True Detective S1 Finale: A Look Back
With the first season of True Detective wrapped up 8Ball’s very own head designer Jim shares his take on the hit show
As the first season of the incredible True Detective drew to a close I was left with mixed feelings. Through eight compulsive episodes I had been gripped by the mysterious case of the Yellow King. It was quite a ride, with equal measures of intrigue and horror.
The heart of the show was unquestionably the incredible performances of its two leads – Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana State Police Detectives, who elevated the show above the rest of TV’s offerings, giving the series a gravitas usually reserved for Hollywood movies.
Spoilers lie ahead…
Writer Nick Pizzolatto has taken us on quite a journey with True Detective, weaving a tale spanning 27 years of twists, turns and revelations. Who was the Yellow King? Was Marty’s family somehow involved? What was Carcosa? Just how far up did this conspiracy go? Who or what was the bizarre green-eared spaghetti monster? Would Rust and Cohle survive? With bated breath I sat down to watch the final episode, eagerly anticipating the answers to all of the questions that the series had led me to ask.
Having left the other timelines behind, this last episode was exclusively set in 2012. Now operating outside the law as private detectives, Marty and Rust were back together to finally solve the case. Enter Errol Childress, inbred spawn of the town’s previous sheriff sporting a scarred chin. Yes, this was our monster, finally moving out of the shadows and into the spotlight for the show’s finale.
While Glenn Fleshler was undoubtedly creepy as Childress, I had a nagging sensation that the character was something I had seen many times before: the serial killer who lives in the woods, complete with tumble-down house, ritualistic paintings and an underground lair. With such high standards having been set by the show this felt a little disappointing. To be honest I don’t know what I was expecting, but I thought it would be something out-of-the-ordinary. This guy was, well… ordinary.
Nonetheless the final episode was a pretty thrilling climax to the series, culminating with Rust chasing Childress though Carcosa (which turned out to be a hellish underground labyrinth of stick sculptures and corpses) until he finally faced the evil killer he had dedicated so much of himself to stopping. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff, would Rust survive?
Well, yes. It seemed that having sidestepped the usual Hollywood clichés throughout seven episodes, Pizzolatto grabbed a handful of them and chucked them at the finale. Partner turns up just in time to save the day? Check. Heroes recover from what are surely mortal injuries? Check. Cynical, pessimistic character has a change of heart and learns to see things in a more positive light? Check. Two mismatched cops who just don’t see eye to eye become friends in the end? Big check.
As you can probably tell, I was a little let down by the final episode. Questions remained unanswered. There was no resolution to the wider conspiracy. But perhaps this was the point of the show. As Marty put it: “That ain’t what kind of world it is”.
Whatever I may have thought of the finale, my overriding feeling for the series as a whole is still that it was one of the best TV shows I’ve seen. The atmospheric filmic style of the series has set the bar even higher for future TV shows. The imagery and the almost supernatural feel of the show was unprecedented.
Above all, this series was elevated by the incredible performances of Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart and especially Matthew McConaughey who was in his element playing the sometimes bizarre but always captivating Rust Cohle, whose bleak world view seemed to be confirmed by the grim nature of the case. This was a must-see series for that reason alone. It’s just a shame we’re unlikely to ever see Hart and Cohle on screen again.
True Detective season 2 will feature new characters, actors and a whole new plot. I will definitely be along for the ride and am already wondering where it will take us this time…