Tagged Woody Harrelson

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 8: “Form and Void”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 8: “Form and Void”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the penultimate episode, “After You’ve Gone” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “The Western Book of the Dead” – click here
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The Season 1 finale holds many hideous delights.
Errol Childress (Glenn Fleshler) keeps his father strapped to a bed in a tiny shack, the walls written over with red paint in rambling mad words. The whole place is a horrorshow. It’s an old plantation-style home in the Louisiana bayou, out in some swamp. Inside the house Errol’s madness unfolds. He talks in a British accent now. He and his sister Betty (Ann Dowd) roam the decrepit home and talk in strange terms. She wants to “make flowers” while her brother’s concerned with “leaving [his] mark.” Their relationship is incestuous and deeply disturbing.
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Former Detectives Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) have Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) in their clutches. They force him to watch Marie Fontaneau on that tape from 1990. This is where Geraci comes in having come into contact with the reports. Links up to a Sheriff Childress. All those blood ties. To keep Steve from doing anything crazy, Rust has his bar owner buddy Robert Doumain (Johnny McPhail) pop a couple shots into his car from far away. Sniper style. That and some backup. From having the tape planted on him, to other little bits.
But all the while Errol is still out near all kinds of children. He’s a painter, as well as a gardener. So he does lots of jobs, all over the place. Perfect for a serial killer like him. Yet Rust and Marty are biting at the heels of his evil deeds. They’re fleshing out the Childress family tree. And then a moment of genius strikes Marty. He stares at the green ears of the supposed spaghetti man who chased that girl years ago. After a bit of talk he wonders if maybe this guy is a painter. He finds a house that’d recently been painted. Perhaps those green ears on the scarred man meant he painted that same house. They interview an old woman who owned the house. She recalls the man that did the painting had scars on his face. They get deeper into the Childress history to find the father of Errol, William.
What I love about this detail is that this is what can often happen in REAL police work. Little details that go unnoticed could break open the longest of cold cases. So it’s nice that Nic Pizzolatto went for something organic and genuine for the way they come to start following this thread. Good writing. Fun to watch.

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Both the former detectives take measures to ensure if anything happens to them, the truth will come out. Either way. Cohle has his sniper buddy with the tape, all that. For his part Hart goes to see Dt. Papania (Tory Kittles) who sort of agrees to help out in the event they need it. Then off the duo go, into the belly of the beast.
Out to the old home of William Childress they head. Rust tastes that old psychosphere rearing its head. Then once they arrive the macabre fun starts. Betty answers the door when they come knocking. But nothing feels right, certainly not to Cohle: “This is the place,” he gravely tells his partner. Marty winds up inside with Betty, as Rust has a brief run-in with Errol. The terror starts. Chasing Errol into the the deeper parts of the big plantation Rust finds himself almost in another world. The filthy house is one thing. The creepy, sprawling grounds of the old slave quarters from the plantation is spooky.
When Marty discovers the withered corpse of William Childress, he rushes off to find his friend going further into the world of Errol, the mad king. There’s an almost never ending number of hallways through the old tunnels. Each littered with symbols made out of wood, hanging objects of some eerie significance. All those markers of Carcosa and the Yellow King.
Through a tunnel of arched trees Rust comes to a skeleton, draped in yellow robes, on a makeshift altar. Then overhead he seems to see a black spiral in the sky, swirling. Out of nowhere Errol attacks him viciously. Rust takes a knife in the gut, tearing him apart. As the serial killer rips Rust’s stomach to shreds he says, creepy as all hell: “Take off your mask.” The two fight in brutal fashion once Cohle manages a few headbutts. Bleeding out, about to be killed, he’s saved by Marty who just about meets a savage death. Right before Rust pops one shot into Errol’s head, blowing his face apart.


Errol: “Come on inside, little priest. To the right, little priest. Take the brides path. This is Carcosa.”
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Afterwards, Dts. Gilbough and Papania figure out the Childress family were up to some wild shit. They’re still trying to piece it all together. At least the Dora Lange case is finally solved, though there are plenty of child molesting killers still lurking there in Louisiana, as the Tuttle family escaped without a scratch. For now, Marty sees his family and gets to enjoy at least one happy moment. Maggie (Michelle Monaghan), the girls, it all touches him especially after getting so close to death. Then there’s Rust, whose life has been changed in a drastic fashion. In the darkness of nearing death he spent time with his father, his daughter, all in some other place. He sees that there’s something else about life other than the pessimistic view he’s lived with so long. Now, he embraces the idea he might see his daughter again. “It was like I was a part of everything I ever loved,” Rust tells Marty with tears in his eyes. An amazing scene between two men who’ve been through hell and back together. Even though they stopped their evil and paid their debt, the greater evil still exists. The ending is slightly optimistic, though not entirely. Just in a microcosm. And that’s life.

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To me this was the perfect way to end Season 1. A spectacular finale that gives us equal doses of the interesting existential ideas of Cohle and the macabre, creepiness expected out of the serial killer with his Yellow King/Carcosa references (ties into Robert W. Chambers’ book of short stories The King in Yellow). Loved this season. While I’m in the minority, I also loved the second one, too. Those recaps/reviews are available over here.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 7: “After You’ve Gone”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 7: “After You’ve Gone”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “Haunted Houses” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Form and Void” – click here
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In 2012, Detectives Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are meeting up at a bar to talk. It’s been ages. Since their falling out over Rust having sex with Maggie (Michelle Monaghan).
Well the relationship is as contentious as ever. Marty is a little fatter than before, but has aged decently. Rust, on the other hand, looks like ten miles of bad dirt road. We do know that Rust’s been working fishing boats, tending bar, getting stoned, drunk. “A man remembers his debts,” Cohle tells Hart. He knows the Dora Lange killer, that Louisiana sprawling serial killer is still out there. Of course Marty’s reluctant to believe in anything Rust says. He buys into some of the stories Dts. Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Tory Kittles) are reeling off. But his old partner, despite any of his craziness – and that’s nothing new – makes a good case. And eventually Marty breaks down.


They go out to Cohle’s storage shed. There’s nothing suggesting he’s a killer out there. Only the obvious artefacts of a man still consumed with a job undone. He is consistently, constantly plagued by the fact he and Marty couldn’t nail the real killer when they found Reggie Ledoux. Now, Marty sees that there’s something to Rust and his talk. It’s funny – up until he sees everything, Marty actually holds his gun and prepares for the worst. Right up to the last second. Inside the words YELLOW KING, SCARS, CARCOSA are spray painted on the wall. Pictures everywhere, sketches and photographs. Police reports, maps. The Tuttle schools marked off on one large map of Louisiana. Rust talks about when Light of the Way opened in ’88, accusations of child molestation. He tracked down a ladyboy named Johnny Joanie a.k.a Toby (Dave Davis) that had been there. He was abused. Johnny tells Rust about “animal faces” and a guy with “bad scars around his mouth” – more of the key words in the lexicon of the investigation. Cohle goes on talking more and more, which only draws Marty into the whole idea.
We begin connecting earlier images in past episodes to the serial killings, some of what Cohle has tracked down. Rust discovered Courir de Mardi Gras, a special type of the celebration involving odd symbolism, masks, et cetera. We’re starting to understand that this killer is steeped in Louisiana history. Whoever it is, he had a “real good time” particularly after Katrina when everything was in disarray.
The pièce de résistance? Rust was the one who broke into Bill Lee Tuttle’s (Jay O. Sanders) place those few years ago. What he found was shocking. First, a load of pictures – a girl blindfolded, antlers on her head. Then, even worse, a videotape. On it recorded is a hideous ritual. Men in masks, a girl with the antlers on her head crying. Then we only see her laid down, legs spread, before Marty’s face is all we see; his reaction speaks louder than anything on that tape ever could. He can’t even watch the rest, though Rust had to simply to see if anybody took of their mask; they didn’t. This one vicious moment is what truly grasps the family man Marty Hart. He’s now willing to fully believe in his former friend and partner.

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What I dig most in this episode is seeing how far, or how low, these guys have come. Certainly Marty’s got his business, Hart Investigative Solutions. Although they aren’t exactly booming, as it seems. At home, he sits and eats alone, TV dinners and the like. And Rust, well, he’s mostly the same. Drinking, working in a little bar. Wasting away. In this scene we’re able to see how both of them, in their own ways, have been affected terribly by their inability to find Dora Lange’s killer, not capable of stopping all those killings that are clearly still going on. Even though Rust is the one whose life has been completely devoured, Marty’s not happy either. Just, as usual, incapable of admitting that to himself. What’s apparent is that both these men need to solve that case which evades them all these years. They further discuss what made them walk away from the job. Neither of them fully divulges, for the time being.
So Marty starts helping Cohle. He pretends to be writing a “true crime” book, weaselling a drop of information out of friends in the Police Department. Missing Persons stuff, and other things. Naturally since Katrina things are in a bit of a mess, but it’s all sitting there, waiting to be looked through. They find themselves searching out Ledoux relatives. One of them tells the detectives about a man with scars. It visibly shakes the guy. As a kid he met the guy and felt strangely about the way he looked at him. Creepy.
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Rust: “Lifes barely long enough to get good at one thing
Marty: “If that long
Rust: “Yeah, so be careful what you get good at.”
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The detectives go to see a woman named Miss Delores (Carol Sutton) who once worked for the Tuttle family. With a few questions, Rust manages to coax a bit of information out of the frail, old woman. She talks about how Tuttle had kids that weren’t officially his, that he got bored of women easily. When the mention of scars comes up she reveals the boy was scarred by his father; he was part of the Childress family branch. Suddenly, Miss Delores gets quiet and doesn’t want to talk much. She then asks: “You know Carcosa?” Ah, the symbolism of the killer comes out more. “Death is not the end,” she almost warns Rust in cryptic fashion. Something has brought a plague on anyone connected to the Tuttles, as so easily can be seen through Delores. Crazy as she is, part of it makes sense.
In other news, former pain in the ass Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) might know something. He’s now a Sheriff, more pull and weight behind him. That starts getting the detectives thinking about chatting with Geraci. Off the books. With a car battery and jumper cables. So Marty gets out golfing with the guy, asking questions trying to smooth the info out normally. When he believes that Geraci’s lying, Rust and his jumper cables are at the ready.
Rust and Marty finally get to the truth about the latter walking away from the job, as well as the truth about why Cohle came back. In his last days, Marty saw a crime scene where a tweaker tried drying his baby off in a microwave. Fucking savage. So he left the job. And Rust, he’s driven by duty. He needs this to end, in order to be able “tie it off” and be done with all the violence of his life. They both need it. The boys get Geraci and begin their efforts to figure out what he knows.


