TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘OTHER LIVES’ REVIEW – True Detective: why do I bother? Part 5.
The second half of True Detective felt like a reset, with everyone getting a costume change, a mustache shave and the possibility to all stand around saying why they’re doing though we no longer care about what they’re doing. The big shoot out happened and rattled the box. Ani has been demoted; Velcro has quit the force; Paul has been promoted to a bad suit and Frank has been dragged back in just as he thought he was out. I honestly don’t remember from week to week who got killed and there are literally zero emotional stakes. Half way through the episode a black lawyer (DA, police, I don’t remember) has Velcro, Paul and Ani meet in the middle of the street so she can have everyone state baldly their motivation for continuing the show, or be given it by her if they had trouble remembering why they should give a shit.
People have talked a lot about what doesn’t work this season, comparing it to what worked last season, but it goes through the whole DNA of the show. It isn’t simply too many characters, or an uncompelling drama, piss-poor dialogue or acting that simply doesn’t know what to do with what’s been given. It’s all of those things, but what is most irritating is there is somewhere here a really good idea.
What Nic Pizzolatto needed was a very good script editor, a writers room maybe, and another year of rewrites. The Chinatown, LA Confidential stuff is there it just needs someone to say go back and do over. And it helps if the twists are surprises for the audience as well rather than being the characters discovering something the audience guessed back in episode one.