True Detective Season 2 premiere: ‘Chinatown’ meets ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’

vaughn TD

SPOILERS for the first episode of True Detective Season 2.

I came to the True Detective party late for season 1, and I only started it once I could binge-watch it over the course of like four days. As I’ve said, I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was the best series ever, but the acting from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey was stellar, and they elevated what turned out to be a really fancy, artistic take on a crime procedural. I’ve also spent a few months reading stuff about Season 2 and I came into it with significantly lowered expectations. My worst case scenario was that Vince Vaughn would be the only one doing good work and considering Vince is the actor I least care about, it would suck.

So, were my expectations met after one episode? Eh. My general thoughts on the episode and the glimpse of the season to come: it’s like a mix of Chinatown and Weekend at Bernie’s. I seriously could not believe that mixed throughout the episode, we got to see a dead guy (the missing city manager) being driven around, posed like he was still living. And the plot already reminds me of Chinatown, so much so that I felt like I needed to watch Chinatown again because it’s been years since I’ve seen it. In Chinatown the conspiracy is about water in LA County. In TD Season 2, the conspiracy is about a federally funded railway being built through central California and everybody’s going to bilk the government, basically. THANKS OBAMA.

So, there’s a little something for everybody: money, power, murder, sex, Russians and Viagra. My thoughts on the acting so far…Colin Farrell has some difficulties sticking with an American accent, and his character (Velcoro) seems like he comes out of a Corrupt Cop Manual from the 1970s. He’s drunk, he’s corrupt, he’s an errand boy for what seems like a mobbed-up casino-and-real-estate magnate (Vince Vaughn’s character) and…? I don’t know, he loves his son? But even then, he calls his son a “fat p—sy” so I don’t know what to tell you.

Rachel McAdams’ character, Ani Bezzerides, seems a bit uneven so far. She’s sort of a rebel without a cause. She happens to meet up with her father – a hippie, New Age David Morse – and he efficiently summarizes her raison d’être as basically holding a grudge against him and wanting to do the opposite of whatever he does. He’s a New Age-y healer, she’s a hard-drinking cop. Blah. That was Nic Pizzolatto’s writing at its laziest. As for Taylor Kitsch’s character Paul Woodrugh… I’m not feeling it yet. During his scenes, I was mostly thinking, “Wow, his girlfriend is really pretty” and “I like her sheets.”

And yes, my suspicions were right about Vince Vaughn’s character, Frank Semyon. In a Californian No Man’s Land where all the cops are self-destructive nihilists, Vaughn’s mobbed-up casino owner has soul, depth and humanity. He genuinely cares about the cop he pays to do some dirty work (Velcoro), he loves his wife (the lovely Kelly Reilly) and he cares about his business and the people he works with. Vince is very good in the role too – it’s like a return to the dramatic actor we had a glimpse of in the ‘90s. He’s so tall and physically imposing and he can do so much acting with just his posture and his eyes.

So, will I stick with it? Probably. I do like crime procedurals and I appreciated the fact that the Weekend at Bernie’s part of the plot was wrapped up by the end of the first episode so we can start to move into the investigation. Bezzerides is going to be lead and Velcoro is her second in command. It should be interesting.


Photos courtesy of HBO/True Detective, WENN & Fame/Flynet.

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36 Responses to “True Detective Season 2 premiere: ‘Chinatown’ meets ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’”

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  1. lucy2 says:

    So far all the characters seem a bit like a cliche, and you’re spot on with Farrell’s. Plus I want to call him Velcro instead.
    I’m hoping as it develops they aren’t such common cop/bad guy tropes. Season 1 was interesting, so I’ll stick it out and see how this one goes.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      lucy2…totally agree…all three cop characters are suffering with problems, drugs, alcohol, impotence, family drama…..and the the bad guy character (Vince Vaugn) seems to have it all together! Why is every cop on tv a tortured soul!!!

