So That ‘True Detective’ Finale

March 10th, 2014 // 35 Comments
True Detective Rust Cohle

So last night was the end of True Detective‘s first season/story/volume which wrapped up Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart’s (Woody Harrelson) case and takes them away from us because next season will be a completely separate story with all new characters that already sounds fucking awesome. And, yes, I’m still saying that after last night’s ending which has predictably left the Internet in a bit of a tizzy and for understandable reasons.

SPOILERS (Obviously.)

“Form And Void” was exactly what creator Nic Pizzalatto said it was going to be. A straight-forward ending with no twists (especially supernatural ones) that would keep to the show’s theme of charting Rust and Marty’s character development. Which was either executed awfully if you projected way too much subtext onto the show or perfectly if you’re the fart-sniffing wankerly type. I fall in the middle because I knew going in that my expectations were higher than they should’ve been, and there was no tempering that, but the show did manage to create some palpable tension when Rust went into “Carcosa” (Also, for anyone wondering what the hell place was, it’s an old Civil War fort.) and then… everything just sort of ended save for the thematically well-done shot (flat-)circling everything back to the tree where Dora Lange’s body was found. The killer was caught, but only in the sense that the lowest possible man on the totem pole was taken down because remember that whole child rape animal face cult who everyone assumed raped Marty’s daughter thanks to 800 clues? Still out there completely manipulating the local government and media. Although, in theory, Gilbough and Papania presumably will take them down and clean up after the white boys which we’ll never know because, again, this is the end of the line for this story. It’s apparently not important because what is important is crying. Specifically the tad too schmaltzy crying of two hard-ass detectives who’ve been the product of seven hours of command performances who are Riggs and Murtaugh now if Riggs and Murtaugh want to get a studio apartment together like Photo Boy won’t commit to for reasons I’ll never understand. Am I not pretty enough?! I’M FUCKING PRETTY. *knocks over bookshelf*

Speaking of Photo Boy, he was absolutely certain that my life ended the moment Rust became a born-again Christian at the end except he didn’t and thank not-God Nic Pizzolatto backed me up on Inside The Episode where he makes it clear that Rust’s new worldview is purely based on physics. So Photo Boy can suck on that while living in a domestic cage with his wife instead of this really great loft I found. (I will eat your soul.)

Anyway, go nuts with why you liked/hated/were indifferent to last night’s episode which was probably the weakest [in the opinion of a guy writing dick jokes for a living, so that means nothing] but without diminishing the awesomeness that came before it, and God knows I’ll be devouring the shit out of the commentary tracks because the craft here was just fucking phenomenal. On that note, here’s one last final theory that went up before the finale, and yet is still entirely plausible:

The Yellow King Is… You – Esquire

UPDATE: Lori Allison over on the Facebook page cranked all this nice little summation:

The name of the show is True Detective. The title of the damn show set the limitations right there. True Detective. Not Crazy Supernatural Ending. Not David and Goliath. True Detective. And the show kind of ended in a way that rang true. Not the part with the head butting and gutting, but the fact that two former local cops turned PIs did not take down an ultra wealthy, ultra powerful ring of child murderers. They do their part to their limitations. It makes a crap ton of sense. They got their guy, they fixed their mistake, they got a level of closure. The rest is for someone else to go after. Life is generally full of drama and build up but ultimately anti-climactic. Overall, I liked it. It was a character study and as a character study, it was superb. Also, for some reason junkies really do tend to pull through the craziest medical crap. It’s a strange fact of life.

Quaaludes. I need Quaaludes!

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  1. JC

    I liked the ending, although the bitching and moaning about it not becoming some Lost/Inception/space aliens clusterfuck in the last episode is confusing to me. It seems like the whole internet was set on coming up with the most insanely complicated theories as possible, even after the penultimate episode ended by showing the killer. It strikes me as unfair to judge a show finale as lacking because your weed- and Cheetoh-fueled psychotic dreamings didn’t come true.

    • Right. Pizzolatto also gave an interview explicitly stating he wasn’t fucking with the audience, but he understood why they felt that way because TV shows have done that to them for years. Specifically the show you just mentioned that stole time from me I’ll never get back.

      • JC

        I guess I can buy that idea of “If a show is even slightly more than brain-dead simplicity, then there must be a twist coming.” To me, this show was always no more than an above-average crime drama with better than usual acting. (And wondrous boobs.) The plot is boilerplate Law & Order: SVU, stretched out to eight episodes and with McConaughey doing his best impression of Brando in “Apocalypse Now.”

        Which might sound like a brutal critique, but it worked for me.

    • I never got into True Detective—too existentialist, not my taste—but I wanted to chime in to make this point.

