TV Review: True Detective - Season 2, Episode 8 (SPOILERS)
Season 2, Episode 8: Omega Station
REVIEW: Ya know, a really funny thing about the critical reaction to True Detective season two has been the fact that, for all the people who say they hate it, people are still tuning in week after week. The ratings have been steady and while Twitter pretty much explodes in hashtags like #TrueDetectiveRIP every Sunday, everyone's been pretty keen to see how the season would end, if only so they could make fun of it.
As such, my weekly reviews of True Detective have been abnormal in that for the most part I've really enjoyed this second season. I'm not going to say it's as good as the first. It's not. But, taken on its own merits it's been a damn solid ride and if it wasn't burdened by the high expectations that come with the name True Detective, I bet people would have liked it more.
Not that it hasn't been without some serious flaws. For one thing it's been exceedingly hard to follow at times. I've half given up trying to follow anything but the broad strokes of the plot. More seriously, Nic Pizzolatto has a tendency to borrow liberally from other movies/books. Many have pointed out the plot similarities to James Ellroy's The Big Nowhere, while I myself have been critical of the fact that Frank's story-line is awfully similar to THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY. Last week a talk-backer mentioned how similar it's also been to Michael Mann's THIEF and they were dead-on. A scene early in this episode where Vaughn tries to get rid of his wife (Kelly Reilly) was damn near close to plagiarism, but luckily it went in a different direction than Mann's film.
Early on in the episode, a quad poster of Sam Peckinpah's BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is displayed, and that's a good clue as to how season two was going to end. Like Peckinpah's films, there's a lot of alpha male, macho self-sacrifice going on but this is clearly Pizzolatto's style. Peckinpah, John Woo, Michael Mann, James Ellroy. These are clearly Pizzolatto's favorite guys, but they also happen to be mine which is maybe why this finale went down so well for me.
Running a feature-length ninety minutes, this is all about tying up loose ends and it's paced like lightning. No one can say that True Detective's action scenes aren't always impeccable and with BOY A director John Crowley at the helm, this episode is jam-packed with amazing action sequences that send it out on a high note. Now, it's pretty easy to see right where this was going from the start. It was clear to me a few episodes back that neither Vince Vaughn nor Colin Farrell were going to make it out alive, and you have to credit Pizzolatto for the nihilism of not only letting the baddies get away, but for the fact that he killed off all three of his male leads. Last season's ending had an optimistic end, this is anything but.
Of the leads Vince Vaughn came off the worst simply for the fact that he has to spout the most stylized dialogue. I like Vaughn in drama, but he doesn't have the edge James Caan did in THIEF or Bob Hoskins did in THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY to really be able to acquit himself well in similar scenes, although his big action sequence opposite Farrell is handled well (at 6'5 he's an imposing guy). He just lacks the personality he showed in his early indie films but give him credit for really trying. I have a feeling that on the whole this show will have been good for him.
As usual, Rachel McAdams is excellent as Ani, but it was undeniably a disappointment that she wound up sidelined for most of the episode. By the end, she's squarely in the love interest role, which is a comedown as the season originally started with her as the protagonist. None of the darker elements they teased for her really came to fruition, but it can't be denied McAdams was great.
For me though, this season's true star has been Colin Farrell and I'll say this Farrell was as good in this as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were in season one. I was amazed at how invested I was with him by the end, and despite the heavy foreshadowing, I kept hoping during his big shootout that he'd make it out alive. Naturally he doesn't, but it's a very effective set piece and again equal to anything in season one. Coupled with T. Bone Burnett's amazing score, I was on the edge of my seat throughout.
Again, season two of True Detective is not on par with season one, but why did it have to be? In the end it was a very solid season and while Pizzolatto could likely cut back a bit on the symbolism (I wasn't keen on the vultures following Vaughn on his death march) a bit and maybe opt for some more naturalistic dialogue, I was totally into the season from beginning to end. True Detective will likely be back, and here's a prediction if it happens people will be super easy on it after having been so rough on season two. Ten years from now, when people are placing True Detective in the context of TV history, people will remember this as being far better than its being given credit for now.