It's really good. At least as good as the first one, and arguably better. It's somewhat similar in broad outline: the murder of a child, and two detectives who fail to solve the case at the time it occurs and pursue it over a period of many years. It's set in the South again, this time in Arkansas. The first crime also includes the disappearance, presumed abduction, and possible murder of the murder victim's sister. The action takes place in three distinct time periods: that of the crime, ten years later when the case is reopened and again not solved, and 2019.
Once again it features seriously impressive acting in the detective roles, Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hays and Stephen Dorff as Roland West. (I think Ali's first name is pronounced as if the "e" werent there--"Mahrshala," accent on the second syllable.) It also involves some downright amazing makeup trickery to turn the detectives, young men in 1980, into old men forty years later. There's an extra bit on the DVD that describes how this was done. (And by the way, one of the extras on either the first or second DVD contains a major spoiler. It should have been on the last DVD.)
Once again the personalities of the two detectives, and the relationship between them, are at the center of the story. This time it's complicated by the fact that Hays is black and West is white. In Arkansas in 1980, the end of segregation was only fifteen years or so in the past. It was probably more or less by force of law that the state police in Arkansas, as in many places, was racially integrated. Hays's position is difficult. And it's one of the great strengths of this production that West's position is also difficult, though of course in a different way. Racial matters are handled with great subtlety and insight into the complexities of the situation, very different from the usual crude, clumsy, and stereotype-driven approach of the entertainment industry on that subject. Both Ali and Dorff are completely convincing in this respect. And a special nod goes to Ali for his work in the 2019 segments, because Hays at that point is beginning to slide into dementia.
Suffice to say that it's brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed, brilliantly produced. T-Bone Burnett's musical direction and writing are pretty close to perfect. I have a mild reservation about the ending, but as I can't discuss it without giving it away I'll have to leave it at that. I don't think anyone who thought highly of the first series will be disappointed in this one.
Here's the trailer: