Thursday, June 25, 2015

True Detective Season 2, Episode 1
Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

With Season 1 of True Detective, writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga took the simple premise of a small town murder mystery and twisted it into something labyrinthine and macabre. By dashing together a buddy cop drama with a healthy dosage of nihilist philosophy, Southern Gothic, and weird horror, they turned out a riveting neo-noir that was equal parts James Ellroy, Thomas Ligotti, and Robert W. Chambers. Season 2 starts things off with a clean slate: a new cast, a new director, and a new crime. Can Pizzolatto scale the same incredible heights a second time around? The nanobots are running their infernal calculations to answer that very question...
  • Trading the guy who directed Season 1 of True Detective for the guy who directed four Fast & Furious movies. = -10pts 
  • If we had heard that Collin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch were all going to be in a movie together, we would have expected to see that movie in the five dollar bin at Walmart within a week of its theatrical release. = -25pts 
  • Leonard Cohen in the opening credits gets us started on the right foot, at least. = +7pts 
  • This scene of Collin Farrell being a good dad will surely in no way be offset by a scene of him being a shitty one later on. = +6pts 
  • The name of Collin Farrell's character is so close to the word "Velcro" that we're just going to call him Detective Velcro for the remainder of this series. = +2pts 
  • The only kinds of transactions involving women that Detective Velcro is used to are ones that require him to throw fistfulls of cash in their direction. = -5pts 
  • Detective Velcro's porn-stache as a means for demarcating changes in chronology. = +8pts (A comforting callback to McConaughey's hobo-beard.) 
  • FYI, accepting a devil's bargain from Vince Vaughn for the name of your wife's rapist is the quickest path to growing a porn-stache. = +3pts 
  • Rachel MacAdams probably wanted to do butt stuff with her doofy paramour, right? Had to be butt stuff. = +4pts 
  • Rachel MacAdams busting up a legitimate cam girl operation in order to scold her sister has earned her the name of Officer Buzzkill for the remainder of the series. = -6pts 
  • When does Taylor Kitsch find time to enforce the law when he's so busy defending his junk from every woman on earth? = -9pts 
  • Blah, blah, blah, something about a land deal. = -7pts 
  • Missing city manager Ben Casper's pervy art collection. = +4pts 
  • The Weekend and Bernie's situation slowly developing in the back of that car. = +8pts 
  • Detective Velcro shakes down a reporter in order to halt the continuation of an eight-part expose that has almost certainly been written, edited, and prepped for publication already. = -3pts 
  • We were hoping to spot Don Draper in the hippy commune Officer Buzzkill visits, but no dice. = -2pts 
  • Officer Buzzkill's father teaches at the commune? Why don't we just subtitle this season "Daddy Issues?" = -5pts 
  • Now, it may sound bad when Detective Velcro calls his son a "fat pussy," but it's really more of an affectionate nickname. = -3pts 
  • Officer Velcro to a 12-year-old bully: "I'll come back and buttfuck your father with your mom's headless corpse on this goddamn lawn." = -6pts 
  • The song Lera Lynn plays during the meeting between Detective Velcro and Vince Vaughn is the kind of song that someone would choose to soundtrack a parody of True Detective.= -11pts 
  • Nothing like an eyeless, dickless corpse to bring together all the main characters of your premium cable drama. = +5pts 
  • Closing the episode with Nick Cave. = +14pts (They got the musical bookends right.) 

Episode Score = -26pts

While Season 1 of True Detective took its fair share of guff for its resolutely straight-faced approach to pitch black police procedural, the show managed to stay afloat thanks to indelible performances by Harrelson and McConaughey and its carefully wrought tone of suffocating dread. As of episode 1 of the show's second season, however, neither of those elements are present. None of the show's principal characters have been given the space to establish themselves as much more than noir archetypes, and unlike Season 1's Erath, there's something painfully nondescript about the corruption at the heart of Vinci. There's still plenty of time for the series to level off, but right now, this feels like a pointless exercise in miserablism on the level of AMC's aborted Breaking Bad chaser, Low Winter Sun.

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