The magic of True Detective’s first season sprung forth from teamwork, including the uneasy alliance between leads Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, and the collaboration between showrunner Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga. Fukunaga retreated from the HBO anthology series to return to feature films, so Pizzolatto turned to a bullpen of directors for season two, including Fast & Furious franchise helmer Justin Lin. According to IndieWire, David Cronenberg declined an offer to direct the premiere episode, because of his stubborn insistence on directing projects that don’t have shitty scripts.
While speaking at the Reykjavik International Film Festival, the eXistenZ director reminisced about inviting HBO to talk to the hand. “Last year I was approached to direct the first episode of the second season of True Detective,” said Cronenberg. “I considered it but I thought that the script was bad, so I didn’t do it.” (Note the mind’s natural inclination to transpose the words “bad” and “so” when reading the previous sentence.)
He elaborated the difference between big- and small-screen directorial duties, citing a television director’s lack of freedom and consistent workload: “In TV, the director is just a traffic cop, but on the other hand, it is work and there’s a lot of it.” That juxtaposition also doubles as an encapsulation of True Detective’s uninspired second-season plotting, which pits low-level police fuck-ups against an unceasing labyrinth of depressing, banal chores.
Season two was largely panned by naysayers, with some exceptions. It’s not clear how Pizzolatto will shift gears again for a third season, or if he even wants to return. We already know that Fukunaga can’t be charmed back into the director’s seat. Perhaps if Pizzolatto crafts a more coherent story he can lure Cronenberg back. We recommend that old chestnut about a simple beat cop who gets lured into a hallucinatory underworld of Kafkaesque plots, unreliable allies, and explosive outbursts of sexualized body horror.