A year ago, the debut season of True Detective took the world by storm. With sharp writing, a tense atmosphere, and a mind-blowing performance by Matthew McConaughey, the thriller was unlike anything else on television. Flash-forward one year and barely anyone is talking about Nic Pizzolatto’s esteemed drama. There’s little to no hype, and although season two assembled a formidable cast, the buzz around the show has almost certainly died down. Judging by this premiere, I can’t say I’m surprised.
The Western Book of the Dead is an incredibly grim opener. When the subject material is this serious and depressing, you need tidbits of humor to offer a little bit of contrast. Sadly, not only isn’t there a single joke in the entire hour, but the plot feels like just another cop-show. There’s a mysterious disappearance (some random dude called Casper), and a whole bunch of various subplots that will probably interconnect at some point. The episode’s final shot has promise, but it still doesn’t offer anything new in the grand scheme of things.
Cast-wise, Vince Vaughn, Collin Farell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch are all solid in their roles, but I can’t help feeling like they’ve been saddled with stereotypical characters. Haven’t we seen Ani’s tough non-sense cop before? Sure there’s room for all of them to receive great dimensions in the coming episodes, but they don’t leave much of a first impression in the debut. It doesn’t help that season one’s standout character, Louisiana and its lush green landscapes, have been replaced with repetitive shots of industrial LA and all its mechanical glory.
– The credits this year are super funky (and appropriately depressing).
– Very unsettling plot point with Ray’s wife having been raped and his son potentially not being his. Shudder.
– Ray calling his son a “fat pussy” was seriously unacceptable.
– Ani’s family sure is colourful. Her sister does webcam porn and her dad is some hippie nut-job. Can’t wait to meet her mom.
– So why does Paul need Viagra to get it on with his girlfriend? Can’t wait to uncover his trauma.
– My favourite scene of the hour: Ray brutally beating up the bully’s dad. That was both vicious and surprisingly satisfying.
– So Ray has been working for Frank all these years because the latter gave him the identity of his wife’s rapist. Their dynamic definitely has promise.
– I couldn’t take Taylor Kitsch seriously at the end there on the motorcycle with his windy face. Scratch what I said about this hour behind devoid of comedy because that was hysterical.
Dad: Do you even like what you do? Or is it just a reflexive urge toward authority out of defiance? Ain:
Talk to your daughter, prick. Help her.
Dad: I just did.
Ray: If you ever bully or hurt anybody again, I’ll come back and butt-fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn. 12 years old, my ass. Fuck you.
There was nothing especially wrong with this premiere, but there wasn’t anything particularly great either. Overall, a slow and underwhelming return.