I'm glad the second season of True Detective went out like the noir it'd been all along. That is, rather grimly. There'll be spoilers in this post, I hardly think it's worth talking about a final episode of something without spoilers.
Bezzerides and Velcoro at the beginning swapping stories about the roots of their self hatred was nice. Though I still think their sins are a little too innocent. I'd like to see next season maybe Pizzolatto giving us a protagonist who's done something unambiguously perverse. In fact, it would be kind of great if one of the villains of this season were the protagonist of next season, Burris, for example.
I was never especially interested Velcoro's story about his kid. Maybe if I had a kid myself I'd feel different. As it was it was hard for me to sympathise with him stopping to see his son one last time, though I didn't find it implausible. I just found myself saying to the screen while he was deciding, "Don't do it, don't do it, Velcoro, don't do it." The moment he got onto the off-ramp I thought, "Well, I guess he's going to die." But this adds that damning ingredient of free will to the sense of doom that hovered so well over the previous episode. As little as I was interested in his paternity story, I still liked it better than Woody Harrelson's plot in the first season.
Frank's plot was for me the best part of the episode, his and his wife Jordan's. I love the feeling of his identity disintegrating as he crossed the desert, moments that defined his persona manifesting as ghosts around him for his mind to cling to before finally losing his grip and falling away. This works especially well with a character like Frank who has such tight self control, has the steely principles of an idealised gangster. Of course he wouldn't give up his suit, presenting himself properly is that important to him, and it's another important element of free will added to the doom.
More than the first season, season two really felt like a complex machine with many small parts calculated to assemble a whole, very much like a single eight and a half hour movie. I suspect it might have been improved by a single director for every episode but the fact that season two feels more solid might prove again that television is at this time more of a writer's medium.