Mystery Road Season 2 [6/10]

John Wayne rides again, except this time it’s Detective Jay Swan astride his police 4WD scything through vast panoramas of central Australian red dust. Aaron Pederson was born for this role and in Ivan Sen’s brutal original movie of the same name, he was spell-binding. The first six-episode season of the “Mystery Road” series paired Pederson with Judy Davis and was less vigilante and more nuanced than the film, and it was a highlight of my 2018 viewing. Now we have six more episodes in Season 2 of “Mystery Road” and I can report that some blissful elements of the Jay Swan narrative remain to entrance us. Swan still swaggers with implacable Australian bush bravado, the cinematography (plenty of gorgeous coastal shots this time) remain a treat, and the essential “Shane vanquishes the bad guys” storyline recurs. Season 2 is worth watching for Swan and the scenery alone, and Swan’s new partner, Fran (skillfully played by Jada Alberts) is a welcome addition. But there is also much to decry. The plot kicks off well with a headless corpse but soon degenerates into tension-less quasi silliness, the dialogue often jars, and the assorted indigenous subplots are clumsy and drift all over the place. There are several moments in the final two episodes during which I audibly groaned, and while I’ll be back for “Mystery Road” Season 3 (it’s Detective Jay Swan, right?), let’s hope they pick up their game.

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