Somewhere around episode three or four you probably asked yourself this question “So what the hell is going on?” For the sake of your sanity and mine, let me break down the entire plot in the simplest of ways (doing this took an inordinate amount of research past the 8.5 hours spent watching the entire season): Essentially, in 1972 a diamond heist took place that was orchestrated by many people from this pimp named Casper to the mayor of Vinci, California (where this took place) to the police. During the diamond heist two children were orphaned. Fast forward to today, one of the children found Casper, the supposed ring leader of the heist, and brutally murdered him, which is how the detectives got involved. Long story short, the detectives were unable to bulldoze through the wall of corruption and it was all a futile investigation.
From a macro view, I must commend Pizzolatto for his imagination and creativity in spinning a story that exposes the reality that corruption is entrenched in every aspect and socioeconomic rung of society. I also appreciate his ambitious attempt to inject his story with side plots in order to extract the different versions and perspectives of corruption with the supposed goal of leaving the viewer seething with anger at the inevitability and inescapability of greedy, feeble minded humans.
However, his ambition culminated less into a spectacle and more into a trainwreck. Rather than imparting the viewers with new perspectives of a perverted society, Pizzolatto left his viewers confused and frustrated because he unnecessarily added subplot after subplot, neglecting to follow through with any of them. They became nothing more than distractions, making us feel like our attention is being diverted from the actual plot. For most of the subplots, they built up to loose ends that did nothing to supplement the actual story and did little to reveal any sort of character development. It got to the point where distraction after distraction piled until the entire episode felt like a distraction.
The convoluted plot is not the only reason why everyone felt so apathetic about this season. What struck me as the starkest difference between season one and season two was the complete lapse of intellectual dialogue. Season two was bereft of the mature conversations and perfectly drawn out monologues off of which season one thrived. For season one, Pizzolatto’s writing brilliantly derived from his ability to lean on the side of stirring intellectual curiosity rather than fall face first on the side of convolution. His ability to not cross that thin line between genius and insanity, especially toying with the type of freaky plot and meta-dialogue in season one, is what garnered him justified acclaim and accolades.
June 21, 2015 was not a great day for #True Detective aficionados. Before season two premiered, True Detective was regaled by critics and fans alike as one of the best shows on TV. Yes, it did have some quirks it had to fix, but as a whole it was almost revolutionary in both complexity of plot and depth of dialogue. Yet, when season two premiered, there seemed to be universal distress and disappointment over the lack of continuation in quality from season one to season two. A lot of us felt confused and almost betrayed by our seemingly loyal creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto. Everyone has tried to dissect and diagnose the problems ailing this season, yet I am not sure anyone, including myself, can figure out what exactly went wrong. All I can really do is try and guide you through the major mishaps that got you asking at the end of the season, “Why did this suck so bad?”
Curated from Cornell Daily Sun
“The director character in episode 3 was absolutely not meant to represent or allude to Cary in any way. The actor (Philip Moon) was hired because I was a fan of his from ‘Deadwood,’ and he arrived with the look he had. I have the utmost respect for Cary, and I look forward to his new picture.”
So, True Detective season two is over, put to bed along with the long line of critics who hated it and people who watched it just to make jokes on Twitter. That doesn’t mean everybody is finished talking about yet, like #Cary Fukunaga in this interview with Variety regarding Beasts of No Nation. Fukunaga was asked about his involvement with season two and his role as an executive producer, noting that the series was pitched as a stand alone showcase for a single director each season. That obviously wasn’t the case this season, and Fukunaga did not have much to do with the series at all:
Now, you can read that how you’d like, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to hear it in a negative light in your head. That’s because this season seemed to feature a little sniping at Fukunaga by Pizzolatto, namely in the form of a scene from episode three at a movie set, featuring this guy:
It’s one of those things we’ll never know about, at least not until we see some version if Nic Pizzolatto in Beasts of No Nation. A pulpy, overly serious writer being gutted by Idris Elba and his band of child warriors.
