True Detective (season 2)

Last updated

True Detective
Season 2
True Detective season 2.png
Blu-ray cover
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes8
Original network HBO
Original releaseJune 21 (2015-06-21) 
August 9, 2015 (2015-08-09)
Season chronology
Season 1
Season 3
List of episodes

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.


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
91"The Western Book of the Dead" Justin Lin Nic Pizzolatto June 21, 2015 (2015-06-21)3.17 [1]
In the fictional industrial town of Vinci, California, city manager Ben Caspere disappears shortly before he is to present plans for real estate development near a new high-speed rail line. His corrupt business partner, Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), is forced to make the presentation on his own, in the presence of his mob connections. Vinci Police detective Raymond "Ray" Velcoro (Colin Farrell) is seeking custody of his son, who may be a product of his ex-wife's (Abigail Spencer) rape, years before. Through flashback, Velcoro is shown meeting Semyon at a bar, where Semyon gives him the name of his wife's rapist. Velcoro is now burned out and unhinged, and also works as an enforcer for Semyon. Ventura County detective Antigone "Ani" Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) conducts a raid on a suspected illegal brothel, which turns out to be a legal porn studio, where she finds her sister Athena working as a cam girl. Later, the search for Vera Machiado, a missing woman, leads Bezzerides to the woman's last known place of employment, a spiritual retreat run by Bezzerides' estranged father, Eliot, leading to a tense confrontation. A third cop, Highway Patrol officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), is put on paid leave after an actress, Lacey Lindel, tries to seduce him and later falsely accuses him of sexual misconduct when he refuses to look the other way after catching her speeding and violating her parole. While visiting his girlfriend, Emily, Woodrugh secretly takes Viagra and does not answer her questions about the scars on his body. Late at night, while racing his motorcycle without headlights with suicidal ferocity, Woodrugh discovers the corpse of Caspere propped up on a bench, with his eyes burned out. Velcoro and Bezzerides converge with Woodrugh at the crime scene.
102"Night Finds You"Justin LinNic PizzolattoJune 28, 2015 (2015-06-28)3.05 [2]
Led by State Attorney Richard Geldof and Katherine Davis, Velcoro and Bezzerides form a special investigation into Caspere's murder. Lamenting on the news of Caspere's death, Semyon wonders how he'll get out of his financial issues, as he discovers that the money he gave Caspere for the high-speed rail deal was embezzled and he has lost over $5 million – most of his fortune. Enraged, he begins to investigate Caspere's death in his own way. Bezzerides is warned by her superiors that Velcoro is corrupt and to find a way to make him an informant, while Velcoro is asked by Austin Chessani, the mayor of Vinci, and his own superiors, Police Chief Holloway and Lieutenant Kevin Burris, that the investigation move where they want it. A fourth detective, Teague Dixon, is placed alongside them by the Vinci PD. An autopsy of Caspere's body shows that he was tortured for information and his genitals shot off with a shotgun before being placed at the rest stop. Drunk, Velcoro seeks time with his son and instead gets a cruel backlash from his ex-wife, Gena, who now seeks full custody of their son and threatens a paternity test to force him away. After an enigmatic visit to his mother, Cynthia, Woodrugh gets into an argument with Emily, who thinks he is cheating, and his refusal to discuss his past breaks up with him. While driving with Velcoro, Bezzerides questions just how compromised he is, but he does not answer her. At the bar, Semyon informs Velcoro about another house owed by Caspere, information which he obtained from a sex worker. As Velcoro enters the house someone in a mask appears and shoots him twice with a shotgun.
113"Maybe Tomorrow" Janus Metz Nic PizzolattoJuly 5, 2015 (2015-07-05)2.62 [3]
Velcoro awakens revealing the shot was non-lethal (the shotgun was loaded with rubber pelleted riot control rounds), and discovers that a hard drive containing footage of Caspere's sexual encounters has been stolen. Bezzerides and Woodrugh investigate Mayor Chessani's possible connection to Caspere's death by going to his home. They discover his intoxicated young trophy wife, moody daughter and problematic son much to Chessani's dismay who threatens to have Bezzerides and Woodrugh fired. Woodrugh meets an old friend from private security firm Black Mountain, Miguel Gilb, who reminds him of their homosexual encounter during the war. Woodrugh responds by cursing him and pushing him to the ground. While Bezzerides and Velcoro share a drink at his house, Gena shows up at his door to inform him he is under investigation by the state for corruption while Bezzerides hears the conversation behind the door. Gena attempts to give Velcoro $10,000 to drop the custody battle, which he refuses. A tip from Caspere's assistant Laura leads Bezzerides and Velcoro to investigate a movie set, where they learn that a car had been stolen weeks prior, presumably the same car which carried Caspere. As they interrogate a former movie production employee, who quit shortly before the car was stolen, a masked man sets fire to the car which transported Caspere's body. During the foot chase Bezzerides is nearly hit by a truck before Velcoro pulls her out of the way. She thanks him, but he tells her she can thank him by telling him what the state has against him. She says she does not know.
