Long before HBO's dark and dreary 'True Detective' became a critical rave after only three episodes, showrunner Nic Pizzolatto explained that a second season would likely follow the anthology approach with a new cast and original story. And while HBO has yet to formally renew the Woody Harrelson-Matthew McConaughey for a second season, what of HBO's latest dealings all-but-confirms 'True Detective' will open a second case in 2015 for season 2?

Via Deadline, the pay-cable giant has signed an overall two-year deal with creator and novelist Nic Pizzolatto, who has already begun working on a potential second season of 'True Detective,' prepping a draft to present to HBO execs. The official order seems especially likely, given HBO's most-watched series debut in over three year, averaging around 7.7 million viewers across the different platforms.

For those unaware, HBO’s Cary Fukunaga-directed ‘True Detective’ follows investigators Rustin Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), whose lives intertwine during a 17-year hunt for a Louisiana serial killer. Their investigation of a gruesome 1995 murder cuts through testimony from the detectives in 2012, after the case re-opens. The eight-episode series also stars Shea Whigham (‘Boardwalk Empire‘), Kevin Dunn (‘Veep‘), Michelle Monaghan (‘Open‘), Alexandra Daddario (‘Percy Jackson‘) and Elizabeth Reaser (‘Twilight‘).

As for the potential storyline of second season, common belief tells us that the cast would likely undergo a great deal more turnover than 'American Horror Story,' while the central story could prove equally different, given the flexibility of the series title. As noted by Deadline, Pizzolatto put forth several ideas during the recent TCA press tour:

There could be a season that’s much more of a widespread conspiracy thriller, a season that’s a small‑town murder mystery, a season where nobody is murdered and it’s a master criminal versus a rogue detective or something. Even the title, True Detective, is meant to be, of course, purposefully somewhat generic – the word “true” can also mean honorable and authentic and things like that. So as long as there is some crime in there, I think the series format can approach it.

We'll keep our ears to the ground for news of a formal renewal, something made all the more likely by HBO's numerous cancellations of 2014, but what do you think? Could a second season of 'True Detective' garner similar acclaim without the stars and stories that made its first season so gripping? What would you want to see from a potential second season?

Preview the next episode (airing February 9, due to Super Bowl) "Who Goes There" below, and give us your thoughts in the comments!

More From 98.1 The Hawk