At episode’s end, Detectives Gilbough and Papania talk to a gardener mowing a cemetery. He’s the one Rust talked to back in ’95 at Light of the Way. He has scars all along the bottom of his jaw, around the sides of his face. Also notice he’s mowing the lawn strangely in a circle, just like that spiral tattoo we see crop up so often. The secrets that hide in the bayous of Louisiana are many. This is one of them. That serial killer is lurking just underneath everyone’s noses.
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An amazing penultimate Season 1 episode. The finale – “Form and Void” – is poised to give us a spectacular ending. Solid lead-up here. Looking forward to seeing the killer revealed more before we come to the inevitable showdown with the true detectives.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 6: “Haunted Houses”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 6: “Haunted Houses”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Secret Fate of All Life” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “After You’ve Gone” – click here
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In 2002, Dt. Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) deals with the two older guys his sixteen-year-old daughter Audrey (Erin Moriarty). And not in the legal way. He visits them in their holding cell, prompting them into a little one-way ass kicking from ole Marty. He doesn’t like their “patronising” tone, as they don’t understand with whom they’re dealing. Not just an angry father. An angry father with a chip on his shoulder for men too much like himself. Having a daughter and being a man like Marty, it ain’t so easy. He sees these boys treating women – his daughter specifically – the way he treats women, and he can’t manage to admit to himself he’s doing that. Thus, he takes that guilt and frustration out on these young dudes. Although he vomits later confirming he has a slight bit of soul left.
2012: Dts. Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Terry Kittles) are still digging in trying to figure out more about Cohle back in ’95. They also start sniffing around Marty’s ex, Maggie (Michelle Monaghan). They want to know what broke the two detectives apart, what she might know about Cohle from 2002.
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During 2002, Marty reconnected with the prostitute he once met up at the bunny ranch in ’95, Beth (Lili Simmons). Dissatisfied with family life, the normal sway of things, the married man falls into another clandestine affair. Even worse is the fact that back in ’95 Cohle asked if Marty had been making a “down payment” on Beth, as he slipped her some money and told her to do something else; a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Meanwhile, Cohle started tracking down more cases that link back to the Light of the Way, Queen of Angels, Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders). He finds a load of broken people in the wake of this school. Perhaps things weren’t so religious as they seemed on the outside. Later, he comes across the former preacher Joel Theriot (Shea Whigham) whose experience with the Tuttle-funded schools didn’t exactly end wonderfully. He came into knowledge of some shady, pederast activity – “accusations of children being interfered with” – that landed him out of a job, out on his ass, drinking instead of preaching.
The last case Marty and Rust worked was a woman nicknamed the “Marshland Medea” who killed her own children. In 2002, Marty reveals he believes part of Rust breaking, walking off the job was due to this woman, the intensity and darkness of the case. Finally made him snap. Well, that and other things. But certainly it could not have helped. Either way, we see Cohle – a man who unwillingly lost a child – dealing, almost gently (until the end of their interrogation) with a woman who willingly killed her own, and more than one. The big break is actually between Cohle and Hart. They further divide, as Rust finds himself getting sick of how people around those parts seem to “eat [their] fuckin‘ young” and not care about it. Cohle is stuck on believing the Dora Lange killer is at large while Marty’s happy to live life, cheat on his wife, neglect his family, and pretend like he’s a saint.

 

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At some point in 2002 Cohle winds up at a psychiatric facility where one of Ledoux’s victims, still living, is in a kind of catatonic state; one that he and Marty saved from that backwoods compound. Though she’s lucid enough to talk with him a bit. She mentions another “giant” man “with the scars” being “the worst” of all. However, after this she freaks out sending Cohle away, and likely getting him in trouble with his superiors already pissed with him digging into the past. Major Leroy Salter (Paul Ben-Victor) isn’t too chuffed. Whereas Cohle believes there’s still a serial killer loose, no one else sees the forest for the trees.
In 2012, Dts. Gilbough and Papania are stuck on Rust being the one that broke into Tuttle’s place, and possibly who did him in. They’re unable to figure out anything else. They see Cohle as the one responsible for all of it. Marty has enough and walks out on them.
But back to 2002 first, before we see any more. When Maggie finds clothes in the wash, just Marty’s, and sees he’s in the shower, she looks at his phone. What does she find? Torrid text messages and pictures from Beth. For the time being, Maggie says nothing. This woman has taken some shit and swallowed it with a smile.
While Marty’s family falls apart, Rust kept on looking throughout 2002. He talked to Billy Lee Tuttle himself. Trying to track down old records, personnel, anything he can. Because of the various schools shutting down things got plenty scattered. Convenient. Plus, the private institutions all keep things nice and locked tight.

 

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After Major Salter discovers Cohle is still out pushing the old Lange case, talking with Tuttle, this does not turn out well for the staunch detective. He’s put out with a suspension. Not good. This only keeps him stuck at home trying to figure the whole thing out himself. Doesn’t help that Maggie shows up. She decides the best way of getting back at her husband is to do the one unforgivable thing: fuck his partner. She and Cohle have sex. Then he starts to piece together she’s only doing it to pierce her husband’s heart. Rightfully so, but that’s using him as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of himself. She didn’t want to use a stranger. She did it all to get the maximum reaction out of Marty. And that kills Cohle, who already feels guilty for being with her. Now, it’s a whole other thing. The trail of broken hearts and broken lives piles up along the way.
And then Marty finds out. This is the big event which finally tears the two detectives apart, forever tarnishing their relationship.
On suspension Cohle goes in to collect some papers. He and Marty meet, violently, in the parking lot outside. They finally have their fist fight that’s been brewing so long. Afterwards, Rust quits and walks out: “Fuck this and fuck this world. Nice hook, Marty.”
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In 2012, nobody admits to Dts. Gilbough and Papania why the two detectives split.
What’s more interesting is that on his way home, Marty gets pulled over by Rust. They haven’t seen each other in a long, long time. When they go to catch up over a beer, Marty makes sure he’s got his gun handy. Who knows where this is about to go.
The thing I dig about this ending is that we see a great shot of Rust’s truck, the taillight still busted from his fight a decade ago with Marty. He hasn’t fixed it. Just another symbol of Rust’s inability to move past those events, his partnership with Marty and their not finished duty of finding Dora’s killer. A great little touch to top off an already solid chapter.
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A great episode, as is the usual. More solid writing, character development. The next episode, leaning into the last couple of the season, is titled “After You’ve Gone” and it brings us closer to a resolution, or at least an ending. Whatever that may be.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Secret Fate of All Life”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Secret Fate of All Life”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “Who Goes There” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Haunted Houses” – click here
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1995: Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) now have one of the Iron Crusaders, Ginger (Joseph Sikora), in their grasp. This is a way in to figure out where Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford) is holed up, cooking meth. Cohle has Ginger arrange a meeting with DeWall Ledoux, cousin and cook partner to Reggie. They get together at a bar, but DeWall doesn’t even like the look of Rust: “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. Its corrosive, like acid. You got demons, little man. And I dont like your face, it makes me wanna do things to it.” He refuses. However, you know that ain’t going to stop someone like him, or Marty. They tail DeWall.
2012: Detectives Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Terry Kittles) are edging towards something, but are reluctant to give in and let Rust take a look at the files on their recent murder, the one suggesting a serial killer is still roaming the state.
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Back to ’95.
Out in the the bayous of Louisiana, the two detectives discover a compound where DeWall and Reggie cook their meth, hide out from the world. Rust’s early life with a survivalist father comes in handy, as the place is heavily booby trapped to the outside world. There are also strange wooden structures, little trinkets strung up and left about the land. Very spooky stuff.
In 2012, Gilbough and Papania question what exactly happened at the compound. Obviously, nothing panned out as planned. And we see the conflicting stories of what happened. Rust and Marty give the two detectives a story they’ve held to for nearly two decades. That is, what really happened is explained away through a supposed gunfight that went down. So what actually went down?
During the off-the-books ’95 investigation, Hart and Cohle capture Reggie, as the larger DeWall tries escaping. Reggie talks about how “time is a flat circle” and speaks of “black stars” – these are becoming part of the lexicon of True Detective‘s first season. Things get especially tense once Marty finds two kidnapped, likely abused children inside cowering in the dark. He comes back out to where Rust is reluctantly listening to the madness of Reggie, and then Marty blows the guy’s face off. Oh, and DeWall, he steps on one of the homemade booby traps, blowing himself to bits.
After everything, the tried and true detectives do their best to fire off AK-47 rounds, to set the place up looking like a real gunfight erupted between them and the suspects. Tricky stuff. Although they earn themselves promotions (well, Mary did), commendations, and all that jazz. Just another bit of guilt to weigh them down.

 


Reggie: “Youre in Carcosa now. With me. He sees you.”

 


Around 2002 the Hart family is back together, mostly, as Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) takes Marty back. For now. Their daughter’s causing lots of trouble now being found having sex with a couple older boys in a car. Marty isn’t above handling that in his old ways, either. He does the whole family disservice by calling his own daughter “Captain of the varsity slut team” – as if he’s the one to talk.
As for Rust, he’s back in the dating game seeing a woman named Laurie (Elizabeth Reaser) and trying to live a half normal life. He finds himself back in the interrogation rooms, the box man working his magic. Only he comes up against a man hoping to make a deal. He mentions the Dora Lange case, that the murderer is still out there. The serial killer still kills. Then he drops the name “Yellow King” and that puts all sorts of fire in Rust’s belly. Before anything can come of it the guy winds up killing himself in jail. Or, that’s the story, and the PD is sticking to it. Rust tracks down a call from a payphone that went to the dead prisoner before his death. Nobody else except Cohle believes there’s more to it.
Again, notice in 2012 that Rust lines up his five little beer can men, much like those five men surrounding little Dora in the picture at her mother’s place. This reoccurring image of five comes up time and time again.

