ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

The last time I wrote about True Detective, I talked about the possibility that HBO's flagship pitch-black detective thriller/mystery series would benefit from a significant change of location as it seeks to refresh itself for season 3 - assuming season 3 is even happening (it has to be happening). I suggested that taking the series out of the US and into Europe or South America could be pretty cool.

Since then, whilst googling "true detective rumours" like a maniac, I came across a draft of the script for series 1 x episode 1. Being an earlier draft than the final version which made it to screen, the script reveals a number of changes, some small and some big, which would have given True Detective a different vibe in its debut season.

You can read the script right here, but if you don't have the time to cast your eye over 52 pages of Nic Pizzolatto's notoriously surreal dialogue, or just can't be arsed, let's take a look at the differences in this draft - and how they might just provide a few hints at the direction of season 3, as well as others rumours and scraps of news which have leaked out over the summer.

The Long Bright Dark

True Detective was conceived from the beginning as an anthology series, with a new story each season, something which is highlighted by the fact that the series is titled True Detective: The Long Bright Dark in this draft of the pilot script. That subtitle was dropped and eventually became the title for episode one itself, which is probably a good thing because it kind of sucks. But if season 3 could lend itself to a subtitle, it might be a good way to signal to the (many) critics of season 2 that a kind of soft reboot was ahead, or at least that season 3 would have some kind of narrative cohesion and overarching theme.

This clearly would not have been possible with season 2, short of aptly titling it True Detective: High-Functioning Alcoholics. Or True Detective: Certain Death.

As somebody who actually loved season 2 - and frequently writes in defense of it - I don't actually think a subtitled season is all that appealing. But it might be helpful in persuading the hate-viewers that things are back on track.

Season 1 almost looked a lot like Fargo

Eye-catching: Blood in the snow in Fargo season 1
Eye-catching: Blood in the snow in Fargo season 1

This is a pretty big deal. The original setting for season 1, before relocating to Louisiana, was Arkansas, and the script mentions "blobs of snow" dotted around the forest in which the body is discovered. Okay, so maybe it wasn't necessarily going to be a snow-drenched setting, a la the Minnesota of Fargo season 1, but there's a visual appeal to blood-splattered snow which is hard to match.

Season 3 doesn't even need to leave North America to achieve this aesthetic -anywhere from Alaska to Calgary or Oregon to Idaho would do the business. The bland suburban sprawl of Vinci, LA was a marked counterpart to Louisiana, so it's probably safe to imagine that Pizzolatto will keep things fresh next time around.

Season 2 was as mixed-up behind the camera as it was on-screen...

Adam Arkapaw departed as DP after season 1
Adam Arkapaw departed as DP after season 1

Adam Arkapaw, the super-talented young Director of Photography on season 1, left the series to work on Macbeth amongst other projects, and Nigel Bluck filled the role in season 2. DPs usually work pretty closely with the director of a movie or series to achieve the director's vision for how everything should look, from the lighting to the framing of each shot (some have more autonomy than others). In a recent interview, Bluck described the True Detective season 2 shoot as unusual, in that his advanced access to the scripts of future episodes was limited - he only got his hands on the finale script whilst shooting episode 6, for example.

I just dealt with that by embracing it, letting it unfold in front of me and rock ‘n’ rolling with that... Different people saw different things at different times – there’s a lot of paranoia about people leaking stuff. I guess with the show under the microscope, the media vampires were out there waiting to get their teeth into something as soon as they could.

Bluck sounds okay with the situation (or he's just being diplomatic) and visually season 2 looked fantastic - but consider the fact that season 1 had one director, the awesomely-named Cary Fukunaga. The quality in that season felt consistent, whereas season 2 lurched wildly between tones and various story strands that never quite pulled together, and not surprisingly had seven directors at the helm. The one director model works, and somebody at HBO probably needs to think hard about making the process a bit more typical next time if season 3 is going to recover its audience and win back some critical praise.

Cary Fukunaga's direction kept season 1 cohesive
Cary Fukunaga's direction kept season 1 cohesive

This fanmade, Drive-inspired season 3 credit sequence is absolutely spectacular

Over on I came across this truly epic fanmade credit sequence for season 3. Not only does the dream cast comprise Jake Gyllenhaal, James Franco, Cara Delevingne and Ryan Gosling, the aesthetic - all neon pink and diners and weird cat heads - is pure True Detective. Now that I've seen this, I need season 3 to be a hyper-violent '80s affair with a soft electropop soundtrack.

Consider me stoked.

What are you looking for from season 3 of True Detective? Would sticking to one director be beneficial? Does the idea of True Detective-does-Drive have you salivating? Leave a comment or write a post of your own...


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