“I really wasn’t involved,” he said. “My involvement in the second season was as much or as little as they needed me. It turns out they didn’t need me.”
Curated from Cary Fukunaga Addresses ‘True Detective’ Season Two
In an episode halfway through the season (“Other Lives”), after a big shoot-out that marked a turning point in the labyrinthine murder mystery, Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) looks around an overcrowded housing complex filled with undocumented Latino immigrants and their children — kids digging in patches of dirt, women patting tortilla dough outside — and mutters to himself “Jesus Christ” with a look of disgust and disbelief as he walks away. What Velcoro is pondering at that moment is ambiguous. We’ve already seen him concerned for, and then angered by, a group of Latino kids who refuse to stop playing around an industrial toxic waste site. Is he fatigued by the numbers and poverty of the immigrants he sees in the dilapidated apartment complex in which he has been appointed rent collector by mobster Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughan)? “¿Inmigración, entiende?” Or is he well aware of a larger system in which Vinci — the fictional industrial city in which the show is set — profits heavily off of immigrant laborers?
Throughout season 2, Latinos and Latinas are portrayed as violent drug dealers, low-wage laborers such as bartenders and maids, fearful undocumented immigrants, or characters defined primarily through sex (i.e., prostitutes, gay lovers, or pregnant girlfriends). Yes, the show is set in an economically depressed community where these characters would possibly exist in reality, but the fact that Latino characters (particularly those of Mexican origin) remain tied to centuries-old stereotypes of the Mexican drunk, sexual deviant, and cheap laborer is harmful considering contemporary political discourse — most recently, that of Donald Trump — that vilifies Mexicans and other groups of Latinos (e.g., unauthorized or unaccompanied Central American migrants) as dangerous criminals.
How does True Detective stack up with the real Latino California, and what did the series miss the opportunity to address? In 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos officially became the largest ethnic group in California, with approximately 14.99 million Latinos living in the state, compared to 14.92 million white residents. It’s the third US state not to have a white majority (New Mexico and Hawai’i are the others); more Latinos live in Los Angeles County than any other US county.
Pizzolatto showed he was aware of these demographics through his casting, but didn’t provide much nuance to Latino lives beyond familiar tropes. The character of Emily (Adria Arjona) is introduced in her underwear, desperate for sex from her reluctant partner Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch). The Mexican drug dealers who complicate Semyon’s plans are ruthless but flat criminal types.
Following the season finalé of HBO’s True Detective, I can’t help but reflect on how this second season — set in southern and central California rather than the Louisiana bayous — used and treated its Latino/Latina characters.
When it comes to HBO’s hit show, Fukunaga says it was always his intention to get in and get out with the first season. “The whole pitch was that in a true anthology, we want to sit it on a shelf, and every season we have a new feature director and make this wonderful miniseries,” he told Variety about how the series was presented to networks. “I was going to be the first one. And I’d be there to shepherd as much as I could the following seasons. My departure was always planned.”
And while Fukunaga does retain an executive producer credit for season two, it appears it was mostly in name only. “I really wasn’t involved,” the director said. “My involvement in the second season was as much or as little as they needed me. It turns out they didn’t need me.”
Following ‘Beasts,’ Fukunaga has a few options on his table for what to do next, but one promising endeavor that fell off was his planned, two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” for Warner Bros. The filmmaker spent three years working on the movie but walked away this summer reportedly over budget cuts. “Ultimately, we and New Line have to agree on the kind of movie we want to make, and we just wanted to make different movies,” Fukunaga told EW. “It’s like a relationship: you can try to make the other person who you want them to be, but it’s impossible really to change. You just have to work.” Fair enough.
Cary Fukunaga is gearing up for a busy few months ahead as he gets onto the awards circuit to promote Netflix’s “Beasts Of No Nation,” but the rising filmmaker does have a couple of projects that he’ll be asked about: “True Detective” and the adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” And in recent weeks he’s addressed both of those subjects.
