TV Review: True Detective – Season Two Episode One “The Western Book of the Dead” SPOILER ALERT

Vice City

With Game of Thrones over for another year at least, HBO has delightfully helped us deal with the death of Jon Snow by rewarding us with the return of the brilliant True Detective, albeit with a completely different cast and story to the first season which featured Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as its’ lead stars. Replacing them in the lead roles of Season Two is the equally brilliant Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, In Bruges) and the less-than remarkable Vince Vaughn (Swingers, Dodgeball) who has decided to play against the stigma of his highly associated comedic roles and embrace the darker side of his acting ability. With True Detective running for a solid eight-week run, I will be doing weekly reviews of HBO’s highly engaging crime drama and conclude with an overall season score. The first thing to say about Season Two of True Detective is that it has a high threshold to follow after the critically acclaimed first series, yet the first episode has presented some promising, if rather familiar, story arcs to settle down into over the course of its’ two month run.

Of course, acting as an anthology of stories per season rather than a continuation of character arcs and plot-lines, Season Two was inevitably going to begin by highlighting some in-depth characterisation of the key players in this years’ storyline. Within “The Western Book of the Dead” therefore we are introduced to characters on both sides of the law, with Colin Farrell’s troubled Detective Ray Velcoro arguably having the most interesting on-screen presence, solidified by the performance of Farrell who manages to sway the character of Velcoro away from the stereotypes of the corrupt cop into a much deeper and darker ground.  The scene in which he faces his “child’s” bully was quite startling, if rather OTT to say the least, but the sheer range of emotions Farrell managed to cruise through in a single scene was evidence of what a great leading actor True Detective has once again managed to bag. Of course the hyphenated use of “child” signified my first response to seeing Ray’s “son”, yet the plot thread of knowing that he may have been born out of rape only adds fuel to the fiery rage of one of this seasons’ most interesting characters already.

Also on the side of the law is Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) and Detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) who follow in the footsteps of Velcoro in each having their own particular vices, suggesting that the trait of the damaged cop is particularly ripe in the state of California, yet vices aside, the entirety of “The Western Book of the Dead” pretty much offered backstory to these three core characters, with the final scene highlighting the main plot thread for the series and conjoining the trio together for the first time. On the opposite side of the law, Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon offered a point of view from the criminal enterprise which is set to offer a much more in-depth and layered insight into the main story arc of the series by having characters that we may possibly root for on both sides of the law. True Detective can also offer redemption for Vaughn as an actor with a much more serious and darker role offering the chance to rescue Vaughn’s career from sliding off into the depths of despair and from the small screen-time we had with his character, it seems it may be slowly being saved.

“The Western Book of the Dead” therefore offered plenty of backstory for the characters of True Detective Season Two, whilst leaving us with a final scene which established the core plot thread for the series in which murder mystery is set to be rife once more. With a strong cast heading the bill once again, True Detective is set to offer two months of engaging entertainment and compelling drama. HBO, we salute you.

Overall Score: 8/10

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Posted on 22/06/2015, in Film & TV, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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