Pizzolatto really got every cliché, climactic action-movie scene out of his system in this one.
Sunday’s finale also served as a sort of microcosm for the entire season. The scenes of thrilling action, suspense and emotional heft were offset by moments of ponderous torment and emoting, like Jordan and Frank’s repetitive last scene together (as sentient humans). “You can’t act … take it from me,” Jordan said, to what I’m guessing was the sardonic delight of many viewers.
Ultimately, season two of True Detective can’t decide what it is: California noir, lurid pulp, modern mythology, religious allegory, urban fairy tale? It aims to be a pastiche of all these influences, and like Hansel and Gretel in the forest, it loses its way somewhere in the forest.
I'm all for breaking the rules, because stories that break the rules are the most thrilling of all. But you have to be really good to get away with all that rule-breaking. When you're not, things tend to fall apart in your hands.
That's exactly what happened to True Detective season two, and when the people behind the show realized it, they bet heavily on smoke and mirrors. But at the end of the day, those smoke and mirrors were hiding exactly what they're always hiding — a distracting trick with nothing at its core.
Pizzolatto very badly needed someone to tell him to go back to the beginning and either streamline the narrative or find a much better way to establish the players and the moves, to write material that played to his actors' strengths, to give the audience reason to care about why any of this was happening, and perhaps to find a few intentionally light moments so that the whole thing didn't come off as funnier than he wanted it to be.
Basically, this season needed someone who was willing and able to say, "No. This isn't working." And there wasn't.
The show's anthology model requires a full reboot every year, and that in turn necessitates a level of trust in the filmmakers alone, independent of continued attachment to characters or cast. It's difficult to see how that trust can be recaptured now, no matter how promising the setting or storyline or how intriguing the actors. They could announce tomorrow that TDs3 will star Tom Hardy, Tilda Swinton and Taylor Swift and still be met with a shrug.
"The best thing going this season was Rachel McAdams. And though her character Ani Bezzerides gets both the first (“Trees”) and final (“You O.K.?”) words of the episode, she spends most of the finale on the bench. After rescuing Ray’s bacon again in the confused shoot-out at the train station, Ani gets shut out of the action. Ray and Frank raid the cabin in the woods while Ani discovers Dr. Pitlor’s body. And then she is relegated to that action-film cliche: the worried girlfriend on the other end of the phone. The extra 30 minutes of the 90-minute finale are dedicated to protracted death scenes and heroic come-to-Jesus moments for Frank and Ray, while Ani is shuffled off on a boat to Venezuela where she feels (psychically? emotionally? intuitively?) the exact moment when Ray bites the big one in a picturesque redwood forest up North."
Season two took it further with episode six’s masterful sex party scene, even though a colleague rolled his eyes enough to fall off his chair when I told him it reminded me of Mulholland Drive. What can I say?
Finally, HBO’s long-rumored look at the shrouded inner workings of transport oversight—including one subcommittee chaired by the mysterious Rep. Tuttle T. Tuttle. (Could he be one of those very same Tuttles?, episodes two through seven wonder.) Pizzolatto uses several narrative elements, including congressional-hearing voiceover, guys pinning pictures of roads to a bulletin board, and a rousing, high-speed chase of a rogue Maryland painter, Yellow Spaghetti—whose crime-scene signature is wiggly yellow lane-dividers.
You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments