I fully recognize that I’m about 9 months behind the times, but I hadn’t started watching True Detective yet. Something that some fellow campers in the #HallH line at #SDCC this year (who were from the UK, and total strangers) were shocked at. And they made certain to inform me that my TV viewing, nay my LIFE was incomplete having not viewed this television treasure. With the Emmys happening this weekend, I realized my window of opportunity to see the show before the awards ceremony was closing faster than a body bag, and that I needed to start. I may not do one review per ep, since I’ll be binging. But I watched the premier last night, and I can say so far it was worth the hype!
What is it about True Detective that’s so good? I mean I’ve seen Twin Peaks, and The Killing, and Broadchurch so the detective(s) seeking a killer in a bizarre, troubling or painful murder in a set apart community isn’t exactly something shiny and new. Interestingly it is the very dated, and un-shiny (both in visuals and characters… which I’ll get to) aspects of the show which are part of what have me hooked.
The show is split between 1995, and 2012. And there’s visually a very dry almost stale filter through which we see 1995. It adds a lot to draw the viewers in, as do various items, and clothes which definitely give a 90’s vibe, putting you in that time frame the same way Mad Men can keep you in 1960’s Manhattan (or LA for later seasons). I found myself thinking of my father, and childhood, simply because of seeing an old shirt on Hart (Woody Harrelson), during a dinner scene with his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and daughters, and Cohle (McConaughey’s character).
Speaking of family and daughters, the fact that Hart has them, and Cohle doesn’t (he’s divorced with a deceased daughter), is just one distinction that sets these different men apart. Cohle is very intellectual, and a realist, though he says others would call him a pessimist. Part of what makes Cohle so interesting, is despite his cold calculating behavior and atheistic statements, he’s a man with a lot of hurt, anger and misunderstanding, possibly directed at a creator he denies. Hart is on the other hand much more level headed, and yet in some ways that makes him less interesting. Time will tell if this remains consistent.
And time plays a huge factor in the show, which I mentioned is split. The present setting of the show is in 2012, with each of the detectives, who are no longer partners, or detectives for that matter being interviewed, but a separate pair of detectives about the murder they investigated in 95. Hart is now a PI and unless I missed something, we’re not sure what Cohle does.
The men seem more similar in 1995 then they do now. This isn’t surprising as Hart says that “people change, relationships change”, but it makes you wonder how things ended up the way they did. In 95 Hart was lead detective, however he, in 2012 seems at ease answering questions and letting the current detectives call the shots. With Cohle it’s the opposite. He smokes when he tells them not to, and he then gets them to purchase a six pack for him, “Because it’s Thursday and it’s after noon. On [his] days off [he drinks] at noon, and [they] don’t get to interrupt that.
Keep in mind though, later in the interview we see Cohle had a flask all along. Also out of the two retirees, Cohle is the only one who gets the current detectives to share why he’s being interviewed. Another, or possibly the same killer (interesting) has killed another woman in a similar, possibly Satanic presentation.
Plot wise, there are some subtleties that I really appreciate (Cohle having had a flask when he asked for beers), or the fact that we don’t see that the interviewing detectives are black, until just after a 1995 scene with a black preacher complaining that because he has a black congregation, when he reports things like dead cats posted to the doors, that the cops don’t help. I also can’t help but love the fact that in an awesome way, we’re hopefully getting to solve three mysteries, sort of.
I’ve already heard that each story that each detective tells may not be entirely accurate or true, and I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between. And you add the fact that by end of the first episode they supposedly caught the killer in 1995, and I can tell it’s going to be a calm yet wild ride as we uncover more about the mystery, and main characters.
Stay tuned, as I try and binge before the Emmys!
If you have thoughts on True Detective that are spoiler free, please make them below!