There are no two ways about it – “True Detective” Season 2″ was just about the most complicated and difficult to understand installment of any TV series. The season started with great anticipation, riding on the success of Season 1. But midway through, critics and audiences simply gave up on it.
Many felt cheated that a simple cop-killer story was projected as something very mysterious. The characters had no definite arc and were out of sync with the story. The drug cartel shootout and the sex-party scenes were distractions in an already muffled-up screenplay.
Still the “True Detective” brand is too big to be just given up. The series can be revived because every season can have a different story, a fresh new cast and terrific writers to infuse new energy into a lethargic series. It’s plus point is that it does not depend on particular actors, story line or themes.
HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo seemed to be positive about a “True Detective” #Season 3 in the near future. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Season 3 is a possibility with Nic Pizzolatto as Nic already has a theme for Season 3.
HBO’s ambitious “True Detective” Season 2 didn’t live up to its stunning predecessor’s glory and most thought that there would be no Season 3. But it seems HBO is not about to shelve the brand and is considering a Season 3.
No series is more familiar with this process than True Detective. Season 1 went down a storm, and generated a ton of social media buzz which helped it grow its audiences as it went on. Season 2 became a phenomenon for entirely different reasons – and although audiences figures declined, social media buzz exploded. Apparently, people love to talk about shows they hate.
We don’t know yet if True Detective will return for #season 3. The show is written entirely by one man, Nic Pizzolatto, so even if he has started writing another chapter of his bleak noir anthology, it could be a while until we see it on screen. Bearing in mind some of the louder criticism season 2 received, let’s take a look at a few of the ways season 3 could reinvent itself.
This is a pretty big one. The first season buried its mystery deep in the wilds of rural Louisiana, whilst the second found misery in the overwhelmingly corrupt city of Vinci, Los Angeles. Both of these locations played a big part in defining the character of their respective seasons, but both felt quintessentially American in their worldview. So maybe it’s time to travel overseas and find a new character in the mafiosa heartlands of Southern Italy or the cocaine empires of Colombia. The United States is a big place, but the rest of the world is a whole lot bigger.
Now I don’t believe for a moment that Pizzolatto would actually do this – he envisaged True Detective as an anthology series with a new storyline each time around – and Rachel McAdams might have her hands full with Doctor Strange.
The rise of social media has proven to be possibly the ultimate double-edged sword for television. Everybody has an opinion, and they’re ready and willing to broadcast it on Twitter whilst the episode goes out. When a show is going down well, positive buzz is generated. But when there are flaws on display, the vultures taking pleasure in picking at them, and the buzz turns negative.
To be fair, this series doesn’t really make fun of True Detective. There’s so much out of whack dialogue in season two, however, that’s it’s almost a shame that it doesn’t. We’ll just have to sit tight and wait for another fan to come along and take care of that. Until then, Awkward Detective is a fine way to pass the time.
In case you don’t keep up to date on the internet shenanigans of True Detective fans, Awkward Detective is a short series of clips taken from the series with dialogue swapped out. It can be hit or miss, but when it hits it highlights the overly serious tone and adds a welcome surreal element. The short series will presumably run through the entire season, but may not be eight episodes long.
The second episode can be found right here. In case you were curious, it’s not necessary to watch any of these in order. Having seen the season, however, would likely increase your enjoyment. You can follow along regularly over at Reddit’s True Detective community.
Let’s be honest: regardless of how you feel about season two of True Detective, there is a lot in there that can be poked fun at. Fortunately we have a new season of Awkward Detective. Awkward Detective, the fan created gif series, has returned to insert inappropriately awkward dialogue into True Detective. The first season got the same treatment, so it’s only fair for season two to get a piece as well.
