True Detective just wrapped up its second season with a lengthy 90 minute finale last Sunday that answered some questions , but not the most important one: why was season two such a disappointment? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question. There were moments this season that hinted at or even approached greatness and the second half was undoubtedly much stronger than the first. But the show missed the mark way more often than it hit, resulting in a disjointed mess that never really coalesced into anything worth recommending. With a top-notch cast and the confidence of HBO behind him, series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto should have had another great year of pulpy detective drama under his belt. Instead, we got a season that tarnished much of the goodwill engendered by last year’s strong first season. These are the 8 reasons that True Detective season two simply didn’t work.
8. Boring Setting
One of the best parts of True Detective‘s first season was its haunting visuals, which were aided by the decision to set the story in Louisiana. The exquisite landscape shots were a key component in establishing the series’ unique tone. Unfortunately, the move to Southern California — a location that has been done to death in crime fiction — simply felt boring in comparison. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to make the Golden State look visually-interesting, as many shows have done so, but the sun-soaked urban decay of season two just never felt right. The frequent aerial shots of gridlocked California traffic did succeed in establishing a tone, but it was more one of depression than anything. This had the effect of making the setting one of the least significant components of the entire season, as it was never used effectively so as to make any sort of lasting impression.