REVIEW: True Detective – “The Western Book of the Dead”

True Detective Review

The following is a spoiler-free review of True Detective: Season 2 – Episode 1.

It’s that time of year – True Detective is back on HBO. I never wrote a full review of the first season, or any of the episodes, but I really loved it. When I was handing out ‘awards’ and praise in my annual IJR Awards back in December, Matthew McConaughey was my TV Actor of 2014 – and the first season made it my TV Show of 2014. Now the anthology crime drama is back.

This season has doubled the number of main characters, we have Detective Raymond Velcoro of the Vinci P.D. (played by Colin Farrell), Detective Antigone Bezzerides of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department (played by Rachel McAdams), Officer Paul Woodrugh of the C.H.P. (played by Taylor Kitsch), and, finally, the mysterious Frank Semyon (played by Vince Vaughn).

Without spoiling the plot, I can say that this season seems to be much more about corruption than horrific incidents – which isn’t to say that the horrific incidents or findings are exclusive to the first season, but the inclusion of the Semyons – and their subplot – seems to be much more kingpin-ish.

In what I think was the first scene of the season, I was worried to see something very reminiscent of the Rust Cohle-interrogation scenes. Thankfully, I think that was just shot that way to make a nice introduction to the new setting.

I really enjoyed Colin Farrell’s scenes in this episodes, and his character is quite intriguing. He’s connected to one of the other main characters in quite a significant way it seems. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into specifics – but his character is definitely different from Cohle – miserable at times, but not nihilistic.

The most pleasant surprise in this episode was how great Rachel McAdams was and how strong and independent her character was made to be. McAdams was definitely the one part of the show I was most worried about, seeing as I had never seen her in a part like this one – but she does a great job.

Taylor Kitsch and Vince Vaughn did fine, as well, but Farrell and McAdams were the two standouts in this episode for sure. I am really excited to see these actors in a show like this, for they all work perfectly.

I will say, though, that the episode felt like an hour-long preview of four intertwined storylines. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it works best for shows you can bingewatch at once. It definitely felt like they knew people were going to watch the show – they relied on the love for the first season.

Hopefully, they start wowing us next week.

B

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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