In its first season, HBO's "True Detective" had many amazing aspects that resulted in a near perfect story. From the incredible performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the unparalleled direction of Cary Fukunaga and the indelible writing of creator Nic Pizzolatto, "True Detective" excelled and felt like something completely innovative.

In its first season, HBO’s “True Detective” had many amazing aspects that resulted in a near perfect story. From the incredible performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the unparalleled direction of Cary Fukunaga and the indelible writing of creator Nic Pizzolatto, “True Detective” excelled and felt like something completely innovative.

So how does Season 2 compare to the first outing? There are strong moments and characters through the first three episodes, but this season doesn’t feel as bold and original. If you were a fan of Season 1, there’s enough here to keep you invested.

The premiere isn’t the greatest episode of television because it’s essentially a pilot; laying out the players in this new game of murder and corruption, this time taking place in Vinci — a fictional Los Angeles-area city. There’s Colin Farrell’s world-weary detective Ray Velcoro, and Rachel McAdams plays a similarly brooding sheriff’s detective in Ani Bezzerides. Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh is also a defective, war veteran and “CHiPs”-like highway patrol motorcycle officer. Finally Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon is a career criminal looking to cash-in on the construction of a high-speed rail train.

These four main characters — along with a much larger cast of supporting ones — get wrapped up together when the Vinci city manager is brutally murdered and mutilated.

I don’t want to give away too much, but put simply, Vinci is a city rife with corruption, exploitation and sexual deviancy. This murder/corruption mystery narrative is pretty solid early on, but there are some flaws and one shocking moment that is most likely going to be divisive among the audience.

Where Season 2 of “True Detective” excels is its strong cast — Farrell, McAdams and especially Vaughn all give powerful performances — and a more expanded world for the characters to interact in.

But again, there’s something just not as impressive as that first season. Justin “Fast and Furious” Lin is a good director, but no Fukunaga. And as good as some performances are none are on McConaughey’s level. This “True Detective” will surely garner buzz, but it’s not at Season 1’s heights … yet.

Photo courtesy HBO