Was Ray Velcoro True Detective Season Two’s Main Character?


Technically speaking, the second season of True Detective had four protagonists: Ani Bezzerides, Frank Semyon, Paul Woodrugh, and Ray Velcoro. Some of them get more screen time than others, and some of their story’s end up being more valuable to the narrative. That doesn’t change the fact that Nic Pzizolatto wrote season two with four different main characters in mind, and therefore viewers have to keep track of four different converging and diverging stories.

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Make no mistake about it, four characters is a lot to follow and develop. Over the course of only eight episodes, something has to get left behind. True Detective season two did not prove that it could adequately handle juggling four different main characters. To a certain point, however, it didn’t really try. The idea of having four leads fell to the wayside as the season went on, leading us to the actual lead: Ray Velcoro.

Ray also has, by far, the most fleshed-out personal story of the four leads.

True Detective season two was about many things — too many things. Between the personal lives of the four leads, the crow man running around, Caspere’s death, only a single character received a more than adequate amount of development. Season two is framed by Velcoro’s story. He becomes involved with Frank over his wife’s rapist, becomes a crooked cop, and is eventually killed by his own police force. These are all major developments not only for Ray as a character, but for the season as a whole.

Ray also has, by far, the most fleshed-out personal story of the four leads. His terrible relationship with his son, Chad (there is no denying that he is a terrible father,) his strained relationship with his ex-wife and his use of drugs and alcohol are all seen in abundance compared to what we get from the others. The scenes that Ray share with Chad are some of the most awkward and heart-wrenching of the season. They are also the moments in which True Detective season two feels the most alive, the most real.

This all begs to question as to why season two presents us with four leads in the first place. Something about Ray spoke to Pizzolatto, at least that’s how it seems. Perhaps he had the easiest time developing him compared to the others. It’s interesting to think what True Detective season two would have been if the leads had been trimmed back to three or even just two.

Paul Woodrugh would certainly have benefited from having a little less spotlight.

True Detective season two is the story of Ray and what happens when a man allows himself to be corrupted. Now if only there was show that focused on just the wacky adventures of Ray and his son. 

Next: Cary Fukunaga spoke about his non-involvement with True Detective season two.

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