SPOILERS: don’t read if you haven’t finished watching season two.
I seem to be among a limited number of people who enjoyed season 2 of True Detective. I say enjoyed but the show was all about immersing you in the compulsive nihilistic experience of fighting against a mind set and system to which you personally proscribe and continue to support. The character’s were appropriately messed up, fighting inner demons as terrible as the corruption that surrounded them. The tragedy of Paul Woodrugh’s death is it became an apparently convenient resolution to the difficult problems of his sexuality, child and mother.
The intersection of the four characters was important but gave an authentic sense of continued misunderstanding. We never really know each other and we find our own lives difficult to manage. When you add the oppressive faceless presence of corruption, I think we ended up with a gripping, if not hugely depressive experience.
The biggest success has to be the names. Ray Velcoro, Ani Bezzerides, Frank Semyon and Paul Woodrugh. Clearly created to send Google into fits of self-doubt as the difficult spellings typed by thousands every day. I’m not even sure I have them spelt correctly.
My biggest problem with the series was the cheap way that Frank and Ray were killed. I must first state that both men were doomed. In other situations Ray was instrumental in supporting other characters in time of need, but his journey into the mountains with Frank was assassination pure and simple. It was vendetta and revenge. Oh yes and greed.
So Ray. Killed because he made the mistake of forming a bond with his son and continued to struggle with his own feelings of inadequacy as a father. And then because he was trying to protect Ani. By itself I could just about accept his death were it not for the tracker from the Incredibly Obvious Surveillance Device store, circa 1988. To begin with I’m thinking bomb. He can’t see the people following so why not take the cash and run? Nonsense.
And Frank. Killed by Mexicans because they are Mexican. The Google translation of Mexican is apparently violent crazy mother…you get the picture. It was a cheap plot twist. I can see that the Mexicans didn’t like him, but they were plot devices not characters, which would be ok if the series has not just made us spend 8 episodes investing in this character. And there were other questions. Surely Frank would go out fighting rather than let himself get taken to the desert, and how in hell did they find him? Maybe they cut a scene: Mexician’s in truck driving through White Castle. One says ‘Hey ese, is that Frank?’ The other one replies, ‘Yeah, lets take him to the desert where we have that grave already dug.’ Frank deserved a death that was written better. Vince Vaughn did his best with desert hallucinations and it wasn’t great.
The season is done. Can we expected more? Maybe. The actors probably won’t be as famous, but all the hype that has been created and all the rubbish that his been written (a twitter storm of plot confusion is still a twitter storm) means we are likely to get a True Detective Season 3. And I look forward to it.