Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2015 by Angie Han
True Detective Season 1 was one of the most talked-about shows of last year, inspiring a thousand thinkpieces and raking in award after award. All that acclaim set an awfully high bar for True Detective Season 2, which had the disadvantage of losing director Cary Fukunaga.
But hey, series creator Nic Pizzolatto was still on board, with a whole new setting, story, and cast (including Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch) to play around with. So do the new episodes live up to the show’s sterling reputation? Get the True Detective Season 2 review roundup after the jump.
Whereas True Detective Season 1 enjoyed near-universal praise, the early buzz on True Detective Season 2 is decidedly more mixed. A couple of critics seemed just as enamored of the new season as they did the last one, but many more expressed disappointment. There’s no need to despair just yet, though — even the less impressed reviewers acknowledged that there’s still time for the show to turn it around.
Once the ball gets rolling, though, the new “Detective” feels increasingly mundane — in tone and style, a bit like a lesser Michael Mann movie stretched out in episodic form. Part of that might have to do with the necessity of serving the multiple leads, at the expense of the focus on two that the first enjoyed. While this all might converge in a way that knocks your socks off, there’s marginal evidence of things really heating up until after July 4.
It may be that season two’s greatness is still waiting for us, lying not so much in character and place, but in the satisfaction of a story and plot that fulfills its promises and ends even better than it begins.
Or none of that could happen. And what we’ll get is a sophomore slump. The pressure is now on for the remaining five episodes.
The result often plays like a cousin of The Wire as directed by Michael Mann — the kind of series that presents its broken, brooding heroes as if they were characters in an opera about the many different flavors of corruption, institutional and personal. It takes everything so seriously that you have to laugh at it a little bit, then admire it for being true to whatever it’s trying to be and not really giving a damn what you think of it.
Two things are clear from the season-two premiere: One, Fukunaga will be missed — his replacement, Fast & Furious franchise veteran Justin Lin, has done a credible job preserving the show’s signature gloom and noir-ish palette, but he’s got a much heavier hand and much less patience for letting dread build slowly; and two, this is Pizzolatto’s show, to the bone. This is his vision — the macro theme of season two seems to be, once again, all the evil that powerful white men do — and these are his words.
Based on the three episodes HBO sent to critics, the second season of True Detective is nearly as addictive as the first. (And like that one, it is created and written entirely by Nic Pizzolatto, though with a new cast, story, and directors.) It poses as a potboiler, but it’s really an exercise in genre fused with existentialism.
It’s dense and it’s dark. If there were a quiz, you’d have to take notes. But the show breezes through the most important of all viewer tests: At the end of the three episodes, you’re itching to see the fourth.
“True Detective” will make a great binge-watch down the line. But it simultaneously reminds us that real-time viewing has its own pleasures, like the suspense of having to wait a week to find out what happens next.
True Detective Season 2 premieres Sunday, June 21 at 9 PM on HBO.Cool Posts From Around the Web: