ByPeter Flynn, writer at
An advocate for understanding the phenomenological wonder of the moving image. Also Tremors is the best.
Peter Flynn

You know how when Ross in Friends tries to explain something he finds interesting, and the others mock and interrupt him, to the point where he gives up declaring that now they get nothing, exercising the little power he has over them? Yeah, that's the case with True Detective Season 2 right now.

Okay, perhaps that's an unfair comparison, and perhaps the revelation that True Detective Season 2 will have no occult elements is purely an artistic decision of show runner, Nic Pizzolatto. Yet the narrative of the rich kid taking away his cool expensive toys because no one used them right just seems so tempting here. True Detective Season 1 was so divisive, with it neither confirming the complete absence of mystic forces in it's world, nor ending with a cosmic squid monster consuming Woody Harrelson's beautiful face.

Where's the Lovecraftian influence in this shot?
Where's the Lovecraftian influence in this shot?

It seems that, with the general cynicism and sneering surrounding True Detective Season 2, Pizzolatto wants to move his show away from it's mockable elements as a kind of fail safe. In a Q&A with HBO, Pizzolatto stated,

There’s definitely bad men and hard women, but no secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system.

So how should True Detective fans feel about this? For one, wow! We're missing out on the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system? What a loss!, although, if we're talking about magical realism and Los Angeles redevelopment, that's kind of already been made. It was called Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The real downer here is that we're losing all those markers that made True Detective so captivating. Pizzolatto has also stated that Season 2 will ditch the time skipping and non-linear story progression. So apparently, we'll have to just sit down and watch events happen in a logical order without being confused. I know, I didn't understand what he meant either.

But Vince Vaughn wanted blood sacrifices!
But Vince Vaughn wanted blood sacrifices!

Now, I understand that occult conspiracies and atrocities are an easy way to whip up a sense of macabre existential mystery and dread. The very fact True Detective seems at a loss without occult endeavours speaks to our morbid fascination with the concept. Yes, it's pretty trashy that we need child murder and sacrifices to the devil to be intrigued by something. But at the same time, come on it's True Detective! Season 2 not meeting this image was the reason everyone complained about that trailer in the first place. What am I supposed to do now? Just enjoy a show for what it is? You crazy?

Maybe I was wrong in previous articles to construct True Detective as this constant unbreakable formula in which ideas are switched around, but the core premise remains the same. Clearly, it's a sentiment Nic Pizzolatto doesn't share with me. Maybe this more straight-forward approach will make True Detective Season 2 a well constructed experience purely through it's plot and characters, and will free it from using Season 1's exploitative elements as a crutch. Or maybe Season 2 will be just like any other cop show, and we'll all be waiting for some inter-dimensional antler killer to give our characters a cooler reason to be sad.

Hopefully I won't be too bored by Taylor Kitsch.
Hopefully I won't be too bored by Taylor Kitsch.

What's certain is that I'll have to rework the very way I conceive of True Detective as a show, which is a lot of work actually! It's all very easy for you, Nic Pizzolatto! All you have to do is direct the most spontaneously popular show in recent memory and get an entire intellectual property off the ground. I have to complain about there not being magic murderers in your show, and that's exhausting! Oh well. The official posters for True Detective Season 2 have been released, so here's a picture of Colin Farrell looking like he missed a bus.


Is True Detective ditching the magical realism a good move?


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