tv review – HBO’s True Detective, episode 1.4

If there’s a monster at the end of True Detective it must be a thing of nightmares. So far every episode has taken us deeper into the seedy underbelly of South Louisiana and it’s a hellish place filled to the brim with terrifying characters. ‘Who Goes There’ saw Matthew McConaughey’s Rustin Cohle slide back into the false identity from his narco days to draw out Reggie Ledoux, prime suspect in the Dora Lange case. It was nerve-wracking.

True Detective defies labeling, because it does everything so well. There’s deep characterization, drama, intrigue, police prodedural-like investigation and now even thrilleresque action. The episode’s central plot seemed straightforward, but it’s the execution every week that puts True Detective in a league of its own: there’s a richness here, a confidence and solidity to the writing, acting and direction that makes for unique television. ‘Who Goes There’ was no exception: a brave descent into madness, another layer added to the overall narrative, which, apart from Cohle’s persona Crash, was also about the comeuppance of Woody Harrelson’s character Martin Hart and his resulting desperation.

To get back into his previously discarded guise to find Ledoux, Cohle had to bend some rules: no police involvement, coke from the evidence room and some time off. Because his character has been developed so well and McConaughey plays Rust like a man who could easily slide into addiction and violence because of his past, it was a tense episode. Rustin felt like he had to become Crash to have a chance at solving the case, but he was clearly afraid. Not just of the men he would once again get involved with, but of himself. Would the monster get out? No, as it turns out. Not yet.

What we did get was a tense scene in which a planned stash house robbery went awry and Cohle had to escort his one link to Ledoux out alive, chased down by armed hoodlums. One beautiful long take registered Cohle’s escape, in and out of houses, hiding and running, getting his asset to safety. It was nail-bitingly tense, brutal, perfect. Eventually Cohle succeeded, so maybe next week we’ll finally really meet Ledoux, the ghoul in the gas mask we first glimpsed at the end of ‘The Locked Room’.

There are no two ways about it: True Detective is the best show currently on tv. It delivers consistently every week and relentlessly steamrolls towards the end. We’re halfway. 10/10

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3 thoughts on “tv review – HBO’s True Detective, episode 1.4

  1. Wish this would keep on keeping on like Breaking Bad, same honest mojo with an even deeper philosophical underbelly, unlike Walter White who has no monster in the mirror angst until the end Cohl knows there is a monster inside him but doesn’t know how to stop him.

    • Walter White only just met the monster that would become Heisenberg during the first season of Breaking Bad and the rest of the series saw him getting more comfortable with this monster and give into it (at first fooling himself into thinking that was the best thing to do, because he did everything for the right reasons).

      Cohle, on the other hand, became the monster, tried to get rid of it as best he could when his undercover days were behind him, and during this episode was faced with the danger of becoming that monster once again. Cohle has had a longer journey (and is more honest about his motives than Walt ever was, I think), but I feel like both characters like giving in to that darkness because it makes them more powerful and sets them free in a way. The biggest difference here is that Cohle has enough of a moral compass and history to be afraid of this want.

      • Yes. I think that’s absolutely right. Walter White jumps right into his new world with a newfor’s relish. Cohle has been there done that and knows what happens when you stir the beast from its lair.

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