Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

True Detective (season 2)

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Country of origin  United States
Original network  HBO
No. of episodes  8
True Detective (season 2)
Starring  Colin Farrell Rachel McAdams Taylor Kitsch Kelly Reilly Vince Vaughn
Original release  June 21 (2015-06-21) – August 9, 2015 (2015-08-09)

The second season of True Detective, an American anthology crime drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto, began airing on June 21, 2015, on the premium cable network HBO. With a principal cast of Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, Kelly Reilly, and Vince Vaughn, the season comprises eight episodes and concluded its initial airing on August 9, 2015.


The season's story takes place in California and follows the interweaving stories of officers from three cooperating police departments; when California Highway Patrol officer and war veteran Paul Woodrugh (Kitsch) discovers the body of corrupt city manager Ben Caspere on the side of a highway, Vinci Police Department detective Raymond "Ray" Velcoro (Farrell) and Ventura County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division Sergeant Antigone "Ani" Bezzerides (McAdams) are called to assist in the following investigation. Career criminal Francis "Frank" Semyon (Vaughn) attempts to legitimize his business with his wife Jordan (Reilly) by investing in a rail project overseen by Caspere, but loses his money when Caspere is killed, prompting him to start his own investigation.

Main cast

  • Colin Farrell as Detective Raymond "Ray" Velcoro, a mob-affiliated detective from the Vinci Police Department, struggling with his allegiance to his corrupt superiors and the mobster who owns him.
  • Rachel McAdams as Detective Sergeant Antigone "Ani" Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff's Office CID agent who struggles with personal issues within her family and habits such as gambling and drinking.
  • Taylor Kitsch as Officer Paul Woodrugh, a California Highway Patrol officer and war veteran, who worked for a private military contractor implied to have involvement with war crimes.
  • Kelly Reilly as Jordan Semyon, the wife of Frank Semyon, who must not only struggle with Frank's choices, but her own as well.
  • Vince Vaughn as Francis "Frank" Semyon, a career criminal and entrepreneur, who is in jeopardy of losing his life's work after his partner's corpse is discovered on the side of a highway.
  • Production

    In January 2014, Pizzolatto signed a two-year contract extension with HBO, effectively renewing the series for two additional seasons. Much like its predecessor, season two of True Detective consists of eight episodes, all written by Pizzolatto. However, the responsibility of directing was assigned to several people; Justin Lin directed the first two episodes, and, in July 2014, William Friedkin was being considered as a director of later episodes. Fukunaga, who directed all of season one, did not return as director; he remains, however, an executive producer, as do McConaughey and Harrelson. Pizzolatto hired fellow novelist Scott Lasser to help break stories for the second half of the season.


    The success of True Detective, and its subsequent renewal, fueled casting rumors in the press. At one point, early media reports named Cate Blanchett, Josh Brolin, Joaquin Phoenix, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Christian Bale, Elisabeth Moss, and Brad Pitt to be among a raft of potential candidates for the leads. The season's first significant casting was Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, which he revealed in his September 2014 interview with the Sunday World. Vince Vaughn, playing the role of Frank Semyon, became HBO's next important signing toward the end of the month. By November, True Detective's principal cast expanded to include Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, and Kelly Reilly.


    California was selected as the setting for the second season. Producers were urged to avoid filming in Los Angeles and, instead, focus on the more obscure regions of the state to "capture a certain psycho-sphere ambiance". Production began in November 2014.


    T Bone Burnett returned as composer for the second season, and the score for the season is more electronic-influenced than the previous season. Burnett noted that the change in landscape, to California, also changed how he wrote the music. Leonard Cohen's "Nevermind" is the season two opening theme, which is a song off Cohen's 2014 album, Popular Problems. The theme song's lyrics change with every episode, incorporating different verses from Cohen's song. Lera Lynn's music is featured throughout the season, and the song "The Only Thing Worth Fighting For", which she composed with Burnett and Rosanne Cash, is used in the season two trailer. Lynn collaborated with Burnett on writing several original songs for the series, with cues from creator Nic Pizzolatto regarding lyrics and content. Lynn also portrays a bar singer in the season, where several of her songs are used, including "My Least Favorite Life", which was written by Cash.

    Themes and influences

    The trope of masculinity continued in season two. Vox's Todd VanDerWerff stated, "...above all else, True Detective wants to explore the role of men in society." "Yet if season one was already interested in the topic, then season two has nearly jumped off the cliff with its obsessions, to the degree that Rachel McAdams's Ani is defined largely by her rejection of the more open and traditionally "feminine" New Age philosophy of her father and her embrace of the hardened, traditionally "masculine" life of the emotionally closed-off police officer," he continued. VanDerWerff also noted that season two's three male leads are all dealing with their own issues of masculinity; "Ray seems tortured by having to exist as a man in this world that doesn't share his ideals," "Frank is trying to walk a very noble, masculine path by taking his dark, dirty enterprise legitimate," and "[Paul] is mostly playing out a very typical story of a deeply repressed gay man who's trying to fight back his own impulses."


    The second season received generally positive reviews, praising the performances of Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch, its cinematography, and action sequences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a rating of 65%, based on 72 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "True Detective's second season stands on its own as a solid police drama, with memorable moments and resonant relationships outweighing predictable plot twists." On Metacritic, the season has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

    David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave it a very positive review, and wrote "It's still the kind of show that makes TV viewers reach for phrases like 'golden age of television drama'" and that "the second installment of True Detective goes out of the way not to echo the first." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave it a generally positive review, praising the performances, and wrote, "There is something still lugubrious and overwrought about True Detective, but there's also a mesmerizing style to it — it's imperfect, but well made."

    A more mixed review came from Brian Lowry of Variety, who wrote "Although generally watchable, the inspiration that turned the first [season] into an obsession for many seems to have drained out of writer Nic Pizzolatto's prose."

    The season was named one of the worst television programs of 2015, from many major new outlets such as Variety, The New York Post, Newsday, and TV Guide.


    For the 6th Critics' Choice Television Awards, Rachel McAdams received a nomination for Best Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series.

    Home media release

    The second season of True Detective was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 5, 2016. In addition to the eight episodes, both formats contain bonus content including a making-of featurette of "The Vinci Massacre", interviews with cast and crew, audio commentary for "Down Will Come" by Nic Pizzolatto, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams, and an audio commentary for "Omega Station" by Nic Pizzolatto, Scott Stephens, Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn.


    True Detective (season 2) Wikipedia