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The 'True Detective' Season Recap By Someone Who Doesn't Watch 'True Detective'

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | True Detective | August 11, 2015 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | True Detective | August 11, 2015 |

A lot of people watch True Detective. I’m not one of them. But I like reading about it on the Internet, because damn do people love to hate it and hate to love it. Every time an article pops up here on Pajiba about it, I reflexively start eating popcorn that’s not even there. So here it is, your recap of this season of True Detective by someone who has never seen an episode of it and has only learned this much information through osmosis.

So, props to Courtney for nicknaming Nic Pizzolatto “Nicky Pizza”. Additional props to Byrd and Castleton, who have argued incessantly about True Detective for the last eight weeks in the private citadel of the Pajiba Overlords. Without them, I wouldn’t know anything about this show, which means they probably should be careful opening their mail for a while.

The show is about detectives, possibly even true ones. The first episode was very boring but eventually had a weird murder by a weird dude, and featured a lot of bird stuff.


I assume the bird stuff is supposed to be symbolism, or maybe it’s just weird stuff tossed in by lazy writers who thinking weird stuff is automatically symbolic. There’s a serial killer who wears a pretty bitchin’ raven’s helmet mask thing, which means Nicky Pizza owes Steve Bisciotti some royalties. I’m just going to call the killer Ray Rice. He likes to peck out victims’ eyes with the beak, which makes him the worst episode of Criminal Minds ever.


As far as characters go, there’s also Vince Vaughn. Funny story, the only five minutes of True Detective I’ve seen that didn’t feature Alexandra Daddario’s, um, eyes (it’s important for an entertainment blogger to do research, you know), was when I happened to flip channels and land on the last five minutes of an episode. But see, I knew it was HBO, but I saw Vince Vaughn looking really skinny and fit. So I spent five minutes ignoring the incredibly boring conversation he was having with his special lady friend trying to figure out what late nineties movie this could be. And then he answered the door and Colin Farrell was there looking like he’d been on an extended undercover assignment as a hobo’s tidy whities. Oh! This must be that show everyone liked last year and hates now!


Anyway I think Vince Vaughn is a criminal kingpin who has really boring conversations and doesn’t do anything out of hunger. I’ll just call him So Money.


So: terrifically smelly looking Colin Farrell. He’s a cop. I assume he has a dark past, alcoholism, intimacy issues, problems with authority, and an aversion to bathing. The mayor’s probably all over his ass on this one. But I’m just spitballing here. This is the one character whose name I actually picked up along the way. Well sort of. The last name basically looked like Velcro with a letter or two changed, so that’s what I’m calling him.

Rachel McAdams plays another detective, one who likes rough sex and was sexually abused by a hippy cult as a child. I am thoroughly uncomfortable making up a mocking nickname for this character based on the only two pieces of information that I picked up about her by osmosis. So I’ll call her Bechdel, because I’m sure that there are other female characters on this show with whom she’ll have meaningful conversations.


Rounding out the main characters is Taylor Kitsch who plays a veteran who got shot in the dick. Or he’s secretly gay and trudging through a shame spiral. Maybe both, I was a bit fuzzy on this. But either way he won’t have sex with his super hot special lady friend. I think at some point there was actually a question of whether he literally had the equipment anymore due to incompetent camera work and bloggers reading way too much into said incompetent camera work, so I’m going to refer to him as Ken Doll.


Alright, back to the plot. The assorted true detectives are totes trying to hunt down Ray Rice. But Nicky Pizza wasn’t content to plagiarize 19th century short story collections, he also needed to work Chinatown in there. So the murder is all wrapped up in corrupt local politicians.

This leads to the discovery that there’s a signature page with signatures on it. So many signatures. Ken Doll was horrified to realize that some people actually commit their names to paper, since in his smooth-crotched tribe it is believed that writing your name down steals your soul.


Then Velcro at some point threatens to kill a kid’s dad, and then rape his mom with the corpse. Protect and serve, motherfucker. In Velcro’s defense, I think the kid was a ginger. But oh no! Velcro gets shot with a shotgun at point blank range! But he’s not dead because Ray Rice is TERRIBLE at being a serial killer.

I don’t know a single thing that So Money actually does over the course of the series except give terrible monologues with completely dysfunctional metaphors. I know more about Stan, which is to say nothing except that no one else knows who the hell Stan was either, so proportionately, I’m less ignorant about that. Stan is the hero Gotham needs.


There’s a big dramatic shoot-out and a bunch of nameless police officers get killed but all the named characters are okay once Ken Doll goes PTSD flashback gun-fu all over the place.

Then Ken Doll dies.

The bad guys by the middle of the season appear to be the Mexicans. You know you’ve got a thoughtful racially diverse show set in Los Angeles, when the bad guys are simply called “The Mexicans” and every single character in every single photo from the show is a tired looking white person.

And then maybe at the end Armenians show up. Or it’s the Russians. Honestly, I don’t think anyone knows, but calling the bad guy gangs “The Goddamned Fer’ners” would be even lazier than just referring to them as entire nationalities. TEAR DOWN THIS WALL, MR. NICKY PIZZA.


By the end Ray Rice has been forgotten about for like half the season because of all those wicked signatures and Mexicans. The twist ended up being that he was a photographer or something else to do with movies, because the show is in LA so of course something had to do with movies. And freeways. The Los Angeles highway system probably was a more fully developed character than anyone else on the show.


And then everybody dies. Except Bechdel because she has to have Velcro’s baby.

The End.

I can’t wait for season three.


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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.