Read more at True Detective’s Awkward Detective Returns
Warning: Spoilers for Season 2 of True Detective Ahead
Season 2 of True Detective was already at a disadvantage by the end of the first season. It was so good that there was no way a second season could top it. The first season took HBO by storm, gathering both a huge audience and glowing critical #reviews. The show became so popular that the first season finale crashed HBO Go when it was released, a feat thought only accomplishable by Game of Thrones. When the second season was announced, fans were cautiously excited. Could creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto possibly come up with a story as compelling and characters as memorable? A star-studded cast and a plot that promised to involve more conspiracies and twists had fans and critics drooling.
While season 2 was chock-full of subplots, murders, and tortured characters, it lacked Season 1’s elegant simplicity and style. For starters, the show’s number of lead characters doubled from two to four between seasons. Credit has to be given to Pizzolatto for trying to expand the show and refusing to retread what made Season 1 so memorable. His attempt to bring the viewer something new was well-intentioned, but the season soon collapsed under its own weight.
Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro was arguably the season’s best character. Farrell expertly showed the effects of Velcoro’s tortured past on his ever-worsening present–his past relationship with his family weighs on the character throughout the season. The subplot involving his divorce and the fight for custody of his son was effectively conveyed through Farrell’s performance, and was brought to a satisfying conclusion. In the end, Velcoro’s love for his son is what causes his flight into the mountains and his eventual death. Perhaps it was the character’s simplicity that made him the most relatable: it was easy to understand Velcoro’s motivations (trying to find the man who raped his wife), and his relationship with his son was well-written and well-acted (the final shot of the audio file failing to upload was heartbreaking).
Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon met a fate as terrible as Velcoro’s, but his character did not garner the same empathy from the audience. The casting of Vaughn was a bold move: Vaughn is known mostly for his comedic turns in movies like Wedding Crashers, and fans were understandably apprehensive when his role in the far more serious True Detective was announced. Fortunately, Vaughn knocks it out of the park in Season 2. Unfortunately, the writing of Vaughn’s character does not. Frank’s storyline gets roped into the central murder mystery, and becomes so convoluted and complicated that it was nearly impossible to follow. There were simply too many subplots in the air for Vaughn to handle: Frank’s relationship with (the woefully underused) Kelly Reilly, the Mexicans running girls through his clubs, his relationship with the murdered Caspere, his relationship with Osip, etc. Vaughn’s valiant efforts are undermined by tangled storylines and Pizzolatto’s insistence on giving Frank as many monologues as possible, to the point where they become tiresome (and none give the viewer lines anywhere near as memorable as McConaughey’s “time is a flat circle” ramble). By the time Frank’s death comes around, the viewer feels sorry for the character, but can’t help wondering exactly what happened to bring the story to that point.
One of the few criticisms of Season 1 was its portrayal of female characters. Pizzolatto did his best to remedy this flaw by creating Rachael McAdams’ character, Bezzerides. McAdams portrayed Bezzerides as a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners type of cop who gets roped into the murder investigation that forms the centerpiece for the season. McAdams does more than a serviceable job, as her performance was highlighted by her entrance into the orgy in Episode 6 and the resulting trauma from that experience. Bezzerides’ character is Pizzolatto’s writing at some of its finest, as her tortured past is slowly revealed throughout the season. The only issue is her rushed romance with Velcoro: By the end of the season, it felt unearned, tacked on only to give the characters an emotional arc to resolve.
Finally, Taylor Kitsch’s Woodrugh got the short end of the stick, as his character was killed off suddenly and disappointingly at the end of the penultimate episode. Kitsch does his best with what he is given, but Woodrugh’s character is derailed by a number of pointless subplots, such as his military past, the incriminating photos, and his toxic relationship with both his mother and his girlfriend. All of these are swept away with his death, and his character feels like wasted space by the time the finale rolls around. It was time, and writing, that could have been better spent developing another character further or trying to work out the rest of the convoluted story.
