‘True Detective’: The Future is Behind You

Published 1 year ago by

Matthe McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective Season 1 Episode 5 True Detective: The Future is Behind You
[This is a review of True Detective season 1, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]


Once Rust embarked down river, into the darkness with Ginger and his crew, it became readily apparent that True Detective itself was headed to an even more puzzling place than it had been before. The feeling became readily apparent in ‘Who Goes There‘ when Rust and Marty’s version of events began to deviate wildly from what detectives Papiana and Gilbough had been able to dig up about Rust’s past. Needless to say, the “off book” events generated their own deliberately erroneous idea – Rust had gone to visit his ailing father while in the middle of a murder investigation – that not only gave the present day detectives reason to be suspicious of the man Rust was now, they also began to doubt the legend that’d been built up around him.

Of course that legend was at least partially Rust’s own brainchild. After he and Marty track down Reggie Ledoux to a secluded house, and despite successfully apprehending their primary suspect in the ritualistic murder of Dora Lange, things go sideways in a familiar, vengeful cop sort of way that ends in a cover up of fairly epic proportions. The bigger reveal, though, is the reflexive way Rust responds to Marty’s slaying of Reggie: by immediately going into cover-up mode, disposing of the only actual witness (though the question of what happened to Ginger still persists), and constructing an elaborate narrative about a heroic shootout to explain the deaths of Ledoux and Dewall.

It’s all a clever bit of structure manipulation by Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Fukunaga that twists several different perspectives and time frames in such a precise manner that by the time ‘The Secret Fate of All Life’ gets to where it’s going, the intent of True Detective‘s story swings not toward Papiana and Gilbough’s investigation of Rust, but more towards what it is that Marty and Rust are still hiding. The deception and the way the two narratives have now diverged plays into the notion of the unreliable narrator that has been around from the beginning. At first, Rust’s philosophical excursions read like the burned-out stoner version of SETI – constantly sending out signals to an audience that wasn’t necessarily there, or terribly interested in the message. But now, with the contradictory story Marty and Rust are telling with such precision, those digressions have begun to read as a deliberate misdirection.

Woody Harrelson in True Detective Season 1 Episode 5 True Detective: The Future is Behind You

Marty and Rust have demonstrated a clear propensity for continued deception that calls certain portions of the narrative into question. And whatever it is Rust eventually uncovers – which is undoubtedly tied to the collection of Devil’s Traps he found in the hurricane-ravaged school building – that leads to Papiana and Gilbough’s questions regarding a period of time that’s been unaccounted for will, with any luck, explain the reasoning behind any additional concealment.

‘The Secret Fate of All Life’ wraps up one lingering question (and admittedly superficial question) and then dutifully throws out several more. As the series delves deeper into the mysteries it’s generated, it seems the question we now have to ask of a narrative that’s essentially about truth-seeking, is whether or not the truth that is presented can or even should be trusted.


True Detective continues next Sunday with ‘Haunted Houses’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

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  1. This show gets better and better every episode. It’s outstanding. The direction, the acting, EVERYTHING. And few shows, let alone detective shows, scare me like this. It’s a frightening show where the truth is never revealed and there may be something more evil that the two detectives aren’t telling. Great show. Can’t wait for next week!

  2. i feel like rust is the killer all along!!

    • I don’t think he’s the killer, that’s too easy, especially with the other detectives already thinking it. I think he become a vigilante after quitting the force.

      p.s. catching your daughter doing it with two dudes in a car, talk about karma.

    • Doesn’t that just seem a bit too obvious?

      I think it is more likely that somewhere along the way he cheated with his partner’s wife (hence the breakup there), and also drove the case into a political dead-end. Perhaps he knows everything he needs to solve the case but the people in power are more or less untouchable. His unyielding need to tear down, figure out, and expose things conflicts directly with his inability to affect any of the suspects and he more or less run into a reverse Javert moment.

      Just a thought. Having grown up in Louisiana and experienced the nasty politics and the evil that is the sheriff’s office and governor’s office, I can say that this series is nothing short of a brilliant exposé.

    • I think it is part of the ironic twists of the narrative with the current detectives doing exactly what they are accusing Rust of doing, pushing the investigation where they want it to go. The simpler answer is usually the correct one, Rust has gone “off book” like he did in the previous episode (maybe Marty knows about it or not). Rust did say he was undercover as a drug dealer for a staggering 4 years, so him dropping out of sight for years would not be a problem for him.

  3. I do believe that this series is starting to head towards the supernatural. “The King in Yellow” was a metaphorical figure for death and I do think the evil they’re dealing with isn’t of the natural world. It’s too easy to say Rust is the killer. I think he’s gone crazy because he discovers things he didn’t think existed.

    • I really don’t think so. The series reminds me of a lot of the cases that were in the news as I grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. And the politics is spot on. If you don’t know who Edwin Edwards is, you’re missing out on a good bit of the untold background for this series.

      • Well, from what I read last month, this show was planned to become Lovecraftian, in which viewers may get a surprise supernatural/extraterrestrial twist they didn’t expect. Which is the whole reason I can’t wait for the show to start this Saturday.

  4. Boy oh boy that was one of if not thee most unsettling hour’s of TV I’ve ever seen.
    There’s such a feeling of dread soaked in every frame that I literally had knots in my stomach. The crazy thing is that there are still 3 episodes left and as bad as things are now I think that we would all agree that we haven’t seen anything yet.

    As much as I have loved this series so far and this episode there was a pretty big plot-hole.
    What happened to Ginger?
    Unless I missed something how did Cohle and Hart account for the taped up skin head in the back of the truck?
    Maybe it will be explained but if let be I think it’s a pretty glaring mistake.

