I will readily admit to getting swept up into the zeitgeist-bursting first season, though I wasn't one of those tinfoil hat-wearing viewers who spent the week between episodes reading Robert F. Chambers and trying to connect the dots between Carcosa and Marty Hart's daughter's Barbie-gang-rape tableau. I enjoyed watching two great actors deliver dialogue I wasn't hearing on other TV shows and went along for the ride. And because I didn't buy into the mystical hooey on the fringes, I felt vindicated when many other viewers were outraged that the show ended with Rust Cohle looking up at the stars.
Regardless of the outcome, perhaps investing all that time in theorizing and trying to "solve" Season 1 as something other than exploration of the relationship of two complicated men was a valid and fulfilling exercise. While I disagree, I wouldn't tell anyone there's a wrong way to watch and enjoy your TV. But I think True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto would. In interviews after the first season, he said that the audience's fervent dissection of his text took him by surprise. But I think he made the point against watching his show that way even clearer in Season 2, not only by basically removing any and all weirdness, but also by doubling down on a complex plot that no amount of armchair detective work at home could solve.
I could quickly recap the events of Sunday's finale here, but would it even matter? Would me telling you that some guy named Leonard conspired with his sister Erica to kill Ben Caspere because Caspere and his band of dirty cops ruined their childhood back in 1992? Would all of Season 2's unintelligible plot snap into place if you learned that Leonard's attempt to trade Caspere's (probably blank anyway) hard drive to one of said dirty cops ended with both men dead, despite some interference from Colin Farrell's Ray Velcoro? Would a thorough analysis of why Frank asked his wife Jordan to wear white to their Venezuelan rendezvous in two weeks - or less! - make that brutally interminable scene any more tolerable? And would knowing that redheaded Chad is, in fact, Ray's child do anything other than remind you of that ridiculous time Ray threatened to sodomize a man with his wife's headless corpse? No. Because we don't know these people. And even the ones we do know stopped being people we cared about long ago.
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