Just read this good review from The Globe and Mail:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/tel ... ice=mobile
John Doyle: True Detective, season two – Fiercely good, but even more morose
Every character is guarded, mirthless. The landscape, in California, not far north of Los Angeles, is at once reassuringly familiar and faintly menacing. Looking at it, this stale, desiccated place, you know it is bereft of nourishment and grace.
On the evidence of the first few hours of the second season of True Detective (Sunday, HBO Canada at 9 p.m.), there is nothing in it to cheer you, nothing to even give you a wry smile. It is formidably focused on deeply troubled people. It is set in a country that the author sees as depleted, drained of joy.
And that is its strength, if you have the grit to concentrate and stay with it. If you think there’s a consensus that this production is a fail, by far a lesser drama than the first season, then you are wrong.
It is different yes. It is lacking the magic chemistry of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and doesn’t have Emmy-winning director Cary Fukunaga extrapolating a striking visual sumptuousness from writer Nic Pizzolatto’s story of two complex cops trying to solve a complex murder case anchored in occult killings. In that first season, the chemistry was often everything, more vital than the murder mystery.
What it does have, this second season, is Pizzolatto’s constancy as a writer. His glum view of humanity and vision of the United States as a place to give up on, long past its prime, infected with a pestilence you can’t quite name but you see, smell and recognize.
It stars Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch, and around them an impressive group of character actors. There’s a murder and a mystery to solve, one that, from the get-go, is drenched in depravity. Everyone is tightly wound and wounded. Much of it, like the first season, is rooted in conversations, some formal – a lawyer interviewing a damaged cop, a boss tersely upbraiding an employee – and some seemingly throwaway. But just out of the frame, just out of reach, always, is this sense of degradation.
Farrell plays Ray Velcoro, the first major character we meet. Ray is a tense, depressed man. His wife, from whom he’s long separated, was beaten and raped some years before. They had a boy and Ray now has the boy in his care a few days a month. He tells a lawyer in one of those strained conversations in heavily air-conditioned rooms that typify the series, that, no, he won’t do a paternity test. Never has, never will.
We learn from various shifts in time and setting that after Ray’s wife was raped, he wanted personal revenge and sought the help of a mobster, Frank Semyon (Vaughn), in finding the pervert who committed the crime. Now and forever, Frank has Ray in his pocket.
If viewers think Ray is an unsettling mess of a person, along comes Ani Bezzerides (McAdams), a detective who, on introduction, is identified as a woman who loathes intimacy of any kind. She also has a knife fetish and appears to hold everything together by imagining the damage she could do to a man with one of those knives. The name Ani is short for Antigone. Her father, introduced early, is a peddler of hippie cant.
Even the smooth mobster Frank is a mess of seething insecurities. He’s been trying to become a legitimate businessman, buying up land in anticipation of a high-speed train corridor linking L.A. to northern California. His connection to orthodox business is a corrupt city manager, a man who has gone missing when the drama opens. When he’s found dead, all the major characters are drawn into the case.
Before the missing man is found dead, we know something about him. Mainly his sexual preferences. And it’s from this fact that everything radiates outward. In True Detective’s first season, the overriding theme, beneath the angsty conversations between the McConaughey and Harrelson characters, was Pizzolatto’s message that America is in a postindustrial period, ruined and rife with abnormal urges and impulses. The same applies here.
This True Detective is not for anyone in search of the superficial, the surface verve of dry wit and the intrigue of a complex mystery. It is a studied, morose stare at an unhappy place. The currency of this place is sex, the code is corruption, the mood is fierce unhappiness.
Fun, it isn’t, this drama. Fiercely good and challenging is what it is. It doesn’t duplicate the first season of True Detective; it depresses it into something even more corrosive.