HBO’s “True Detective” is not the feel good show of the year, and thank God for that. “Seeing Things” takes the dark, brooding atmosphere of the premiere and takes it a few steps further. With a short, 8-episode season underway, we’re a quarter way through. And there’s almost no indication of anything resembling a light at the end of this tunnel. It’s awesome.
“Seeing Things” finds Cohle (McConaughey) and Hart (Harrelson) diving into the dark underbelly of their Louisiana home. Their investigation into the brutal murder of Dora Lange leads them on a trek through the backwoods to a trailer park brothel (the Ranch) she frequented. There they find her diary, detailing some odd visions and poetry about a “King in Yellow”. Back at the station, their lack of solid leads or suspects gets them in hot water. The Major threatens to take the case from them and hand it to a new task force (investigating anti-Christian crimes) if things don’t come together soon. Cohle and Hart let their last lead take them to an abandoned, charred church. There they find a painted wall depicting the same horned/antlered figure seen before.
“Of course I’m dangerous; I’m police. I can do terrible things to people.. with impunity.”
We get a nice look into both detectives this week. Our suspicions of Hart’s infidelity are confirmed. He’s cheating on his wife with a hot young thing in town, and he seems quite versed in justifying himself. Present-day Cohle tells his interviewers about his redacted history in Texas. It seems when he was in narcotics he murdered a junkie who was shooting up his own child. After that, he became a deep undercover narco to make up for it. He ended up killing a few more scumbags before ending up in a psychiatric hospital. He was later offered full psych pension but turned it down in favour of homicide. That fact alone tells a lot about his character, refusing the easy paycheque to keep catching bad guys, worse than the ones he chased before.
Right now the plot is wading pretty steadily through the basics of the genre. Hardcore case, no suspects, hardass chief jumping down their throats. It’s not the originality of the plot that makes this show; it’s the amazing atmosphere, and the great nuances in the performances. McConaughey and Harrelson are both at the absolute top of their game, and they mesh perfectly with this great setting the show has taken hold of. “Seeing Things” exemplifies both aspects of the show superbly, developing these intriguing characters and delving deeper into the darkness of the world, exploring the “secret truth of the universe”.
“I closed my eyes and saw the King in Yellow moving through the forest.”
Thematically the episode is pretty straightforward. The exploitation of young women, the trials and consequences of living and working in such a dark world. As a major Lovecraft fan, hearing the “King in Yellow” reference (made famous by Robert W. Chambers) got me pretty excited. It gives the show an almost supernatural vibe, while keeping it grounded in reality.
Overall, “Seeing Things” keeps up the powerful momentum of the fantastic premiere, and makes this show look all the more promising. With a amazing casting, a solid mystery to solve, and a brilliant southern soundtrack, “True Detective” is quickly becoming one of the best crime dramas on television.