If Season 1 of True Detective is a tunnel, twisting into a grim story, then Season 2 is a doorway that locks behind you. It’s abrupt, solid, violent, and it causes panic. Things seem familiar: abusive, brass-knuckle-bearing cops (Colin Farrell as Detective Ray Velcoloro), definitive statements about Who We Are, and a posed corpse. Should you keep going? Or, for fear of the unknown and wasted time, do you go back? This season doesn’t so much ask the question as snarls it angrily, gnashing its boozy foaming teeth. Come on in, but be warned: nothing is the same the second time.
In the world of Season 2, no one has the option of going back. All the main characters have already succumbed well before the first episode to their inner struggles. They already wear their demons like a coat of armor, protection against a nasty world that threatens to devour them. If they aren’t drunk, they’re speeding down the highway in the dark. If they aren’t ordering hits on incendiary writers, they’re beating up a bully’s father in front of him. The only thing that feels good is destruction. While last season had characters whose lives were blown apart by the story, this season’s players are already scattered pieces of a long-smoldering bomb site, struggling to make it to another episode.
Judging by the mostly-scathing reviews of the pilot episode, the anger is contagious. Critics and viewers are disappointed, they think this season is stereotypical, albeit darker-than-your-average, cop drama. They’re right in some ways: going from 2 main characters to 4 has left no room for the philosophical ramblings of last season. The pilot is crammed with so much information about the characters, there seems to be a long way to go for nothing new. What’s left? Grime, death, and atmosphere. Combined with an ominously beautiful score, The Promise of Creepy Visuals is what I’ll be watching for. One look at our victim’s house features the most odd & fascinating image in the entire pilot: a life-size, disturbingly realistic sculpture, floating in a pool, of a dead and naked woman bathing in milk. Shut the door behind me, I’m in.