Why True Detective Season Two Can Ditch Flashbacks


Editor’s Note: Please welcome our new writer to True Detective Rumors, Matt Pierce!

Most fans would probably agree that one of the most compelling aspects of True Detective’s first season was the use of the flashback style narrative. By splitting the ’95 – ’02 narrative off from the present day scenes in the interview room, Pizzolatto created an extremely interesting and unique spin on the narrative framework for what was in many ways a fairly conventional detective story. The subversive presentation was an integral part of the show’s stylistic identity.

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The irony that arose from watching the ways in which the reality of ’95 and ’02 deviated from what was being said in the interviews often heightened the tension and made for some truly gripping and surprising television. The question then becomes, “What can True Detective season two do to establish its own unique identity, and still remain fresh and exciting?”

What can True Detective season two do to establish it’s own unique identity, and still remain fresh and exciting?

Our suspicion is that the answer will come in the form of a splintered investigation, where we as viewers will always know a little more about what’s happening in the big picture than do any of the investigators themselves. We know precious little about the actual plot line for Season 2, but it is possible to make some educated guesses based on what information we do have. We know that Frank Seymon (Vaughn) is a mobster or organized criminal of some kind, and that Ray Velcoro (Farrell) is tied to him in some capacity.

We can contrast this with what we know about Ani Bezzerides (McAdams) and Paul Woodrugh (Kitsch), who, while probably not the perfect image of lawful police conduct, seem to be more likely to try and operate within the bounds of the law when possible. Certainly, as far as we know, they don’t have to divide their loyalties between the police department and their mobster boss, like Velcoro.

Obviously, all of these characters, even Seymon, want to get to the bottom of whatever it is that’s motivated the murder which opens the show, but it seems likely that they will all have somewhat different ideas about how this should be accomplished. Even in the teaser, we see Velcoro having to report in some capacity to Seymon, and donning (and using) some brass knuckles while working alone.

It’s likely then, that, as the case progresses, the investigation itself will begin to become multifaceted and fractured to some extent. Just the very nature of having four leads in some senses lends itself to this structure. Because there are likely to be competing loyalties and motivations among the three officers, especially Velcoro, it stands to reason that there will be a fair amount of miscommunication and misdirection, intentional and otherwise.

This is where the show can capitalize and create a new and interesting personality for itself as a narrative. They almost certainly won’t attempt to recreate the identity of the first season by adopting the flashback approach, which would be a fairly trite move that I don’t expect from a writer of Pizzolatto’s caliber. Instead, the show can capitalize on each of its four leads, working together and apart, and show us more dots that we can connect as viewers than any of the characters in the show ever have access to at one time.

The flashbacks in Season one captured our attention by presenting us with a reality that was often very different or more complex than Hart & Cohle were willing to reveal in their interviews. Season two can create a brand new kind of tension by playing the characters and their complex loyalties and motivations at odds with one another. We can see what all of them know as individuals at once, creating a kind of dramatic irony and suspense by showing us pieces that we would die just to see everyone connect together.

Of course this is just one possible approach that the show could take, and we’ll have to wait until June to find out more. Watch the trailer below and see what you think.

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