Nic Pizzolatto had a tough job following up the masterful first season and the writer/producer could have pleased a lot of people if he’d simply replicated the formula and once again delivered a southern tinged murder mystery. Pizzolatto refused to do that and the second season of the detective drama is a dark and complex LA noir. A lot of people didn’t like the show when it first aired on television, but that’s their failing. True Detective Season 2 is in many ways better than its predecessor and its rich narrative and powerful performances create a tale which plays like a 21st Century Raymond Chandler tale. We might get the world we deserve, but we also get the writing that we need.
Murder, mystery and politics collide in Pizzolatto’s drama. Cops and criminals are on the same moral playing field when the lines are drawn and the rules are corrupt. Vince Vaughn’s career criminal is as noble as Colin Farrell’s bent cop, while Rachel Mc Adams and Taylor Kitsch’s characters might have noble intentions but their damaged lives bleed into their careers in a nihilistic fashion. Everybody is looking for redemption in the pitch black world that Pizzolatto has created. There’s no right or wrong, only the will to survive.
This season of True Detective might not be as flashy as the first. Matthew McConaughey earned awards and kudos for his performance as Rust Cohle, but Colin Farrell’s work here might even surpass that. Farrell’s Ray Velcoro is a man who has lost his moral compass in a pool of violence and booze. His world has fallen away and he’s been stripped of everything he has ever loved. Farrell is able to show his agony in every scene and every line is delivered with the pain of a man who needs to push forward, even when he has nothing to fight for.
True Detective is a morally ambiguous journey through the dark underbelly of society. It takes us to the border of where good and evil meet and where winners and losers share the spoils of humanity. This isn’t just a TV show, it’s a morality tale dressed up in the form of entertainment. Nic Pizzolatto has once again delivered a show that transcends the usual tropes of the mystery and created a world that is as gritty as it is hypnotic.