HBO isn't in the business of delivering confirmed dumpster fires. From Curb Your Enthusiasm to Insecure, the network is known for putting its freedom from basic cable censorship to good use by giving us original series that are raw, real, and very often revelatory. The depressingly awful second season of True Detective, however, was an exception. That shit was largely panned as being very bad indeed, placing the fate of a once-great series into question as rumors multiplied. At one point, HBO kindly took the blame for the show's severe sophomore blues. Season 1 star Matthew McConaughey, meanwhile, eventually became physically incapable of not incessantly stumping for a third season in public.
With this week's surprisingly promising update from the Hollywood Reporter, a third season sounds like it's now—despite it all—practically a guarantee. True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto is said to be "in the early stages of writing" with some help from another HBO voice: Deadwood creator David Milch. Cool. Sounds fucking splendid. Though HBO hasn't formally issued an order for more episodes just yet, now's probably a good time to ponder all the ways in which True Detective season 3 can avoid becoming a season 2-esque dumpster fire, and instead revisit the nearly perfect vibes of its inaugural run.
Don't Allow Vince Vaughn Anywhere Near It
No offense to Vince, but arguably the most excruciating parts of season 2 were anytime Frank Semyon opened his mouth. Example: "This hurt, it can make you a better man. That's what pain does. It shows you what was on the inside." Not a terrible line from a writing perspective, but it sounds like a spoken word Toby Keith poem coming from Semyon, a bad character but an even worse vessel for Vaughn vibes.
Creepiness Is Your BFF—Embrace It.
Pizzolatto made it very clear that season 2 would ditch the occult. Ahead of the premiere, Pizzolatto told Medium he was more into the idea of putting together a "grounded crime story." One of the key strengths of True Detective's first batch, however, was the creepy occult flair. We don't need grounded crime stories. We want the creeps.
Don't Overstuff the Principal Cast
With its leads limited to Woody Harrelson and McConaughey, True Detective's first season was able to balance its overarching creepiness with a fascinating deep-dive into the relationship of their characters. The 2015 follow-up? Not so much. The second season wasn't exactly short on character development, but there was arguably just way too much shit going on at any given moment.
Less Robot Fellatio Jokes
No additional comment needed. Just watch this excerpt from season 2, in which Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) laments the existence of electronic cigarettes:
Don't Listen to Matthew McConaughey
As recently as December, McConaughey has been floating the idea that he should return to Pizzolatto's world for round 3. "I've talked to the creator Nic Pizzolatto who's taking a little break from it," he said on the Rich Eisen Show. "But again, if that thing was written well and it came up again, I wouldn't hesitate for a second." McConaughey was fucking brilliant as Rust Cohle. We all agree on that. But the thought of bringing back old characters? Nah. Hard pass.
Please Give Cary Fukunaga a Call Immediately
Cary Fukunaga directed the entire first season, but only rocked an executive producer credit on the second. Enough said.