tv review – HBO’s True Detective, episode 1.8

‘Form And Void’, True Detective‘s season 1 finale, wrapped up the story of Cohle and Hart to make way for other protagonists in the show’s second season. “We didn’t get them all. And we aren’t going to get them all. But we got ours,” Marty said at the end of the episode, talking to Rust in the hospital. Our guys got Errol William Childress, the man with the scars, but there are so many questions left unanswered. Who was the Yellow King? Was it Tuttle? Are we to believe all those men of stature gathered at Childress’ decrepid house and Carcosa to do their dastardly deeds? Was Errol the only one still acting on the crazy religion or are there still practicing men like him out there? The pieces of the puzzle we were handed during True Detective‘s first season and its final outing just didn’t click and probably never will.

While True Detective‘s always tried to blend elements of fantasy and horror with its police procedural-like narrative, it always remained quite grounded at its core. Yes, the show introduced a lot of crazy and terrifying characters, but they rang true and fit into the established universe. Errol Childress, on the other hand, was a serial killer caricature, devoid of any humanity or subtlety. Every cliché was lobbed at us: the house full of dolls, a cabin full of crazy writing, him and his wife/half-sister getting off on telling each other incest stories, even the superhuman strength we’ve come to expect from slasher flick antagonists like Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. Childress was the monster at the end of the nightmare and he would’ve been a frightening one if he wasn’t so ridiculously over-the-top and hammy. Not only did his personality seem an amalgam of crazy killer traits, but it was also hard to buy this was the man who had ducked police scrutiny all these years (even with the help of his family). The chase after him through Carcosa itself was done well, filmed effectively and with the excellent score at the forefront, but it felt like something from another less realistic series: the serial killer taunting the detective that gives chase, somehow being able to see his every move while hidden, until the plot demands this killer to step out of the shadows.

Despite the clashing of different tones, True Detective‘s finale had the usual going for it: Cohle and Hart’s dynamic. It’s what the show’s built around and simply what it does best. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson did an amazing job with the material, especially in the episode’s touching final moments. If the scene of Cohle recalling his near-death experience doesn’t get McConaughey an Emmy I don’t know what will: his portrayal of a man who finally found out there’s no nothingness after death but much more was heartbreaking, as was Harrelson’s warm and touching reaching out to Cohle, a person who he’s come to hold dear after all they’ve been through. The writing of the series final dialogues and monologues was excellent, and found a fitting end for the journey of these two men. That we will never see these two characters again, is a sad realization.

While True Detective‘s conclusion to its murder mystery disappointed, its conclusion to the story of Rustin Cohle and Marty Hart didn’t. McConaughey and Harrelson did an outstanding job and elevated a mixed bag of a finale. 7/10

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6 thoughts on “tv review – HBO’s True Detective, episode 1.8

  1. Thank you for summing up the feelings I had last night, but could not articulate. I was still mesmerized.
    Their chemistry was amazing.

  2. I agree that Childress was a bit cliche in a few ways, but I think there were also aspects of his character that set him apart. I know you’ve read my review, and thanks for that, but I’m going to recap briefly here!
    Yes, the white trash thing is over done, but he didn’t strike me as typical white trash. Actually, he seemed quite intelligent to me (books all around his house, a great memory etc.), which he would have to be to evade the police all those years, as you pointed out. I also agree that his apparent super strength was over the top, although he WAS a really big guy, so it’s not entirely unbelievable. Regardless, there are always things we would change about episodes/movies/albums if we could. I’m glad you enjoyed the episode despite those things. Great post.

  3. Sublime show. Top notch review, top notch. Great comments. I saw Childress as more an archtype than stereotype. The fat little kid who couldn’t run away grew into a spaghetti monster with green ears and will now steal the childhoods of other people’s children the way it was stolen from him? Top of the Lake is pretty good, hope you guys head down the street for a looksee too.

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