Gay is the television critic.
You should know a couple of things about the second season of "True Detective" -- HBO's biggest breakout since "Game of Thrones" -- which wrapped Sunday ...
One, there is no second season.
Yet. There will be. Of that you may be assured.
Two, neither of the leads, Matthew McConaughey nor Woody Harrelson, will be attached.
A hit without the hitmakers? What kind of hit is that?
At the end of this ride, there really were only a pair of reasons that drew most of us through eight episodes. This was the Rust and Marty Show: that singular and wholly unexpected McConaughey (Rust Cohle) and Harrelson (Marty Hart) chemistry that surpassed both story and ultimate meaning.
Sunday's conclusion was largely foretold, even if fans were too caught up in useless literary association exercises on the Web to realize this would end up as another variation of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
Who was "The Yellow King," subject of countless Web-generated theories and late-night jokes? No one still knows, but the evil incarnate protagonist, one Errol Childress, was just another ax-wielding, fictional manifestation of Ed Gein -- Leatherface himself who has inspired a hundred horror flicks.
Did "True Detective" or writer-creator Nic Pizzolatto really need eight episodes to tell us that the guy with crazy eyes, an Oxford accent and unlimited access to children as the extremely creepy school maintenance man was someone nobody at school ever suspected might just be a little bit guilty?
As crime fiction, "True Detective" was one long tease, predicated on a story or compilation of them, that has been told before. But the wrap was satisfying and that final bro moment under the stars, priceless.
Rust musing about the Meaning of It All -- "It's just one story, the oldest. Light versus dark" -- could have been the last pricking of the balloon, with all the air coming out in a noisy rush. ... Except, at that very moment, the camera fell on Marty's face, where the slightest breeze of a smile blew by: "Well, I know we ain't in Alaska, but it appears to me the dark has a lot more territory."
The best parts of this series were the moments in the car -- those long drives across a wet, drab, green landscape during which one man tried to understand the other, neither particularly succeeding.
Harrelson and McConaughey pulled off the wariness, that sense of non-understanding, which bled out into the rest of the story. For if they could not fully see what was in their own hearts, how could they possibly solve a terrible, meaningless crime?
In the end, this series wasn't about plot, but about them, and the churning, fraught relationship between men who essentially completed each other by the last frame. It was about two excellent actors who transcended the material.
Pizzolatto said at the recent TV critics' tour that the next installment will be in a place where TV rarely goes. McConaughey indicated he was done: "It was finite. So in that way it was exactly a 450-page film script."
This is the problem with anthologies. You love the first installment so much that you just can't imagine another one without the same constituent parts.
But could this kind of magic be bottled twice?
It'd sure be fun to find out.