One of the recurring elements in the second season of True Detective is aerial shots of the pretzel-like California highway system. Why are the shots there? What is the purpose of having so many of them? Are they telling us something? As part of the search for answers, Vulture caught up with creator Nic Pizzolatto, who provided this explanation: “With the freeways, you’re free to choose a direction, but not free to choose your choices. But if that’s all nonsense, and it might be, I think they’re just interesting transitional shots.”
Yes, okay. But I think there might be something more there. Something deeper. Something we have to search for. Follow me down the path.
Notice how the intersecting highways have been carved into the mountains, representing man’s dominance over nature and the world around him. What does this tell us about the murder of Caspere? Perhaps that his attempts to “dominate” the world around him via corruption and perversion resulted in his downfall. Our country’s infrastructure is crumbling, both literally and figuratively. Our downfall is coming, as well.
The ocean. A massive, immovable force. If the highway built into the mountains is our attempt to demand nature’s submission, the slow erosion caused by centuries upon centuries of rolling waves is nature reminding us of our insignificance. How little we matter. How impotent man is against the force of the universe. Even the strongest men.
An obvious reference to Frank’s inability to conceive.
The highways interweave, bulging out at the sides in a way that is clearly meant to invoke images of the female reproductive organs. Cars travel through them, carrying men to their destinations. Cars. Sperm. Asphalt. What does this tell us about Woodrugh’s sexuality?
Also, notice the car I have highlighted. Where is it going? Who is taking it to its destination? Or is the car taking its occupant somewhere? The first clue.
Night. Darkness. When the beast reveals himself. The battle begins. Man vs. beast. The beast within himself.
Look closely. The same car from earlier, a callback to the foreshadowing. But now the car is turning instead of traveling in a straight path. An undeniable comment on Ani’s struggle to follow the “straight line” of life. How will her troubled past and increasingly troubled present affect the case’s future?
The car holds the answers.
Roads. Buildings. Earth. A man’s role in society.
Caspere’s murder was a false flag operation.
Again, we see the same car, now traveling at night. It passes the city’s industrial parks, which are controlled by the mayor and his goons. A good, honest day’s work corrupted by men with evil intentions. The car drives by as everything is illuminated. A light bursting through the dark. A callback to the season one finale. The light is winning. For now. The driver of the car knows the truth.
Here we see the same car alone, driving on an otherwise empty two-lane rural road. Away from the hectic madness of the spiderwebbed freeways. Alone with nature. Is this an escape or a journey? We still don’t know. Perhaps if we enhance…
Wait a second. Is that…?
Of course. The ultimate callback. Rust Cohle rides again.
(The bull represents man’s virility.)