5 Things to Know About HBO’s ‘True Detective’ Season 2

The acclaimed detective drama returns this weekend with a new case and new cops – who have some big shoes to fill.
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True Detective Season 2 Photo

Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell play troubled characters in 'True Detective.' (Photo: Lacey Terrell)

“We get the world we deserve.” That’s the tagline for the new season of True Detective, which returns Sunday night (9/8c) on HBO. A lot has changed for Season 2, but if that line rings true, it will be every bit as brooding as the first season that hooked us.

The next chapter of the anthology series looks very different from Season 1, which featured the high-profile pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (both were Emmy-nominated for their work), and was wrapped around the halo of the “McConaissance.”

So, what can you expect this season? Here are 5 Things to Know About True Detective Season 2:

1. New Cast:

The cast has doubled, beefed up from two main players to four. In a refreshing change of pace, Vince Vaughn (The Wedding Crashers) plays the heavy, starring as a crime boss. Colin Farrell (Winter's Tale), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) all play police officers. They’re no angels, either.

Once again the characters are dark and dirty, and each is haunted by their pasts. Like last season, they’re all grappling with the same existential crises and complexities of the meaning of life. Here’s the breakdown of who’s who:

True Detective Season 2 Photo

Vince Vaughn gets dark in his role as a bad guy in 'True Detective.' (Photo: Lacey Terrell)

~ Vince Vaughn plays bad guy businessman Frank Semyon, whose attempts to go legit are thwarted when his business partner Ben Casper turns up dead on the side of a California highway along the coast, his eyes burned out with acid.

~ Colin Farrell plays Ray Velcoro, a shady lush of a detective trapped serving two masters: his bosses in a corrupt police department and the mobster who owns him. He’s also battling his ex-wife over their son – who may or may not be his child – and he really doesn’t want to know the truth, since his wife was raped around the time of conception.

~ Rachel McAdams plays Ani Bezzerides, a sheriff’s detective saddled with some serious family dysfunction — a troubled sister who works in porn and an estranged father who appears to be some kind of zen commune/cult leader.

~ Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, an Iraq war veteran and a Calif. highway patrol motorcycle officer, who’s trying to evade his difficult past and is embroiled in a scandal with a troubled Hollywood starlet that may or may not have happened.

True Detective Season 2 Photo

Taylor Kitsch plays an Iraq War veteran involved in a very suspect situation. (Photo: Lacey Terrell)

P.S. The guest stars this season include Lolita Davidovich (Raising Cain), W. Earl Brown (Deadwood), David Morse (Treme) and Rick Springfield (yes, that Rick Springfield).

2. New Setting:

Gone are the back roads of swampy, sun-drenched Louisiana. Season 2 heads to a new gritty city: the industrial town of Vinci, Ca. in Los Angeles County. Moving the crime scene to the mean streets of L.A. gives the season a noir-ish feel, with echoes of Jack Nicholson’s classic noir Chinatown (1974). Expect lots of scenic shots of night lights along the city grid, and a lot of attention paid to the musical score that once again supports the atmospheric elements with rockin’, haunting vibes.

3. New Crime:

A bizarre murder – the creepy killing of Frank’s business partner – brings together three different departments of law enforcement to solve the murder. As the case unravels, so do the personal lives of the main characters. One is just as twisted as the next, but the revelation here just may be Vince Vaughn. Playing against type in a dark and dramatic role, Vaughn gets to show his teeth and it’s unnervingly menacing.

4. No Homages:

Yes, it’s a crime drama, but you can stop playing couch detective and looking for secret clues embedded in the story. Fans wracked their brains last season following the trail of cultural and literary references, trying to figure out what to make of it. Forget flat circles and the Yellow King. This year, it’s a straight story.

“There are no references or homages at all in True Detective Season 2,” said creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto, according to The Wall Street Journal.

So just sit back, relax and enjoy the homework-free viewing experience.

5. An Eight-Episode Season:

Thanks to the success of American Horror Story, which paved the way for the British model of compact TV seasons to take hold in Hollywood, “limited-run series” are all the rage now. True Detective will pack a punch and then clock out after eight episodes.

More and more networks are running with the format, which allows for more quality storytelling since they don’t have to drag things out, less viewer time commitment, and luring bigger talent to television (enticing to actors who don’t necessarily want to be locked into a series for years). Now, Vaughn, Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch … It’s go time!

Season 2 of True Detective premieres Sunday, June 21 at 9/8c on HBO.