 


What we come to understand in 2012 is that Dts. Gilbough and Papania suspect Cohle has been leading Hart since their original investigation, that he’s been orchestrating the murders. The Rev. Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders) apparently died right after Rust showed up back in Louisiana. Despite whatever tore them apart, Marty isn’t happy to hear these guys are taking a run at Cohle. As for Rust, after he’s accused by the detectives he walks out.
During ’95, Cohle found himself at Light of the Way, one of the rundown schools, trying to piece together bits and pieces. Anything at all. He comes across more of the strange stick figures lying around, the makeshift ornaments. The symbolic nature of the serial killer only gets deeper with each new chapter.
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Another great, whopper of an episode. The end is fantastic. But just the entire thing was excellent, exciting, mysterious. Lots more to come. Next up is “Haunted Houses” and that holds more secrets and lies and wildness to indulge.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 4: “Who Goes There”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 4: “Who Goes There”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Locked Room” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Secret Fate of All Life” – click here
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In 1995, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) go to the prison to visit Dora Lange’s husband Charlie (Brad Carter). They tell him about Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford) likely having killed her. He’s not happy. He tells the detectives about Reggie being a chemist of sorts, inside and outside of prison. Also, he claims Reggie talked about The Yellow King, Carcosa, that there were child sacrifices and “so much good killing.” A spiral tattoo, even. Too many strange things. Stranger still, they connect with tiny bits that Rust and Marty haven’t yet fully put together.
But it isn’t only the case that’s making things difficult. Marty deals with the fallout between him and Lisa Tragnetti (Alexandra Daddario). As in the fallout from him breaking his way into her home, attacking the man with whom she was having sex. Insane, really. He’d be up on charges if he weren’t a cop. Now, Marty is playing with fire. She feels disrespected, and that can’t mean anything good. At the office, Marty acts like the man, as he and Rust let everyone in on the Ledoux situation. He’s suspect numero uno. Another guy, Tyrone Weems (Todd Giebenhain), is someone connected to Reggie, so naturally he’s someone they want to find. When they talk to his mother, this leads them to his girl, which further and finally leads them closer.
For those who don’t know, writer Nic Pizzolatto plays the bartender in the scene where Marty acts like an asshole at the strip club bar. He’s wearing a KISS ME I’M AN ASSHOLE shirt if it isn’t obvious enough.
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Problem is Marty fucked with the wrong girl. At home, Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) and the kids are gone. Only a note left. Seems young Lisa went to see Marty’s wife, let her in on what’s been going on. Y’know, extra-maritally. This puts quite the curve in the plan Marty had in mind for his life. The one where he pretends to his wife that he isn’t a cheating, lying piece of shit. While he is a great detective, a good man in the sense of being an honest husband, a faithful one, he is not. Not in the slightest. In 2012 with Dts. Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Tory Kittles) we see more of Marty trying to justify to them – but mostly himself – that he’s a good man, underneath it all. And essentially, he does so through his work as detective. That’s his one and only redemption having obviously destroyed his own family life. Back to ’95, Hart tracks down Tyrone Weems and gets more info on Ledoux: the guy cooks meth exclusively to one client, the Iron Crusaders, a biker gang.
And this connects into the former life of Rust Cohle, a.k.a Crash when he’s undercover. This means there’s a way in, off the books, for Marty and Rust to get the drop on Ledoux. Hopefully. What I love most here is how Cohle keeps a lockbox of stuff from his old life undercover, right there. Can fit it under the couch, the bed. Wherever. Ready to come out at a moment’s notice. This gives us a look inside the other Rust and Marty, the detectives willing to cross the line of morality when absolute necessary, even if it’s not totally necessary, and do what needs doing. The cover story for what happens next is that Rust has a sick father, he took time off in ’95 to go see him. Both detectives tell Dts. Gilbough and Papania this same story in 2012.

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What really happened?
Crash Cole doesn’t only go back undercover, he goes DEEP undercover. He makes fake track marks in his arm to look sincere, but snorts very real cocaine to get in the mood, smuggling some out of lockup to make things appear above board to the targets of his in the Iron Crusaders. At a big party, he meets with Ginger (Joseph Sikora). Perfect time, as Ginger has a job that requires someone just like Crash. With Marty worrying constantly about the state of his family and his marriage, Cohle is headed into the lion’s den with a bunch of racist bikers.


In this scene we’re treated to the single greatest tracking shot ever in television history; a whole six minutes which brought this series an Emmy, or two. Cary Fukunaga makes magic happen. We literally ride along with McConaughey’s Cohle in the face of danger, moving through the hood as the Iron Crusaders involve undercover Crash in a terribly dysfunctional scheme that goes bonkers haywire in the middle of it all.
The whole thing kicks off with Crash proving himself all over again, ingesting more drugs than some normal folks might be able to handle, sitting in with Ginger, Mitch (Joshua Leonard) and other hardcore bikers. When they first get into the target area, things go smooth. Shortly afterwards the whole job goes sideways. One of the Crusaders blasts a black man they’d taken hostage, and all hell breaks loose quick. Trying to keep things from getting completely fucked Crash Cohle is forced to reveal himself to Ginger, taking the biker as his own hostage. He gets on the phone to Marty, who waits not far off. Just in the nick of time, floating right beyond harm’s reach, Cohle gets himself and Ginger to the car, then Marty takes them out of there, as police helicopters and gunshots make the place sound like a ghetto symphony. Now they’ve got a means to an end; that end is Ledoux.
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One of the greatest episodes, if not the greatest of all, in the entire series. Fukunaga does a lot of great stuff, but almost none better than this six minute sequence, this feat of filmmaking. Took hundreds of crew to pull off. Makeup artists had to apply touch ups and bits of character work within seconds, as cameras focused themselves on other things. A truly amazing bit of television. Next episode is titled “The Secret Fate of All Life” and continues us into the second half of Season 1. Things are really going to get deep now.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Locked Room”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Locked Room”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the previous episode, “Seeing Things” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Who Goes There” – click here
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With new leads in 1995, Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) have gotten themselves to a travelling preacher named Joel Theriot (Shea Whigham). The church they tracked down at the end of last episode had the mysterious antlered woman painted inside on one of its walls. More than we’ve seen already Cohle lets us into his anti-religious worldview. Not that he’s wrong, but part of what Cohle represents is the complete parallel of the people who are on their high horse of religion; same condescending way he stands above the religious, judging everyone who worships. Part of him is incredibly right, he just dives too deep into his own head sometimes. But indeed, his lament for the “fairy tales” of the supposed greater good is one many of us harbour in ourselves. I do.
Cohle and Hart talk with Theriot, whose fan club includes a man named Burt (Douglas M. Griffin) that seems a bit suspicious to some. At least until they figure out, all but surely, they’re looking in the wrong direction; he can’t even come close to another person without defecating all over himself, plus he had his balls cut off in prison. This only leads them further down the rabbit hole. In 2012, Cohle ominously confirms: “Nothing is ever over.”
One interesting bit from ’95 – Dora Lange was seen with a “tall man” who had a “strange faceshiny around his jaw” sort of like someone who survived a fire.
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The further divide between Rust and Marty opens with every episode. What’s interesting is the exemplification of the series’ title, True Detective: despite any and all of their faults as men, Rust and Marty are incredible detectives. Although the serial killer they chased in ’95 eluded them, even up to the point where Dts. Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Tory Kittles) interviewed them in 2012, they are true detectives. Our first inkling of what truly tore these guys apart down the line starts in ’95, as Marty comes home to his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) chatting with ole Rust. Turns out the trusty partner came over to mow his buddy’s lawn. And Marty does not like that, nor does he appreciate any of the effort. It’s ironic because there’s nothing to suggest Cohle is trying to do anything untoward here. Yet the way his partner acts might have put that whole situation on an entirely different trajectory; check back on that once you’ve seen the whole first season, as it’s intriguing to watch these episodes over with the knowledge of what happens later.
At the Hart house Papa Marty has to talk with his girls about something difficult. Young Audrey’s been drawing things – sexual things – that got her in trouble. Where did she learn that? Perhaps it’s harmless. This is just one of the red herrings we find amongst the first season. The dolls, the drawings – little pieces of character which come in later episodes, set in 2012 – these lead many to believe there’s something else going on other than the crimes. Like Marty should be paying more attention to what’s going on within his own family. You might start wondering if there’s a culture of abuse happening in their city.


