Week after week, “True Detective” blows me away with how amazing it can be. This is crime television at its absolute finest. Forget “CSI”, forget “Law & Order”, “Criminal Minds”. Hell, HBO’s new darling even blows “Luther” away in terms of sheer quality. We’re rolling into the third act and things are heating up like mad. After the mad dash in “Who Goes There”, “The Secret Fate of All Life” and “Haunted House” pick up that momentum and run for the hills.
In “The Secret Fate of All Life” Cohle and Hart come into contact with DeWall, Reggie Ledoux’s cooking partner. After tailing him out of town, they discover the meth lab and move in to catch Ledoux. Once he’s in handcuffs, Hart inspects the property and finds a pair of captive children, one already dead. In a rage, he executes Ledoux, leading to Cohle executing DeWall to cover it up with a shootout story. They’re instantly heroes. We then jump to 2002, Hart is back with the wife, and even Cohle has a girlfriend. During an interrogation, Cohle is offered new info pertaining to the 1995 murders and the “Yellow King”. Later the prisoner kills himself after a phone call. Cohle goes looking at the abandoned school from previous episodes, and finds a collection of stick figures and black stars. In the present, the interviewers reveal their purpose. They think Cohle has been connected to the murders all along, and want Hart to help them find out how.
“Man’s game charges a man’s price.”
In “Haunted Houses”, Hart goes back to his violent ways, beating the hell out of a pair of boys caught in a car with his eldest daughter. Soon after, he falls back into his other habits with a former prostitute he met during the 1995 investigation. Meanwhile, Cohle is reopening missing persons cases, convinced that his business with the 1995 case is unfinished. His leads take him to evangelical Reverend Tuttle and his discontinued Wellsprings education program. Cover up including molested children and missing women lead Cohle to believe in a larger conspiracy. Everything comes to a head when Maggie sleeps with Cohle to hurt Marty, leading to the rift between the former partners. Soon after, Cohle quits the force following a suspension. In the present, Hart refuses to help the interviewers any further after learning that they plan to pursue charging Cohle with multiple murders, including Reverend Tuttle’s. On the road, he’s approached by Cohle who says they need to talk.
These two episodes actually flow together quite nicely. With the time jump in the second half of “Secret Fate”, it makes the transition into “Haunted Houses” all the more organic. With the Ledoux dead, the mystery now becomes what the hell happened between 2002 and 2012 to get the interviewers looking into Cohle. The details are revealed slowly, sparsely, and to great effect. Oddly enough, knowing how things are in the present doesn’t hurt the tension of the flashback scenes. It actually just helps up the anticipation to find out how things went so wrong, and why so many people are dead.
“If you get the opportunity you should kill yourself.”
McConaughey and Harrelson rock it as per usual. Shea Whigham shows up again as the deposed Reverend Theriot. Finally this week, Michelle Monaghan outshines everyone. Her scenes when she discovers her husband’s betrayal, and her later scene with McConaughey are both intense and heart-wrenching. The makeup department could’ve done a better job with her present day look. She looks older and a tad more rough, but no way can I believe it’s been seventeen years.
The fight between Rust and Marty is quick and dirty, and marks the rift between the men well. There’s a clever moment at the end of the episode where we see Rust driving the same truck ten years after, and its taillight is still broken from their fight. It’s a nice little symbol of the broken, unresolved state of the men’s partnership all these years later. It’s not as subtle as some of the other symbolism on this show (and there’s a lot), but I liked it.
“I’m the person least in need of counseling in this entire fucking state.”
We’ve got two episodes left for this season, and then it’s a wrap for this story and these characters. As an anthology, we’re in for a completely new world next season. It’ll be sad to see Rust and Marty go, but it’s been a hell of a ride so far. There’s a lot of questions left to be answered, and a lot of dead bodies to atone for. Someone is going to get their comeuppance soon (hopefully), and the great thing about “True Detective” is we have no idea whom.