True Detective Season Two’s Small Town Feel Doesn’t do it Any Favors


There’s a specific feeling that arises from a small town atmosphere. The kind of situation in which most people tend to know each other and rumors fly fast and far. It’s something that is generally lost in larger cities, where people tend to be a bit more isolated. The first season of True Detective is a good distillation of a small town atmosphere, and, surprisingly, so is season two.

To an extent.

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Season two of True Detective takes place in California, in the corrupt city of Vinci. Even though the four main characters travel far and wide, and at least one of them works in L.A. (Ani Bezzerides) there’s still a strong small town feel in season two. This is because of that distinct feeling that everybody knows everybody. It’s present in spades in season two, though at times it tries a bit too hard.

Everybody knows everybody. Except the main characters, of course.

This is most evident in the Caspere case. As Paul, Ray, and Ani search for clues about Caspere, it becomes increasingly clear that almost everyone knew him in some way. In fact, it starts to become a bit suspect just how many people knew or had dealings with Caspere. It’s odd, then, that at least three of the four main characters weren’t more familiar with Caspere before his murder. If everyone else was familiar with him, why not them?

Further links are then explored when it’s revealed that the mayor, Ani’s father, and Dr. Pitlor all have deep ties that reach back into the city’s history. Everybody knows everybody. Except the main characters, of course. In an interview a couple of months back,  Abigail Spencer said that season two would still feel like season one. In this specific way, it does. It just takes it a bit too far to the point where it stretches the limits of suspension of disbelief.

We don’t know what sort of setting True Detective season three will explore, but even if it takes place in a largish city, it’s likely that it will have the same feel as the first two. Nic Pizzolatto has shown that he has a penchant for the small town vibe, but season two’s small town felt more like one massive coincidence after another.

Hopefully season three will, at the very least, offer something that feels more organic.

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