‘True Detective’ season 2, episode 1 review: Taylor Kitsch shines in dark, intense premiere

HBO logoThe second season of “True Detective” has carried with it a wide range of expectations, and while these may not be easy things to temper, we also cannot see anyone involved with the series complaining about it to a certain extent. Isn’t it the best compliment you can ever hope for to have people want so much from you?

The person we were the most concerned about going into the premiere was Vince Vaughn, given that you had here a mostly-comic actor jumping back into drama years after so many years away from it. For the most part, we’d consider his performance as Frank Semyon to be solid enough, at least in that we could sense the effort and the gravitas that he was bringing to it. The problem is mostly reputation, and there are moments where it is hard to get lost in Vaughn’s work when he looks so similar to the loud guy in “Wedding Crashers.” This works somewhat in contrast to Rachel McAdams, who was also in that movie but has been known to have a larger range of work.

To us, the stars of the night were clearly Colin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch, with the former’s Ray Velcoro proving himself to be a really distasteful dude. Sure, he may have a badge, but he is also terrible to the kid he considers to be his son, and he also went over and beat the snot out of the father of another kid, who was apparently being a pretty horrible bully. This is a guy who fights fire with arson. Kitsch’s Paul is somewhat more conflicted, a commitment-phobic highway patrol officer who seems obsessed with his own secrets.

In its best moments, the premiere was haunting as we saw Frank struggling to get away from his criminal ways via a high-speed rail project, or McAdams’ Ani struggle with a sister caught up in an adult industry coupled with a variety of other problems. The issues include the show relying too heavily on the interview format of season 1, and also taking far too long to get into the meat of the season. It wasn’t until near the end of the episode when some of the characters started to interact.

The ending brought us what is the pivotal moment so far: The discovery of Ben Caspar’s body, with Paul, Ray, and Ani all standing by, sizing each other up. Ben is the man responsible for helping to manage many of the plans with the high-speed rial, and there are a variety of different motivations as to who could him. Are we intrigued? Sure, but we need to see much more before we’re fully on board. Grade: B-.

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