      Most of my favorite novels end somewhat disappointingly. (To me, anyway.) But I still call them my favorites because they were a pleasure to read throughout. The comparison of great TV shows to literature is apt, but we need to understand that it’s the journey, not the climax, that’s the payoff.

  2. Liked it. Didn’t really expect anything mind-blowing – it was a solid ending to what was solid series.

    Not that excited, though, about season 2: no Hart & Cohle + director Cary Fukunaga gone + new cast I don’t give a shit about = very low expectation. Remember, like most people out there, the main reason why I started watching “True Detective” was to figure out why the hell were Harrelson and McConaughey doing in a TV show, even on HBO. Now, I can’t even imagine season 2 pulling in this level of star power or an equal level of performance.

    So, if you feel disappointed by the finale, get yourself ready for the second series – I got the bad feeling we’re going to miss Rust Colhe like crazy in 2015.

  3. brick

    The ending was just alright (alright, alright…kidding) but I certainly want to believe that all the unresolved stuff will be re-addressed with a follow up season later on (in a couple of years maybe?). Maybe not staring Matthew and Woody this time but they could certainly put in guest appearances, right?

  4. Vince Gilligan waded through the same shit when Jesse killed Gale at the end of whichever season. He later had to jam that down viewer’s throats because they found a sliver of light and read all into it. And Pizzalatto clubs folks over the head and they still micro- examine the minutia.

    People are never happy… until a scar-faced killer crucifies them apparently.

  5. I watched the first episode of this show and it was utter shit and I generally love Harrelson and McConaghey. I am struggling to find a reason to watch another one. I’ll watch one more episode to be fair to it, but I suspect this is one of those shows that a small group of people either decide they are going to like it or paid to like it and then they push other people to say they like it, people that are afraid to not look cool if they say they don’t like it.

    I love you Fish, but I watched that first boring as fuck episode this weekend and could not for the life of me understand why the fuck you are jerking off to this show all the time? Banshee and Ray Donovan are better than this show in every single way, by a wide margin.

    • Reason To Watch Episode #2:

      And while I didn’t personally care for True Detective myself, citing Banshee approvingly by comparison means you lose. Cinemax shows are HBO for dumb people.

      • You state that Cinemax shows are for dumb people and then cite a naked woman as the reason to watch this show? Umm, okay…

      • No, I said it was a reason to watch that episode. Don’t be so high and mighty; you come here often enough that I don’t need to justify the concept of spending an extra 20 minutes for a perfect set of tits. Anyway, you knew that part was sarcasm. (Serious about the Cinemax shows, though.)

      • Wouldn’t stating that a show or network is aimed at stupid people constitute being high and mighty?

      • malaka

        in all fairness, jeff, the first episode of game of thrones was boring as shit too!
        it usually takes a few minutes to get into a new story and for the narrative to get the ball rolling.
        try watching what i think is episode 4? could be wrong..
        (the one where cole is running thru the ghetto at the end).
        that’s the first part of the show that i saw.
        (after being half drunk and passed out; not even aware that the show was on my tv until the final 5 minutes).
        after that, i was hooked.

      • I stopped reading at “the first episode of GOT was boring as shit.”

      • GoT and True Detective are interconnected.

    • There are more than a few novels that had I not given them fifty pages, I would have missed something worth reading.

      Give this what time it takes to realize you’re hooked.

    • You haven’t really given the show/characters a chance to develop by only watching one episode… I highly recommend that you do yourself a favor and watch at least 3 episodes before writing it off.

      • Just finished watching the second episode, still waiting to be blown away or even entertained. I will say that Lone Star beer is sure getting their money’s worth.

  6. Rubick's Doob

    Sometimes evil is just that simple. No pretense of the supernatural. No plot twists that force watchers to suspend disbelief to the point the ridiculous. TD’s ending was tight, had enough suspense (Carcosa was fucking eerie) to keep your pulse tripping along, and finished with typical Chole philosophizing.
    The entire show, from beginning to end, was a dissertation on the light of humanity versus the darkness of it with the admission that no matter how hard we try, the dark invades everyone’s life. Both of these guys, their families, coworkers, mistresses and everyone they come into contact with suffers some element of pain. Rust’s soliloquy at the end was an acknowledgement that everyone, even Rustin Chole, hopes for more light than dark in their lives.

