The second season of HBO's original series True Detective had its official premiere on Sunday, June 21, and received relatively mixed reviews. Many consider this season inferior to the first, and although I actually never saw the first season (shame on me), I did take the time to watch last week's premiere episode, "The Western Book of the Dead", anyway, and I found the first episode slightly intriguing but emotionally shallow, and at times surprisingly absurd. Thankfully, episode 2, entitled "Night Finds You" is considerably better, but there is definitely still room for improvement.
In this episode, Detectives Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams, <3) and Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) investigate city manager Ben Caspere's brutal murder - resulting in the loss of his eyes and his Johnson - while Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) tries to keep his business under control and get back a substantial amount of money taken from him before Caspere's demise.
The highlight of this episode really is the interactions between Farrell's Velcoro and McAdams' Bezzerides. The two have surprisingly effective chemistry and make for a formidable pairing on screen. It's especially worth noting that Velcoro, who was once a character I detested, quickly became a character I loved. The writers give him plenty of interesting material to work with, and he becomes one of the series' most fascinating characters. As does Bezzerides, who is given even more development here and remains my favorite character so far. There's a long scene towards the end of the episode with the two driving at night having a conversation, and this is where we really get a sense of who these characters really are. It's moments like these that I wish the show had more of, as these moments, so far, have been the saving grace of a somewhat lackluster season.
The weakness, however, comes in with the other leads, who are not nearly as interesting or compelling. While Vince Vaughn does absolutely continue to give it his all, and does pull off a relatively good performance, his character does not quite seem fully realized. I'm sure they'll do more with him throughout the rest of this season - and I sure as hell hope they do - but it's the scenes involving his story arc that are the season's weakest and least interesting scenes, and this especially rings true in this episode.
Taylor Kitsch isn't much better either. His situation is an especially interesting one, as Kitsch was once an actor who I dreaded seeing on screen. But after seeing his performance in 2013's Lone Survivor and recently watching him on the TV series Friday Night Lights, I've finally come to see his true potential as a performer. Unfortunately, his performance here is less than remarkable, and I couldn't find myself giving a shit about his character. His girlfriend's really hot, though. That was nice.
In order to really talk about this episode, though, we absolutely need to discuss the ending. If you have not yet seen this episode, I advise you to stop reading this review and come back after you've watched it, as we're about to delve into some major spoilers. You've been warned (dunn dunn DUUUUUUUUUNNNNNN!).
Later in the episode, Semyon gives Velcoro the address to a house that Caspere used to bring girls to. Velcoro drives up to the house with the feeling that someone may be there with him, and then BAM! Riggan Thomson (those who've seen the episode will get the joke) comes out and shoots his ass with a shotgun. It's unclear as to whether or not Velcoro dies in the shooting, but either way, I think this will be a key factor in the story moving forward. And as IGN asks in their review: "Is it possible that Colin Farrell's inclusion in the series was an elaborate set-up to through us off the scent of the genuine crux of this story? Perhaps city manager Ben Caspere's murder isn't the one we're meant to hook on to, or at the very least, not the only one."
Despite the faults with the episode, "Night Finds You" is definitely a step up from True Detective's Season 2 opener "The Western Book of the Dead", and has me intrigued to discover where the characters and story go from here. If this truly is the end of Colin Farrell's run on the show, that may prove to be a shame, as the character had become very fascinating. The highlights of the episode come in the character interactions, particularly those between Farrell and McAdams, and I hope to see more moments like these throughout the rest of the season. If the writers keep stepping up their game like they've done here, I think we may have something special on our hands.
That theme song still sucks, though.