True Detective – ‘The Book of the Western Dead’
True Detective is a unique show. That may be an obvious statement, but true nonetheless. The first season focused on two characters of mostly opposing life viewpoints: Rust Cohle was – for the most part – a straight-forward thinker who stepped over the line as little as possible. Martin Hart chose to live a life filled with lies and risks, with the perception that asking forgiveness is better than asking for permission.
How creator Nick Pizzolatto would introduce his new season was filled with speculation, especially with the doubling of starring cast members. All it took was an hour and a couple drinks to see that things got pretty gritty pretty quickly.
Taylor Kistch’s Paul Woodrugh has a sordid past that is sure to explain the burns on his body and the suicidal tendencies as he tries to find a new meaning to life. Rachel McAdams as Sheriff Ani Bezzerides has a rough time with her father and sister’s choices of lifestyle, and has obvious trust issues with herself as well. Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon is a mob boss of sorts, bent on increasing his empirical aspirations but unable to fully rely on others to get him there. Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro is everything you don’t want a father and detective to be, all wrapped up in one neat mustache.
Velcoro is undoubtedly the most intriguing character in this newly spun web of good versus evil. He has a son who appears to not be his own, and his choice of fatherly advice and actions lead to the beating of the father of his son’s bully. No mask, no cover, just a badge that gives him free reign to do what he pleases as he threatens a twelve year-old who just watched his dad get brass knuckled within an inch of his life.
Velcoro wasn’t always such a bad guy, though. It wasn’t until he took out a personal vendetta against the guy who raped his wife that he fell into Semyon’s pocket for good. A quick flashback reveals the budding partnership between the cop and the crime boss, and ever since then Velcoro has done Semyon’s bidding, most recently beating a journalist on the brink of discovering Vaughn’s criminalistic enterprises.
In the midst of this character building and psyche revelations is a missing person that brings Woodrugh, Bezzerides, and Velcoro together and sets them on the path of intertwining coexistence filled with cigarettes and alcohol (and probably a few more bumps). If there’s one thing we learned from the previous season, it’s that a beer and a lit cigarette are the only joys these characters can relish in the upside down world in which they live.
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