What's going on with "True Detective" Season 2?

HBO hasn't officially ordered it yet, but the show creator has outlined some vague plans for the next season

Published March 10, 2014 7:21PM (EDT)

Matthew McConaughey in "True Detective"                (HBO/Lacey Terrell)
Matthew McConaughey in "True Detective" (HBO/Lacey Terrell)

It's rare for a television show -- especially a drama that becomes a hit in its first season -- to totally scrap its existing characters and story line to start anew in Season 2. But that's what "True Detective" is doing -- at least, that is what it seems to be doing, based on the few clues that show creator Nic Pizzolatto has shared with television critics in recent interviews.

HitFix's Alan Sepinwall notes that HBO hasn't officially ordered Season 2
yet -- again, a stalling that's rare for a hit series so popular that it brings down its hosts site -- but surmises that this is "because I suspect HBO is waiting until they've signed the actors they want before announcing."

There are a few things we do know about Season 2 of "True Detective," however: Pizzolatto is currently "fleshing it out," he told EW, and it will be about "hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system."

And the Chicago Tribune claims that Matthew McConaughey, who played detective Rust Cohle alongside Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart, won't be back:

The show was always intended as an anthology with a new story each season. The surprise survival of both Rust Cohle and Marty Hart at the end of Season 1 suggested at least one could return, someday. But McConaughey has said he never planned to stay beyond one season. “It was a 450-page film, is what it was,” McConaughey said of the show's first season during a January Television Critics Association panel. “It was also finite. It didn't mean we had to come back this year, next year if we were under contract. It was finite. So in that way it was exactly a 450-page film script.”

Cohle and Hart are probably not coming back, but Pizzolatto has retained the literary rights to his protagonists. "So maybe you will see Cohle and Hart novels down the road after Hollywood kicks me out. Always a possibility," he told EW.

And it's not just the cast and story that will change -- the entire directorial style, overseen in Season 1 by Cary Fukunaga, is likely to change, too. Pizzolatto told BuzzFeed via email:

We don’t have any plans to work with one director again. It would be impossible to do this yearly as we need to be able to do post while we’re still filming, like any other show. There’s some great guys I’ve consulted, and we’re all confident we can achieve the same consistency. Going forward, I want the show’s aesthetic to remain determinedly naturalistic, with room for silences and vastness, and an emphasis on landscape and culture. And I hope a story that presents new characters in a new place with authenticity and resonance and an authorial voice consistent with this season. Dominant colors will change. South Louisiana was green and burnished gold.

It seems like the freshman show is already being gutted, left with skeletal remains that, once filled in again, might not even resemble its original form. One thing that we do know about Season 1 that will carry over from season 2 -- perhaps the most important thing -- is that the philosophical detective drama will continue with the same spirit -- "keep being strange."

"Don't play the next one straight," Pizzolatto told HitFix.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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