Maggie: “Girls always know before boys
Marty: “Why is that?”
Maggie: “Because they have to


I dig the title of this episode, “The Locked Room”, as it takes on a few meanings. For one, you’ve got the idea of a locked-room mystery, a sub-genre of detective fiction. Then we’ve also got the idea of the detectives themselves, in that they spend much of their time in locked rooms interrogating suspects. In particular, Cohle is a great “box man” who knows all about the locked room – another usage being the mind, itself a room locked away from everyone else except the person with the key.
Searching out more about the scars and the tall man, Cohle and Hart find a lot of dead ends. Mostly, they get deeper and deeper into the case. For Marty, it’s easy to shake off, though he uses it as an excuse to cheat on his wife, to skip out on his family when he wants. For Rust, it weighs on him. He finds it hard to live life, unlike his partner. He can’t be normal like everyone else, it actually affects him. Because ultimately he feels too much. He knows the pain of being human – the existential one – better than most. While Maggie tries setting Cohle up with a woman, Marty’s busy still flirting around Lisa Tragnetti (Alexandra Daddario). Marty is jealous; out with his wife, Cohle and his blind date, he sees Lisa with another man and that violently enrages him. Oh, the hypocrisy. It’s deafening. We also discover more of Maggie and Cohle talking, subtly, innocently leading either towards more trouble or towards a resolution for the Hart family troubles. You’ll have to let that play out and see.
Also something worth noticing is that in 2012, while talking away endlessly to the detectives, Cohle starts carving up his Lone Star beer cans into men. In the following episodes you’ll notice it’s very similar to the circle of men surrounding a young Dora in the picture at Mrs. Kelly’s place in “Seeing Things” where they’re on horseback, sporting odd costumes. Keep that in mind, these five men. It’s a reoccurring symbol.
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Marty: “You ever wonder if you’re a bad man?”
Rust: “No, I dont wonderThe world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”


In ’95, Cohle eventually stumbles across another possible victim of their serial killer – Rianne Olivier. She was found washed up onshore by a river, deemed accidental death. Except she has a spiral tattoo, same as Dora. The connections slowly fall into place, but there’s still so much ground to cover, both figuratively and literally. When Rust and Marty start figuring out more about this latest victim, they find out she was with a man named Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford), a real piece of work, a bad seed. They also make the connection of Rianne going to Light of the Way; another way to piece this all together, as it links into the Tuttle family.
At the Light of the Way school, a gardener cuts the lawn. Cohle asks him a few questions, seeing as how he covers a few of the properties belonging to the church. He doesn’t have much to say to Rust, other than the basics. Marty gets a call about Ledoux; his cellmate in jail as of late is Charlie Lange (Brad Carter). More of a bridge to all the other avenues in play. Well, there’s more to it than that. Out in the fields somewhere, cooking meth, Ledoux wanders with a gas mask on, machete in hand, and in 2012 Marty mentions a “gunfight” to the eager detectives interviewing him. Lots of things to come. Lots of dangerous, interesting, terrifying things: “Like a lot of dreams theres a monster at the end of it.”
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Another solid episode. The final shot is one of intense magnitude. I remember when it first aired I was dying to see the next chapter, so perfect to end on.
The whole season is spectacular. Next up is “Who Goes There” – one of the best episodes of all containing the single greatest tracking shot in television history. Thank you, HBO! And thank you Fukunaga/Pizzolatto; a fantastic collaboration.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 2: “Seeing Things”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 2: “Seeing Things”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the first episode, “The Long Bright Dark” – click here
* For a review of the net episode, “The Locked Room” – click here
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Dt. Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) is still sitting with Detectives Maynard Gilbough (Michael Potts) and Thomas Papania (Tory Kittles), explaining things from his side. He talks about when he and Dt. Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) found the strange stick figure. They went to see Mrs. Kelly (Tess Harper), daughter of the deceased young girl for which they’re searching. What’s most interesting is what Cohle notices, as the woman rattles on. He sees a few pictures, one depicting men dressed in strange costumes on horseback and surrounding a little girl, likely the same one whose murder they’re investigating.
Furthermore, we see the divide between Cohle and Hart. The latter talks of his mother, the former doesn’t even know if his is alive. In the present timeline, Dts. Gilbough and Papania get all sorts of information about Hart, though they’re edging more towards getting the dirt on Cohle. Back then, Dts. Cohle and Hart start to flesh out more information about their victim, and what may have happened to her. The serial killer they track is cunning, symbolic, and worst of all nearly untraceable in the backwoods of the Louisiana swamps.
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Cohle and Hart are vastly different, but they’re also alike in that they have both hide things. There is a secret side to them both. And much as they try, those secret sides want to get out. For now, at least Cohle finally tells Marty about his wife, the child that died. So there’s a bit of a bridge building there. A small one, though a bridge no less. There’s lots more to them as characters, which begins fleshing out in this second episode. The part we discover about Cohle is that his pessimistic view of the world is mostly a reflection of how he feels about himself. In opposition, Marty’s so completely wrapped up in himself that he can’t even see his own faults. He knows they’re there, he just can’t admit to them. Funny, he says about the very same thing re: Cohle to Dts. Gilbough and Papania. His weakness is women mainly; women that are not his wife.
And while Hart spends sordid nights with Lisa Tragnetti (Alexandra Daddario), his partner Cohle is out cruising the night, having psychedelic flashbacks and trying to contain that other part of him hoping to rage. He gets pills, plus a bit of information from a Confidential Informant. Even better, his past is slightly concealed to the detectives now interviewing him. One mysterious man.
In their early days as partners, Cohle and Hart were at odds. Cohle knew almost immediately what Hart was like, a dog of a husband and a man. They had their confrontations, they slightly worked that stuff out. But you can feel there’s something bigger in their future, something we’ll see as the chapters wear on.


Back in ’95, Cohle and Hart manage to track down a little “hillbilly bunny ranch” where there’s underage girls being prostituted. Their victim Dora Lange was once a part of the farm before she made it out to bigger, supposedly better things. We know how that turned out. They find one girl, Beth (Lili Simmons), who knew Dora, and they try to figure out any of the poor deceased girl’s movements over the past while. They hear about her ex, but not much else. They do, however, get the girl’s diary. It talks about some strange things: The Yellow King, black stars, Carcosa, and all sorts of creepiness.
In 2012, Dts. Gilough and Papania find out more about Cohle, how he was in a psychiatric facility for a little while during ’93, that he dove headfirst into undercover work. He was a “floater” able to go anywhere, do anything. Deep undercover type stuff. For four years. The type of assignment which changes a man irreparably.
Between what he’s seen on the job and the guilt he feels in relation to the death of his daughter, Cohle is stuck during ’95 in the duty to find Dora Lange’s killer. At the same time, Marty gets resistance from his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) while trying to work the case. That’s because it isn’t only the case for him, either. It’s about the infidelity, cheating on his wife and feeling guilt for it, all of that making him act like an asshole and neglect his family.
One scary moment for Marty is when he finds his daughters playing in their room. They’ve got dolls setup like a bunch of men standing around a woman, one ready to have sex with her as she lays naked between them. The influence of sex is already present in their lives. This should be a wake-up call for Marty, that there’s an evil beneath their small town’s covers.


During ’95, Cohle and Hart also find themselves swept up in a task force, one put into action by the governor. Meanwhile, the brother of the governor, Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders) turns up poking his nose around. Things are not well for Cohle around the office. He hates that there’s a bunch of nonsense about Satanism and a big “political circle jerk” going on. Everyone else is clueless, yet in the midst of it he’s the only one, surprisingly, making sense.
They end up finding a church where Dora may have sought religious counsel. Inside painted on the wall is a mural depicting a woman with antlers on her head, very eerie, too similar to the way they found Dora’s corpse at the beginning of their investigation. Now, the plot thickens quite a bit. Their leads are becoming more tangible, real, and things get scarier.
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A great follow-up to the first episode. Love this one. Great series that only gets better with repeat viewings. The next episode is titled “The Locked Room” and holds plenty more delights.

The Tense Line Between Cops and Criminals in John Hillcoat’s Triple 9

Triple 9. 2016. Directed by John Hillcoat. Screenplay by Matt Cook.
Starring Casey Afflec, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Michael Kenneth Williams, Clifton Collins Jr, Michelle Ang, Terence Rosemore, Terri Abney, & Alexander Babara. Worldview Entertainment/Anonymous Content/MadRiver Pictures.
Rated 14A. 110 minutes.
Action/Crime/Drama

