19. “That’s one off the bucket list. Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.”
Well, their dicks ended up working, anyway. Or a couple of their dicks worked. And as the Bard wrote,
18. “Do you miss it?” “What?” “Anything.”
Actually, let’s start with a neat thing. You wanna see a neat thing? You remember that convo between Vince Vaughn and Kelly Reilly near the beginning of last night’s True Detective finale—the one where they threw their jewelry around and acted all romantic-badass and the whole scene lasted longer than a La Monte Young remix of the “Ring” cycle? Where they start picking out each other’s wardrobes, and she tells him to wear a suit with a rose in the jacket?
Nailed it. Nailed it. (She did say a white suit, but then again he never really listened to her, because she was a woman.) I’ll miss this show. I’m so glad it’s over.
17. “Sometimes your worst self is your best self.”
So once again the killer was a random dude briefly interviewed by our True Detectives during a throwaway scene episodes ago, and once again the killer mattered not at all; once again this show was an elemental battle between its creator’s titanic super-macho-manliness and the crushing wave of derisively hooting viewer backlash that never quite crested in time to doom the first season, but drowned this one from the beginning.
16. “Something happens to me on the way out, this shit hits the cloud.”
The conventional wisdom is this whole enterprise was toast without Matthew McConaughey to sell it and Cary Fukunaga to frame it and nobody around to tell Nic Pizzolatto No or Please don’t do that or I’m telling you for the last time or You can’t have it back or Sorry dogg I threw your typewriter into the ocean. But the truth is there has never been a more inevitable backlash to a season of television in television history: Season one was a cool little show that got relentlessly overinflated by the conspiracy-theorist internet and bummed everyone out with its LOL Sorry Just A Crazy Redneck Guy anticlimax and terrorized everyone with a good half-year of intolerable #truedetectiveseason2 jokes, and consequently, we had it in for this thing from the beginning, whether it sucked or not. Or, to put it another way,
15. “Thing is, you ain’t that thing no more. What you used to was.”
Turns out it actually sucked!
14. “Well, just so you know, I support feminism. Mostly by having body-image issues.”
Well, this go-round’s second half was better than the first half, anyway—if Pizzolatto heeded any of your complaints about last time (he didn’t), it was the one about his hints of a grand ornate Yellow King conspiracy not adding up to jack shit. For round two, he started from the end and wrote backwards. (Which was not good news for the beginning, but eh, fuck it, that was a long time ago.) This time he was hellbent on connecting all the dots for you, even if that mostly involved sullen disgraced cops sitting in dank hotel rooms barking the names of characters you hardly remembered at one another in between bouts of dry-humping. The best thing written about this season had the words “Excruciatingly Clear Plot Breakdown” in the headline; the second-best asked the question, “Who The Hell Is Stan?” It was a bottomless parfait of bonkers violence, befuddling exposition, ludicrous dialogue, repeat. Oh, and don’t forget:
13. “If I don’t come up with a new play, the dead trees, the present from the stork are gonna be what they call ‘moot points.’”
Vince Vaughn got it the worst, of course, both in life—
12. “I never lost a tooth. I never even had a fuckin’ cavity.”
—and in death, stuck roaming the desert stabbed all to shit being taunted by Ghost Dad (for being gay and useless) and Ghost Random Gang of Black Dudes (for looking like Larry Bird). (He doesn’t look anything like Larry Bird.) (I was hoping to figure out which NBA player he did look like, but it would’ve taken too long.) He took, like, 12,000 meetings; he said, like, 18,000 stilted and absurdly verbose things. Every scene a business meeting; every line a wrestling match with the script, and he usually lost, and we always did. The whole thing got to feeling like a condition of his parole. Get a load of this shit.
Best you can say is the other guy makes Vince look like Paul Newman. Actually, let’s put it on the list.
11. “He looks half-anaconda, half-great white.”
And then move on.
10. “My powers of influence are so meager in this sublunar world of ours, I try to limit the people I can disappoint. And I make sure to know the difference between my obligations and somebody else’s.”
Whereas Colin Farrell thrived in this environment, delivering silly lines with Shakespearean gravitas being kinda his thing. (“I’m a fiend for mojitos.”) He got to call a kid named Aspen “Ass-Pen”; he got to crank up the New York Dolls and snort a Mötley Crüe world tour’s worth of cocaine and beat up some toy models; he got to hold hands with (+ dry-hump) the lady True Detective; he got to say shit like
9. “Sometimes a good beating provokes personal growth.”
