Season two of “True Detective” was doomed from the start. Expectations grew greater and greater as the premiere grew nearer and nearer, and with the bar so high, it was almost inevitable that the show would fail to impress. The degree to which this season fell flat, however, is utterly unexcusable. And unfortunately, the season two finale was just as dissatisfying as the rest of the season that preceded it.
The writing throughout the season was studded with laughable attempts at philosophical one-liners, vengeful threats or loving sweet nothings. Season one’s occasional lapses into the philosophical were made excusable because they came from a believable character, which may be more of a testament to Matthew McConaughey’s acting than to the writing. However, Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon doesn’t seem much like a philosopher, leading us to believe that perhaps season one’s awesomeness fell more to the cast than the creator.
From the beginning, season two was convoluted and hard to follow. The writers seemed to be in a world where shock and awe have more value than rationality, resulting in a wrapup that no one saw coming — but that also seems entirely unlikely.
Despite the convolution, the writers did tie up all loose ends: Ray (Colin Farrell) somehow connects the dots between the orphan-turned-secretary Erica (Courtney Halverson) and her brother, cameraman Lenny (Luke Edwards). Ben Caspere killed their parents, forced Lenny and Erica into foster care and led Erica into a life of prostitution. Lenny killed Caspere while interrogating him about the parties and hard drive. He now has the hard drive and a continuing thirst for revenge.
Starting in last week’s episode, we saw Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) get all of his ducks in a row in order to flee to Venezuela as soon as he gets his hands on Osip’s (Timothy V. Murphy) money. After one of the most moving scenes of the season, he convinces Jordan (Kelly Reilly) to leave for Venezuela two weeks before him. They agree to meet at a park dressed in white. He does find Jordan dressed in a white dress, but unfortunately, at the gates of heaven, hell or purgatory, rather than in Venezuela.
Overall, the finale was a constant stream of promising setups and disappointing let downs: Ray has a recorded confession from Chief Holloway, but it’s destroyed in a shoot-out. He has plenty of time to make the boat to Venezuela, but he is tracked and killed. He records a goodbye to his son, Chad (Trevor Larcom), but it fails to send. Frank has money and a fake passport and is on his way to a new life, but members of a drug cartel kidnap him, bring him to the middle of the desert and leave him to die a slow and painful death.
The sole ounce of redemption could be found in Jordan and Ani (Rachel McAdams), the only two characters who make it to Venezuela. Ani has recounted her story to an investigative journalist and given him all the evidence he needs to unveil the corruption in Vinci. She and Jordan are living on the run, toting Ani and Ray’s baby along with them.
Much like the rest of the season, the finale felt drawn out, intentionally esoteric and unclear. The choice to let the city win, at least for now, might have been realistic but feels cynical. Additionally, the number of gut-wrenching plot twists throughout the episode felt as unnatural as they were depressing, making the ending even harder to accept.
Despite the harsh critiques, this season of “True Detective” still has shifted the status quo of a detective show. The show finds its merits in its ability to dive deeper than the black and white through the development of characters far more layered than we see in most series. Although it may have fallen flat in comparison to the mammoth genius of season one, the second season of “True Detective” is worth a watch — even if just to hear Rachel McAdams scream that she loves big dicks.
Contact Pressly Pratt at [email protected].