Season two of the HBO series True Detective has a tough act to follow. In season one, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were two truly jaded detectives tracking down a massively deranged child abuse-serial killer cult in the backwoods of Louisiana. The series gave new life to the film noir genre. (See Rust Cohle's Conversion - True Detective Finale, Michael Collins)
Hard core series one fans were waiting to see if season two, a completely different story, could come close to the original. The series, set in southern California, drew complaints from hard-core fans and moderate approval from critics. However, even skeptics are more than curious about how the story will wrap up after last weeks episode.
True Detective, Season Two: "the darkness reaching out form the darkness" *
Here is a short recap of the key elements of the series (Willa Paskin at Slate did a terrific detailed plot recap).
The city of Vinci, CA is the central location for the story. Decades ago, Vinci incorporated and became a haven for heavy industry just east of Los Angeles. Like its real world equivalent, City of Industry, CA, Vinci likely consists of 12 square miles of dirty, polluting industrial plants and a total population of around 200. The tax base provides enough to field a police force, mayor, and other regulatory bodies -- all of which promote easy regulation and low business taxes.
Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) lives large on the graces of Vinci's pro business environment. He amassed $5 million through legalized gambling casinos and a high priced strip bar. Semyon took his money and invested it in a major property deal where investors bought up land near a massive California train project while the land was cheap. Frank looked to double or triple his money when the project was officially announced at which point he and his wife Jordan (Kelly Reilly) would become respectable citizens and start a family.
The plan came unraveled when Vinci city manager, Ben Caspere, was kidnapped and killed. Caspere held Semyon's $5 million. There was no sign of the money when the mutilated body was found. Semyon became absolutely determined to get his money back and move up o respectable citizen status.
Semyon employed a beaten down Vinci cop, Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), as his inside man while Ray and two other detectives worked a special task force to solve the Caspere murder.
The parallel stories of Vaughn's intensely goal directed attempt to find his money and the police task force investigation brought the main characters together -- Semyon, Velcoro and Ventura County detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams).
Velcoro is an alcoholic, violent self admitted misfit working in Vinci for the money offered by the city police force. He's divorced with a son who may be the product of a vicious rape endured by his wife. Despite his son's genetic provenance, Velcoro is highly protective of the boy. For example, he bests senseless the father of a boy who had bullied his son -- in front of the bully.
Bezzerides is another misfit. She's an independent woman in the chauvinistic world of male police. She has demons from her childhood on a California hippie commune, which are acted out sexually and in her relationships.
The final episode begins with Frank Semyon, Valcoro, and Bezzerides on the ropes, ready to go down for the count. Russian mobsters informed Frank that he wasn't getting his money back and that he would have to work for the mob as manager of the properties he once owned -- the casino and strip club. Bezzerides and Valcoro are both sought for murder as a result of a raid they did of a prostitution party for California's political and financial elite. Their troubles are largely due to documents they recovered showing the massive corruption involved in the rail project land deals. The rich and powerful persecuting the two are also concerned that the two may have a DVD full of videos showing the rich and powerful cavorting with prostitutes.
What do you think will happen?
I had a clear vision of season one and the key lessons. This time around, I'm baffled; hence my question. What do you think will happen?
Here's what I'd like to see happen. I hope Frank Semyon wreaks vengeance on the California financial and judicial elite that stole his money. While Frank has many shortcomings, the elite are simply dreadful. Frank gets that opportunity in tonight's episode centering around a meeting of the elite where $12 million will change hands. I'd also like to see Frank wake up to the likely con game and betrayal of his efforts by his putative loving wife Jordan. I hope that Valcoro and Bezzerides find the compromising sex tapes/DVD and go public with that and their documents. IN a just world, they would grab some serious cash and escape to Belize to live happily ever after.
But, I'm probably wrong. What do you think?