Jun 18, 2015


'Distinguishing the living from the dead has never been easy in this show. The dead refuse to depart and the living can’t wait to join them. The new season begins with a corpse leaving town, rather stylishly, in the backseat of a limo wearing shades, like a celebrity avoiding the paps.  That corpse leaves a trail that encircles Vaughn’s property deal, beckons us into the sound-proofed rooms and pleasure palaces of the porn industry, before spiraling, as is Pizzolatto’s wont, into the realm of higher metaphysics, the degradations of the human body leading naturally to the flights of its spirit: the third episode even features a Lynchian vision of the afterlife, complete with Paunchy Elvis impersonator.  “Am I supposed to solve this?”  asks Farrell at one point and you can only sympathize. The delicate balance struck by plot and atmospherics —between mysteries and mere mysteriousness — has tipped decisively towards the latter, with director Justin Lin patrolling the toxic wastelands and snaking freeways of outer Los Angeles from on high like a vengeful God on the hunt for sinners, the knot of concrete concourses below a perfect metaphor for the show’s Altmanesque character collisions and plot convolutions.  By the end of the third episode I had happily given up on forming even a basic set of working assumptions about what was going on, instead cleaving to the theory that the moral redemption sought out by each character is in directly proportional to the magnitude of career redemption desired by the actor playing him, minus the square root of the amount that otherwise would have been spent on hair and make-up. If movie stars looking as if they have just eaten something that disagreed with them is your thing, this is your series. Farrell is the clear winner here, with his stringy hair, droopy seventies-era moustache, and complexion a delicate shade of nicotine-gray. Unwilling to take the paternity test that will reveal if his raped ex-wife bore his son, beating up on the kid’s class-mates, Farrell’s Ray is a superb portrait of a man undergoing a comprehensive  spiritual rout. What’s missing so far is what drove the first show: a sense of evil so palpable you felt like you needed a bath after watching it. What we have so far is a snake trail of civic corruption like The Wire, but the political ire that drove that show is not Pizzolatto’s strong suit. His beef with the human race is more personal, intimate: he’s a moralist with an insatiable sweet tooth for moral rot. He wishes to bring no injustice to light; he wishes to join his sinners down in the dark His landscape is that of the fin-de-siecle decadents, those etiolated high priests of the high morbid manner Wilde, Baudelaire and Beardsley, with one foot in Poe’s house of horrors.' 
— from my review for Vogue.com

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