The season two premiere of True Detective has garnered many reviews in the past 48 hours, many of which seem to be confused and/or angry about the episode feeling a lot like a pilot episode of a new series. I am not sure what others were expecting considering the new season has always been touted as an all-new storyline with an all-new and star-studded cast, but as far as first episodes go, this was a pretty solid premiere.
Meet The Team – Det. Ray Velcoro
In this first glimpse of our new California setting we meet all of the major players, beginning with Detective Ray Velcoro, played by Colin Farrell. He is dropping his son, who is obviously dreading it, off at school and trying to give him a pep talk about being strong in the face of bullies. After leaving him, he meets with an attorney about expanding his custody of his son. We learn his son is more than likely the product of the assault and rape of his ex-wife nine months before his son’s birth.
We follow up with a flashback to a clean(er)-cut Ray in uniform meeting with Frank Semyon (another key player) in a bar. It’s soon after the assault and Frank has identified his wife’s attacker and gives Ray a photo of him, telling him the attacker was also bragging about the rape. Ray asks what Frank wants in return and Frank doesn’t ask for anything, but indicates he may need something in the future. When Frank starts to ask after Ray’s wife, Ray turns and leaves without a word.
We next meet Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) and his wife, Jordan (Kelly Reilly). Frank is getting ready for what he calls a “big day” and his wife is giving him an encouraging pep talk. We learn that Frank is a reformed shady businessman who is attempting to go legit with a rail system that will stretch the entire coast of California. He is working with Ben Caspere on the development of this system, but Ben seems to be missing for the time being.
While preparing for the presentation, Frank is presented with an unsavory newspaper article describing the corruption in the city of Vinci, where Caspere also happens to be the city planner. He orders his assistant to put Det. Velcoro on it and make sure nothing else gets out. As the reception gets underway, Frank’s assistant also breaks the news that Caspere hasn’t shown for work in two days. Despite not being prepared, Frank pulls off the presentation, but his main investor, Osip Agranov, is not quite convinced.
Det. Ani Bezzerides
Our third player is Detective Ani Bezzerides, played by Rachel McAdams, who is evidently a little freaky in bed. Our first glimpse is of her tearing out of her bedroom pulling on a tank top with her bedmate chasing her exclaiming it was okay, it just took him by surprise. My guess is that it had something to do with his butt, men always freak out about their butts. Regardless, she dismisses him by telling him to get his shit and hit the bricks because she has to be at work.
Work evidently entails busting up what Ani thought was a prostitution ring, but turns out to be a house full of cam girls with a legitimate business license and everything. She does, however, find her sister working there and after arguing about the morality of her employment, they part bitterly.
Officer Paul Woodrugh
The fourth and (so far) final player in this game is Office Paul Woodrugh, played by Taylor Kitsch. He is a motorcycle highway patrol officer and he is busy pulling over a starlet with an ankle bracelet who is high and driving like a bat out of hell. Or like me on the way to work in the morning. She attempts to bribe him with sexual favors in order to get out of the ticket and he stares at her with no expression.
He evidently turns her down, so she files a complaint with the department saying that he solicited a blowjob in order to avoid the ticket. His superior officer realizes this is all bullshit, but until the matter is settled, Paul is on paid administrative leave. This does not please Paul in the least, but he leaves and goes home to his waiting girlfriend who attempts to seduce him when he walks in. He tells her he needs a shower, but he actually has erectile dysfunction so he goes in the bathroom and pops a little blue pill and waits for it to kick in.
Where is Ben Caspere?
Now that we know who the various main characters are, we can get down to business. Det. Velcoro works in Vinci, which is an incorporated town and the town officials are concerned because no one can find the planner, Ben Caspere. They enlist Velcoro’s help to find him. After interviewing his assistant and getting his address, Velcoro and his partner visit Caspere’s house and pick the lock.
Inside Caspere’s house, they find all of his belongings have been rifled through and his house has been tossed. They also find a bowl of milk with a floating naked doll in it, an assortment of sex toys, and some sexual art. My personal favorite was the dick with lady legs sculpture that was on Caspere’s desk. Velcoro decides to call in the tech team to run fingerprints, but thinks this is a kidnapping case.
Det. Bezzerides and her partner go to a farm to deliver a foreclosure notice, and the angry homeowner mentions her sister is missing and has been for over a month. The detectives ask for information so they can follow up with the missing sister. Her last place of employment was the Panticapaeum Institute, so they head there to ask around about her.
Ani’s estranged father is a lecturer at the Institute and he seems to be a bit on the hippie side. She asks him about the missing girl, but they end up arguing about Athena, Ani’s cam girl sister. Her father refuses to force his will on his daughter if she wants to be a cam girl, and Ani says he’s a prick who let her mother kill herself and then leaves.
A Story To Lay To Rest
Ray tracks down the reporter who wrote the news story about corruption in Vinci and puts on a ski mask and then beats the crap out of the writer in his apartment, takes his laptop and notes, and then goes to meet his son at school. He shows up drunk with a sleeping bag for his son’s upcoming camping trip that his stepfather helpfully reminds Ray was last weekend. Ray then notices that his son is not wearing the shoes he bought him and questions him on what happened to them. After some cajoling, he finds out that the shoes were stolen out of his gym locker and then cut into pieces. He calls his son a fat pussy, demands the bully’s name, and then they all go back to their corners.
Ray gets the address of the kid and his parents from the dispatcher and pays them a visit, at this point both drunk and high. After convincing the father to bring his son outside, Ray confronts him about being a bully before beating his dad unconscious with brass knuckles and then utters my personal favorite line from the premiere, “You ever bully anyone again and I’ll come butt fuck your father with your mother’s headless corpse on this front lawn.”
Ray then goes to meet Frank at a bar to hand over the writer’s laptop and files in exchange for payment. Ray practically guzzles the bottle of liquor on the table and Frank attempts to chat with him about his son and the lawyer that Frank set him up with, but Ray is not really into having this conversation. Frank’s assistant breaks in to say that they need to head out, leaving Ray with the bottle at the table.
A Fast Ride to Certain Death
Paul is over reveling in the afterglow with his girlfriend, so he makes up a bullshit excuse about work and leaves her apartment to go for a motorcycle ride down the freeway. He has an anguished look on his face and is not wearing a helmet (is that illegal?) and speeds faster and faster as he goes. When he hits 100 mph, he flips his headlights off and continues to drive crazily into the pitch black. He eventually psyches himself out and somehow miraculously spins out to a stop on the side of the road. He spots someone sitting at a picnic table and goes over to check it out – it turns out that our missing Ben Caspere is dead with a bloody crotch and his wallet sitting perfectly perched on his thigh. Paul calls 911 to report what he’s found.
The Three Musketeers Unite
Ani gets a call after being kicked out of the casino where she was drinking and gambling. Ray gets woken up from being passed out in the booth where Frank left him sitting. Ani arrives at the crime scene first and while they are waiting for Ray, the medical examiner points out that his eyes were burned out with acid, but that the cause of death has yet to be determined, although he suspects that he bled out elsewhere from the severe pelvic wound.
Finally, Ray arrives and all of our law enforcement main characters have converged on the case. They go around introducing themselves to each other and then the credits roll.
All in all, for a series that was acclaimed last season, this was a strong start for the new cast and crew. There is plenty of mystery to go around, especially since the season is only 8 episodes. We also got a brief glimpse of a flashback, like those that made last season so amazing. I look forward to seeing what this very talented cast brings to this fresh storyline.