February 17, 2014

True Detective (Season 1)

Nic Pizzolatto
Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), opposite personalities, are paired up to track down a suspected serial killer that has recently killed a local Louisiana girl. 

There are monsters in the world. They are among us, lurking in the shadows. They prey upon women, upon small children. An ominous force. This evil immersed in the Louisiana Bayou adds a certain eeriness to it. It may be the soundtrack to the series, which at times sounds like Pink Floyd's The Machine. Or it may be the imagery, of the wicker bird traps suspended in the trees or the spooky mist that seems to float through the dark rooms. True Detective certainly knows the ingredients, and has all of them brewing. Junkies. Whores. Bible Thumpers. Junkyard Backyards. Wear and tear. Battered histories.

True Detective is one of those once in a lifetime series that you encounter. Once you're done watching, you're a changed person. For better or worse. And it's very difficult to give it proper treatment here, because it's just so smart and so elaborate that a simple review won't be able to cover it all. We can discuss how it's helping to usher in this Matthew McConaughey renaissance (a.k.a. McConaissance) stage - where we are seeing an actor completely reinvigorate his career from god-awful rom-coms in the early 2000's to serious dramatic roles in 2013. We can talk about how the show is almost a blend of The Wire mixed with the under-rated and forgotten Carnivale set in the backdrop of a demonic Louisiana much like True Blood. But that still doesn't reveal enough of the show's attributes. On paper, the show probably appears to be just another detective drama. But oh no. The first couple of episodes show you great performances and great writing. At that point you know it's a show worth watching. And then episode four shows you the greatest single-take in the history of television. And then episode five shows you that everything you thought regarding the direction of the story could be all wrong, and that it might be serviceable to go back and re-watch everything that you have already seen once because it's just not enough. 

If we are living in the second Golden Age of Television, True Detective is certainly a harbinger of it. It is saddening to see such life changing series like Breaking Bad fade away into the past. But if this series is any sign of whats to come, we haven't seen anything yet. Or perhaps we are in the middle of watching one of the greatest series ever made right before our very own eyes, right now. At least it's only the beginning. How the hell are we supposed to let go of these characters to make way for completely new ones next season? 

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