‘True Detective’ Season 2: What We Know So Far

Five things we can say for sure, probably

The next season of “True Detective” will be about “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system,” says series creator Nic Pizzolatto.

That intriguing preview came in an interview with HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, one of the very few Pizzolatto has done around the Season 1 finale of the HBO series.

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What else do we know about the show? Not much. It hasn’t officially been renewed, no actors have been cast, and Pizzolatto hasn’t even presented his idea to HBO.

Why wouldn’t Season 2 be a mystery? We didn’t even find out until Sunday’s finale exactly what kind of show we were watching. A twist on the buddy-cop genre? A philosophical discourse on the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life? A serial killer yarn? It turned out to be a twisting, garish combination of the three, completely different from anything else.

That said, here’s what we know so far. Or think we know.

Matthew McConaughey won’t be back.

The show was always intended as an anthology with a new story each season. The surprise survival of both Rust Cohle and Marty Hart at the end of Season 1 suggested at least one could return, someday. But McConaughey has said he never planned to stay beyond one season. “It was a 450-page film, is what it was,” McConaughey said of the show’s first season during a January Television Critics Association panel.  “It was also finite. It didn’t mean we had to come back this year, next year if we were under contract. It was finite. So in that way it was exactly a 450-page film script.”

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It could take place in Southern California.

Pizzolatto said in an interview with BuzzFeed’s Kate Authur that he’s “been reading about the last 40 years of Southern California government.” He also signaled that the show is leaving his home state of Louisiana: He said he hopes the new season “presents new characters in a new place with authenticity and resonance and an authorial voice consistent with this season. Dominant colors will change. South Louisiana was green and burnished gold.”

Wherever the show goes, it will be places you don’t usually see on TV: “We’re generally concerned with the places that don’t get much press and where you wouldn’t normally set a television show,” Pizzolatto (pictured with McConaughey) said at TCA.

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There will be more than one director this time.

Season 1 owes much of its gorgeous, moody aesthetics to Cary Fukunaga, but logistics will prevent him from shooting every episode in Season 2, as he did in Season 1.

“We don’t have any plans to work with one director again,” Pizzolatto told Buzzfeed. “It would be impossible to do this yearly as we need to be able to do post while we’re still filming, like any other show. There’s some great guys I’ve consulted, and we’re all confident we can achieve the same consistency.”

The format of the show is wide open.

“I tried to make the format as broad for my tastes as possible in the sense that, yes, this is almost the ‘True Detective’ version of a buddy cop movie hunting for a serial killer,” Pizzolatto said at TCA. “And in that way, it even touches on a lot of those tropes while, I hope, subverting and making them entirely new through the character work. And, you know, there could be a season that’s much more of a widespread conspiracy thriller, a season that’s a small town murder mystery, a season where nobody is murdered and it’s a master criminal versus a rogue detective or something. Even the title, ‘True Detective,’ is meant to be, of course, purposefully somewhat generic before you even get to the there are deeper indications. The word ‘true’ can also mean honorable and authentic and things like that. But all the previous incarnations of anything titled ‘True Detective’ was an anthology; right? So as long as there is some crime in there, I think the series format can approach it. I mean, theoretically you could tell Faulkner’s ‘Absalom Absalom!’ as a season of ‘True Detective’ because it’s told as a mystery story.”