The further I get from Sunday night’s second season premiere of True Detective, the more my fog of confusion is burned off by “WTF?!?!” rage. The tone of the season two opener was grim, and it’s hard to see how the show will be able to escape the dreary world it’s built. The episode introduced us to four disparate main characters with little to no relationship to one another—so it’s fitting to present a character rundown in much the same way:
Detective Ray Velcoro
Colin Farrell gives us his best Difficult Man, but instead of delivering the character in shades of gray, he’s a complete garbage person. Our friend the flashback teaches us that he was once a noble sheriff, but then his wife was beaten, raped, and impregnated with a ginger son of questionable paternity. Then, they got divorced. These days Velcoro spends his time getting lit with Vince Vaughn and beating the shit out of reporters while wearing a ski mask (a desperate callback to the meth-cooking masked man from season one, crying out “Remember last year? Remember how much you loved us? Let’s do that again.”).
This script actively alienates us from Velcoro. He threatens to spank his chubby, victimized son in front of the kid’s classmates and stepfather. He uses brass knuckles to beat the crap out of a suburban dad and tells that guy’s kid to cut the bullying or else he’ll “come back and buttfuck [his] father with [his] mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.” He drinks himself into oblivion in the saddest bar in America, but then, Jimmy McNulty-style, miraculously drives himself to the crime scene where the episode ends. Frankly, this episode tried to buttfuck us all.
Detective Ani Bezzerides
She has a couple things going for her. First of all, flawless haircut. If I had Rachel McAdams’ jawline, I’d go get it right now. She also does some kinky sex stuff (seemingly backdoor-related) with the guy from Motocrossed, fulfilling the dreams of early 2000s pre-teens everywhere.
BUT her full name is Antigone (whyyy), so named by her hippie guru father. A tip about a missing girl takes her and her partner to her dad’s “institute,” which is essentially a mansion/commune. It clearly will be relevant to the crime storyline this season, providing Ani with ample opportunity to work out her daddy issues on the clock. How convenient. Even more family problems: she completely slut shames her sister Athena (oy, no, I refuse) after busting the sexy webcam house where Athena works.
It pains me, but Ani is a textbook frigid bitch. Thank you, Nic Pizzolatto. We almost forgot that you’re halfway trying to make up for a whole season of television that used women solely as props for sex and violence. Pro tip: you’re not off to a great start. Oh, and she’s a drunk, too. Le sigh. I wanted so much better for you, Rache.
Officer Paul Woodrugh
Oh, Taylor Kitsch. You so pretty. I remain unconvinced you’re not Tim Riggins IRL, and the Friday Night Lights people weren’t like “Well, we have to give you a different name in the show,” and you were like, “Ok, but it’s still just me, right?” and they were like, “Yes, just say whatever you want, and we’ll make the show around you.” You’ve got like four faces, and they’re all variations on a theme.
I’m troubled, you see.
Just substitute Ruddrugh’s war crimes and impotence for Riggins’ daddy issues and alcoholism, and we’re in business. Also, he’s got a death wish: that helmetless motorcycle ride in the pitch-black genuinely scared me.
WWRD? What would Riggins do? Probably tell Paul to stop being a little bitch, but then secretly cry because he’s got a heart of gold. Texas forever.
Sidenote. This seems unfair, IMDB:
I totally zoned out during all Vince Vaughn’s parts, and I’m not rewatching this episode just to gather little nuggets of comedy gold for you monkeys. This is what I gathered: he’s a (former? attempting to be former?) mob boss. He and his wife are going to try IVF. He’s involved in a high-speed rail land development deal (zzzzzzzzz), but it’s not going well? He’s very insecure about his choice of venue for the big party. Vince, there’s no way you got to the top of the crime food chain or whatever by second guessing yourself. Fake it til you make it, Señor. But whatever. Do what you want. I don’t care about you at all because you were very boring.
Also, he supposedly helped Velcoro track down his ex-wife’s rapist back in the day, which is why the detective is so crooked now. He owes Semyon. But hello, everyone, Vaughn’s character has a weasle-y ginger crony that is 100% definitely rapist material. Calling it now: that guy is the father. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. [Note: I could not find a picture of the guy, but…just trust me.]
Welp, that wraps up the rundown. I got through each of the four leads without even mentioning what promises to be the dominant mystery of the season, which speaks volumes for the writing. I want it to get better. I really do. But even keeping in mind my high expectations, season two is like a flat (circle? heh) version of season one. Regardless, 100% I will be hatewatching the rest of the season. I’m nothing if not a masochist.