  2. Abbott says:

    I’m sticking with it for Rachel McAdams’ f-bombs and Taylor Kitsch’s buttcakes but that was a whole lotta nothing. Seems like each character is a lower grade Rust Cohle and they’re hoping one sticks.

    Theory: Velcoro has been working deep undercover this whole time.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I was thinking Velcoro was working undercover, too….but we’ll see…

    • QQ says:

      I Loved To see Rachel McAdams Full stop ,… her Face is Just so Gorgeous and I HEART The Name Antigone

      I will Defend My Right as an Naturalized American Citizen To Ogle to as Many Naked Taylor Kitsch Takes as they will provide

      They Can Support This also By giving me Naked Colin Farrel DILFstache or not

      I Can ‘t Stand How Good Vince Vaughn Looks debloated, I’m In thus far but It’s definitely slower pace than the first season

    • Rachel says:

      I don’t know. He went batshit on his kid, and then beating up the bully’s father? After watching that trainwreck, all I came away with was sociopath. Not deep undercover agent.

      On Saturday, I excitedly announced to my fiancé that we could watch True Detective on Sunday night. Huzzah! (We’re in deep mourning for Game of Thrones… and iZombie… the only two tv shows we really watch). That premiere was a whole lot of wtf. I spent half the time explaining to him what was going on because it was so damn confusing.

      When we watch GoT, I’m always wishing it was longer. It just seems to fly by. With True Detective, I kept wishing it would just be over. Not sure we’ll tune in next week. Even though I love, love, love Rachel McAdams.

      • M.A.F. says:

        His wife was raped (I would not be surprised if that turned out not to be true and she had a side piece) and his kid may or may not be the rapist’s child. His out burst made total sense to me.

      • Dromedary says:

        I love iZombie too! And GOT of course! Hope there’s another good show out there soon.

  3. Tiffany27 says:

    The bar was set way too high for me to feel this would be up to par. So far, I’m not into it. I miss the Southern setting and all of the characters seem like they’re trying WAY too hard. I’ll give it 2 more episodes.

    • Abbott says:

      Agree. Louisiana was a character in itself. The LA/Vinci backdrop is very… Generic strip mall? I was worried about this but now it’s glaring obvious the lack of soul the new setting has.

      • nicole says:

        That was actually my favourite part, the views of LA, I loved all the highway shots etc, but I dont know if it is going to be as good as the first series, I have to say I found it a little hard to follow but I still think I will watch the next episode.

      • M.A.F. says:

        It has a LA Noir feel. Everyone thinks California is some shiny gold nugget but there are lots of parts of this state that just aren’t. I grew up in Riverside, believe me.

  4. Nick says:

    Theory: Vaughn is the father to Farrell’s “fat p***y” son.

    • Abbott says:

      Ooooo that’s interesting. He did seem all too eager to help Ray.

      • Nick says:

        My first thought was that the guy who Vaughn said did it was just a guy VV wanted killed.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      @Nick…that was my thought, too….

    • Isabelle says:

      The kid sure didn’t look like the picture they showed Ray. So Frank has much of chance of being the father versus random guy. He was small Latino looking man. Maybe the wife is a redhead?

  5. Catelina says:

    You’re right, Vaughn was the best. Honestly I think part of it is that even just his presence brings a little bit of levity to the screen, his performance is more lively than the others and everything around him is so dreary even though he is doing a dramatic role as well

  6. MrsBPitt says:

    I hope that the cops are not going to be all sterotypes…I did like it more than I thought that I would, and I hope there are surprises coming up. It’s hard to judge on the first episode, because the writers are trying to introduce us to the characters, and with four main characters, that’s a lot…I’ll keep watching, and hoping for the best! When they first showed the chubby, red haired kid, as CF’s son, I was like, wow, miscasting…glad they cleared that up so quickly….I’m glad True Detective is back on…there are really no shows on that I can’t wait to see, now that Breaking Bad is over….I know, I should be over it, but I really, really loved BB…and Better Call Saul, was just okay for me….

