Because this here website wasn’t around when True Detective came to be and with the second season finale now in our past, I feel obliged to discuss the series as a whole rather than just season número dos.
The entirety of the assumptions I’ve gathered regarding Nic Pizzolatto (who I have absolutely no personal knowledge of and, as president of programming at HBO Michael Lombardo puts it, is “one of the best writers working in film or television who takes big swings”) can be summed up with the following:
He’s really, really sad.
I also think his intended audience is people who don’t give too many shits about not fully understanding what the hell is going on.
There were more than a couple instances during the first season when I almost gave the show up completely. Those existential monologues were real heavy, man. I’m grateful that at no point while watching season two did I have to pause to get through a fear-of-death-induced panic attack. So, there’s that.
It seems he gave up those spaced out speeches to make room for all four main characters, up from two in season one. With those four main characters come four separate stories which Nic (again, I assume) attempted to tie together neatly in a blood spattered bow, but wasn’t as successful as one would hope. Where season one manages to be quite linear, while jumping back and forth between decades, season two just doesn’t, while remaining in the same time and place. And it’s because of how disparate all the plot lines are.
In case it seems as though I’m not a fan of the series, allow me to clear that up. I am a fan. It’s not on my list of all-time greats (and it probably will never be added to it), but if there is a third season, I’ll watch it. Mainly because I see the need for it. Think of every quintessentially “depressing” show you can, be it Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, The Leftovers, umpteenth others… at their core, they are stories of people attempting to achieve happiness. Or, just… goodness, in general. True Detective, on the other hand, is unapologetically unhappy. It’s people doing the damn thing for the sole purpose of getting it done. It’s ugly and it’s dirty and it’s part of a reality barely ever presented on television. As much as there is a need for shits and giggles, there’s a need for ugliness and dirt.
Now, as far as violence is concerned (a common complaint among online commenters throughout this season’s run), I could do without seeing dozens of people getting gunned down on a sunny Californian afternoon by civilian and police gunfire, but we don’t have the luxury of pretending that that isn’t a reality of being alive in America in 2015. I don’t think, though, that the draw of the series was ever socially conscious issues. Season one was essentially HBO’s response to Investigation Discovery specials about serial killers. It was “classy” murder porn, but murder porn none-the-less. Season two is drug running, mob bosses, prostitution rings, missing persons, closeted homosexuality, immigration, gang violence, infertility, and sad guitar chicks. Had Nic had more time, I can only imagine the more refined, nuanced second season we would’ve gotten. But we live with what we’re given.
I don’t think it was television that shouldn’t have been produced, but season two will not be as highly regarded ten years from now as season one will be. Regardless, HBO has given Nic the go-ahead for a third season. If he chooses to, I suspect Nic will take his time creating it. As well he should.
Also, sidebar: Maybe don’t have the only memorable black character (other than the ones billed as “Teen Gangster”) get stabbed and shot a whole mess of times before almost taking a knife to the eyeball in a zoomed-in close-up shot. (Although, to be fair, basically everyone on this show gets butchered, regardless of their amount of melanin.)
Props for Taylor Kitsch’s dick in a towel, though.