True Detective – Season 1 Review

true-detective-season-1-finaleI hate to say it, but I was more than a little disappointed in last night’s resolution of the first season of TRUE DETECTIVE. It turned out much more LETHAL WEAPON 4 than it did the false cosmic horror buildup.  My “bold prediction” swing-and-a-miss aside, it never brought many of the little clues, Easter eggs and plot lines together to wrap things up in a satisfying way.

That’s not to say that the episode itself was bad, quite the contrary. The killer was sufficiently crazy and “Carcosa” was sufficiently creepy, the payoff just wasn’t quite worth the sum of the nearly eight preceding hours of flawless television.

Like no other show in recent memory with the possible exception of GAME OF THRONES, TRUE DETECTIVE delivered on such a singular vision with a cast of amazing actors and an extremely thought provoking script.  This was in part to creator NIK PIZZOLATTO and director CARY FUKUNAGA being with the show the whole way through unlike the vast majority of episodic television nowadays. This is a dynamic that unfortunately it sounds like they are going to ditch for the still-to-be announced but quite inevitable second season.

But it sure made this season something special.  That, along with WOODY HARRELSON and MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY delivering perhaps the best performances of their careers.  I’m still in awe of that 6-minute unbroken tracking shot at the end of episode 4.

Although it was an almost-all-around flawless show, it did not come without its detractors as some reviewers thought it was degrading in the way that it portrayed women.  I would argue that similarly, it was degrading in the way that it portrayed men, children and southerners, but you don’t hear any of them hollering about it.  People need to shut their mouths and enjoy wonderful TV.

Now to the finale: overall, it raised more questions than it answered.  And for such a thinly-sliced show, they introduced alot of material in the finale that should have gotten much deeper exploration.  For instance, Errol was a fairly fascinating character.  For being a backwoods sister-banging hillbilly, he was interestingly schizophrenic with the four or five accents he was able to eloquently mimic.  In an interview with NIK PIZZOLATTO, he wrote the character’s backstory to have learned different accents from a large collection of VHS tapes in the home.  The episode flirted with that idea, but they could have done more with that sort of detail.  Plus, the green ears being paint was too far of a reach even for a show like this.

Then comes the issue of the guy on the table.  Who the hell was he?  I guess he was Errol’s dad, but was he the Yellow King?  Was he alive or dead?  I thought a great touch would have been the table-guy getting up and attacking Rust and Marty while in Carcosa.  But that was one randomly-inserted plotline that was left dangling.  And what happened to burn Errol’s face?  Again, a little detail that didn’t need to be all in-your-face about it (pun intended), but would have been a nice addition.  How did Marty get ahold of the cops?  Nobody had a phone.

Are we seriously supposed to believe that some ignorant hick with a burned face was able to elicit such a large amount of fear from everybody he knew?  It is really plausable with the preponderance of evidence that everybody’s crazy experiences in Carcosa were really drug-fueled delusions?  I would point to the former housekeeper as exhibit A in the “no” category.  Also, Errol’s sister yells after Marty that the “worst one” is coming after him.  Errol might not be a nice dude, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him “the worst”.  They seemed to be alluding to something more sinister that never came to light.

What was the purpose, then of the detail with Marty’s daughter and Rust’s Lone Star cans?  That is an awfully specific thing to allude to in such a narrowly focused show to just let fly in the breeze.  Why did Rust see a galaxy in Carcosa?  I would have much preferred him to hallucinate a monster in Carcosa then leave the viewer wondering if it was real or not by the end.

Most important of all, where and how do I get myself a Big Hug Mug without spending upwards of 100 bucks on ebay?!?

But at the end of the day, Marty and Rust flip each other off and get on with their lives.  A somewhat fitting bookend to their unconventional partnership.

I suppose if TRUE DETECTIVE were to have a “happy ending”, this is it.  Unfortunately, a “happy ending” is not the same thing as a “satisfying ending” and I think it came up a bit short.  Regardless, season 1 of TRUE DETECTIVE deserves an extremely solid “A” rating, held back from what would have been a perfect A+++ by a fizzle where there should have been a boom.

Season two is supposedly about the occult origins of the American transportation system.  Is the rumors of female detectives going to come true?  Or perhaps a male-female combo?  I vote CATHERINE ZETA-JONES and MICHAEL KEATON, alas I am but a lowly MWTVG who gets no say in the matter.