HBO’s True Detective Omega Station TV Show Review. True Detective: Season 2, Episode 8: TV Show Review Omega Station spat in the eye of HBO’s merciful 8-episode run by extending itself an additional 30-minutes. Omega Station offered the season’s usual amounts of narrative bloat and convoluted story telling, interspersed with a few thrills and some solid performances.
After completing the first season of True Detective, I never could have imagined that I would be disappointed to find out season two’s final episode would have the run-time of a feature length film. It is unfortunate that a show with a propensity for juggling too many plot points would extend its final episode only to keep doing the same things that make the show such a drag to so watch. This season contained too many scenes loaded with exposition dumps and references to characters viewers hadn’t been introduced to or couldn’t recall. There is no excuse for a show that spends so much time spinning its tires and going nowhere to produce a 90-minute episode.
It made sense that as the specter of their death or incarceration hung over them, Ani (Rachel McAdams) and Ray (Colin Farrell) would share a night together. However, the show leaned hard on their newfound romantic bond and wanted the audience to all of a sudden root for them as a couple. The blossoming of Ani and Ray’s professional relationship was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the show. Despite each officer receiving a warning about the other, Ani and Ray were able to see something of value in one another and they forged a mutual respect out of that small connection. For True Detective to toss that relationship aside and replace it with a romance that emerged from a desperate fling at the end of the seventh episode is just poor story telling. It feels cheap and dismissive of the partnership that grew over the entire season.
Omega Station fell into this season’s off putting habit of characters getting together and talking about important events that happened somewhere else in order to move the plot forward — Nails (Chris Kerson) explaining his fierce loyalty to Frank (Vince Vaughn) before whisking Jordan (Kelly Reilly) away is a perfect example. When Ani and Ray finally put together the identity of the Birdmasked killer, so much of the revelation occurs through the discussion of abstract character’s back-stories that the big reveal carried the impact of a snowflake landing on a dandelion. Remember the amount of intrigue during the first episode, when the mysterious Birdmask wearing killer drove his car into the hills to dump Caspere’s body? How about the off the charts tension in the scene where the Birdmask wearing killer crept up on Ray and fired off a couple of shotgun blasts? The next five episodes of True Detective proceeded to slowly wring out the viewer’s enthusiasm for the mystery until the revelation of Caspere’s killer could only be met with an indifferent shrug.
I didn’t have a problem with the series killing off so many of the lead characters or with the show’s villains not receiving their comeuppance; the pulpy noir genre is defined by ill-fated heroes trying to overcome insurmountable odds and often failing. Thematically, the ending of season two aligns perfectly with how the show wrapped up its first season. Marty and Rust took down the killer they had been tracking, but they were never able to bring down the higher ups/people of influence that were connected to the case. In these types of stories, there is always another bad guy lurking around the corner, and once the hero realizes (s)he can’t win, the story often shifts to whether or not they can make it out alive — they often don’t.
Season 2 of True Detective wasn’t entirely a disappointment. The show certainly had its moments: Colin Farrell’s performance during the scene where Ray discovered he had killed the wrong man being the high point. All season long, Rachel McAdams turned in some solid acting in her role as Ani, and Vince Vaughn delivered a host of great zingers as Frank. Sure, sometimes Frank’s dialogue was so over the top it felt like a parody of the genre, but Vince Vaughn’s performance picked up intensity as the season went on and he brought a physicality to the role that no one had expected from him. In terms of how this season looked, when the show really put its mind to it, it was as beautiful and stylish as anything on television. From the sun-baked desert where Frank met his demise to the dull red pallor inside of the orgy mansion, True Detective presented some memorable visuals and (at times) created an engrossing atmosphere that few programs on television could match.
After season one of True Detective, the series’ writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto had the green light to come up with the show he wanted to make. HBO provided the platform, the budget, and the star power for this series to succeed and somehow it didn’t. Perhaps Pizzolatto tried too hard to show up last season’s critics, or maybe the pressure of topping the juggernaut that was season one forced him out of his comfort zone as a writer. Either way, its undeniable that season two fell short of expectations. The most frustrating aspect of True Detective’s second season is that it had the potential to be a great show. Season one was incredibly well received and season two’s rock solid ratings mean that season three is an inevitability. The best that we can hope for is that humbled by his missteps, Pizzolatto goes back to the drawing board with renewed vigour, and HBO institutes the checks and balances to prevent him from overextending himself. After eight and a half hours of True Detective season two, the show’s greatest contribution to the pantheon of television will be informing True Detective season three of what not to do.
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