124"Down Will Come" Jeremy Podeswa Nic Pizzolatto & Scott LasserJuly 12, 2015 (2015-07-12)2.36 [4]
Semyon starts to rebuild his empire, working his way back into the ownership of clubs and properties that he once owned, and negotiating deals with the city's drug suppliers in a bid to reclaim his lost money. Bezzerides and Velcoro follow Caspere's movements, tracking him to vast tracts of land contaminated by the heavy metals dumped in the tailings from decades of mining. A visit to the commune run by Bezzerides's father reveals that Chessani, Caspere and Caspere's psychiatrist Dr. Pitlor have been in business for decades, prompting Velcoro to admit that the State investigation into Vinci is little more than a shakedown. Bezzerides is suspended from her job after a co-worker files a sexual harassment complaint against her, though she is allowed to remain on the special task force. Woodrugh awakens from his investigation into the sex workers to find that he has slept with Miguel. Later meeting with his estranged girlfriend in a diner, where she informs him she is pregnant, Woodrugh desperately proposes marriage to her. Under pressure from Vinci PD to close the case, Velcoro, Bezzerides and Woodrugh lead a raid against Irina's pimp, Ledo Amarilla, but are ambushed when the building is found to be a methamphetamine lab which promptly explodes when the police open fire. As Amarilla tries to escape, he crashes his SUV into a city bus during a demonstration against the rail project. He and his accomplices open fire on the crowd as the police move in, with Dixon among the dead, and while the gunmen are killed, Velcoro, Bezzerides and Woodrugh are left horrified at the mass civilian and police casualties.
135"Other Lives" John Crowley Nic PizzolattoJuly 19, 2015 (2015-07-19)2.42 [5]
Two months after the shoot-out, the special investigation into Caspere's death has been shut down, with the State Attorney, Geldof, satisfied that Amarilla was responsible. Velcoro has since quit the Vinci PD and works private security for Semyon, Bezzerides has been demoted to the sheriff's office evidence lock-up and attending sexual harassment seminars and Woodrugh has been promoted to detective in the fraud department. Meanwhile, Bezzerides makes a connection between Vera and the cache of blue diamonds found in Caspere's safe deposit box. This prompts Davis to re-open the investigation into Caspere's death under the pretext of finding Irina, bringing the team back together. Davis suspects Geldof colluded with Chessani, using the original investigation to establish an account to fund his campaign for governor and pin the corruption on Caspere. Velcoro is pensive but agrees when Davis offers to help him keep custody of his son. Davis also reveals to Velcoro that Gena's rapist had been arrested six weeks ago. Velcoro realizes that the tip Semyon gave him years ago was a set-up to corrupt him. Woodrugh follows up on the diamonds and discovers Dixon had been looking for them prior to their discovery but had kept that information to himself during the original investigation. Velcoro returns to Pitlor's clinic and beats him for information, confirming that Caspere and Chessani were in business together. Bezzerides approaches her sister to try to get an invite to an upcoming party. Later, she and Woodrugh, follow up on a previous lead from her old partner, and match Vera's last movements to an abandoned house in Guerneville. Deep in the woods they discover a blood stained shed with a torture chair inside. As Semyon and Jordan reconcile over their various issues Velcoro arrives at their home and tells Semyon they need to talk.
146"Church in Ruins" Miguel Sapochnik Nic Pizzolatto & Scott LasserJuly 26, 2015 (2015-07-26)2.34 [6]
