TV - True Detective Season 2, Episode 1

Colin Farrell

After his fears for the upcoming season Steve Taylor-Bryant keeps his promise and checks out True Detective as it starts a second run with The Western Book of the Dead…

If you ever bully anyone again, I will come back and butt fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse.

Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) is a detective that wants full custody of his son. A long time ago, when Ray was just an officer starting out, his wife was raped and nine months later a child was born. Ray doesn’t care that the child may be the result of the assault, as far as he is concerned the boy is his own flesh and blood. His wife and her new husband are now back in the picture and Ray is not getting the access he wants, especially as he raised the child whilst his wife ran away, struggling with what happened to her. The man who perpetrated the crime was never caught but, just after the assault, local shady business man Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughan) offers Ray some information on the man as a swap for a favour later in life. It is in fact Semyon’s lawyer that is trying to gain custody for Ray.

Frank Semyon has invested millions of his own dollars and those of his investors in a land deal that will bring a transportation system to the City of Vinci, making Frank and his friends a lot of money in return. The problem is that the City Manager that had been in Frank’s pocket has disappeared along with all his money just as they were going to announce the deal.

Sheriff’s detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), after rowing over a sexual encounter, goes on a bust where she finds that the pornographers she had been investigating are totally legitimate and the fact her sister is one of the webcam stars sickens her. After visiting her hippy commune teaching father, Eliot (David Morse), she begins to realise she really is alone in her convictions. California Highway patrolman Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) stops a woman driving erratically who, to try and get out of an arrest, offers a sexual service that Paul turns down but he is later suspended pending an investigation. Back home with his lover, a scarred Paul showers and takes Viagra before spending time in the bedroom.

A man that has been riding around in a limousine wearing sunglasses is suddenly dropped in a lay-by at night time. Dead. He is discovered by the suspended Paul who phones in the murder which leads to Sheriff’s Detective Ani to arrive, only to find out that the victim is Ben Caspar, the missing City Manager, which brings Detective Ray Velcoro to the scene.

From the Leonard Cohen opening credits to the close of events, something happened to me that I didn’t think possible. I grew to love change. I have already written my fears before the season started, the new location which sees city landscapes over the sprawling eerie Louisiana countryside, four main characters to invest in rather than the two, the casting which saw more risk than the first season’s polished Hollywood greats, and the use of different directors rather than season 1’s Cary Fukunaga. However, it turns out change is good. The industrial buildings and dark lighting of the fictional city, Vinci, make for a dark tone before you even allow the story to sink in and Justin Lin (Fast and Furious franchise) who helms episode 1’s direction does so with a visual beauty, making the darkness seem like a place you would want to explore.

Taylor Kitsch

When it comes to the main cast, my serious concern before viewing this first episode, I really don’t know why I was bothered. Vince Vaughan is stunning as Frank Semyon. This was surprising as it was Swingers in 1996 which last saw Vaughan this good and not some parody of, well, Vince Vaughan. He has the eyes of the casino owner mobster that in reality he really is but a softness and vulnerability of a man trying to change, to go legitimate. I am not sure exactly what Taylor Kitsch’s character will evolve into but with the scars and broken mentality he is sure to be a force of some kind and I look forward to seeing where his own personal issues take his part of the story.

The two that stand out for me though leads me to start with an apology. I have been highly critical of the lack of care and work Colin Farrell usually seems to put into his films but he hit the screen with an intensity I have not seen in him before. From his softly, softly loving approach to his son when sober, to taking a knuckle duster to father of his son’s bully, to falling asleep in a bar, Farrell had me spellbound. He had me rooting for him despite the fact he is most definitely as dirty a cop as there is, and I genuinely care that he holds it together whilst he works towards keeping time with his son. Shining light of the new season already though is Rachel McAdams who is fast becoming my favourite actress. Another fragile, broken soul like the rest of the main cast, Ani dresses up her issues as bravado and spouts obscenity whenever she feels cornered or the world isn’t as she would like it to be.

The cast were immense, the cinematography stunning, the dialogue as good as the first season and Nic Pizzolatto has managed to change everything he did in season 1 without losing his edge. Character development over hidden, obscure books and rituals seems to be season 2’s forte and I for one want more.

Images - Sky Atlantic
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