Before the first season of HBO’s acclaimed crime saga “True Detective” even wrapped, fans were abuzz with questions about what would happen in Season 2. Everyone was well aware that the adventures of Marty and Rust would be a one-off run, wrapping up the duo’s many stories and plots in a tight eight episodes, so speculation on what the second season would look like began early. Who would star? What would happen? Where would it be set? When would it be set? These big questions have dominated the internet for the last five months (really—it’s been five months), but, as we’re about to reach the critical mass of rumors, when HBO has no choice but to announce its plans for Season 2, it’s worth asking whether or not we even want to know the answers.
The rumor mill itself is a double-edged sword for both fans and the fine folks behind the series. Excitement builds for viewers whenever they hear that big names are attached or they get an early glimpse of the “secret script” or they grab a tidbit from an interview on a podcast about where Season 2 will be set. This attention helps the network build its fanbase and draw more interest to a show already exploding. But then the confirmations and denials start pouring in: “He’s not actually going to be in it.” “She’s unavailable.” “Auditions haven’t even begun.” “The script hasn’t been written yet.” Excitement dissipates only to be rebuilt when a new rumor starts. It’s a vicious cycle, but one we’re all accustomed to at this point.
Remember when this whole mess began and we were talking about Brad Pitt being the next “True Detective”? Jessica Chastain was an equally prestigious name, but that was when we all thought the series was going to feature two female detectives or at least one female lead. Now, we’re all clinging onto hope the Christian Bale rumors prove true because no one—no one—is going to be excited about a Colin Farrell-led second season of the best freshman series on HBO since “The Sopranos.”
In Deadline’s report on Farrell’s casting discussions, author Mike Fleming Jr. states Farrell is “the ideal movie star” for “True Detective.” How he came to that reasoning is beyond, well, reason. Consider Farrell’s failed attempts time and again to become a bonafide movie star. He’s a good actor, but he’s never proven capable of drawing the crowds, say, Matthew McConaughey can. His best roles have been in smaller productions emphasizing his talent, not his charisma or magnetic appeal, qualities which perfectly describe both Woody Harrelson and McConaughey. If Farrell is the biggest star of Season 2, it has to be seen as a significant step down from the first season’s Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning leads, even if he can somehow turn in an equally-impressive performance.
It’s likely most fans will see it as a downgrade, too, whether they kept up with the rumor mill or not. But for those of us who did—who basically had to, thanks to its constant social media presence—doesn’t it sting all the more? We could have had Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, or another true A-list member of the Hollywood elite, and we get the guy who has more big budget bombs than hits (“Total Recall,” “Alexander,” “Miami Vice”). It’s not that Farrell lacks talent. He can absolutely command the screen when given the proper material (“In Bruges”). It’s that he’s not a movie star of the same caliber as McConaughey and Harrelson. Nearly everything we’ve been excited to see him in has turned sour on us, and there’s enough reason to expect less from “True Detective” Season 2 already.
Along with the casting conundrum, we’ve also been exposed to plot details including a “Chinatown”-esque story involving high speed rail in California, three lead detectives with drug and family problems, and government conspiracy drama of the state level (sounds familiar). Are we reaching the point of knowing too much about a show that’s all about its own mysteries in the first place?
Some fans became so hung up on the mystery of The Yellow King, studying episodes frame by frame for clues as to the mysterious murderer’s identity, they ended up disappointed by the season finale. They wanted more reveals, surprises, and shocking twists, when “True Detective” was always about just that: The two detectives at its core. Now, before Season 2 even starts shooting, we seem to be setting ourselves up for a let down all over again.
Man really is the cruelest animal — even to itself.