TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: FINALE ‘THREE SHOOT OUTS AND A BABY’ REVIEW – So the 90 minute show finally slopes off to a half-baked demise, trudging toward a horizon it has no hope of reaching and taking some consolation in the wonderful geographical diversity of California.
‘I can hear you, I just don’t find you convincing,’ says Jordan, Vince Vaughn’s girlfriend. She’s already told him he’s a bad actor and I was applauding this meta-moment of honesty when I realized she was writing my review. I get it Nic Pizzolatto. I can see all the ambitions of the series; I can hear the pitch that must have had HBO bosses so excited. ‘It’ll be LA Confidential meets Chinatown, meets the Long Goodbye,’ he said. ‘Red woods, salt flats, Michael Mann inspired action shoot outs, snappy dialogue, career redefining roles!’ The boldness of putting John Carter, a Mean Girl, Alexander the Great and the guy from Hall Pass together must have been breathtaking. Exhilarating almost.
So what went wrong?
First off, in this kind of series the crime has to be a character. It has to be well defined and have a shape. That doesn’t have to be at the forefront. In Chinatown the real crime is revealed only very late, but for a show like this – 8 and a half hours of it – we need to know what is making all these car rides necessary. Here we had land deals, a guy with burnt eyes, a bit of aimless spook and ultimately nothing. The resolution revealed nothing we didn’t already know from the pilot episode.
Secondly, the career redefining didn’t happen. Rachel McAdams was AWFUL. She just look constipated and miserable. There was no humor and though I know humorless people do exist, I don’t believe in them. Colin Farrell’s accent actually changed in the finale into something cowboy-ish when he donned a Cowboy hat, as if the accent was so random it would be swayed by his headgear. Vince Vaughn brought a melancholy. Faltering delivery. That rivaled William Shatner when he was pondering. Something philosophical. In Star Trek. Taylor Kitsch was basically gay Rachel McAdams and made me long for the old fashioned definition of gay, which Webster’s defines as ‘men having joyous sex with men’.
But to blame them would be unfair as they were lumbered with the worst dialogue, asinine characterization, and dumb scenes. Daniel Day Lewis would have struggled to make Ray Velcro’s relationship with his fat ginger-haired asshole of a son, Chad, interesting or moving.
These characters didn’t do anything because that’s what the character would have done; they did it all because that’s what Nic Pizzolatto had written. Just like they all spoke the same way. When Velcro gets together with Benzedrine, I was sure he should at least have said ‘Sorry about that sucking a robot’s dick line’, but he actually wasn’t the same person as the person who said that in … what? … episode 2? The jumping into bed was to give his death emotional weight. Just as the goodbye with Jordan was supposed to ‘tragically foreshadow’ Frank’s demise. But hey, at least they got out of the city for the day! The beauty of those final scenes – especially Vince Vaughn’s trek through the Tree of Life desert – were fatally undermined by the stupidity that put them there. Velcro’s salute to his son was so unnecessary it literally showed a signpost when they signposted it. Frank gets to stumble around and it was nice but I never cared for Frank and I never saw him do anything particularly smart. Even the heist he pulled off with Velcro was as uneventful a shoot out as I’ve ever seen.
And the epilogue, hinting at a new family was rendered ridiculous by the presence of Nails (first name Nine Inch), the goofy hard man who seems happy to hang around Venezuela indefinitely.
Okay, I did it. I got to the end. Of reviewed shows which have disappointed. Game of Thrones irritates me almost the same amount that it impresses, but it is never dull. True Detective was a severe disappointment but I got to the end because of you, dear reader. It was you. Feel free to use the comment box to sling flowers or shuriken.