'True Detective': Nothing is Ever Over

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective Season 1 Episode 3

[This is a review of True Detective season 1, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]


So far, True Detective has delivered as much of an investigation into its two lead characters as it has into the strange and horrible death of Dora Lange. In that regard, the show has presented Rust Cohle and Martin Hart as two men with wildly different attitudes toward the questions of the case and, more importantly, the questions swimming around their less-than-stellar personal lives.

Early on in 'The Locked Room,' their increasingly impassioned discussion on the topic of religion and the religious threatens to match even the fiery preaching of the self-described "independent evangelical" played by Boardwalk Empire's Shea Whigham, serving as yet another textbook example of the rapidly widening schism between the two.

Cohle's various eccentricities and long-winded diatribes have so far only been a consistent but mild irritant to the "regular guy" that is Marty Hart. In fact, they've proven to be valuable in terms of Cohle's willingness to doggedly pursue the untouched and undiscovered corners of the Lange investigation, no matter how potentially obscure the link may be. And as the hunt appears to have gone on for weeks at this point, leading Quesada (Kevin Dunn) to reluctantly give his detectives two more days to find a suspect before handing things over to Tuttle's religious-crimes task force, Cohle winds up having a breakthrough, in more ways than one.

As much as the show offered up about Rust and his awful past in last week's 'Seeing Things,' this time True Detective took a closer look at Marty and Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) and their crumbling marriage – which isn't helped any by Rust showing up to mow Marty's lawn and have the whole thing devolve into an exhausting euphemism; nor is it an encouraging sign that Marty flies into jealous rage after seeing Lisa at a bar with someone other than him.

Michelle Monaghan in True Detective Season 1 Episode 3

And yet, despite all the domestic subplots the show manages to convincingly string together, there's still a breakthrough (or so it seemed at the time) in the murder of Dora Lange.

That brings the series back to 2012, where Papiana and Gilbough ask Marty whether or not he thinks Cohle's refusal to hand the Lange case over to Tuttle's task force could be perceived as an attempt to push the investigation where he wants it to go. Clearly, the two present-day detectives have their suspicions about both men and their handling of the case. Perhaps it's just a bi-product of what Nic Pizzolatto has presented so far, but in terms of someone pushing the case where they want it to go, Papiana and Gilbough's continued presence seems to ask the question: Is this an interview, or an interrogation?

The questions pertaining to the purpose of Hart and Cohle's interviews – i.e., what end they actually serve and whether or not the intent is as upfront as the interviewees would believe – have been clouded to a certain degree. As a result, the doubt generated by Hart and Cohle in 2012 begins to retroactively creep into the 1995 storyline, proving Rust's words - "nothing is ever over" - to be true.

At this point, the early success of the show seems predicated on the fact that there are two big stars in the lead roles, but after the last two episodes explored those characters in a way that's normally unheard of this early in the run of a show that’s ostensibly about solving a woman's murder, it would seem True Detective has demonstrated its star power isn't the only incentive for the audience to watch.


True Detective will be taking next week off, and will return with 'Who Goes There,' on Sunday, February 9 @9pm on HBO.

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