Sure, Season 2 had flashes of brilliance — most notably, Episode 7’s terrifying “Lonely Souls.” But once Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed, the novelty quickly wore off and the series became all style and very little substance. David Lynch and Mark Frost have an opportunity to right all of Season 2’s wrongs with Showtime’s upcoming Twin Peaks revival; here’s hoping they don’t squander it.
A day and time change (from Tuesdays at 9 to Fridays at 8) didn’t help James Cameron’s futuristic action series, but it’s not the only reason the Jessica Alba drama didn’t deliver in Season 2. New cast members, a depressing tonal shift — unlike her plucky wins in Season 1, Manticore bests Max again and again! — and an unsatisfyingly unresolved thread about our heroine’s destiny made for one bleak hour of TV.
We cared about Mary Alice’s puzzling suicide — which opened Season 1 — mostly because Susan, Gabrielle, Bree and Lynette were united in their desire to find out the truth about their friend’s death (that is, when they weren’t boffing teenage landscapers or flirting with plumbers). But the addition of new neighbors the Applewhites (and their attendant mystery) just didn’t provide the same soapy zing!, and storylines that split the ladies up rather than uniting them eventually hurt the show’s flow. The fact that some of the series regulars didn’t like each other — as we’d later learn — couldn’t have helped, either.
Save the cheerleader, save… the best stuff for the end of Season 2? After the goings-on in Kirby Plaza during the explosive Season 1 finale, the NBC superhero drama took its time ramping up the action upon the series’ return. Even creator Tim Kring would go on to apologize publicly for spending so much screentime on newbies like Maya and Alejandro, for saddling Claire with a lame-o boyfriend and for having Hiro in Japan too long. Add in the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and you got a shortened season with decreased stakes — a series in need of a rescue itself.
Remember when Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke was a badass who systematically Red Sharpie’d her father’s enemies into oblivion? And then remember when people/things like The Initiative, Eli, Amanda’s mom, Trask and (shudder) Padma gummed up the works? While subsequent seasons restored some of the drama’s soapy energy, the show never quite regained its Season 1 momentum.
We finally learned who killed Rosie Larsen in the gloomy series’ Season 2 finale (after being promised that the killer would be outed in Season 1), but by that point, the revelation didn’t seem quite worth the time it took to get there. Too little of the Holden-Linder dynamic we love, too many loose ends going into Season 3: To take a note from Rosie’s Super 8 film, what we know is that the first season of the AMC (and subsequently, Netflix) drama was far superior.
The NBC drama spent Season 1 telling us how important the tower and the pendants were to the survival of a post-catastrophe, electricity-lacking society… then ditched that idea for a Season 2 where ersatz government officials and autonomous nanites (!) ran the show. Not even the sparks between Miles and Rachel were enough to keep the show’s lights on.
Maybe it’s the case at the heart of the season that’s not doing it for us: The murder of a pervy, double-dealing city manager — even if by someone wearing a giant crow’s head — just isn’t as compelling as Season 1’s 17-year search for a serial killer preying on women and girls. Another possibility: Bezzerides, Woodrugh and Velcoro, though every bit as flawed as Cohle and Hart, seem incapacitated — rather than driven — by the sheer amount of corruption surrounding them. Nevertheless, if Marty and Rust could survive a visit to Carcosa, there’s a chance True Detective can still pull off a satisfying end to its sophomore run.