I just watched the last episode of True Detective on HBO and LOVED IT. From the billboards posted all over Los Angeles alone, I was apprehensive about the show. It seemed like a money grab with some big names attached. Woody Harrelson (with his gut) and Matthew McConaughey (and that pony tail) looked like they were going to give it the old ‘this is a serious HBO drama’ treatment. Frankly, it looked like one of those rare shows – think Luck – that would come and go. Boy was I wrong.
It’s hard for me to get into a show these days. I often find myself choosing to see something I’ve watched to death instead of trying something new. And it took an episode or two before I was convinced I liked it because it was good; Instead of liking it because I was supposed to… Because it was well made or important or some other half-baked reason.
It was during that amazing single-shot scene in episode 4 where McConaughey’s Detective Rust Cohle busted into a stash house, collected the apartment room to room, protecting a little kid in the process, and ultimately dragged his mark out the back door and across the apartment complex into his partner’s getaway car… chaos abound… when I realized I was hooked.
I’ve heard some criticism from women about the way in which the female characters were either helpless, oversexed, working girls, or simply there to be messed with. I can understand that perspective. I’m not going to lie – the sex scenes were hot, as were the actresses who performed them. And I can see how that would be degrading to female viewers. Don’t know what to say about that except that it’s not like it’s a new portrayal of women in film or television. Only recently have female leads been given the green light to be a film or show’s hero. Even then, they are usually very attractive women.
So there’s room for criticism. And don’t get me wrong, there’s a whole lot of room. In the end, it seems like ages ago that we were telling the story from the POV of each character recounting it to the newer detectives. And it seemed like all the clues and storylines would coalesce into one resolution, but ultimately, a lot of it was straight-up character development.
Cohle’s daughter’s death for example. It really played no role in the storyline about solving the case except that it was something Cohle was constantly dealing with. I say that, though it seems important to his final thoughts about light vs dark. “In the beginning it was all dark. Seems to me the light’s winning” (maybe that’s not the exact quote, but very close) was NOT something he would have said at any point up until the very end. It’s always nice when the last moments of a show give us an uplifting message since mostly the world makes no sense and people live/die/succeed/fail/win/lose seemingly at random. Hope is the most important weapon any of us have against the darkness. It’s good they waited until that point in the show to offer any hope at redemption for those two deeply flawed detectives. If THAT quote had been posted on billboards all over town, I wonder if those final moments would have been as powerful.
Whether this is the best the show will offer, or if this winds up being the one in a collection of fantastic seasons of True Detective, I’m glad I watched. I give it 9 Hatchets-To-The-Chest out of 10.