True Detective: A must-watch revolutionary psychodrama exploring the lives of two detectives

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Humans need stories. We all like them. When we run out of stories, we make one. We believe in what we create and thus, in doing so, we are successful at selling it. Everyone needs something to believe in. Hope. Morals. Stories. We relate most to the ones that end up defining us, manipulating us in to beings we want to be. They end up owning us. We start living them. Who are we? What’s our purpose in this eternal, expanding, chaotic universe? Questions as these and many more that make us want to believe that there is light at the end of a tunnel.

 

 

A world where humanity seems to be on the verge of extinction and little what humans do are for the good for their tribe. Capitalism which is the biggest enemy of all, mocks the poor, makes him feel unwanted, incomplete and lost. Rape. Poverty. Death. These unrelenting factors pave the way for the most grimmest and uninviting life approach- pessimism. Once set in, it clutches and chews, piercing in through the toughest membrane, gnawing its very soul. True Detective is one such story. On the surface it sounds like a fancy, star-studded crime procedural. But True Detective is about the world we live in. It is a story about ‘light vs dark’.  Amidst all this darkness, True Detective is a story about finding a small measure of good in the world.

This season kicks off with the murder of an underage prostitute named Dora Lange. The murderer chooses a ritualistic approach in doing the deed- crowning the victim with a pair of deer antlers, tied up, mutilated, posing in a prayerful position at the base of a large oak tree.  This isn’t it. We see stick figures known as Devil Traps hung on this oak tree! Martin Hart and Rustin Chole are the two mismatched souls, appointed to solve this satanic murder mystery.

The events of the series take place in a swampy, decayed coastline of Louisiana, which adds an eerie and evocative texture to it. Filling the backdrop with industries and factories emanating smoke, burnt down churches, and creepy biblical scenes on the wall are bound to make you feel restless. Cinematography and music provide the much needed complexity and depth to the show. Adam Arkapaw adroitly captures the smoky atmosphere of the locations. This makes his cinematography arrestingly artful. The score/music is so soulful, appropriate and otherwordly good (just like a Martin Scorsese’s movie) that it is almost like another character! Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of the show, has done justice to the anthology format of the series. Categorizing it as a mini-series drama show, Pizzolatto manages to compartmentalize its character-driven plot with all his dexterity that he’s successful at, making viewers feel flabbergasted, showcasing the down home-local color and including literary references which takes the show to a supernatural level. Cary Fukunaga’s direction is riveting, provocative and so poetic that it takes its viewers to the depths of hell and back. The director was asked about its anthology format and how they planned to go about this hackneyed process (since many have tried their hands at it and failed) in an interview to Bright Ideas magazine and this is what he had to say:

BRIGHT IDEAS: How did True Detective become an anthology?

CARY FUKUNAGA: The original idea was that we’d tackle it as a hybrid. Normally in television, you’d have multiple directors. This is more like cinema, with a singular voice for the whole season—which is also a way to attract talent who normally wouldn’t do television. A lot of actors don’t want to put themselves out there if they’re going to deal with four different directors over the course of one season. Next season, it’ll be in the same genre, but a completely different story, cast and director, I assume.

 

 

Talking about its characters, Rustin Chole by nature is misanthropic, shattered by the death of his daughter. Nonetheless, he is full of wits with brooding and enigmatic looks. A primary protagonist, Rustin’s characterization is one-of-its-kind. And by ‘one-of-its-kind’ I mean, alluring and kick- you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic! Nic Pizzolatto, outlines much needed details of this nihilist, guiding us in to his traumatic and dreadful past. His daughter died and later his wife divorced him on the basis that there’s nothing gluing them together anymore. Living alone in his apartment where he ‘’contemplates the moment and the idea of allowing your own crucifixion’’, he was formerly a narcotics undercover from Texas. Matthew McConaughey pulls it off (the character) with a great finesse and his performance is electrical! His methodological style of portrayal of Rustin is brilliant and unparalleled.  What adds more depth to his character are the philosophical underpinnings, which he delivers effortlessly. These underpinnings are so ass-kicking-rad that it will definitely throw you into a tizz and make you want to use them daily! 

Rust’s partner in this horrific investigation is Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson. Martin is the good-ol’-boy type and is the impulsive one, whereas Rust is calculating, in control and is expedient. Martin’s wife, Maggie, played by Michelle Monaghan, is devastating and cunning. She is downtrodden with her philandering husband. She decides to get back at him through destructive means- a necessary evil, which fosters the growth of these three characters. Woody, like Matthew fits into his philandering cop act/character seamlessly and takes up its comic yet intense role with all his versatility that he proves to be a perfect counterpart to dodge his partner’s philosophical rants.

 

 

True Detective is about its characters, their issues and how each of them manages to transform each other’s lives through this investigation. According to me, this is the real story and is more powerful and resonating than the original which is about solving Dora Lange’s murder. And other critics have reflected over it in a precise manner: The Lange murder is just a Trojan Horse. The real story here is much richer and stranger: who are these men, and how did this murder change their lives?

True Detective also drops references to one of the most horrifying and compelling texts in the category of horror fiction. Authors like HP Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce and Robert Chambers come to life through the fictional visions of this show.

This is what the creator has to say about the show.

PIZZOLATTO: I think what True Detective keeps telling you, over and over again, is that everything’s a story. Who you tell yourself you are, what you tell yourself what the world is, an investigation, a religion, a nihilistic point of view – these are all stories you tell yourself. You need to be careful what stories you tell yourself.

The writing is top-draw. Here are few quotes from the show that, as I have already mentioned will make you want to use them day-in-day-out:

"To realize that all your life – you know, all your love, all your hate, all your memory, all your pain—it was all the same thing. It was all the same dream. A dream that you had inside a locked room. A dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams there’s a monster at the end of it."
"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill."

For the ones who have already viewed it, they will agree that season one has been one of the most thought provoking, salient, episodic narratives of the year. That said, the show will continue with its anthology format which means season two will be a different story, comprise different characters, different locations and much more.

Season 2 is already underway and the creator has revealed information the central characters: “Right now, we’re working with three leads… The characters are all new, but I’m deeply in love with each of them. We’ve got the entire series broken out with a couple of scripts, and we’ll probably start casting in earnest in the coming months.”

He has also hinted on the plotline: “hard women, bad men and the secret occult; history of the United States transportation system.”

As for the location, it moves from Louisiana to California i.e., from the southern coast to western coast: “…It takes place in California — not Los Angeles, but some of the much lesser known venues of California — and we’re going to try to capture a certain psychosphere ambiance of the place, much like we did in season one.”

True Detective is one of my favorite shows and I cannot wait for season two. Also, I have no better way of summing this article up but by quoting Rust’s ramblings:

 
“Once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning."

 

 

 

By Yojet Sharma

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1 Comment

  1. Shweta

    September 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Spent my weekend (Just 8 hours of Saturday, actually) watching this show. Thought provoking and eerie. I have been listening to “The Angry River” on loop, ever since I heard it in the end credits of True Detective. Rust depresses me…

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