True Detective is an anthology series where police investigations discover the personal and professional secrets of those involved, cops and suspects alike, whether they be lawful or unlawful findings.
A bizarre homicide joins three police officers and career criminal, all of whom must navigate the threads of a conspiracy web and disloyalty throughout the background of California. Colin Farrell (Saving Mr Banks) plays a man called Ray Velcoro, a detective with a drinking problem and a debt to the mob. Vince Vaughn (The Watch) is Frank Semyon, an entrepreneur who is in danger of losing everything he built. Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) plays a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective and is often conflicted with the system she serves whilst Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) plays war veteran and motorcycle cop, Officer Paul Woodrugh. When he discovers a crime scene, he triggers a whole conglomerate of events which entwine three different law enforcement groups, multiple criminal enterprises and a whole ton of money.
Our four main characters are a quartet of severely broken people. Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro and Rachel McAdams’ Ani hold the mantle of being the most broken. There were times throughout the season where you see these two characters at their most vulnerable, and it turns out that Ani puts on this hard exterior but she’s not completely shatterproof. The season wins with the change of direction from season one. Where season one was a Southern Gothic crime drama, season two is a mafia crime drama, akin to Fargo‘s killer second season. I think I’m alone in saying that “I liked this season.” Vince Vaughn portrays this Henry Hill-esque career gangster. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster” says Henry Hill and Frank has known no other life than life as part of the mob. Vince plays his role to absolute perfection. I wish he’d do more serious roles because it suits him, rather than doing those god awful comedies.
In terms of acting performances, this season is a winner. Colin Farrell kills it. On paper, this quartet of actors don’t seem like much but they gel nicely onscreen. Season two is a wildcard and is not to everyone’s taste and I think it gets panned and dismissed by so many people because season one was so good. Anything that came afterwards, is going to seem tame in comparison. Farrell gives a five-star performance. His contempt, anger and hopelessness were evident much of the time and I’m glad he wasn’t “whacked” early on. I loved Rachel McAdams as well. She’s great in everything she’s in and I think she’s a severely underrated talent. Taylor Kitsch is still quite an unknown name, but I think he was good to watch, though he could brood a little less and I feel his character was waste due to lack of character development. There were moments of season two that did drag but then it pulled itself back. At moments, “…I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in” quoted from the brutal and cultly followed, HBO’s The Sopranos.
The pacing of season two wasn’t up to the standard of season one because season one was in its own league. Season two was always going to be bad in comparison. I think season two was great, but it didn’t feel like True Detective. It was an excellently made cop drama. It had the darkness of BBC’s Luther but the aura of Goodfellas or even The Sopranos. It even felt a bit like LA Confidential. We also have a number of supporting characters at play including the incredible James Frain as Lt Kevin Burris where he stole every scene he was in. James Frain is a phenomenal actor, from True Blood to White Queen to Marvel’s Agent Carter and even to Orphan Black and Gotham. James Frain is another one of those low-key actors who needs to be in more high-profile projects. It’s only a matter of time before he gets picked up by Warner Bros (DCEU) or even by shows like Outlander (Starz), Vikings (History Channel) or any other of the high-profile TV shows.
All in all, a great season filled with: great acting performances, a dark and mobbed up storyline as well as being intrinsically intriguing amidst themes like ethics, morality and politics.