The Worst Lines in True Detective Season 2 (So Far)

You're killing us. Somebody investigate that.

By Brenden Gallagher

Even the most generous reviews have found Season 2 of True Detective to be uneven. The most vicious critics have called the show unwatchable. Where the first season was masterfully consistent in terms of style and tone, the second feels scattered and disjointed. While Season 1 was anchored in a fully realized vision of rural Louisiana, Season 2 feels like it takes place inside a PDF of collected cliff notes on L.A. pulp noir. This season feels at once broad, stale, and pretentious, and nowhere are the season’s shortcomings as evident as in the dialogue.

Though producing director Cary Fukanaga’s vision is missed this year, the greatest shortcoming of the show’s second season is in the writing. Last year, showrunner Nic Pizzolatto muscled his way through eight episodes without a writing staff thanks to his clear vision and Matthew McConaughey’s unique ability to sell philosophical gobbledygook. This season, the seams are showing, and sometimes it gets ugly. Check out the worst lines of True Detective Season 2 (so far).

  • “You don’t want to look hungry. Never do anything out of hunger. Not even eating.” —Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), Episode 1

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    I get where Frank’s going with the metaphor here, but how do you know when to eat, if not when you’re hungry? Do you set timers throughout the day? Is there a particular regimen you follow? He’s really proposing we redefine our entire approach the food here, man. This is some radical shit.

  • Ani: “Talk to your daughter, prick. Help her.” Eliot: “I just did.” —Eliot Bezzerides (David Morse) and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), Episode 1

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    Of all the ridiculous exchanges in this season of True Detective, the Bezzerides father-daughter scenes are the leaders in the clubhouse in terms of absurd dialogue. Between Ani’s bitter resentment and Eliot’s hippie mysticism, the dialogue ping-pongs back and forth between hard-boiled platitudes and incomprehensible spiritual nonsense. In other words, these scenes are peak Pizzolatto.

  • “I used to want to be an astronaut, but astronauts don’t land on the moon anymore.” —Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Episode 1

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    Most writers are guilty of being “on the nose,” making the subtext into text, from time to time. Nic Pizzolatto has the unique gift for being on the nose with his metaphors for American masculinity. And while this metaphor is technically correct—astronauts don’t land on the moon anymore—it bears mentioning that the United States launched 34 manned space flights between 2001 and 2010. But, yes, if Ray Velcoro wanted to land on the moon, he is S.O.L.

  • “You like to bully kids, ASS-pen? You’re 12 years old and you’re already evil as fuck.” —Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Episode 1

    HBO

    This scene, in which Ray beats up a preppie kid’s dad after the little shit ruins his kid’s LeBrons, contains some of the best and worst dialogue of Season 2. This line is terrible, yes, but who could ever forget the poetry of, “If you ever bully or hurt anybody again I’ll come back and butt-fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on the front lawn. Fuck?”

  • “A good woman mitigates our baser tendencies.” —Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), Episode 1

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    Oh, Frank, you hopeless romantic.

  • “Maybe it’s just a little too close to sucking a robot’s dick.” —Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Episode 2

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    True Detective takes place in a world of ambiguous morality, but there is one place where the characters take a stand: They hate e-cigs. Colin Farrell takes a number of shots at e-cigs in the first half-season of True Detective, but this line is by far the most poetic.

  • “He was sexually obsessed. Not aggressive. More…passive.” —Dr. Irving Pitlor (Rick Springfield), Episode 2

    HBO

    The sexual obsession was not aggressive. And just so you are aware that it wasn’t in the exact mid-point between aggressive and passive, let me tell you, his sexual obsession was very passive.

  • “Bad habits. Never lost one yet.” —Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell), Episode 2

    HBO

    There are a number of wonderfully awful bad habit lines in this tête-a-tête between Ray and Ani. Right before Ray drops this bomb, he says, “I like to get wet from a number of bad habits.” Ani gets in on the actions with “I don’t distinguish between good and bad habits.” The takeaway here? These two have thought a lot about habits.

  • “I told you. I don’t talk about the desert.” —Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch), Episode 2

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    You know that place that is essential to understanding Taylor Kitsch’s character? We don’t talk about it.

  • “God forgive me for misreading what subtle clues you embed for me in your limp dick, which is as wishy-washy as your fucking mood.” —Jordan Semyon (Kelly Reilly), Episode 3

    HBO

    You see, class, Frank’s character is frustrated in his professional life. He feels like he isn’t quite a man. And thusly, he must be literally impotent. In True Detective, as in remedial high school English class, the more obvious the metaphor, the better.

  • “You’re asking me if he’s that kind of guy. He looks half anaconda, half great white.” —Nails (Chris Kerson), Episode 3

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    Half-shark, half-snakes are way worse than sharks or snakes on their own.

  • “To tell you the truth, I drink. It makes my recollection unreliable.” —Ashley Daison (Philip Moon), Episode 3

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    Whether or not this bit is a dig at Cary Fukanaga, who directed Season 1, as has been widely speculated, what alcoholic in the history of alcoholism tells a cop whom he doesn’t know that his drinking makes his “recollection unreliable”?

  • “I don’t do somebody else’s time.” —Vince Vaughn (Frank Semyon), Episode 4

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    Not sure if this is the best or worst argument against adoption ever.

  • “We put out some fires last night or what?” —Miguel Gilb (Gabriel Luna), Episode 4

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    As the writer of one of the most successful television shows of 2014, one would think that Pizzolatto would know the sort of things that people say to each other the morning after. It is a safe bet that this line of dialogue has never been uttered after a night of passion. Ever.

  • “I never lost a tooth. I’ve never even had a fuckin’ cavity.” —Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), Episode 4

    HBO

    In a show filled with veiled threats that make a clunky attempt at wordplay, Frank’s back-and-forth with bakery owning Eastern Bloc gangsters may be the worst. Their negotiations end with an exchange about dentistry that feels like something out of Oscar Wilde.

  • “Those moments, they stare back at you. You don’t remember them, they remember you.” —Ani Bezzeredes (Rachel McAdams), Episode 4

    HBO

    You ever just stare at driftwood figurines and spout nonsensical bullshit? No? Then you’re not ready to be a “True Detective.”

  • Eliot: “Excuse me. You have one of the largest auras I’ve ever seen. Green and black. It’s been taking up this whole room. I just…I had to say something. You must have had hundreds of lives.” Ray: “I don’t think I could handle another one.” —Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Eliot Bezzerides (Robert Morse), Episode 4

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    Now we get a Robert Morse scene with a brooding, doubting Colin Farrell. Never say Nic Pizzolatto never gave you anything. As if Morse’s line about auras apropos of nothing wasn’t enough, the scene ends with a mood ring joke. This may, in fact, be the first mood ring joke made since 1978.

  • “Help me out with this and I promise to do a fearless and searching moral inventory.” —Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams), Episode 5

    HBO

    Was this line accidental self-parody or intentional self-parody? In this hard world dominated by hard men, everything’s a gray area.

  • “The adoption. You were so definite. I think you were saying no to the kid you once were.” —Jordan Semyon (Kelly Reilly), Episode 5

    HBO

    In the world of True Detective, everyone is everyone else’s therapist. Maybe one of them can explain to me why I’m still watching this show.