then set our detectives on the right path.
Reggie Ledoux was the Season 1 “Yellow King”. Rust and Marty’s evidence led them to the meth cook’s compound for an insane confrontation, similar to the one we saw in episode 4 of Season 2 but with far fewer casualties.
Of course they DID do it again. The tip that Ani, Paul, and Ray got from Mayor McCheese led them to Ledo Amarilla’s version of Ledoux’s compound, and was likely meant to be a trap for the trio. In Nic Pizzolatto’s own way, he makes Amarilla into the Season 2 Yellow King. “Amarilla” is Spanish for “Yellow” and “Ledo” is 4/6 the spelling of “Ledoux”.
After Amarilla’s case is closed, there are still 4 more episodes and a bunch of orgy-loving powerful people who need to be taken down. You wonder if Rust’s interrogation skills combined with Ray’s willingness to get dirty would have wrapped this mystery up much sooner. At least Ray is cynical enough to handle Rust’s bleak philosophical soliloquies…and Rust wouldn’t judge Ray’s demons either.
The Story is Better Simplified
One of the things that dragged Season 2 down was the show’s commitment to 4 major characters and trying to unravel them layer by layer. As I mentioned reviewing the first 3 episodes, the multiple subplots associated with too many character were deterring viewers away from what was actually a good mystery. Ray is no longer beating up his kid’s bullies and their bystander dads. Ani isn’t sleeping with other officers in her department, for the time being. Frank is done harkening back to his childhood. And thankfully Paul and his drama have taken a backseat to the team’s investigation.
The simplicity was most evident in Episode 6 “Church in Ruins”. The opening scene between Ray and Frank was as good it gets for this season. They didn’t beat around the bush. Everything was laid out on the table with pistols cocked underneath. Then they walked away with their separate businesses to take care of and nothing to distract them.
The focus on Ani’s preparation to go undercover for the anticipated “party” built up solid suspense for the mess that was bound to happen.
Who else gave an involuntary fist-pump when she was actually able to apply her knife-fighting practice? That was awesome.
Paul stayed out of everybody’s way and was actually effective when it came to getting the evidence and helping Ani out of the orgy. His redeeming quality is being a good soldier and completing the mission at hand.
With two episodes left, it’s the trio of detectives (and probably Frank) against California’s so-called elite, including Governor candidate Masuka from Dexter. Some of the subplots will likely arise again, especially Paul’s sexuality vs. marrying his baby’s momma, but the focus should be on closing this case.
“We could watch Friends.”
Ray’s kid is such a Ross. A very ginger pizza-loving Ross.
Going along the lines of simplicity, Ray cutting the cord from his son and ex-wife puts an end to one of the multiple distracting subplots. What’s interesting about that is the fact he agreed to join the “off the books” squad based on an agreement he could retain custody of his son. Ray seems focused on the task at hand after doing so, but maybe he has sealed his fate as well after doing so. Regardless, the best character on the show only got better because of it.
While in a drug induced trippy state, we learned more about Ani as she recalled a man who abused her in the past. The man looked like someone from her father’s photos and you wonder if he is more connected to the corruption than we already knew. Rescuing her missing person and getting a firsthand look at the kind of evil they are dealing with will probably have Ani sharpening her blade for more in Sunday’s episode.
Then there’s Frank…
Frank’s story hasn’t felt all that necessary, outside his influence on Ray, up to this point. The more he evolves into being a gangster again, the more entertaining he is…but do you really care what happens to him?
He is, however, acting as much like a detective as Ray, Ani, and Paul while trying to find out who killed Caspere and Stan. Frank has to tie into this thing significantly at some point, and his findings may be the thing that breaks the case wide open. You also anticipate some well deserved revenge on Frank’s 2nd in command, who is obviously undermining him with the trafficking of women.
Most importantly, there’s finally MOMENTUM. The final sequence was exhilarating and gave the viewer something to look forward. You feel better about there being just 8 episodes instead of the typical HBO 10, and that there will be closure to this story sooner than later.
I’d like to hear what you think! Do you like Season 2 better now, or does it still suck?