  7. The writer was wise enough to not in essence open the Ark of the Covenant, and have a bunch of angels flying around. Whatever disappointment or letdown we feel is due to the fact we were essentially teased by a version of the possibility for weeks, but were reined back in to the confines of Reality at the ending. Because given what an extraordinary story offered us to work with — and all you have to do is look at the theories floating around to support this — if the Ark was allowed to open in this storyline, we would have been necessarily confronted by time-travelling space aliens (or whatever the hell those things were in that last Indiana Jones abomination), and more, because the metaphysical possibilities are damn near endless if they are allowed to be considered in the narrative. You empower the gods of Voodoo and Santeria, you are obligated to essentially introduce us to them. We got teased but good, but stayed on solid ground and yet have an enormous amount to argue about. That’s just about all you can ask for. Anyone who finds a way to be genuinely disappointed by this should consider the ramifications of having what they think they want.

    • Nicely said. Rust Cohle’s scathing contempt for the members of the department who were intent on reducing the motivation for the murders as being purely “anti-Christian” should have been the big tipoff for anyone who wanted anything more.

      For the ones who wanted fairy tales, too true that there’s not a lot of atoms getting split out there.

      • Thanks, and true re the Jesus bashing. Another subtle, powerful brushstroke.

        Side note: anyone who lives, lived or who has spent considerable time in southeast Texas had a far more visceral experience from this show than those who have not. There’s no way around it, believe me. Those live oaks with the Spanish moss, the bayous, the pink buttercups — goddamn, of all things for a television show to have to make feel close to home. Then you factor in the Townes Van Zandt song the other night, and it is almost too much to put in your backyard.

        (To put in in terms I know the local custodians will understand, Townes Van Zandt is to the Tom Waits/Leonard Cohen school of singer/songwriter exactly as Bill Hicks is to comedy, only even better at what he did.)

      • SETX represent! This show was really intense for me too. I have been to or have friends that live in most of the cities that are referenced on the show. The town I live in borders the swamp and my wife is from Lake Charles so it really hit home for her. It’s nice to hear some perspective from someone else that lives (lived) in the same area.

  8. malaka

    let’s not kid ourselves. we all got hooked on this little unexpected nugget of joy because matthew and woody are two of the most beautiful texas stoners who ever lived.
    its too bad that they had mcconaughey doing drek romantic comedy after romantic comedy for almost twenty years and only now just figured out this demographic straddling formula for him.

    i had thought for a minute that both characters might have died in their final encounter with the main antagonist, but i suppose they effectively left the door open for the possibility of both main protagonists returning for future episodes. even if only for a few seconds of a cameo.

    at this point, the series is free to go in several different directions.
    so without further delay, here’s my fan fiction letter to santa claus regarding season 2 of true detective:

    what if they got cheech marin and tommy chong to ride around in an old chevy nova; shakin down witnesses and solving mysteries.
    cheech already has a remarkable resume filled with crime drama experience.
    cheech could be the square, no nonsense, good ole christian.
    while chong could be the off the deep end existentialist.

    is stacy keach still alive? he could be the chief OR the main rapist!

    • Of course he is alive. Who else would be playing the gay lover of the father from “Good Times”?

      Say what you will about what remains of “Two and a Half Men,” it is hard to imagine any other show allowing that sentence to be composed.

  9. P.T.S. Potential Trouble Source

    I wonder if Nic Pizzalatto can talk McConaughey into doing a spin-off (a couple of episode’s maybe) on his time as a undercover with the biker gang, I would love to hear his full backstory as Rust Cohle

  10. Deacon Jones

    I watched the finale last night, it was IMHO a bit of a let down given the awesomeness of the series as a whole. Yes, I was one of those people expecting an M. Night Shyalaman plot twist at the very end. There was just too many subtle hints throughout the episodes (especially watching them back to back onDemand) that the last episode was building to some crazy ending. Even when they were in the hospital I was waiting for someone to murder them.

    Alas, the way the series was shot was incredible, each episode felt like you were watching a well produced movie. They’ll never match these two for casting Season Two next season. Two top notch performances right there.

  11. The best thing of the show were Alexandra Daddario’s tits :)

  12. I liked the final episode of True Detective. For those that thought that Rust was not what you wanted in the final episode, well, he never was gonna be want you wanted, which might be another season of him. “Rust, Part 2, the Crash Years!” On another front, those saying Rust went all “God” loving..Well, he admitted in earlier episodes, to be a part of his “programming”. I’m almost sure I spelled programming, wrong…fucking m’s. What was I talking about?

  13. I’ll also admit, that my big box ‘o wine, is my friend, so , you know…

  14. Guest

    This is such a late contribution to the conversation but I have been thinking about where you said there are 800 clues that the cult raped Marty’s daughter. I really did not gather that from watching the show. The fact that he immediately shot that meth cook after he found the imprisoned children? His overall hothead behavior regarding the child related crimes? I took that as he had extra sensitivity since he had daughters. Otherwise, maybe I’m missing something. I’m very interested to hear the clues you saw to make that theory!

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