This week we have been catapulted back into Nic Pizzolatto’s world of True Detective and while the protagonists may have changed, it still is undoubtedly laced with that unrelenting sense of gloom and hopelessness that, thanks to some stellar performances and excellent writing, lured us in the first time round.
The drama has switched locations too to the Golden State of California, which you would think might lighten the mood slightly, but for some reason the picturesque shoreline and vast unending highways have never looked more daunting.
As usual, in watching any episode of True Detective, you spend most of your time wondering if you are fully getting just what the hell is going on, frantically looking for clues that may or not be there. At least this time we don’t have to try decipher Rust Cohle’s metaphysical ramblings. All we have now is an alcoholic Colin Farrell chatting into a dictaphone to his son about astronauts not going to the moon anymore and whatnot.
While we still don’t know if it can quite reach the dizzying great heights of season one, here are a few of our favourite things about this much anticipated season two premiere.
1. The music
The show kicked off with Leonard Cohen’s brooding ‘Nevermind’ which sets the tone perfectly for what’s to come. After almost a year and a half since season one, we needed a few moments to gather ourselves for an hour of Pizzolatto’s world and these 90 seconds of Cohen’s gritty voice over a collage of contrasting ambiguous images slowly lured us back in. T. Bone Burnett returns as music supervisor after deservedly receiving an Emmy nomination for his work on season one, and his influence is felt throughout, from the haunting lyrics of Lera Lynn’s ‘My Least Favourite Life’ in that bar scene between Vaughn and Farrell, to that closing song by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis with ‘All The Gold In California’.
2. Colin Farrell’s ‘tache
Who knew young Farreller could rock the ‘tache so well? Tom Selleck must be shaking in his boots. Well we say his ‘tache but really of course we mean Farrell himself. If you ask us, his performance as the menacing crooked detective who has lost his way stole the opening episode. We honestly didn’t think he had it in him, and it caused a massive sigh of relief to realise halfway through that he was in fact nailing it. And while his actions prove him to be a violent morally ambiguous cop with a drinking problem, there is something about his performance that leaves us hoping that Ray Velcoro could redeem himself yet.
3. Rachel McAdams not acting like Rachel McAdams
Look, who can’t love Rachel McAdams? She’s The Notebook’s Allie for crying out loud, but there’s been a bang of ‘meh’ off her movies for many a year now, and her casting certainly raised a lot of eyebrows. Unexpectedly though, she has made herself at home in the dark and gloomy world of True Detective with a credible performance as the slightly dysfunctional badass cop Ani Bezzerides. Also, after the male dominated performances of last season, it’s more than refreshing to have a female POV protagonist that isn’t a walking cliche.
4. Vince Vaughn’s knowing looks
Vaughn’s towering 6’5 height comes in remarkably handy in his portrayal of the menacing criminal/businessman Frank Semyon, but it’s those dark knowing glances that seem to say it all. Vaughn’s addition to the cast was probably the most highly criticised, but given the phenomenon that was The McConaissance, we were all quietly hopeful that Vaughn had just been holding out on us all these years in rom-com land. His performance so far has undoubtedly proven he is up to the task at hand, and it’s looking promising that this could be the career rejuvenation he obviously hopes it will be.
5. Taylor Kitsch abs
Okay, okay, bringing his role down to his six-pack is a pretty vacuous statement we realise, but come on, the dude’s in shape. Also considering the amount of female nudity in season one, it’s only fair the males got a decent shout out in season two. The former Friday Night Lights star brought a lot more to the table besides a fit bod though obviously, and like the rest of the cast, has a dark past to contend with that has left him with a lot of nasty scars, some arousal problems, and an inexplicable death wish. His connection with most of the lead characters came in the final moments of the episode as he discovered the body of Vinci city manager Ben Casper, although how and why a highway patrolman can play a central part in this story has yet to be seen. Either way, we can’t help but want to know more about this fellow lost soul.
All in all, it was a strong start to a series that could have easily fallen flat with the weight of expectation on its shoulders. Don’t know about you, but we are all in.
Were you watching? What did you think?