★★★★
POSTER Ever since I saw Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, director John Hillcoat was someone I found interesting. 17 years later, he made The Proposition, which is my personal favourite Western ever, and definitely one of the best contemporary Westerns of the past 20 years. Since then he pulled out a near perfect adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and also did the solid, fun Prohibition dramatic thriller Lawless. He is an interesting talent as a director, whose talent lies in getting down to the nitty gritty of his subject matter, whether that be prison, the end of the world, Prohibition heroes, or even the law.
Which is where Triple 9 comes in. Tackling a lot of different subplots at once, this is a pretty solid crime movie. Although, there are definitely a few faults. For one, the usually wonderful Kate Winslet is present giving us a Russian-American accent that is once or twice solid, then for the rest of the picture a truly abysmal element. But even with the few missteps, the screenplay from newcomer-screenwriter Matt Cook is interesting, it is suspenseful, and above all the world of dirty cops feels impressively real. The terror of being in the midst of renegade lawmen is very real in Triple 9. A good cop flick for our current times.
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A gang of corrupt cops and criminals including Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus), & Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr) all find themselves indebted to the Russian mob. Particularly, because of Michael’s son with Elena Vlaslov (Gal Gadot), he’s stuck with her sister Irina (Kate Winslet), big time mobster, over his shoulder. After a bit of a botched heist, they’re expected to do one more job. A high stakes job, which will require them to pull a Triple Nine; code for when an officer is down. This will pull all units away, allowing others in the crew to infiltrate their target.
With a new cop in his precinct and as his partner, Marcus offers him up as the one to take down – Chris Allen (Casey Affleck). Only problem is that his uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) is a big name around the city in the Police Department. And with too many loose threads, a plan, no matter how good, is bound to go wrong somewhere down the line.
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The action sequences are absolutely the film’s highlight. Right from the start, the opening robbery is super exciting. Especially after you see things going wrong for these guys, then figure out they’re cops. It’s a real whopper to start off the movie. Halfway through there’s a nice sequence where the police raid a Mexican gang and the action is stellar. Lots of great shots, very kinetic. On top of that, I love the film’s score from an awesome team including Bobby Krlic, Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Claudia Sarne. A nice electronic, subtle score that bubbles and boils up, bouncing around just like the action. Fits things well.
The cinematography overall is fantastic, from action sequences to the lower key scenes in various locations, all framed so beautifully, so dark and vibrant. Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis is a favourite of mine. He is responsible for the look of a top film in my books, Bullhead, as well as The Drop and recent horror Cub. His eye is good, and the texture of his camerawork is so rich. Whereas the action scenes are definitely best, some of the others where the camera is very still, exquisitely framed, fill out the other portions of the film in a nice tapestry that takes us from the dangerous streets to dingy strip clubs, secret meetings under overpasses, to alleys and crack houses, and everywhere in between. The whole movie is atmospheric. It has a dark tone, a deep moodiness about it, most of which comes from Karakatsanis and how he captures everything. As the film wears on and we hit the climax, the cinematography is much more personal, close-up, and it hones tight on everything. Whittling down much like the characters do in number.
For the most part, Cook’s screenplay is good. There’s a hole or two now and then, which is fine. Nobody’s ever made an objectively perfect movie, and even the greatest screenplays all have little messes in them. But best of all, the plot and story come together with all their various threads nicely. For a film that has a lot of focus in different directions, Cook manages to keep our attention in the right spots. Never does one subplot ever overtake the whole film’s main plot because the whole thing shifts from one act to the next until we’re left with the aftermath of these cops and their decisions. Things weave around quite a bit at times. Without spoiling anything, the cops find their plans don’t exactly work out as they’d hoped. And once things begin spinning out of control there’s no turning back – the plot will whisk you away towards a violent finale.
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Triple 9 is able to stay so interesting despite its few flaws due in large part to the well rounded cast. Someone I’m huge on is Woody Harrelson, so to see him here in a nice little supporting role is great. Even his voice is fun, but the character itself is great; he is kind of sleazy, yet he’s one of the better of the lot. Just little bits make him so fun: meeting with a transsexual, played wonderfully by Michael K. Williams, and slapping her ass; picking a joint out of the garbage; snorting some drugs in the backseat of a cruiser.
Someone I love while not actually loving a whole of the movies he’s in is Anthony Mackie. I’m always rooting for him to get better roles. Here, he plays a dirty, dirty police officer. All the same, he’s not completely worthless, as his character’s at least partly conflicted sometimes. You can see him wanting to like Affleck’s character, they bond a little, and Mackie plays that role so right, with faint hesitation and plenty of emotion. On the other side is Casey Affleck, another actor I personally enjoy. He has this laid back sensibility about him, some take it as disaffected or boring, but to me it’s just his attitude. His behaviour works proper here because he’s supposed to feel apart from the other cops in the film; he’s sort of cocky, but not in a disingenuous way. Him and Mackie have nice chemistry together, as well as with Harrleson in their few scenes.
Aaron Paul is great, too. Part of his character is similar to Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, but not the entirety. This character, Gabe, was a cop who fell off the track, like crazy. He’s a hardcore addict. And still, there’s a tiny drop of humanity in him. Paul is the perfect casting for this role because he’s able to be a dirtbag drug head and simultaneously play the character as sympathetic, honest, raw.
In addition to these solid performances, the cast is filled up with other great actors. Ejiofor gives an uncharacteristically menacing performance, proving he is not only a nice guy actor. In his brief performance, Reedus is, as usual, charismatic in his rough and rugged way. Clifton Collins Jr is another guy I always love seeing, and here he puts off his gangster cop persona just the right amount. And yes, Williams as Sweet Pea, the glamorous transsexual, is a welcomed addition even if he’s only onscreen for about a single minute. The cast makes this movie what it is. Kate Winslet adds nothing with her bad accent because she doesn’t feel menacing to me – not like Ejiofor, who strikes the right amount of scary bastard. But if it weren’t for the rest of these actors, Triple 9 would be highly mediocre crime-thriller fare.FILM Triple 9 093414
Some reviews I’ve seen are unfair. This is definitely not one of the best crime-thrillers I’ve seen as of late. At the same time, this is still solid. The action is exciting, it will push your adrenaline in certain scenes. It is tense and rarely, if ever, lets up. Also, you have to admire some of the methods these criminals/cops use in their robberies. A few nice, innovative little pieces to add into the movie lexicon. Any decent movie about criminals, especially ones where the criminals are cops and ex-military, so on, is going to have some nice tidbits of criminal activity. For instance, just some of the small moments where they tried covering their tracks, even the fact they spoke Spanish during the first heist and those types of things were nice inclusions. One absolute positive – Hillcoat does a fine job directing here and offers up more with this feature than others will have you believe. Don’t expect the next Heat, but don’t write this off as mediocre. It’s better than that. For all its mistakes, Triple 9 is dark and engaging. Maybe in a day and age where dirty cops are all too prevalent in real life some don’t want for this type of movie. Doesn’t change the fact it’s enjoyable.

True Detective – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Long Bright Dark”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Long Bright Dark”
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the following episode, “Seeing Things” – click here
* For a review of True Detective’s Season 2 starting with “The Western Book of the Dead” – click here
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I’ve already done the second season. Now I’m returning for the 5th time viewing, reviewing each of the first season episodes for True Detective. I love both seasons equally, and I know that puts me in the minority. Either way, Season 1 changed the landscape of modern television, like it or not. There came a whole lot of depth in the writing, even if Nic Pizzolatto riffs hard off Thomas Ligotti and Friedrich Nietzsche. Still, the vision of one writer and one director for an entire eight-episode run made this something to witness, as a great story unfolded with lots of red herrings idiosyncrasies, and plenty wonderful acting to boot.
The first episode, “The Long Bright Dark”, begins with someone being carried in the shadows, a makeshift torch being light in a field out by a large tree, and then a line of fire reaching out into the other trees.
Cut to Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). He’s on camera being interviewed in 2012 by Dt. Maynard Gilbough (Michael Potts) and the younger Dt. Thomas Papania (Tory Kittles). They start talking about this and that, then finally come to Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey). He’s an unusual man. At the same time, Rust is being interviewed by the detectives in another room. He begins immediately breaking the rules, light a cigarette. This, though a small gesture, sets the tone for part of Rust’s entire exterior makeup, the person he projects to the world while simultaneously he is always watching, always taking notes even if they’re in his head.
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The main events which set the stage happen in 1995. A young woman is found in Louisiana, naked, dead, tied to a big tree and wearing a strange set of antlers on her head. On her back is a thick black tattoo of a spiral-like formation. Hart and Cohle are the ones tasked with investigating her death, as State Police. No identification is found on the girl, but it’s obvious to Cohle there’s some significance in the crime, a sort of grandeur so to speak. Right off the bat we understand how different Hart and Cohle are as partners and people. Hart is a very grounded individual, in terms of what he believes and how he sees the world. Cohle is completely the opposite, as if his mind is an open book, an open encyclopedia is more like it. But he understands this type of crime is not just a one-off deal, it isn’t a random event; this killer has done it before, he will do it again. The antlers and the imagery of it all makes this young woman’s death something important – the one who murdered her is twisted, and he sees some kind of fantasy in the things he’s done: “This goes way back with him,” Rust tells Marty. “The kind of thing doesnt happen in a vacuum.”
I love seeing the ’95 scenes editing with Hart talking over things. We do get a sense of him being a bit of a big mouth at times. However, on the other hand Hart also shows that he did feel a sense of respect, and still does, for Cohle and his methods. Further than that, we get a sneak peek into the strange life of Cohle: “Believe me,” says Hart, “past a certain age a man without a family can be a bad thing.”
Above the strange murder case, the relationship between Rust and Marty is front and center, obviously. More than that, their relationship with one another begins to speak to their respective lives. We start to understand this easily with the situation involving Cohle getting invited over to Hart’s place for dinner. He shows up drunk; like fucking hammered. We’ll come back to that, though. Part of why I dig the writing of the first episode because we flash back and forth, yet it isn’t distracting. The flow makes things interesting and it’s part of why I was immediately hooked on the first view of this show when first it was on HBO.
First of many car trips with Rust and Marty. “I contemplate the moment in the garden,” Rust muses, “the idea of allowing my own crucifixion.” The philosophical talk begins. There are a few dense lines out of Cohle right away here, part Nietzschean and part Ligotti, Pizzolatto gives us plenty to chew on. As well as an excellent relief on Marty’s part who interjects now and then, things like: “Huh. That sounds god fucking awful, Rust.” Even though a lot of people seemed turned off by the philosophies of Cohle, I think it adds a great counterbalance to the usual film noir detective type stuff a show like this might otherwise go for. Hate it or love it, there’s no in between, but you have to admit this first season, even the first episode is unlike much of anything else that’s ever been on television. It both uses familiar pulpy tropes and also pokes at them, in a Pizzolatto-type way.
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Rust: “People out here, its like they don’t even know the outside world exists. Might as well be living on the fucking Moon.”
Marty: “Theres all kinds of ghettos in the world
Rust: “Its all one ghetto, man. One giant gutter in outer space.”
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Words like Satanism are being thrown around at the precinct, where Rust and Marty try to come together as partners and work towards finding their killer. Hart stays behind to do paperwork, while Cohle narrates us through the ’95 events. He drinks cough syrup and chain smokes, heading to a bar somewhere along the side of the highway. There, he meets with a couple women, one clearly a prostitute. Cohle buys them drinks and asks for information concerning the girl he found murdered. Not only that, he ends up scoring himself some pills; there’s more to Rustin Cohle than we have yet to see.
At the Hart residence, Marty checks on his girls who are sleeping soundly, and has himself a drink. His wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) finds him in the morning, slumped in a chair. He quickly runs off to shower and head to work all over again. At the office, he seems more receptive to the receptionist than he does his own wife.
Cohle and Marty end up with information on the dead girl, Dora Lange. Her husband Charlie (Brad Carter) is in prison. The medical examiner gives them the cause of death, et cetera, and the plot only thickens from there. Marty thinks the crime was personal. Rust believes it’s “iconic” and not personal in many ways. More philosophical talk from Rust starts to piss Marty off, which is actually a little funny: “I dont sleep,” Cohle says, “I just dream.” Afterwards, on a street corner Rust sees a little girl who almost looks like a ghost; his daughter, maybe?
The investigation is off to a murky start, as Rust and Marty go from one place to another getting bits and pieces of information. Even a bit about a girl being chased through the woods by a supposed “greeneared spaghetti monster“.
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In 2012, Cohle plays a good move. He is a functioning alcoholic, chain smoker, so he needs a few beers especially on his off days, such as today apparently. He blows a bill at the detectives and one of them heads out for a six-pack. We’re slowly seeing more of Cohle, from past to present. Part of why I love this first episode is because there’s such a great and quick look at the evolution of these two men, and still, not all the blanks are filled in.
The two detectives, in ’95, head over to see Charlie Lange in prison. He talks about Dora as a wild party animal into “weed, meth, name it“. They don’t get too much in the way of solid information, but the picture painted of Dora shows her as a young, vulnerable girl who was on drugs, not in her right state of mind. Charlie lets slip a weird bit, telling the detectives Dora said “she met a king“.
Finally, though, we get back to Cohle drunk off his ass outside Marty’s place. We’re getting under the skin of Rustin more and more with each step, which is interesting. They’re both of interest, but Rust seems so incredibly damaged underneath his whole pessimistic facade. Out talking to the prostitute, turns out Rust got too drunk. Marty tries pumping him full of coffee, planning to have someone call from the station and get them out of it. Only when the call comes it seems Rust is more comfortable at the dinner table with Maggie and the kids than he initially expected. We’ll see where that situation is headed down the road. Furthermore, Rust reveals he was married, but they split after their little girl died. Very brief, so quick, and it speaks volumes about Cohle already.
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Billy Lee Tuttle: “I dont mean to tell men of your positions, but there is a war happening behind things.”
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We get an inkling something “went bad” between Cohle and Hart around 2002. They haven’t seen one another in a decade, since whatever happened. And still, Hart sticks up for Cohle’s reputation as a solid hand at detective work: “I dont hold grudges,” he tells Dts. Gilbough and Papania. Eventually, Hart comes to understand something else is happening. The detectives are looking for something else. But what is it they’re sniffing out?
In ’95, Cohle has a run-in with another officer of the law, Steve Geraci (Michael J. Harney). Otherwise, there’s involvement in their case from Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders), brother to the governor of the state. He seems very involved, and also too interested. Will he come to have more significance as time goes by? Or simply a representation of attempted cover-ups and the undue involvement of others outside of the police force in police matters? Let’s watch this unfold.
Tracking down people connected to a missing girl who disappeared years before, Marie Fontenot, Hart and Cohle end up at a now disabled ballplayer’s home. He is Marie’s uncle, Danny (Christopher Berry). Mostly, this just gives the detectives more to circle around. Only Rust heads out around the junk in the backyard of the house, he climbs into a sort of rundown greenhouse or shed, where he and Marty find a suspicious wooden ornament much like the things found with the dead Lange girl; a triangle-like twig figure. A sign the killer has returned to lay claim to another victim, in the silence leaving tokens?
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In 2012, the detectives interrogating Cohle, or talking to him they say, bring him pictures of a new crime. It is eerily similar to Lange. Yet supposedly in ’95, Cohle and Hart found their man. For his part, Cohle alludes in a sly manner to the fact maybe they didn’t find the killer at all back then. Excellent ending, as Cohle tells them to start “asking the right fucking questions“.
Stay tuned for a review of the next episode, “Seeing Things”. Is Rust a dark hand in all this, or is he merely on the fringe? Does he know more than he lets on?

