This review is spoiler free
Y'know, time was when a moment just hung there, all pregnant and waiting. It would just luxuriate in a slow, deliberate and aching articulation and before you knew what had hit you, your friends and your family, it would just explode into the worst of things. The worst horrors, abuses and images of destruction of the innocent would mess with your cranial cavity, shame your eyes and ears and force you whimpering into a dank fucking hole containing the cadavers of all you have loved and lost. This is the basic tempo of True Detective. Long, teasingly near monotonous build ups of exposition followed by sickening gut punches where the worst of all we are is paraded through your senses. The show does this maybe 5 or 6 times, and doesn't seek to posit honest good men as a counterpoint to these evil payoffs. It lets you think, until it's very end, that maybe there is a sickening truth at our core and all else is boredom and bullshit.
This very set-up would seem to confirm the worldview of one of our two leads. Rusty is a man who has lost himself in grief, isolation and a sense of what depths humanity sinks to. As an undercover cop, and an intelligent man amongst joiners, he ploughs a lonely sad and often correct furrow with little sugar for other's feelings or beliefs. What Rusty sees, few others want to witness. What Rusty says, few others want to credit or hear.Rusty stands in marked contrast to Marty, his family man, good ol' boy partner. Marty has the white picket fence, the deference to authority and the please people attitude - he's also an adulterer, a hypocrite and a large slice of moral coward. He's meant to humanise Rusty, keep him straight and out of trouble and put up with his depressing shit long enough to get some results.
As partners they hunt down a ritual killer, and develop an uneasy friendship based on shared adversity and resigned difference. Their clashes over religion, God and family form the backdrop of the series, and what initially resolves into respect is exploded by personal betrayals. Their eventual path back to each other as men of conviction, comes courtesy of following their original mystery back to it's true roots. This then to my mind equates to the first proper American drama taking the Scandinavian route of miserabilist reverie wrapped in a murder mystery. The joy is that the show manages to conclude perversely with hope peering out of the moral murk after a catalogue of despicable acts, victims and unspeakable damage. Compare this to the recent awful adaptation of Those Who Kill and tell me which is the more authentic in it's Wallanderesque impact.
Woody Harrelson and the McConnaughey are magnificent, but the eye particularly follows the latter. His handsome face is growing into the real world and his expressiveness is perfect for the dark soul of Rusty, the man who redeems what he believed was irredeemable. Their beautiful dialogue, their interplay and a beautiful use of the Louisiana locations are the highlights of a truly cinematic show, one that refuses to accept TV as a limited art-form making it instead a perfect canvas for exploring the mysteries of our selves. The best show on TV so far this year.
True Detective is still showing on Sky.