TV Review: True Detective – Season 1, Episodes 5-8 (USA, 2014)


The final four episodes of the new wave HBO crime drama, True Detective, pushed closer to solving the 17 year running investigation into heinous crimes and further explored the personas at the centre of the double barrelled story, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey). Episode 5, “The Secret Fate of All Life” starts with a bang as that detectives discover Ladoux’s secret, strapped to the bed in a back room. Without blinking an eye, Hart returns back outside to shoot the child abuser in the head. The decision made I’m sure contented audiences, however assumedly didn’t follow proper police procedure so Cohle and Hart indulge in the fictional story they have clearly worked on, in their separate consultation rooms, back in the present time.

The story migrates forward to 2002 where Hart discovers the ‘killer’ is still on the loose, and then sits in present time again where Cohle finally stands up and leaves the consultation room after he is accused of being behind the murders. Things are still up in the air and even though there has been substantial time spent exploring these characters, we are still left with the questions unanswered and crimes unsolved.

“Haunted Houses” builds more of a firm bridge into the present time, while still piecing together significant parts of the past. Hart falls under the spell of yet another young lady to which he has an affair with, odd in the fact that he was the one to break her free of prostitution many years prior. Cohle remains submerged in the crime solving, which begs the question – What is left for him when the case is closed? Adding to the seemingly never-ending interrogation of the two detectives, Maggie, Hart’s estranged wife, is pulled into the investigation. More lies are indulged in, more stories are fabricated.

The penultimate, and incredible tense episode, “After You’ve Gone” is the first that remains constantly in the present time, in 2012, where Hart and Cohle are no longer confined to that consultation room and team together for one last time. It is a difficult episode to watch, especially when Hart is subjected to the VHS tape of a ritual sacrifice that the audience, thankfully, only catches a glimpse of. Through their detective work, we are able to see just how much Hart and Cohle have aged and the difference in how they live their lives, which is now wholly and completely dedicated to the task at hand.

The eighth and final episode of season 1, “Form and Void” will not answer all of your pressing questions surrounding the crimes, nor will it draw them to a close. However, a vicious criminal is caught and most definitely brought to justice. We are left with the realisation that there are still bad people out there in the world and that being a ‘true detective’ is knowing that you can’t catch them all.

All in all, both Harrelson and McConaughey deserve recognition for their tremendous performances in True Detective. As most of the story is told with the camera pointing straight at these actors’ faces, leaving no room for error, the two actors are flawless. Some may not like the ending, but it’s the journey not the destination. Referred to as an anthology, it is hard to say what the second season of True Detective will bring, including whether we will see these two fine actors again, but if it’s anything like this remarkable first season it’ll be well worth a watch.


True Detective airs in Australia on Monday nights on Showcase (Foxtel)


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