I’m one of those who liked a lot the finale to the first season.
Season 2 as a whole has been something else. A key aspect is that Nic Pizzolatto didn’t even attempt to follow up on what Season 1 represented, and instead decided for something completely different. If you ask which one was the best season, everyone, including me, will say that the first was simply better. So, for someone who saw the first, didn’t think it the best thing ever and so is considering whether or not to watch the 2nd, it seems the answer is straightforward: if you’ve watched season 1, and that one was better, there’s no real necessity of watching the second too since you’ve already seen the best it had to offer, unless you’re a fan. I’m sure that’s the rationale for a lot of people. Yet it’s the wrong one, because the two series are so different that they deserve to exist, and be seen, independently. There’s still the same fingerprint, it’s like two unrelated books by the same writer, but that means season 1 doesn’t effectively overshadow or replace season 2.
But then the finale itself mitigated this point of view I had, because in the end the merits of the series seem to evaporate, somehow. I think the whole finale has been conceived as a reaction. Same as End of Evangelion was a reaction of the director to the assault of the public. It’s like Pizzolatto decided to give the public the finale they demanded, something fitting a canon, an active reaction to the criticism.
Up to episode 7 I kept reading critics about the overwrought dialogue that I justified in the other blog post, and criticism about characters, and the omnipresent accuses of misogyny. I’d toss all that away, but the finale managed to make all these things worse, and so making them more tangible even to me. What annoyed me the most is that both plot and characters were railroaded toward a form I’d call “plot karma”. As if instead of telling a story, the point was to give a demonstration. So having these characters locked into a fixed plot karma that doesn’t follow actual karma rules, being disrespectful of the audience’s preferences, but wanting to prove and impose its moral relativism.
It’s disappointing because if the first season felt so fresh and different from everything else, this one traced a trajectory that lead right back to the derivative Hollywood writing, with its pre-determined patterns of plot twists. Especially watching Ani being pushed to the sidelines for the second half of the episode not only is infuriating to watch, but also radically incoherent with the character. If season 1 finale had its own flair and defiance of conventions, season 2 follows the ineluctably of fixed-pattern writing, with characters trapped in their mandatory pay-offs. So after a season of earning the public’s sympathies, they end up surrendering to the fact they are only movie-like characters, as fake as everything coming out of Hollywood. “Plot karma”, or things being locked into a too obvious trajectory, with dialogues that start the episode whose only purpose is to foreshadow everything that will follow, leading-on. As if the show has been chocked to death by the audience’s demands and expectations.
I feel like I’m being very wrong, but that’s what I got from this finale: the idea that Pizzolatto hated the audience’s response to the first season, and so decided to lash out with rage, feed the public with the artificiality they demand. Instead of offering them the bliss, he offered them a virus, working as an antidote and triggering a negative response.
So: the idea that all this was deliberate. A disruption. Forcing the public to watch, and so triggering a kind of rebellion against the thing they are watching. And refuse to accept it.
But beside this hidden, probably non-existent layer, remains instead the explicit theme: the dreamlike, fatalistic experience of things moving toward a single point/ending. Omega Station (the title), as the ultimate point, impossible to escape. Omega Point as the predetermined destination that all these characters are locked in.
Observe Velcoro in the whole end section: spellbound, as if observing himself doing things, instead of doing things. As if he’s sitting next to YOU, on the couch, watching himself in True Detective. Until he looks up to the trees, and observes these tightening plot limbs closing in, closing in. Narrowing as a cage, all around him. Out there in the open, yet claustrophobic. As if reaching past the layer, to the writer and the audience, asking “is that it? really?” Yes, really. I’s written right here.
And so, I imagine, the desire to break this spell, deny it. Demand characters to be more than contrived puppets stuck in their predictable and cliche-ridden patterns, just because the plot karma demands so.
Like Frank, Pizzolatto decided that rather than sitting idly by while his empire was dismantled in the inevitable backlash, he’d burn it all to the ground.