    • Yup, it’s a quick beat, but you must have missed it. Marty asks Rust that same question, and Rust tells him that Ginger is tied up with duct tape in a ditch.

      I like your note about the “feeling of dread soaked in every frame.” Very well said.

      • Somebody help me out. In the first episode while the detectives are driving a little girl waves at Cohle which prompts him to ask Hart if he believed in ghosts but Hart didnt even notice the girl. Then on the way to the Lang mothers house and they pass more kids Cohle looks at them but Hart doesnt seem to he shakes his head but it may not be because of the kids he doesnt even look at them, Later same episode Cohle and Hart are talking in an empty parking lot the “stop saying weird s***” scene. the camera goes back and forth but when your lookig thru Cohles POV you can seea little kid playing in the background behind Hart. Even the billboard from 1987 only Cohle seems to pay any attention to it. Thats 4 scenes with kids after Cohle asks Hart about ghosta were only Cohle sees them. Are they all ghosts? Or al really just kids? i need to watch again to see if the kids are the same from scene to scene and compare them to the class photo. Maby some of the kids are real and some are ghosts trying to play with the other kids. It makes you wonder if Hart was actually talking about HIS kids in episode five. Personaly I think Cohle is the father of the girl in the 1987 billboard he went undercover and came out with a new identity making it possable to investigate the murders w/o any body knowing HEs BEEN HERE BEFORE. Like Ladoux said. Plus the touch darkness it touches you back line makes since then.

        • To me the kids playing in the background, etc. just adds to the mood of dread that a killer is on the loose and can strike at any time against helpless and unsuspecting victims if the cops don’t solve the mystery fast.

    • I think they mentioned in the very next scene that they had turned him over to the authorities. I don’t recall but he may have still been in the back of the truck when they closed in on the bad guys hideout.

  5. Incredibly dark, deep, soulful and smart show. Very very heavy dope. I hope they will do just one season.

    • It’s an anthology series: Each season will have a different plot, setting, timeframe, cast & characters, etc.

  6. Another very good, layered episode that moved the investigation and story along toward the current investigation. The take down of Reggie showed how Marty was just as unstable as Rust to a point, and the cover-up the scenario that probably solidified their shaky long-term partnership.

    As for the question of what happened to Ginger, Rust said he as taped up in a ditch, the question then becomes was he still alive. Since he was the only person who could debunk the story of Rust going to see his father and he took the police to his gangs only Meth cook (who ended up dead), Ginger seems like a loose end that would have been tied up one way or another.

    • I think Ginger has served his plot progression purpose and we have seen the last of him. He would have heard the gunfire but saw nothing so it’s plausible he has nothing further to add to the story. So reintroducing him would be a distraction from the main thrust of the narrative.

  7. hasnt dropped the ball yet. great episode, yet more existential dread creeping through, I wonder how far down the stranger path it will go? Supernatural or not? Could go either way, I hope the end matches whats come so far, in terms of sheer quality.

    • I hope it doesn’t turn supernatural and really don’t think it will. The comment that “big people” are involved has me worried though. If the plot takes a turn toward “LA Confidentail” or “Gangster Squad” I will be really disappointed. I hated those movies.

      • Like I said before, the show is purportedly going down the Lovecraft route so…

        People got to see it in January somehow and said there were sly references to Cthulhu Mythos elements in the series, getting more obvious as the season progressed.

  8. The first few episodes were a little slow but were needed to develop character and storyline. But those last two episodes just blew me away. This is easily becoming one of the best detective shows on TV.

  9. The best episode yet by far in my opinion. I seriously had hard time sleeping after it, very creepy and dark, this is quickly becoming one of the best shows there are.

  10. Anyone have any ideas how many more episodes are left?

    Love the show!

    • Three.

  11. In the top picture Woody Harrelson is wearing a black t-shirt and in the bottom he is wearing the Pink Floyd t-shirt. Does anyone remember him changing t-shirts or is this a continuity problem?

    Just before Woody Harrelson shoots him, the handcuffed bad guy is babbling to Matthew McConnaughy about someone being “black.” So my guess is the two detectives who have been questioning Harrelson and McConnoughy all along are the real killers they are after. But other colors have also been mentioned: the yellow king and the green man (with spaghetti or Spanish moss over his face). Maybe the two black detectives disguised themselves.

    • He was saying the black star along with a lot of other crazy stuff, I doubt the two new detectives have anything to do with the older case, particularly Papania who may have just been a kid during the initial investigation.

      It seems like the ending of the case was not really the end and whoever the real killer or killers are they laid low after the scapegoats went down. But like all demented killers they started up again or just were more careful until the current body shows up.

  12. When this show was starting production they wanted MM for a role and that was the role of Marty Hart. MM turned that down cause he wanted to play Cohle instead which ofcourse was said yes to and probably lead to the show getting green lit.

    What I find interesting, and keep waiting for an answer to, is that the showrunner would first offer the role of Hart to get a star attached. There has been nothing going on with that role yet that would make it a good sell. Not as good as the role of Cohle.

    I think we are going to see more of Marty Hart these last 3 episodes.

  13. This series is disturbing and frightening. It’s scarier than a zombie TV series. I can’t wait for what HBO will do with their adaptation of the Monster (manga) if ever it pushes through. Both the manga and the anime was frightening as well.

    Hoping this series will have an epic ending.

  14. I can’t help but think that the Jay O. Sanders and Shea Whigham characters are behind the murders, only because each is too good an actor to have just a bit part in a series like this. I could see Sanders’ character being the bad guy at the top, orchestrating it all, while Whigham’s preacher is the one who carries out the dirty work.

  15. Good actors wasted in this series. Mike