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 2: “Night Finds You”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 2: “Night Finds You”
Directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Maybe Tomorrow” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Western Book of the Dead” – click here

Picture 7I thought the opening of “Night Finds You” was a really great little piece. Not because of what Frank and Jordan Semyon [Vince Vaughn & Kelly Reilly] are talking about particularly, but because of the image above. First, Frank sees the water stains in the roof, and he wonders where they came from as it hadn’t rained that much recently. Then, as the second scene crossfades with the one before the images mix and the water stains become the eyes of Ben Caspere, City Manager, who was found dead at the finale of the first episode.
Now what I enjoy is how the water stains come to represent a couple things. The obvious one is how Frank sees them, and yet they’re big blotches, brown and almost rotten, so they must’ve been there awhile. Only now is Frank noticing them. The stains represent the things which are right in front of us, the things growing and festering right under our noses but in a blind spot, somewhere it’s almost too obvious so it gets passed over. This can mean a lot of things. Then the stains also come to mean something else.
The other idea of the water stains and what they represent is how everything eventually bleeds through, like the water through to the inside of the house. For instance, the cops of True Detective, their “other lives” outside the badge blur into the badge, and then the job itself bleeds out into the other parts of their lives as well. Velcoro, obviously, has every part of his life both touched by the law and tainted by the law’s inability to always and effectively dole out justice. Woodrugh represents how the lives people live before the badge come to affect the way they do their jobs because they still have to go on and live a life outside the badge; he also symbolizes the people who cannot come to terms with who they are because they believe they must be a certain type of person to do a certain job, to lead a certain life, et cetera. I think the idea of those stains is what reflects throughout the course of the episode, and likely what might be the rest of the season. Frank has a great quote in the early part of the episode at the beginning when he mentions how everything seems like paper mache, and this is because the paper is wet, things bleed through; everything is mixed, there are no dichotomous distinctions only grey areas, like life is one giant cesspool.
See? Pizzolatto’s philosophical pessimism and ruminations on life are still all there, you just have to dig a little deeper than Rust Cohle’s eloquently lobbed softballs from the first season.
Picture 12BAM! This season is definitely moving at least a little away, initially anyways, from the violence against females which heavily characterized the first season. Not to say it was an epidemic of scenes including women being beaten or anything – I know the difference – but last season certainly had enough of it packed in there with the storyline and plots surrounding to last a lifetime. Such is life, things can be grim! Regardless, I think that whether or not Pizzolatto is intentionally moving away towards something else or if it’s natural doesn’t matter. The story is great so far, and I think people are worried there are too many characters. I’m not. There’s enough plot to keep us going – with Ben Caspere dead, above with his genitals removed, there are wheels in motion, and Episode Two “Night Finds You” shows us the consequences of what happens to people who get in the way of the big, heavy, moneymaking wheels.
IF YOU’VE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE – WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? TURN BACK NOW OR FOREVER BE SPOILED.
Really, I shouldn’t bother warning anybody dumb enough to come looking at reviews of an episode they’ve not yet seen. Alas I follow suit to be polite.
Anyways, Ray Velcoro [Colin Farrell] is the man who meets the heaviest of consequences in this second episode. Life for Ray is deteriorating fast as it is because his ex-wife wants to take his son away, after getting wind of the savage beating some unknown man, clearly Ray, laid on a bully’s father [for those who don’t remember Ray beat the dad and told the kid if he ever bullied/hurt anyone ever again Ray was going to come back and buttfuck his father with the mother’s headless corpse on the front lawn in Episode One]. He makes the mistake of telling his buddy/master Frank [Vince Vaughn] there isn’t much reason for him to keep going along with everything that’s going on, et cetera. However, I don’t think the fate Ray meets at the end of the episode is something Frank had anything do with, and here’s why…
In Episode One, there’s a shot of Ben Caspere’s corpse riding in back of a car, and upfront alongside the driver sits a big crow/raven type of mask.
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Now, Frank seems to not know anything about what’s happened to Caspere, so when the crow/raven mask shows up again in the episode’s finale it’s hard to believe Frank has anything to do with what’s being done. Then again, we can never count on truly knowing what’s going on in True Detective, and certainly not when we’re only two episodes into the whole mess.
Picture 10Image above and all, Ray Velcoro is not out for the count just yet.
Picture 2Not even with this last shot either. Everyone can stop discussing. All you need to do is check it out – Farrell is listed as appearing in all the episodes of this season, so that’s enough right off the bat. Then, there’s the fact that he’s being shot at mid-to-low range here. I would imagine Farrell is wearing a vest. He survives, no doubt. Plus, there are images released, pieces in the trailers/teasers that show him in other scenes not yet aired. At the very least he’s in flashbacks. People need to calm down. Yet, this is what Pizzolatto knows, HBO too, and they play the game quite well.
This event will mostly just serve as paranoia and motivation for Velcoro. He’s probably going to immediately assume that Frank Semyon has done him in, but then again, Ray also realizes the men he works for in the Vinci P.D are not the most honest and uncrooked men there are in existence. So, the rabbit hole begins for ole Ray.
Picture 8Other than Ray, this episode showed us that Detective Bezzerides knows who she is working with. At one point she flat out asks Velcoro himself to tell her exactly how “compromised” he has become. The distrust in the picture above when she is with the other detectives and officer on the case is evident.
Furthermore, we get a little more evidence as I referenced in my last post [re: Officer Paul Woodrugh] that Paul is definitely having issues with his sexuality. Not only do we see him apparently checking out a corner where what looks like gay prostitutes are getting rides/dropped off with a bit of desire in his eyes, mixed with hatred, mostly for himself, but then he further tells another detective that a “fag” was checking him out and that he almost knocked the guy out – to which the other male detective responds “and why would you do that?” – so it’s more than clear Paul is having a lot of rough times dealing with the sexuality inside him that wants to be free. This should be interesting to see play out. I also want more of his Black Mountain Security past to come out because there’s no doubt neat places to explore in that part of his psyche, mixed with all the homosexual angst he feels so far.
queensdamnedsWith many believing death looms over Detective Ray Velcoro, I safely tell you – Ray lives. Don’t worry. Either way, this was an excellent second episode, and I think definitely built with strength on the first. Things are beginning to unfold now, and the further we go, the better this ride will get. The events of the second episode are really going to propel the third somewhere else. There are many places to go from here – what will Ray do if/when he survives this attack by the masked birdman? what will Frank do when he finds out about Ray/if Ray comes after him for the attack? is Paul going to continue wrestling with his sexuality, or will it give way to some kind of acting out in lieu of gratification? can we expect Ani to start unravelling some of the dark secrets behind Ben Caspere’s murder and maybe even the men she’s working with? So, so many avenues to go down. Let’s wait and see what happens, I know I’m beyond pumped to watch more True Detective. I’ll see you all next week.