  7. Damn says:

    McAdams name is Antigone in this and her sister Athena. Dear God.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I think their parents were supposed to be new age, hippy, dippy…so they could have been named flower or cloud or rain….

  8. tifzlan says:

    I’m just gonna come right out and say it… i didn’t understand the first season and i didn’t understand this episode so i’ll probably won’t get this season either but it was nice to see Taylor Kitch and fantasize about Tim Riggins finally leaving Dillon and living in LA as a highway patrol cop but obv he misses Lyla because that BJ scene was all sorts of unhappy and damn Riggins TEXAS FOREVER

    • meme says:

      I couldn’t get through last season because McConohay annoys me no end AND I had no clue what was happening. I DVR’d this and I have zero expectations so maybe I’ll like it.

  9. Andrea says:

    I liked all the characters so far except Vince Vaughan. I can’t see that he was that great so far. Colin Farrell btw is no longer the hottie I remember, but boy is it just me who hopes he and Rachel Mcadams character get together? They are both similar kinds of messed up.

    • nicole says:

      Yea they kind of gave eachother a little look at the end, so I have a feeling that will happen.

    • Isabelle says:

      yeah thought he was the weakest actor. Kitsch was much better IMO. surprised people are praising him. He was heavily acting & you could tell it.

  10. pf says:

    I completely disagree, Vince Vaughn was the worst thing about the episode. Terrible miscasting. But there’s other things to complain about – too many characters, no real mood (just seems try hard), full of tropisms…plus Louisiana was a more interesting setting than California. AND as much as Nic Pizzlatto thinks the show is all about him, I think the first season’s success had as much to do with Matthew McConaughey’s performance and Cary Fukunaga’s camerawork.

    • nicole says:

      Maybe because we are used to Vince Vaughn playing comedy roles, that it is hard to take him as a serious actor. I think there was too many charecters aswell , and I found it hard to follow, but I will still watch the second episode, I still think it has the potential to be good.

    • MAC says:

      Everything pf says. Can the plot have Vince Character killed off? The actor playing his wife I like her acting maybe she can get a bigger part

  11. kri says:

    I tried to watch it yesterday, but my brain can’t handle grimness/sadness right now, cause I had to put my cat to sleep. SO I watched a Golden Girls marathon instead. But..I love Rachel& Kelly Reilly is EVERYTHING, so I will try again.

    • nicole says:

      I am so sorry about your cat, if anything happens to my cat I dont know what I would do.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I’m sorry about kri’s cat too. But don’t get an animal if you can’t accept that they won’t live as long as you. Dogs and cats both Live to a max of around 15 with a few exceptions. Get a parrot or a tortoise if It’s not enough.

  12. M.A.F. says:

    The only thing that kept throwing me off were the accents. This season is suppose to take place in California and yet everyone sounds as if they are from New Jersey. Or they managed to make California look like New Jersey.

  13. gilkk says:

    I think I might have been watching a different show? Vince Vaughn was awful. He is always just frat boy Vince Vaughn no matter what part is he is meant to be playing . I really dislike him already. I am holding out hope that this will be half as good as the first season, but I kind of got annoyed that really the story didn’t start until about 55 minutes into the episode!

  14. Gretchen says:

    Pizzolatto faced a lot of criticism for his lack of women in series one, he seems to be attempting to rectify that but I don’t know why every female character (bar one – Kelly Reilly) had to be introduced via their sexuality – McAdams: likes kinky sh*t that creeped out side piece, sister Athena: online porn performer busted while in costume, actress in car: asks bj no ticket? Taylor Kitsch’s girlfriend: desperate to give bj. Seriously, could we have not met any of them in a coffee shop grabbing lunch? Hell even the missing guy – who I’m sure precisely zero viewers gave a crap about, I actually forgot about him til the end – was introduced through his creepy apartment filled with blown up photos of naked/suggestive lady porn (and the weird skull Virgin Mary thing…what was that about?)