Velcoro and Semyon discuss the tip that led Velcoro to his wife's alleged rapist, with both men grasping their guns under the kitchen table. Semyon swears to Velcoro that he thought the information was genuine at the time. Satisfied that Semyon did not intentionally mislead him, Velcoro confronts the man arrested for the rape in prison, promising to kill him. After an awkward supervised visit with his son, Velcoro goes on a cocaine- and alcohol-fueled bender then he calls his ex-wife and agrees to drop the custody case on the condition that she never reveal her son's true parentage. Meanwhile, Woodrugh follows up on the missing diamonds to find that they were part of a cache stolen during a double homicide and robbery in the 1992 riots that orphaned two children. Semyon starts searching for Irina, and makes an agreement with a Mexican cartel to help find her provided the cartel are allowed to move drugs through his clubs. Semyon arranges to meet her so that she can identify the man from a photo, but arriving at the meeting point finds her dead, having been killed by the Mexicans for dealing with police. Bezzerides goes undercover, posing as her sister to infiltrate one of the secret elite parties. At the party, all the women are given party drugs which causes her to have hallucinations of a strange man from her childhood. Sneaking onto the compound Woodrugh and Velcoro observe a meeting between McCandless and Osip where McCandless admits that Osip's investment in the rail project was far more lucrative than Semyon's. Bezzerides locates Vera at the party and attempts to get her out, but is forced to kill a guard in the process. She and Vera are found by Woodrugh who escorts them to Velcoro in a waiting car. As the four escape, Woodrugh goes over the stolen contracts and starts to realize the scale of what they are involved in.
157"Black Maps and Motel Rooms" Daniel Attias Nic PizzolattoAugust 2, 2015 (2015-08-02)2.18 [7]
The task force regroups at a motel where they look over the documents that link Catalast and McCandless to Osip. When morning comes, Woodrugh and Bezzerides move their families to safety while Velcoro reports to Semyon. Velcoro approaches Davis with their evidence but finds her shot dead in her car. Woodrugh discovers that Bezzerides is wanted for questioning over the death of the security guard she killed at the party while Velcoro has been named as a suspect in Davis' murder. Woodrugh is contacted by a third party blackmailing him with photos from his night with Gilb. Using information from Semyon, Vera and the police database, the three are able to formulate a theory on Caspere's death: that a group of corrupt police—Holloway, Burris, Dixon and Caspere—used the 1992 riots to steal the diamonds which they used to buy into the Vinci power structure; however, Laura, a child orphaned during the robbery, tracked them down and after posing as Caspere's assistant, kills him. When Woodrugh is lured to a meeting with his blackmailer, Holloway, who demands the documents taken from the party, Woodrugh overpowers him and is drawn into a shootout with the Black Mountain private security accompanying Holloway on behalf of McCandless, killing all of them. As he makes his escape, he is shot twice and killed by Lieutenant Burris.
168"Omega Station"John CrowleyNic PizzolattoAugust 9, 2015 (2015-08-09)2.73 [8]
After a night of sex, Velcoro and Bezzerides recount their respective traumas—Bezzerides' childhood molestation and Velcoro's murder of his wife's supposed rapist. Semyon convinces Jordan to leave the country for Venezuela with his lieutenant Nails, where he will rendezvous with her later. He then goes to Chessani's mansion, where he finds the mayor dead, and the mayor's wife Veronica, while high, implicates his son Tony as his murderer. Meanwhile Velcoro and Bezzerides learn of Woodrugh's death and resolve to close the case. They identify Laura, Caspere's secretary, and Lenny, a photographer from the movie set of the stolen prop car, as the Osterman siblings. Visiting Lenny's home they find Laura handcuffed to the fireplace; she confirms that Lenny murdered Caspere and plans to kill Holloway under the pretense of a public meeting at a train station in Anaheim to trade Caspere's hard drive for money as the hard drive had been erased. Bezzerides puts Laura on a bus to Seattle while Velcoro intercepts Lenny at the train station and convinces him to entrap Holloway. Velcoro and Bezzerides meet Semyon at a secret bunker in the Black Rose bar where Velcoro convinces Bezzerides to head to Venezuela while he and Semyon plot a revenge attack on Osip. Velcoro visits his son at school and is spotted by Vinci PD who were searching for him. They place a transponder on his vehicle that Velcoro spots but does not remove it, choosing to drive off knowing that his fate is sealed. Semyon is stabbed by the Mexican cartel and attempts to walk back to civilization, but succumbs to his wounds and dies in the middle of the desert. In the epilogue, Tony Chessani becomes mayor of Vinci; Geldof is elected governor; the rail project goes ahead as scheduled; Velcoro is remembered as a cop killer; Gena learns from Chad's paternity test that Velcoro was his father; a newly constructed highway is named after Paul Woodrugh, with his girlfriend, new baby and mother in attendance. In Venezuela, Bezzerides is revealed to have given birth to Velcoro's son and is living with Jordan Semyon. She meets with the journalist Velcoro assaulted in episode 1 and passes all the incriminating evidence, including the Caspere case files, whilst she, Jordan and Nails disappear in a crowd.


