Since its inception, HBO's crime series True Detective has always been considered an anthology. Season 1 of the show gave us a glimpse at the grimy backroads of Louisiana, as Matthew McConaughey's and Woody Harrelson's Rust Cohle and Martin Hart investigated the brutal workings of a serial killer called the Yellow King over the course of 17 years. The true test of any anthology is how the second season measures up to the first — in terms of quality, tone, setting, theme, etc. FX's American Horror Story, for example, has been markedly different every year, transitioning from spooky thriller to grim horror to campy melodrama to... whatever Freak Show was. Will the sophomore season of True Detective be just as dissimilar from its predecessor? Judging by the recently released True Detective Season 2 teaser, the answer is simply... no.
From the opening moments of the trailer, Season 2 of True Detective has already definitively marked itself as a spiritual successor to its progenitor. Rather than risk alienating the audience that grew borderline-obsessed with Season 1 by implementing a completely different tone, it seems as though creator Nic Pizzolatto has doubled down on what made his show's first iteration so successful.
Here's everything the two seasons of True Detective have in common based on the teaser... as well as some things that are different:
1. The Music
As soon as you press "play" on the Season 2 teaser, you're treated to the haunting strains of an alternative country song. While the Internet is still busy trying to figure out what the song is (Update: According to the Arden Concert Gild, the song is an unreleased track by country singer Lera Lynn), it's undeniably similar to the haunting strains of the alternative country song that played under Season 1's title sequence: "Far From Any Road" from the album Singing Bones by The Handsome Family.
2. The Urban Imagery
The very first image of the teaser isn't the famous faces of any its star-studded cast, but a lonely highway twisting through the mountains. This shot is strikingly similar to the highway overpasses glimpsed in Woody Harrelson's profile during the Season 1 title sequence. The distinctive profile of some sort of industrial power plant also repeats between the Season 2 trailer and the Season 1 title sequence. Based on these images, you'd hardly know that we'd left Louisiana behind for California.
3. The Bad Facial Hair
Ugly mustaches seem to be a prerequisite for being the show's protagonist.
4. The Angst
Oh, the angst. Absolutely everyone glimpsed in the Season 2 trailer appears to be miserable. Whether on the verge of tears, getting into shoving matches, punching people with brass knuckles, or staring at a crime scene, there's not a happy expression in sight. Nic Pizzolatto should trademark the "intense scowl" and "furrowed brow" for his cast's use.
5. The Strong Female Characters
So, remember when I mentioned that some things were different? This would be one of them. Season 1 of True Detective was widely (and rightfully) derided for its treatment of women; the only female characters on the show were tired archetypes like the long-suffering spouse and the sex-object mistress. Season 2 promises to change that, casting Rachel McAdams as one of its lead detectives. (She's still only one of two female leads, including Kelly Reilly, in another cast list dominated by men. But hey — baby steps, right?)
6. The Camerawork
Despite the uproar when it was announced that Cary Fukunaga — the man who singlehandedly helmed all eight Season 1 episodes — would not be returning to the director's chair for Season 2, the show's style doesn't seem to have suffered at all in the transition. With Justin Lin now directing, the camerawork and lighting in Season 2 appear to be very much in sync with Season 1's look. For example, that shot of Colin Farrell above is highly reminiscent of all those scenes of Matthew McConaughey in the interrogation room. I can practically hear Farrell philosophizing about time being a flat circle already.
7. The Locations
Dimly lit bars, rough neighborhoods streets, rundown houses, wood-paneled offices, the aforementioned industrial plant... It's very tough to tell the difference between Season 1's Southern setting and Season 2's location on the West Coast. The biggest difference in locations here appears to come from Vince Vaughn's storyline, as his character is seen in both a sleekly modern office building and a brightly-colored casino.
8. The Anti-Buddy Cops
Towards the end of the teaser, we get our The Avengers-like money shot of the three protagonists standing in a circle... and just like in The Avengers, they don't really seem to be getting along too well. Just look at how Taylor Kitsch is glaring at Colin Farrell there. (He's probably upset about the dude's bolo tie. I would be, too.) If Season 1 is any indication, don't expect this trio to get all buddy-buddy anytime soon. Sure, Rust and Martin may have ended up friends, but it was a long and winding road to reach that point.
9. The Creepy Criminals
Of course, what would a crime show be without a terrifying antagonist? It remains to be seen whether Season 2's villain will live up to the spine-tingling horror of Season 1's Errol Childress... But that image of a masked man standing on a suburban street in broad daylight is already giving me the heebie-jeebies.
10. The Title
It's interesting to note that, unlike American Horror Story and its Asylum/Coven/Freak Show/Hotel seasons, there is no subtitle to Season 2 of True Detective. That, to me, is the single biggest indication that this new iteration will remain faithful in tone and style to its predecessor. If Pizzolatto had wanted to distinguish between the two seasons, he could easily have given the title a colon and a name to separate itself from Season 1. As it stands, both seasons of True Detective will apparently exist together as one unified whole.
Check the Season 2 trailer below:
Images: HBO; Screengrab (12), Lacey Terrell (2), James Bridges, Michele K. Short (3)/HBO