True Detective Season Two is Missing the Artistry


True Detective season two has just aired its third episode. It was a slow affair, but still mostly worthy counting a few missteps. But there is something in True Detective that’s very off, and it became even more apparent in “Maybe Tomorrow.” The artistry in True Detective is gone.

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Outside of the gorgeously show dream sequence that opens the episode, “Maybe Tomorrow” is a very humdrum experience for the eyes. It all looks good and dark, just like True Detective should, but it no longer has that spark of life.

The eye-catching, gorgeous cinematography is missing. What was once a hugely important aspect of True Detective has been kicked to the curb. There could be a few reason behind this, but two major reasons rise above the rest as being most likely: we have no Cary Fukunaga or Adam Arkapaw.

True Detective is still a fine-looking show in its second season, but it no longer pops like it used to. Adam Arkapaw won an Emmy for his work as cinematographer in the first season of True Detective, and his replacement, Nigel Buck, just isn’t capturing the same magic. Part of that could be due to the setting — the section of California that we see in True Detective just isn’t all that interesting. It’s certainly nothing like Louisiana.

Sprawling California highway just isn’t that eye-catching.

We’re unfortunately reminded of that every time we see an aerial shot, which happens multiple times per episode. Sprawling California highway just isn’t that eye-catching. It’s serviceable in giving us a sense of place, but that’s about it.

It’s more than that, though. The shots in True Detective season two are as broody and dark as they need to be to get the point across, but they don’t inspire. This could be part of the fallout from using a rotating set of directors and a different cinematographer.

True Detective just don’t look as great as it used to; it doesn’t feel as artistically vibrant. It’s still a mighty fine-looking show, but there’s very little that sets it apart from other dramas now when it comes to cinematography. And that’s part of the trade-off for True Detective functioning more like a normal show.

Next: True Detective season two review: 'Maybe Tomorrow'

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