Monday, June 22, 2015

True Detective Season 2 Premiere

The first season of HBO's True Detective gave us moody southern gothic noir with a sprinkle of occult mystery and philosophy that also happened to be beautifully shot and acted. The very last episode might be up for debate as to whether or not it sealed the deal, but either way, the series stands out as one of the best things I saw last year. Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle has become a part of the pop culture landscape along with Walter White and Tony Soprano. It's a character and performance that is almost bigger than the show itself but doesn't overshadow the whole piece. And he's not alone. Woody Harrelson was equally brilliant in the less showy role of Marty Hart. The best part is that each season of this show would bring us a different cast and story, so there's no chance of ruining the beauty of that first season if the new one doesn't live up to it.

rust cohle
The whole show could have been this.
Last night, season 2 premiered and it was hard not to compare from the start, but I'm patient about these things. Serialized television, when it has a set ending in mind, is hard to judge week to week. I tend to have faith in the writers and the team, especially if they've given me reason to. In this case, we have a new director in Justin Lin and he has mighty big shoes to fill since Cary Fukunaga absolutely killed it for season 1. But we still have Nic Pizzolatto in place and this guy has a knack for this pulpy material. Already I'm lost in the long miles of highway of California that seem to parallel the twisting connections of the narrative starting to unfold. That sense of confusion is balanced by a killer cast. I don't know if Colin Farrell will reach McConaughey level insanity here, but already he's got what may go down as the best line of the show. During an insane scene where he's decided to confront his son's bully and proceed to beat the shit out the 12 year old's father while holding the child in a headlock he says "If you ever bully or hurt anyone again, I'll come back and butt-fuck your father with your mom's headless corpse on this fucking lawn." Poetry.

season 2 cast
These season's cast of outcasts.
Already I see several sites are tearing the first episode apart. They did the same last season. Internet critics tend to mistake cynism and disdain for being critical. They don't know how to go with anything even for a little bit. Are there ridiculous moments in this? Sure. But that's kind of the point sometimes. I'm not an expert on Noir or pulp crime novels, but the little I know is that they are both riddled with stuff like this. Crazy metaphors that sometimes don't seem to mean anything. Over the top violence and situations. Sometimes cheesy dialogue. And that's what this is. It's supposed to be a pulpy crime noir in the true sense. Not the stylized, artistic type that everyone overanalyzes, but the real deal that people likely have never heard of. Anyway, it's one episode in. Give it time.

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