4) Experimental Production Decisions That Have More to Do With the Season's Story Arc
Sometimes I feel like the only person on the Internet who had a middle-of-the-road reaction to the famous Big Fucking Tracking Shot from the end of episode 4. I mean, yeah, it was well produced, but it wasn't exactly Russian Ark or anything. And that entire sequence, while tense, is more or less just a side mission that gets swept under the rug by next episode and doesn't really have that much to do with the Yellow King caper itself. If it had been something with more emotional consequences for the larger story, rather than a detour weirdly reminiscent of a level in Mass Effect, it might have had more of an impact on me.
The best thing about the BFTS was what it represented in terms of True Detective's future. If the show is willing to do things this ambitious, maybe that could lead it to some truly unpredictable places later on. I'd heartily encourage whoever directs the next season to push the envelope even more, as long as it stems naturally from the story. How about a whole episode done in one take? How about a scene where everyone speaks in Aramaic for some reason? Hell, go ahead and go all Five Obstructions on this thing if you want. I'll tag along.
3) More Bizarre Dialogue and Unexpected Character Beats
As others have noted, the best parts of the show are often the nifty little nuggets of personality that creep in through the sidelines of the narrative. The prime examples are the conversations the two principals have while driving. But there's another one that sticks with me: the opening of the fifth episode where Marty beats up some teens who had a threesome with his underage daughter. We fully expect that kind of macho act from him at this point. But the scene right after, where he goes out to his car and throws up? Not as expected, and says a lot more about him than many of his monologue or confessional scenes ever could.
So, yeah. More cop vomit, I guess. Not literally, but you know what I mean. I hope.
2) A Few Links to the First Season's Mythology (but Only a Few)
While I do want the show to stick to its guns and have self-contained seasons, I also think it could benefit from leaving little breadcrumbs in there referring to the Hart/Cohle era. They don't have to be obvious, and I'm certainly not hoping for a guest appearance by the Lawnmower Guy or anything. Just a little sumpn' sumpn' would be nice, is all; even a freeze-frame style Easter Egg. Maybe there's a devil net in the corner of some crack house our new cops bust, or somebody gets a John Deere mug for Christmas, or David Letterman shows up and does a version of his "Uma/Oprah" routine with Carcosa and Hector Barbossa from Pirates of the Carribean. Not that. But something like that.
1) The Show Should Go off the Deep End, but Not in a Way We're all Expecting
So far, this list probably seems like a mass of contradictions. Be different, but not that different. Keep the same tone, but change everything. The truth is, the strength of these first eight episodes have been the way they marry poignant emotional details with the archetypes of crime pulp: as long as Nicky P keeps that up, he should just chase his spirit gator wherever the hell it takes him. True Detective's first season will probably be regarded as a genre-straddling classic for some time, but that doesn't mean it can't be a wind-up to something even better. It's great that it's been compared to Lost and Twin Peaks, but it has the best chance of survival if it just continues to be its own silly beast while staying true to the viewer, as Nick said in a recent interview.
I mean, maybe a little Cthulhu wouldn't hurt...
More By Andy Hughes