8. “I used to want to be an astronaut, but astronauts don’t even go to the moon anymore.”
7. “Pain is inexhaustible. It’s the people that get exhausted.”
and (re: vaping)
6. “Maybe it’s just a little too close to sucking a robot’s dick.”
5. “You ever bully or hurt anybody again, I’ll come back and buttfuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this goddamn lawn.”
which is still incredible. But in the end he also dies pathetically whilst dwarfed by a majestic natural environment, shot all to shit after prancing around the redwoods and trying and failing to operate his cell phone, after losing his previous cell phone with the recording of the evidence of the big conspiracy because someone stepped on it, plus he’ll never know his son was actually his son and not his wife’s rapist’s, and in the end his character arc was basically what would happen if Cormac McCarthy had written Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic,” and the hell with it. Give him all the Emmys, and then a vacation, and then something better to do with his time.
4. “Help me out with this, and I promise to do a fearless and searching moral inventory.”
Only Rachel McAdams gets out (relatively) unscathed, with a cool Joan Jett sorta haircut and (yes!) a baby, after knifing up a dude and scowling the paint off all the scenery and vaping relentlessly and attempting to counteract the effects of an MDMA-laced breath spray by vomiting and having the single most bonkers exchange in this whole shebang, which bears repeating.
It’s the pause that gets me.
3. “Everything is fucking.”
Because what poor Antigone Bezzerides—I’m mostly trying to avoid character names here, but come on, Antigone Bezzerides is fantastic—is meant to learn is that there’s no point in trying to save anyone, that sometime a “prost” just wants to be a “prost,” that’s it’s every man for himself and every woman for four or five of the men. McAdams’s goal here was to make you forget all about The Time Traveler’s Wife and Morning Glory and maybe even The Notebook, and verily, next time I catch The Wedding Crashers on basic cable I’ll be braced for her to knife the bejesus out of Owen Wilson. She got the least ridiculous dialogue, and that’s what constitutes a victory here; it’s worth noting what women on this show generally got stuck saying last time.
2. “These contracts ... signatures all over them.”
Taylor Kitsch, stuck playing Grimacing Repressed Gay Military Badass, was doing okay verbally (though he did have to call his mom a cooze) until that one. “These contracts ... signatures all over them.” Amazing. You unleash a long-rumored, totally bonkers, Twin Peaks-referencing, vaguely Hitchcockian orgy sequence, and for the first substantive line of dialogue thereafter you have a guy in the getaway car say, “These contracts ... signatures all over them.” Right when you’re finally ready to give this show a break. You know what that’s like?
1. “It’s like blue balls, in your heart.”
You may have noticed that these quotes are generally getting worse, and that turned out to be season two’s whole problem—its seamless passage from must-watch to hate-watch. (When exactly did it happen? When a Vanity Fair writer typed the words, “When I was a boy and dreamed of literature, this is how I imagined a writer—a kind of outlaw, always ready to fight or go on a spree.”) Doomed from the start. Though the show itself didn’t help, lurching from daffy ultra-muchness set pieces all straining to recreate season one’s stash-house-raid tracking shot. So halfway through you get a Grand Theft Auto caliber shootout that leaves every civilian in town shot dead, and then basically no one ever mentions it again. You get your orgy, but only the contracts matter. Even last night’s 90-minute (!) denouement swung crazily from protracted shootouts to droning heartfelt conversations to various dudes driving around with exorbitant amounts of money in their trunks to our heroes donning various hilarious disguises meant to draw as much attention to themselves as possible.
And then the two remaining guys died, and the two remaining ladies got a triumphant slow-mo Venezuelan send-off with Colin Farrell’s baby strapped to one of ’em, and at least everyone finally stopped talking, and we’re all stuck here trying to remember the last time we loved a show as much as we loved hating this one, and then, of course, we remember. As for season three, you’d better hope time is that thing it used to was.
Rob Harvilla is Deadspin’s culture editor. Yes, there is one. He’s on Twitter.
The Concourse is Deadspin’s home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter @concourse.