Into The Predictable Wilds of 'True Detective,' Season 2

The occult mystery drama will dwell deep in L.A.'s sewage.

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Back in March 2014True Detective writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto promised season two of his hit show would have “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.” That led to a year’s worth of speculation before HBO teased the new season this past April, and providing the full trailer one month later. Today we’re running down what you gotta know before the new season starts next week. 

This Year’s Cast

Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, a detective in Vinci, L.A. County who is torn between the police and the mob. (Hint: Both sides are probably bad guys!!)

Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon, a criminal and entrepreneur who just might lose it all by starting a legal business. (Hint: Could his illegitimate work actually be the more righteous one??)

Rachel McAdams as Ani Bezzerides, a Ventura County sheriff’s detective whose ethics are at odds with her bosses’. (Hint: Did Pizzolatto just want the likely heroine to also have two Zs in her last name??)

Taylor Kitsch as Paul Woodrugh, a war vet and California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer who discovers the crime scene that gives the show a reason to exist. (Hint: The person who discovers the crime always becomes a suspect around episode 4!!)

The Stakes

Thanks to a recent press release, we know a bit more than we did from the cryptic trailer. The first episode, called “The Western Book of the Dead,” brings together our three police officers and reformed criminal to investigate a city manager’s disappearance. The disappearance interrupts a big land deal, which can only mean one thing: corruption. McAdams probably won’t stop till the truth is revealed; Vaughn probably knows from his own seedy business exactly what is happening; Farrell is probably in on the deal somehow (or is he??); and Kitsch will probably get out of the way soon enough.

The press release also describes the central conflict as a “bizarre murder,” probably of the first episode’s missing persons. Season one’s first victim was found tied up to a tree with antlers and ritualistic markings. Stakes are high for season two, so “bizarre” is gonna have to be way out there. Expect another cult — motivations won’t make sense initially. Perhaps we’ll finally get that Cthulhu appearance we missed in season on. The victim’s body could be a sacrificial vessel used to revive Vince Vaughn’s career.


True Detective’s first season won over fans and critics with its marvelous cinematography, capped by a ten-minute tracking shot in episode four directed by Cary Fukunaga. We don’t know Pizzolatto’s full repertoire of directors for this season, but we do know that Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious) will direct the first two episodes, likely setting the tone for the rest of the season. I can only imagine that means everything will take place on California’s iconic freeways at 110 miles per hour.

Time Is a Flat Circle

The occult season one made waves with its (pseudo-) philosophy about time. Carving little people out of a tall can of Lone Star, Matthew McConaughey introduced us all to M-brane theory: TIME IS A FLAT CIRCLE. Stylistically, Pizzolatto mirrored that rhetoric by placing the show in multiple timelines. It’s unclear how bizarre season two will be, but a new clip, “Stand,” shows us a mustachioed Farrell and a clean-shaven one, which means at least one of the following: we get multiple timelines again, or because time is a construct, a man can both have and not have facial hair at the same damn time (Schrödinger’s mustache).

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