When watching a drunk, brass-knuckles-wearing Colin Farrell beat the living daylights out of a father in front of his child, I found myself rolling my eyes at the absurdity.
But then I remember the subtle pain in Farrell’s eyes as he watched his kid get bullied or the beautiful final bar scene between Farrell and Vince Vaughn, and I remember why I am glued to “True Detective.”
Season one of “True Detective” set a bar in popular culture which may be unreachable. I am not even sure how much I truly loved season one, but we all fell in love with the incredible performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and the concept of major movie production being brought to television.
So Twitter exploded with frustrated “hot takes” about the season two premiere and how it isn’t as good as its predecessor. But I am captivated by season two.
Many of the roles are unclear thus far, but it seems to focus on the relationship between Farrell’s character, a crooked cop named Ray Velcoro, and Vaughn’s sketchy businessman Frank Semyon.
There has never really been much done in media on how a cop goes off trail to become the crooked cop. In a flashback, we see Velcoro as a young police offer with good intentions who wants revenge on a criminal who raped his wife. Semyon gives the identity of this man to Velcoro in return for him essentially being his inside guy.
The final scene between the two in the bar shows a nuanced relationship. Velcoro has become truly broken down by what his life has become. He drinks, does coke and smokes weed on the job. He beats up strangers. And while Semyon has seemingly done much of this to him, he seems to have an empathy for Velcoro. He seems to care. He seems to have a sense of responsibility.
I want the show to dive into this relationship. I expect flashbacks to the beginnings of Velcoro working for him, and my guess is the show will end with Velcoro redeeming himself by saving the day and taking Semyon down. Because that is how TV works.
But enough about Farrell and Vaughn. The other two stars of the cast need a light shone on them. Rachel McAdams brings raw energy, and I hate saying things like raw energy. I am interested in her family backstory with her New Age religious leader father. Also, what was this weird sex play her boyfriend felt uncomfortable about?
Taylor Kitsch plays stoic and messed up highway patrolman Paul Woodrugh. He has trouble becoming aroused by his girlfriend and drives 100 mph on his motorcycle at night with the lights off to feel something.
But maybe the biggest strength of season two is that there are four main characters. Season one, in all its glory, was limited to two characters we truly cared about. There is some more room for story with four interesting ones, and I am excited to see what writer Nic Pizzolatto is cooking up.