The most memorable image for me from Sunday night’s True Detective season 2 finale was Frank limping through the desert, bleeding out, hallucinating, and then turning around and realizing that any progress forward that he thought he’d made was an illusion. The whole finale drips with this illusion of progress: Toni Chessani was the new mayor of Vinci, the Catalyst Group still at the forefront of the California rail line, Burris still moving upward and onward in Vinci PD–all this inspite of our true detectives’ sacrifices. Then there are the reminders of failure: Velcoro’s last words failing to upload to his son,* his positive paternity test, the permanent disconnect between Velcoro’s son and the grandfather who’s badge he carries to schoolyard D&D games, the empty gesture of getting a section of a freeway named after Woodrugh (his widow and child present at the ceremony as the only way to give the sign any meaning), the box of evidence that Bezzerides finally got tired of carrying around with her.
Yeah, that last bit: Bezzerides telling the whole story to, who, a reporter? Some shmoe with a notepad? And then leaving him with all her evidence? Who is this guy? How do we know he’s not going to get his hands broken just like the reporter in the first couple of episodes? Or is it the same guy? By giving up all this evidence to someone else, it’s clear to me she’s moved on and wants no part in this in any way anymore. Everyone has died in vain, and the one new baby, who we also know is Velcoro’s without a doubt, isn’t enough to offset the loss. Sure, a lot of the bad guys died, but only Caspere was punished.
So, overall, the finale was pretty good. It doesn’t redeem the entire second season in comparison to the first season. And I compare it to the first season because why would we not? But–BUT!–if this were the first season (and Harrelson and McConaughey were the second season), then we’d be much more forgiving in how McAdams, Kitsch, Farrell, and Vaughn went about their business here in toto. We’d probably take this season to be more of the pulp noir satire it probably was meant to be. I’m willing to be generous here. As the saying goes: you get a lifetime to write your first, but only a year to write your second.
So what’s next? Apparently TD season 2 had killer ratings despite the difference in artistic direction. No doubt Nick Pizzolato will get another season. And I welcome it. I think maybe I would prefer the show getting handed off to someone else to write and direct. I mean, if it’s supposed to be an anthology, why not get someone different every year? I like that idea a lot.
* Not to mention Velcoro’s failure to get a goddamn modern phone running anything newer than iOS 5.