True Detective: Season 2 Episode 1 Recap — CONTAINS SPOILERS


“Change will come to those who have no fear”

                                                            -Lera Lynn

The highly anticipated first episode of season two of True Detective premiered last night, and if it is any indication by the song used in the teaser trailer, this season will be completely different than the first season. It is clear from the beginning of the episode that change has come, as the city of focus is now the fictional Vinci, California located next to Los Angeles. Long gone are the rural woods of Louisiana and the intrigue that follows happenings in the Deep South. True Detective follows a unique format in that this season will completely independent from last season. Expectations are high as the first season provided viewers with arguably some of the best television ever on TV. This first episode follows the arc of what seem to be the four central characters of the second season. It will be easiest to go through the episode by describing what we know about each character so far:

Detective Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell):

The episode begins with Velcoro and his son sitting in a parking lot. His son, who is overweight, is clearly the subject of bullying at his middle school, and this seems uncomfortable for the tough and macho Velcoro, who is a cop. Velcoro is trying though, to form a relationship with his son by sending him recorded messages and buying him new Nikes. As the scene changes we see Velcoro talking to an investigator about a crime committed years before. Velcoro’s wife was raped and beaten and 9 months later she gave birth to his son. This detail is obviously not lost on Velcoro but he seems to be invested in being the father of his son even if he isn’t biologically related.

A flashback reveals an encounter between Velcoro and the shady Frank Semyon played by Vince Vaughn. In the flashback it is implied that Vaughn has killed the rapist of Velcoro’s wife in an effort to form a quid pro quo relationship between the two.

Back in the present, Velcoro is investigating the disappearance of the city manager of Vinci. He is also completing tasks for Semyon as he (under a mask) beats up and robs a reporter who seeks to expose the corruption in the greater LA area. Velcoro decides to check up on his son at school when he runs into his son and his wife’s new husband. He notices that his son is not wearing the shoes that he bought him. Realizing that his son was bullied out of his new shoes, Velcoro goes to the house of the bully and beats up the bully’s dad in front of him.

It is apparent that Velcoro suffers from an alcohol and aggression problem that is only amplified by his dangerous relationship with Semyon. It will be interesting to see whether he can evolve as a character to be the shows moral figure or if his addiction makes him a lost cause.

Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn):

Frank Semyon is a businessman who seeks to build up greater LA. He has a dubious past and continues to run a corrupt business that is under threat of being exposed. With the help of city officials and police officers including Velcoro he is able to prosper. He is seeking to build a rail system that runs through LA and neighboring cities. When the city manager doesn’t show up to his pitch to investors he begins to get concerned.

Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams):

Bezzerides is a LA sheriff who comes from a broken family. We quickly meet her sister during a bust of an online prostitution webcam business, which turns out to be legal. Bezzerides’ sister is working in the online pornographic business. While investigating a reported missing woman, we meet Bezzerides’ father who is a spiritual leader at an institute that teaches the ways of dharma. He has a very “go with the flow” attitude and seems more concerned with the path Bezzerides has taken than that of her sister. It seems that Bezzerides has taken steps to disassociate herself from her family.

Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch):

Finally the last of the central characters focused on in the first episode is Woodrugh who is a California Highway Patrol Officer. While on the job on his motorcycle, he pulls over a woman driving a red BMW, who has a house arrest ankle bracelet on, is inebriated, and does not have her license on her. She tells him that if he lets her go she will make it up to him in the form of a sexual act. It is not clear whether or not he accepts.

The next time we see him, he is sitting with his boss who tells him he will be put on paid leave as they investigate him for the encounter mentioned above. He adamantly denies involvement, and his boss also doesn’t suspect that it is true.

He goes to stay with a love interest of his. Woodrugh can be no more than thirty years old, but he has the body of a seasoned war veteran riddled with scars. He also needs to take Viagra to engage in sexual activity with his significant other. It is clear that this is due to some sort of psychological problem.

In an effort to commit suicide, he takes his motorcycle out at night and gets up to 100 mph before turning his lights off. Realizing he can’t go through with it he slows down and pulls to the side of the highway. Sitting on the side of the highway is the city manager, who has been brutally murdered with his eyes having been chemically burned out. He calls 911, and Bezzerides and Velcoro show up and all three cops meet for the first time.


As with any first episode, story line can get complicated and convoluted and this episode was no exception. It is evident that the writers and directors are building a complex tale that will hopefully rival that of the first season. The acting was superb, as we have come to expect from HBO. It will take time though for viewers to be convinced that Vince Vaughn can play a serious mobster, as he is become accustomed to only playing comedic roles. With an open mind, it will be exciting to see what the next episode will bring.


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