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 1: The Western Book of the Dead

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 1:
“The Western Book of the Dead”
Directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Night Finds You” – click here
Picture 2To start, this is NOT a repeat of True Detective True Detective Season 1 – the show is trying to do a new story, new characters, the whole shebang. Of course the whole thing is still very existential, regardless if Rust Cohle is not spouting out Nietzsche rehashes and what not [which I loved but come on – they weren’t anything groundbreakingly new outside of philosophical circles]. I mean, Colin Farrell’s low-down-and-dirty Ray Velcoro already gave the beauty line “We get the world we deserve” in the second episode of this season, so there is definitely still an existential element kicking around inside of Nic Pizzolatto’s second season. However, this time around there’s much of a demon-within type of vibe going. Whereas the police detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart were truly trying to serve justice for the sake of the victims, all those poor young girls taken and killed by vicious, hateful men, the second season of True Detective seems to be focusing on how some of those same police get lost along the way, how they bend the law to work for them, and even though they’re ultimately trying to do good, they end up doing a lot of bad along the way.
Picture 1Starting off, we get to see Ray Velcoro [Farrell]. His tale is a rough one – his wife was raped, they never found the attacker, and neither she nor her now ex-husband Ray know if their boy is his or not. Certainly Ray does the true blood thing to do: he raises the kid as his own. He doesn’t want to know anything about DNA, he just wants his son to be his son. Problem is ole Ray has vices – the drink and the drugs – and his temper is fierce. Like anyone, Ray wanted revenge for what happened to his wife, and as an officer of the law, he naturally felt stuck when even the law let him down. In comes Frank Semyon [Vaughn] who facilitates the revenge Velcoro needs by tracking down the man responsible, which coincides with Ray’s wife and her statement. This puts Ray deep in with Semyon, who uses him as a man on the inside, and as Ray climbs the ranks to detective, of course Frank reaps the benefits.
I think Ray is going to be one of the most interesting of the bunch in this season. There’s a scene involving Ray and a kid who bullies his son at school, plus the boy’s father, which really takes you from “Okay, Ray is a normal guy in a bad situation” to “Wow, Ray is a bad dude”. Even while you side with him, he takes things much too far. Not hard to see the booze and the cocaine, and the more booze, doesn’t help his natural temperament. At the end of the tunnel, for Ray I see a bit of redemption. Now, whether or not Ray will have to die for this, it is way too soon to tell [even in light of Episode Two’s events]. We will see.
Picture 3Next is Rachel McAdams as Detective Ani [Antigone] Bezzerides who has more than her fair share of issues, as well. First, her estranged father Eliot [David Morse] is a New Age guru-type who runs a sort of 1960s style institute or commune, and clearly is a narcissist. Then her sister, Athena, is a webcam girl doing porn who is off her medication and living free. Not to mention the fact their father named both her and her sister Antigone and Athena. So, Ani drinks, gambles, and raids houses to find out where her sister is when she feels like it. Also, her boyfriend is not exactly the sexually adventurous type when Ani clearly surprises him with something in the bedroom he couldn’t handle straight away. She is a dominant woman; she carries knives all over her, making clear in the next episode this is because she has no illusions about certain female-male situations where she will be physically smaller than a larger man in which the knives will come more than in handy. There is no doubt the years living in the cult with daddy brought on issues, most likely from some kind of abuse, but we can never be sure. Perhaps she’s just a smart, cautious woman who has seen too much. Either way, I’m excited this season has a lead female character and one who is also in the police. Offers a great new perspective for the show.
Picture 9Officer Paul Woodrugh [Taylor Kitsch] is another interesting character. Clearly Paul is a troubled man. He worked for Black Mountain Security in Iraq, obviously mimicking a similarly named military contractor, and has issues from what he calls “the desert”. It isn’t hard to see Woodrugh has issues with his sexuality; he sneaks a blue pill while claiming to be showering and taking far longer than necessary before trying to have sex with his girlfriend, then when she is going down on him Paul looks off into space as if troubled, maybe trying to concentrate so that he’s able to get an erection. This becomes even more clear in the second episode with a comment he makes to another detective. Furthermore, Paul obviously has deeper issues – he speeds out on the highway on his motorcycle, flicking off the headlight and rushing through the darkness, almost daring death to come and get him. I can’t wait to see more of him. Kitsch is a talent, and I don’t care what anyone says. Given the right material with this character I can see Kitsch doing excellent work this season.
Picture 4Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon spit out the worst line by far of the entire show since the first series began, along the lines of “don’t do anything out of hunger – not even eating”. Now I’ll give it to you – some of Rust Cohle’s lines, which personally I loved, were equally batty, but Matthew McConaughey was able to let them roll off his tongue and out of his mouth like they were natural to that character. Vaughn is good, I dig him, even as Semyon. I just didn’t dig that line. I can buy Vaughn as that character, totally, because he isn’t an outright psychotic gangster type like something out of Goodfellas with Henry Hill’s outbursts or the violence of Joe Pesci – I buy Vaughn as a collected, calm business sort of crook, and sure, he’s a big guy, I bet he can lay hands. Mainly, I think his attitude suits the part. However, that line in his mouth sounded like garbage. Moving past that point, Vaughn was great, and he does the dark/brooding thing well. Given more time the character of Frank will grow on people, I believe.
Picture 5Mainly people need to lay off this season, and forget about the first, in the sense that this is an anthologized show. There is no continuity other than it involves police work; that’s it. Once again, there are existential themes at play here, heavily. We just need to keep in mind – existential doesn’t mean that people have to constantly spout philosophical musings. That was a character Pizzolatto used, and it worked. This season is different. Existentialism has to do with human beings, the experience of existence and reality, and the touch of humans on existence. So we’re going to see how human beings deal with their terrible inner demons, and this season we’re going to see more about the abuse of power from the perspective of those abusing it mainly instead of solely from the perspective of those outside and looking in. The police here are good police, but they toe a dangerous lines, more so than anything Rust Cohle did in Season One. I can’t wait for the next episode.

True Detective Season 1 Blu ray Review

True Detective. 2014.  8 episodes directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga; written & created by Nic Pizzolatto.  Starring Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, and Tory Kittles.  HBO Home Entertainment.  Rated 18A.  458 minutes.  Bonus Material Not Rated.  Crime/Drama/Mystery/Thriller

★★★★★ (Season 1)
★★★★1/2 (Blu ray)

true-detective-posterThe story of True Detective looks, on the surface, as similar to other television shows about police officers, serial killer cases, troubled partners with their own separate and troubled lives; you know the type. There are a lot of things, though, to separate this one from many of the others.

Nic Pizzolatto’s show begins its first season in the year 2012 – Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), former partners, are being interviewed about an old case involving a young girl named Dora Lange who was found dead in 1995, bound with a set of antlers placed on her head. Two detectives seem to be looking back into Lange’s death in relation to a new murder, which could be connected. The storyline spreads from ’95 to 2012, as well as hovering around 2002 when things went sour between Hart and Cohle. While the two men battle their own private lives and mistakes, they’re confronted with a possible conspiracy stretching across the state of Louisiana. Everyone believes the Lange murder to be some type of “occult murder“, but Cohle particularly deeply suspects a vast cover-up involving everyone from church officials to governors to the police force itself. Hart reluctantly follows Cohle until it becomes painfully clear he is most likely right.
Church4.998153ba2083cf214ffe0b0ce75d4e721-1024x576While the description I’ve given of the plot might even sound like a riff on Serpico or Prince of the City, it really is a fresh detective show. While many have accused Pizzolatto of stealing material from Thomas Ligotti (I won’t go into it here – look it up), I don’t necessarily agree. There is a lot of really good material. It isn’t all about McConaughey’s performance (which is amazing), nor Harrelson’s either (also amazing). It’s not even about Cohle and his whimsical conversation with the present day detectives sussing out from him what they can, or his great banter with Hart in their driving scenes, particularly the very first episode of the show. There’s simply a really great mystery to this show. Even when Pizzolatto really gives us a few great clues, ones not too hard to follow through, there’s still a lot of excellent tension. For instance, even in the final episode when we clearly know who the killer is there still exists a really tense and dreadful atmosphere. Right until the finale of the episode, it’s hard to predict what might happen in the end. At least in my mind. I thought to myself, several times, in that last episode I knew where things were headed – and constantly, Fukunaga and Pizzolatto really played with my expectations. That atmosphere carried through the entire first season of True Detective.
True-detective-1x02-7-660x371Another excellent thing about this first season is the presence of all the red herring material Pizzolatto doles out in many episodes. I’ve seen a lot of really thoughtful interpretations, pre-season finale, of who the killer might turn out to be, who is involved in the massive conspiracy. I’ve also come across a fair share of really mental interpretations too far out into the psychosphere (dig it) for me to give any modicum of credence. But that’s what makes some shows really engaging and interesting. When fans of the show, even certain people who rag on the show with what they deem to be formulaic interpretations, can’t stop discussing possible theories it really goes to illustrate how well the show has reached an audience. I’m not saying it isn’t divisive – it certainly has been. I just think Pizzolatto really did some great, twisty writing.
77b7a1297702fc3c5315bc8f0cd27376There was a point in time I really believed Marty’s father-in-law had some sort of involvement in the grand conspiracy, and maybe there is a chance that’s still the case (I don’t believe so – doesn’t make it so), but this is the great part – Pizzolatto leaves little trails of bread crumbs that don’t go anywhere, that play part in the coincidence of the real world, the unforeseeable events in life, and lead us off on paths of pure imagination. I mean, there are several little red herrings such as Audrey’s situation. For instance, Cohle calls his daughters down to dinner and as they leave their room he notices Audrey has placed 5 male dolls around a single female doll in a very inappropriate and suggestive manner. There’s also a small drawing in Hart’s house representing the spiral image drawn on Dora Lange’s back in the first episode; one of his daughters drew it. These little clues are really red herrings. Pizzolatto does not want the answers to come easily here, as he shouldn’t, and these extra bits really help to send a lot of people off on imaginary tangents, thinking of who the Yellow King really could be, et cetera.  Genius writing.

