If you've watched the first episode of True Detective Season 2, or even if you've just heard about the all-star cast or seen the promos, you know that this season revolves around a murder and the storylines of three different police officers (Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch) and a career criminal with somewhat ambiguous motives (Vince Vaughn). It's the stuff of classic True Detective dreams and nightmares, and as was to be expected, the first episode was more than a bit confusing. Personally, I was most fascinated by the way each of the cops behaved, and (SPOILER ALERT) the way they came together at the end of the episode. But if they're all in the police force, who has the upper hand? I mean, one detective has to be higher ranking than the others, right?
Before I begin, let me just say that the spoiler alert you just encountered is not going to be the only one, so if you really don't want to know the minutiae of the Season 2 premiere, I suggest you leave now. I'll wait.
OK, are they gone? Good — let's break it down by character, leaving Vaughn out of this because, like I said, he's a professional bad boy. Farrell plays Detective Ray Velcoro, a man working for the corrupted police department of the city of Vinci while dealing with the fact that he's basically being controlled by Vaughn's character, Frank Semyon; McAdams plays Ani Bezzerides, a sheriff's detective; and Kitsch plays Officer Paul Woodrugh, an ex-military highway patrol officer. As a highway patrolman, Woodrugh is the runt of the police litter. On top of that, he's on paid leave from his police duties while Internal Affairs investigates him for an encounter with a woman he pulled over on the highway who said he solicited oral sex from her. So, basically, all that "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" business Kitsch is used to? Yeah, that won't apply here.
That said, detectives don't technically outrank police officers. They are, however, often in charge of cases and have seniority over officers, so they're commonly awarded more authority. It's more your typical "respect your elders" thing than an official designation.
But we get into stickier territory with Velcoro (Farrell) and Bezzerides (McAdams). Since they're both detectives, they're technically ranked identically, despite the fact that Velcoro is with a city police department and Bezzerides is with a sheriff's department. In the United States, sheriffs are usually community-elected officials, one for each county, while police chiefs or commissioners are typically appointed by a mayor or city council. So, Bezzerides likely works for a man of the people, whereas Velcoro works for a man of the government. When looking at it in those terms, I'm inclined to think that Velcoro would have the most authority out of the three officers, but then again, I'm not fluent in interdepartmental and inter-police department politics.
For those of you who don't like confusion, though, have no fear—I'm sure some kind of power struggle or pissing contest will come up between the two detectives at some point over the next seven weeks. If True Detective Season 1 has taught us anything, it's that nothing helps solve a crime like a little drama between co-workers.
Images: Lacey Terrell/HBO (2)