Colin Farrell plays Ray, a detective in the pocket of an LA hood, Vince Vaughn's Frank, for essentially very personal reasons. The question, as it always is in these circumstances, is how much in the pocket - and what, if anything, will pull Ray out of it.
Rachel McAdams plays Ani, who at this point appears to be a much truer - i.e., non-crooked - detective than does Ray. It's good to see a woman in this spot, and a welcome departure from season 1, in which the woman were mostly victims, with an unsympathetic wife and a prostitute thrown in.
Taylor Kitsch - a lot older than he looked in his superb Tim Riggins role in the late lamented Friday Night Lights - is the fourth major star, playing Paul of the California Highway Patrol, with his own host of problems, including a dangerous obsession with his motorcycle.
In short, this really is a brand new tableau, with new characters, pace, as well as story. There is at least a flashback or two showing how Ray became indebted to Frank, but even that seems much less dominating that the relentless but highly effective flashes backwards and forwards and all through time in the first season.
Look, it's hard to imagine anyone in this season putting in as quietly searing a performance as Matthew McConaughey did in the first season - one of the best ever on television and of his distinguished career - but this second season is off to a good start, and I'm looking forward to more.
See also Season One: True Detective: Socrates in Louisiana ... True Detective Season One Finale: Light above Darkness
Like philosophic crime fiction? Try The Plot to Save Socrates ...