Main cast

Recurring cast


In January 2014, Pizzolatto signed a two-year contract extension with HBO, effectively renewing the series for two additional seasons. [26] Much like its predecessor, season two of True Detective consists of eight episodes, all written by Pizzolatto. [27] However, the responsibility of directing was assigned to several people; Justin Lin directed the first two episodes, [28] and, in July 2014, William Friedkin was being considered as a director of later episodes. [29] Fukunaga, who directed all of season one, did not return as director; he remains, however, an executive producer, [30] as do McConaughey and Harrelson. Pizzolatto hired fellow novelist Scott Lasser to help break stories for the second half of the season. [30]

Ahead of True Detective's second season, the press publicized rumors that creative differences had fueled personal hostility between Pizzolatto and Fukunaga; the former denied the rumors, while the latter declined to comment. [31] Pizzolatto retained control of the writing process but Fukunaga left, and the second season's eight episodes were instead variously handled among six directors.


Colin Farrell by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Vince Vaughn in Los Angeles, California (2015) - 1.jpg
Rachel McAdams, 2016 (cropped).jpg
Colin Farrell (left), Vince Vaughn (middle) and Rachel McAdams (right), three of the five stars in the second season of True Detective.

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. [32] [33] The season's first significant casting was Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, which he revealed in his September 2014 interview with the Sunday World . [34] Vince Vaughn, playing the role of Frank Semyon, became HBO's next important signing toward the end of the month. [28] By November, True Detective's principal cast expanded to include Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, and Kelly Reilly. [35] [36]


California was selected as the setting for the second season. Producers were urged to avoid filming in Los Angeles and, instead, focus on the other regions of the state to "capture a certain psycho-sphere ambiance". [27] Production began in November 2014. [37]


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. [38] Leonard Cohen's "Nevermind," the season two opening theme, is a song off Cohen's 2014 album, Popular Problems . [39] The theme song's lyrics change with every episode, incorporating different verses from Cohen's song. [40] [41] 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. [38] 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. [42]


Critical response

The second season received mixed reviews. Positive reviews praised the performances of Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch, [43] its cinematography, [44] and action sequences. [45] The season was named one of the worst television programs of 2015, from many major news outlets such as Variety, [46] The New York Post , [47] Newsday , [48] and TV Guide . [49]

According to Lindsay Hallam at Senses of Cinema , "many reports on the less well-received second season" asserted that Pizzolatto had "become self-indulgent" due to "the lack of a strong collaborator". [50] Critics of season two—including Timberg and Time magazine's James Poniewozik—faulted an excessive delegation of creative control to Pizzolatto alone, arguing that his responsibility for season one's success had been overestimated under the "auteurist" framework. [51] [52]

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." [53] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [54]

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." [55] 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." [56]

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." [57]


For the 6th Critics' Choice Television Awards, Rachel McAdams received a nomination for Best Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series. [58]

Home media

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. [59]

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