The season, as a whole, can’t help but feel as if it was overstuffed with everything. Trying to decipher the story was incredibly difficult to do, and the number of characters became overwhelming. Season 1’s simplicity allowed for symbolism to flourish, and the small allusions (the Yellow King, anyone?) in the background were what drove the fan frenzy over the show. The viewer spends so much time during Season 2 trying to decipher exactly what is happening that there’s no time to look for smaller details that Pizzolatto tried to fit in.
Another area where the season falters is in its direction. The first season benefitted from sublime directing at the hands of Cary Fukunaga, who directed all eight episodes. The second season went through a litany of directors, none of whom differentiated themselves in any way. That insane tracking shot? Nothing in the second season even comes close. A shootout at the end of the fourth episode is intensely filmed and edited, but its ramifications to the plot are never fully felt, and it just ends up feeling a little too generic. Fukunaga was also a master of silence: The long car rides in the first season are brilliantly constructed to demonstrate the tension between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s characters, as Fukunaga’s direction allowed for silences to build the tension. His directing also made a lot of Pizzolatto’s terrible speechifying of the dialogue bearable. The directing of the second season cannot elevate scripts that really struggle at times to give the characters decent-sounding dialogue. There are no great visuals to distract from the dialogue. Yes, the establishing shots of the tangled freeways of California make for an interesting visual metaphor for the intersecting nature of the story, but the they tirequickly. There were some genuinely cringe-worthy moments, highlighted by Vince Vaughn’s confusing adage, “Never do anything out of hunger. Not even eating.” Pizzolatto has proven himself to be an excellent writer when it comes to ideas, but his execution fell flat too often.
While True Detective’s second season was disappointing, there was some enjoyment to be had. Some of the characters were extremely well-written with tragic arcs, and there are no weak links in the cast. Certain set-pieces, such as the “Vinci Massacre,” the orgy, or the showdown in the train station were intense to behold. Moreover, writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto must be commended for his efforts to differentiate the two seasons. Where Season 1 had an optimistic ending, Season 2’s is an extreme downer. Unfortunately, the season’s overly-complicated storyline bogs down the entire show, and the viewer is left more confused than amazed. Should the series be greenlit for another season, Pizzolatto would be wise to bring on some help in the creative process. Audiences have seen the greatness the show can achieve— now it is time to reel the creator in and discover exactly how to make the next season the show’s best.
“I work very closely with Nic. He will give me the backstory or additional information to help me flesh out the props, and he’s the final word on what we will use. Luckily, he always knows exactly what he wants and is able to pass that information on quickly and easily. Nic has laid the groundwork with the narrative in the script and its up to me to help move that forward with my props.”
“I had to become Cohle and lock myself in that storage locker for about three days to create the space. I had spent weeks researching and creating every piece of paper that you see in that room. It was the most difficult set, but also my best.”
In what was an unprecedented move at the time, a few weeks back True Detective opened up its doors to fan questions. These questions could be submitted through HBO’s HBO Connect website, a currently in beta portal that presumably will offer fans the chance to “connect” with the creators behind various HBO shows. True Detective’s creator Nic Pizzolatto also took questions on HBO Connect not too long ago, in what has turned out to be one of his best and most candid interviews.
Lynda Reiss, True Detective’s Propmaster, has taken the time to answer those submitted questions. Once again, it’s a surprisingly pleasant and open experience. When asked what the hardest prop to design was, Reiss lists the nail gun from season two. It’s interesting how such a common item could turn out to be a bit of a problem for a prop designer.
“I did a lot of research into the knives and knife fighting. We took a while to decide on which knife discipline Ani would follow, with input from [showrunner] Nic [Pizzolatto] and the knife trainer. Even though it wasn’t scripted, I found the belt knife and took it to Nic and Alix [Friedberg], the costume designer. They both loved it, and we used it in the show…One of my assistants is a knife fighter, and he had a great time aging him up. We had training knives, rubber knives and a knife for Ani’s mom up on her knife board.”
Curated from True Detective Propmaster, Lynda Reiss, Does Fan Q&A