But True Detective is still a series that you can’t take your eyes off. It’ll sink its hooks in you, even if it’s just to play on your curiosity, teasing out small reveals and character details. The case isn’t as cut-and-dry or immediately grabbing as it was last year, but the strangeness surrounding it is reason enough to stick around; at one point, Ray questions whether he’s “supposed to solve this or not,” because it’s not so much about punishing the suspect as it is about keeping up appearances and the town trying to save its own ass.
The actors all do a fine job with the material — yes, including the much-joked-about Vaughn, channeling his serious-bro days, which predated his more recent comedy-bro days. Especially strong are Farrell (playing a boozy father may not be his most out-there character, but he certainly gets the act down and has fun with it) and McAdams, who I love seeing in a tougher role than her norm. Taylor Kitsch, unfortunately, doesn’t have much to do, at least not during the first three episodes. It’s almost as if he was hired just because he, well, looks like Taylor Kitsch — no complaints here — but his lightly brooding presence, which was so perfect on Friday Night Lights is (so far) being wasted.
If there’s one thing that became apparent during the the first season finale, it’s that True Detective is a tough show to review, because when you think it’s one thing, it swiftly becomes the other. It’s highly unlikely that Season 2 will live up to the first, but that doesn’t really matter: It is its own entity, and will surely find its own way to be as exciting.