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True Detective - Season 2 Premiere, "The Western Book of The Dead" - Advance Preview

The most important thing to remember going into the second season of True Detective is this; it’s nothing like season one. That may seem relatively obvious, given that it’s a new cast and new story, but it needs to be repeated. Many of the reviews I’m seeing are basing their negatives opinions on the fact that the series is so totally different. The way I see it, the most important things remained the same; fantastic cast, visionary directing, great scripts and interesting stories. Season two kicks off somewhat slow, but I have a feeling it’ll be worth the ride.

In many ways, the premiere is sort of like the first half of The Avengers. It’s a lot of story building while we wait for the team to assemble. The stories are varyingly interesting, though none ever lost my attention. Nic Pizzolato has spun a dark, weird, intricate mystery, something he’s done for years with novels and short stories. Unlike other anthology series’ like American Horror Story, this season retains none of the cast and opts to change up virtually everything. We’re not in Louisiana anymore, for one thing. Season two takes place in sunny, seedy, California. When the cast was announced for this season, I was most excited to see the kind of material Vince Vaughn would be given. So far, he’s not quite the standout but definitely shows promise. His character in the premiere is bit bland unfortunately; he’s a “bad guy”, for all intents and purposes, though it’s his wife (Kelly Reilly) who steals nearly all of their scenes.

Without question, for me, Colin Farrell as Detective Ray Volcoro owns the premiere. Balancing moments of vulnerability with some brutally shocking scenes, Farrell's performance will be what people are talking about on Monday morning (and around Emmy season next year.)

In terms of where the premiere leaves us, I was excited to see where Rachel McAdams’ Detective Ani Bezzerides would head. It’s a type of role I’ve never seen her play, and she nails it. Her stuff in the premiere is a bit odd - some beats are a tad cliché - but I’ve screened the next two episodes and can promise that McAdams continues to impress. It’s striking how much we learn about each character’s lives in such a short time, particularly Ani and Ray.

Officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) makes a discovery late in the episode that ends up bringing the ensemble together. You’ll get a good idea of what that might be from a recurring cutaway that pops up several times in the premiere. Kitsch’s character gets into an odd predicament in the first episode, and we don’t learn a whole lot about him early on. The character is dark, dedicated to his job, and has a past that he doesn't want to talk about. Kitsch hasn’t had the most promising post-Friday Night Lights career, but his turn here should be enough to reestablish him.

All things considered, “The Western Book of The Dead” is a strong start. Farrell provides more than enough reason to return, and the ending promises that the entire premiere was more of an epilogue than a true starting point for the season. I’ll have a preview of the second (even better) episode after the premiere. For now, let us know what you’re most excited for on Sunday night, and if you think season two can possibly top season one. Feel free to follow me on Twitter for all my SpoilerTV work.