There are a few similarities between True Detective and the British trilogy Red Riding. Both take on stories about corruption and murder in rural areas; the original murders sparking both plots are similar, as the Red Riding story starts with a girl found dead, wings put on her back (as opposed to the antlers on the head here). One scene in the first Red Riding film with Andrew Garfield playing a reporter named Eddie Dunford is reminiscent of a scene in True Detective where Cohle visits a woman in a mental institution and drives her into hysterics; one difference mainly has to do with the difference in their occupations, as Dunford’s visit is followed by a severe beating at the hands of the police for bothering the woman, while Cohle is disciplined by his superiors. Finally, each of these shows has a young male prostitute who provides links to the murdered girl, albeit in different ways. Not to mention, in Red Riding the prostitute plays a much bigger part. Whereas Cohle only meets the young male prostitute present in True Detective during a single scene, which is basically thrown in as an extra link to something fishy going on in the main case. There are no doubt some similarities between Red Riding and True Detective, but mostly I would say they are coincidental. Certainly, most of these similarities are either connected to the similar themes (corruption in police force & authority figures), and the majority, if not all, are only really connected to the first Red Riding film; the other two in the trilogy really don’t connect up much, aside from the aforementioned police corruption angle. I think maybe Pizzolatto might have been influenced more by the novel Red Riding is based on instead of the films, and either way the influence is no more than a bit of the surface. Each of these works are quite different and aim to accomplish much different things.
0dc4717d0993ceb137a808855fdf745cThere are a few specific points I’d really like to address in regards to some of the deeper meaning behind True Detective overall.

First, I want to mention the reoccurring number five. I believe the first time this really comes into play is when Hart and Cohle interview Dora Lange’s mother, Mrs. Kelly (played by the fabulous Tess Harper) – while Cohle looks around and Hart asks the lady questions, he notices a picture of a young girl (most likely Dora) surrounded by five men on horses, each of them dressed in what we later learn are costumes for what’s called Courir de Mardi Gras. In the second episode, as I mentioned earlier, Hart finds his daughter Audrey’s dolls placed in a very promiscuous situation: five male dolls surround one female doll, one of the men is hauling down his pants to have sex with the girl.
abf745923f5bc60ce83a1ce9bcd11abaFurthermore, in the present day scenes during the latter half of the season, Cohle drinks beer while being investigated and cuts them up: he places them in a circle of five, indicating the undiscovered members of the grand conspiracy (harkens back to those five horsemen in the picture at Mrs. Kelly’s home).
Most people might look at this as another instance of red herrings, or some such idea. However, in literature specifically, the persistence of numbers, especially in earlier literature such as from the Middle Ages, usually has a kind of significance. I happen to believe the number five here happens to refer to the pentagram, or a pentangle as it’s referred to in an index of the Middled English Anthology edited by Ann S. Haskell.
dolls-660x438This ties into the plot of True Detective directly, as we clearly see in a scene with villain Reggie Ledoux – when Hart and Cohle arrest him, his back is visible and has a massive tattoo of a pentagram, more specifically the Sigil of Baphomet. These instances of the number five all tie in to the evil angle – the five horsemen are dressed just like those men in the video Cohle finds and shows to Hart in Episode 7, the beer can figures point to the five horsemen, as do the dolls in Audrey’s room. They might not be the only repetitions of the number five. They’re just the ones I’ve noticed. I think these little details are the sorts of moments which really elevate True Detective above a lot of the detective procedurals on television, and on film for that matter. Provides more to dive into aside from the main case the show focuses on with the story, and offers endless hours of re-watchable scenes.
p6k4k1-660x370One of the biggest things, for me personally, I ended up realizing was how Cohle sort of ended up predicting the future when he talks about being able to “smell the psychosphere“, and that it tastes like “aluminum and ash“. Maybe others noticed this quickly, but I think it’s something a lot of viewers never once thought about for a second. In the present day while Rust is being interviewed by the two new detectives looking through the old Dora Lange case, he is continuously smoking (ash) and drinking out of (aluminum) beer cans. He’s literally unable to escape the psychosphere he first found himself in. This was one thing I really enjoyed. Coupled with the end of the episode where Hart and Cohle meet up once again in 2012, Cohle’s broken taillight (not fixed since their decade old fight from 2002), this really goes to show how all of this case, everything in it, the fact it has not truly been solved and it was his case, really stuck to Cohle. There is nothing to do except solve the case because if not there is truly no escaping it. Having this “aluminum and ash” come back as a part of the story, in a very slight sense, was a really clever way of tying things from the past back into the present, showing how the entire atmosphere of the case would never really wash of Cohle. Another instance of the great writing inside True Detective.
378d71d234884a15171ed60aa326844eUndoubtedly, one of the greatest parts about the entire first season is the excellent character development.

There’s Hart, who is basically a by-product of the misogyny inherent in the place he lives. While he is not one of those elite predators who uses his authority to help cover-up the murder and abuse of young women, Hart is nonetheless affected by the overall state of misogyny and the atmosphere of where he lives. This can be seen through his treatment of women throughout the season – his daughter, his wife, his mistress. There’s even the thread where he reconnects with a young hooker from earlier in the season; Hart interviewed her in connection to Dora Lange in ’95, and later he begins to sleep with the girl when she’s older. This really goes to show, when he’s trying to reconnect with his wife, how much his heart is truly in a normal relationship. In ’95, Hart gives the girl some money and tells her to “do something else” – Cohle then ribs him by asking if it was a down payment. Of course, later we find out it really was an early payment for services to be rendered. Maybe Hart didn’t know it then, but his ideas of women would never change. Though she was older, the fact Hart could engage in a sexual relationship with the girl after seeing where she came from, the life she grew up in, and our look at his hypocrisy after having taken offense with the older lady who’d been pimping her out in ’95, it’s obvious this man is only good as a detective – he is a true detective, and nothing else. He can’t be a good father or husband, truly. Only good at enforcing the law.

Cohle is not perfect, however, he’s much more about control, as opposed to Hart who represents a real loss of control. McConaughey did a great job of playing Cohle, with all the philosophical thoughts and out-there theories. I don’t know if anyone else could have done such a great job with the material given. Cohle has a lot of different things going on. I really like how his story came to a close by the end of the season, and part of the pessimistic attitude he’d been displaying for most of the episodes tied off, or at least loosened a little. While coming face to face with death, he finally discovers there may possibly be something beyond the brink, or maybe not – regardless, he finds out the thought of something more than life, pas death, isn’t as terrifying and ignorant as he once thought it to be. On the one hand, I also think Cohle provides a really great opposite for Hart in the sense he is a man who lost his wife and child (the former because of the latter’s death) – Hart has those things but does not appreciate them, and yet he really wants to have those things in his life. On the other hand, Cohle lost it all, and whether or not he would have it again if that chance was available, he seems to really not have wanted it to be with – maybe this is due to the death of his child, maybe he has been this way all his life. I just think having Cohle be the way he was, Pizzolatto provided a really great antithesis to Hart; having them as partners really juxtaposed their separate world views and created more tension between them than what naturally existed in their dialogue. Not to mention, having Harrelson and McConaughey, two real life friends, play these characters worked better than could have ever been expected.
10-true-detective-1-1940x1091I have to mention the 6-minute tracking shot in Episode 4 “Who Goes There”. This is a monumental scene in television. Probably the best scene of any television show I’ve seen in the last 5 years or more. Honestly. Even shows I love like The Sopranos and The Wires also from HBO never had such incredible camerawork as this; while there were a lot of great scenes in both those shows, nothing like this. Just the sheer size of this tracking shot is really amazing. I can’t get enough of it. Right from the moment Cohel grabs hold of a hostage, the camera never breaks, following him through this whole scene. Fukunaga mentions on the Blu ray release how there was a need to give this scene some sort of tension – we know Cohle makes it out all right because we’ve already seen the 2012 narrative partially, so we’re aware he has survived – so the tracking shot itself serves as a way to really keep us in suspense, as we literally ride along with Cohle. I thought it was the most thrilling scene of the entire season. Tied only with the big finale with Hart and Cohle facing the murderer in his self-made world of Carcosa. If nothing else, you’ve got to give it to True Detective for really knocking this particular episode out of the park.

The Blu ray release from HBO is absolutely on point. While I expected maybe just a smidgen more, there are still some great features. To start, the picture and sound on this release are beyond perfect. While I watched True Detective several times over already, the Blu ray actually ended up revealing more to me than I’d ever noticed. Just little small bits. Everything is so clear and gorgeous here from the music, the sound design, to the spectacular sweeping shots of landscape and rugged terrain of Louisiana. Then there is the audio commentary, including bits from Pizzolatto, which really help the shed light on the overall production. One featurette on the release called “Inside the Episode” gives us bits from each episode with thoughts from both Fukunaga and Pizzolatto, covering everything from story, to writing, to directing, editing; all of it. There are really valuable pieces of insight from the writer and director. Definitely worth watching at least once. Also, there’s a Making Of featurette; this encompasses everything including some interviews with the actors, et cetera. Finally, there are some deleted scenes, as well as exclusive interviews with Harrelson and McConaughey concerning the filming of the series’ first season. All in all, a bunch of great stuff making this Blu ray a must-purchase for any real fans of the show. As in most cases, the picture and sound alone are worth it. I can’t get enough. I’ve watched the episodes through a couple times now since getting the Blu rays. Wonderful release.
true21Anyone who has seen True Detective knows it is either loved or hated – I don’t think there is much middle ground. My opinion is that this must be one of the best shows ever on television. Lots of people reference shows like Twin Peaks, and others, but I really think aside from influence and maybe a bit of homage, this series stands on its own. No matter if the second season turns out to be a bust, this first season is a classic bit of television. All of it was shot on film, giving things a really beautiful look, and the fact both Fukunaga and Pizzolatto were on board for the entire season really helped with its overall vision. I know there are those who don’t exactly dig the show, but I really find True Detective to be in a league of its own. I hope the show continues to prosper, I’m really looking forward to what Pizzolatto has in-store for the second season. Pick up this Blu ray if you loved this as much as I did, and you will not be disappointed in the slightest.