TV Review: True Detective Season 1 (2014)

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Drama, TV
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Episode 1: The Long, Bright Dark

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and  Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are detectives and former partners being debriefed about a murder case they worked on together 17 years earlier.

I must say, even after only 1 episode, I am hooked.  The chemistry between McConaughey and Harrelson is incredible.  It’s the antithesis of a buddy movie, Hart can’t stand Cohle, and the feeling is visceral.  Cohle is kind of an odd bird, and Hart is more by the book.  In the hands of less talented actors, this might have been a cliché, but not with these two.  The friction between the partners is used for both comedic and dramatic purposes .  There is nudity, and it is disturbing, so keep the kiddies away. As for me, I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode 2: Seeing Things

Cohle and Hart continue to investigate the murder of a prostitute as the pressure on the two of them mounts.  The police chief wants to see tangible results or he vows to replace him.  The pressure at home mounts on Hart, as he spends an interminably long day with his father-in-law.  A church flyer in the prostitute’s possesion leads them to a burned out church, but what do they find there?

The tension in this show is so palpable, that it can’t help but boil over.  If I didn’t’ know that McConaughey and Harrelson were such good actors, I’d really think they hate each other.  They’re going either going to take a piece out of each other, or the people that they interrogate, or both.  And then each episode ends with a cliffhanger, and that makes it like those old time radio or tv serials.  I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode 3:  The Locked Room

Cohle and Hart investigate the congregants of the burned down church, after interrogating a suspect, they move on to an identification of a tall, scarred man.  The tension at home between Hart and his wife is getting unbearable, and it manifests itself in strange ways. The pair are still being threatened with being replaced by a task force, but then tangible evidence linking a tall, scarred man to more than one of the victims, but who is Reggie Ledoux?  (Charles Halford)

The storyline is getting a bit redundant, the detectives are about to be removed from the investigation, they find a clue or a suspect, and they’re off to the races.   It doesn’t matter that the storyline is predictable, the characters are so interesting, that despite their idiosyncrasies, the partners still display a great deal of camaraderie, because they are learning to trust each other, and they have doubts within themselves, because they are deeply flawed characters.  And playing these characters expertly, are Harrelson and McConaughey, self-confident one minute, wracked with doubt the next, this show is an emotional rollercoaster.  And Michelle Monoghan  is part of that roller coaster, she loves her husband but doesn’t trust him.  And that’s what makes the show compelling, the three main characters and the actors playing them.

Episode 4:  Who Goes There?

Cohle and Hart have their prime suspect, Reggie Ledoux.  Ledoux cooks methamphetamine for a biker gang.  In order to get to Ledoux, Cohle has to go undercover as a drug dealer.  Hart would rather immerse himself in work than face his home life.  Cohle gets caught in a shootout between the biker gang, the cops in Texas, and a gang of drug dealers who the biker gang was trying to rob.  Does Cohle get out?

This is a really interesting episode, because you see both detectives’ flaws as clear as day, Hart seems like he’s coming unhinged at one point, and Cohle seems entirely too comfortable in his undercover role.  But their shortcomings as human beings make them better cops.  It’s almost as if police work is escapism for them, they can’t deal with their day to day life, so they work at the only thing they’re good at, solving this case.  This episode is really exciting too, because all hell breaks loose around Cohle, and the viewer doesn’t really know what will happen next.  The direction is amazing, the last shot is six minutes of one continuous shot, with no edits in it.  Amazing, edge of your seat viewing.

Episode 5:  The Secret Fate of All Life

Cohle and Hart hunt Ledoux down to a farmhouse where he is holding two kids hostage, and Hart kills Ledoux.  They believe the case is closed.  But the detectives investigating the case now, Detectives Papania (Tory Kittles) and Gilbaugh  (Michael Potts) believe this case is very much open.  In fact, they have a new suspect.

I like this show, but I don’t like the turn it’s taking, I can only hope that the writer is only using this as misdirection, to lead the audience one way, while building to a different ending.

Episode 6:  Haunted Houses

Cohle is convinced that the serial murders are being done by more than one man, towards that end he tries to open up cold cases, interviews the little girl he rescued in 1995 who is now in a nearly catatonic state, and interviews a prominent pastor in town.  But then a series of events occur that not only brings Cohle’s secret investigation to a halt, it makes him quit the force.

Sometimes writers do things for dramatic effect, but this time I think the writers went too far with this episode.  I will not say what happened, but it was predictable and I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen, but it did.  And it is disappointing.

Episode 7:  After You’re Gone

After 10 years apart, the detectives reconcile to track down the killer/killers of a girl named Fontenot. Hart interrogates a Sheriff named Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) who isn’t very forthcoming.  Papania and Gilbough go looking for the church that Hart and Cohle found

The show got on track this week.  The detectives reconciled, but it was not an easy reconciliation, there’s still a seething hatred of each other just below the surface, but above all they want to solve this case.  That supersedes everything.  The acting is great, the characters are great.  I can’t wait for the last episode.  I hope there is a season 2.

Episode 8: Form and Void

Following clues from their interrogation of Steve Geraci, and clues from evidence Cohle and Hart deduce for themselves, the finally find their man, so who is it?  And why did so many people try to cover it up?

After such a great buildup, there are going to be two camps of people, one who says the ending was perfect and everything fit, and people like me who say the who and the why of the coverup wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it should have been.  What’s more, the last episode felt rushed, like they solved a year’s worth of clues in one episode.  I am disappointed.  The acting is still great, the chemistry flawless, but the ending was a letdown.


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