The Arc

This is a true Detective Spoiler thread, so it will be beneath the fold.

I think the most satisfying portion of the show was the arc and the closure we had tonight. For me, what mattered was the closing discussion, after it was all over, and both of them had come to their own peace. Obviously Rust Cohle still had his demons that he will always have, but for me the closing scene was about two people coming to terms and becoming one. Becoming True Detectives and True Partners.

Remember, earlier in the season, any time that Rust would speak openly, it made Hart feel uncomfortable. There was the atheistic/nihilistic scene in the car where Rust spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of his existence, in which his whole belief that humans were just an aberration and that we had grown consciousness beyond our understanding, and Hart was upset he had tried to get him to open up and declared the car (and I think I am getting this right) a “place of quiet reflection.”

Then, tonight, we watch Hart start to think like Rust- it was Hart who put the green ears on the man with the scars together with the picture of the green house. That was something his character would not have been able to intuit in the earlier episodes when he was a younger man. But as he and the show progressed, he and Rust became more and more alike. They went from different, disparate individuals, went through their own progression through life over a few decades, and they changed.

And what we saw at the end was the end of the arc. They had both changed, and the scene that ended the series said it all. Whereas before, Hart would have never listened to Rust talk that way in the past, this time, not only did he sit and listen, but he understood, because the bond had been formed and they had become one. A team. True Detectives.

And that is my take. Just a beautiful, intricately layered, brilliantly written show, and what is so amazing is that all the clues were there, but the dialogue and acting were so good we missed the signs and clues. This show will serve as a writing and acting clinic for decades to come.

There is just such a perfect sense of completion with this finale. This story was never about the murders. It was about the journey of Hart and Cohle.

*** Update ***

Now that I have distilled my thoughts, let me put it more succinctly. In my opinion, the entire show was an elaborate misdirection. We were completely distracted by the exquisite dialog, the imagery, the gruesomeness of the murders and the gothic intrigue, and we spent eight episodes trying to figure out who the murderer was and what clues we had missed. But that was all a ruse, and what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle. We missed the story they were telling while looking for the clues to a murder mystery.






74 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    While we were watching, I said to G that it was the kind of relationship between guys that I will never, ever understand. (But that’s okay, because there are certain relationships between women that he’ll never understand, either, and get your mind out of the gutter, boys.) That ultracompetitive, constant jockeying for position, and flipping each other off kind of thing. But it seems to work for you guys.

    Also, for some reason I wasn’t able to post the names of the detective character archetype the writer was following, but they first teamed up in “A Study in Scarlet.”

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, John, FYWP is acting up tonight — you may need to have someone look at the database’s innards.

  3. 3
    P.J. says:

    Good analysis. By the way, at first, I was wondering why the hell Rust would follow Childress into his labyrinth, but now I understand. I understand.

    Also, an epiphany I had from tonight’s finale: I’ve really got to clean my apartment.

    One more thing: I couldn’t help but wonder if the Sling Blade anti-hero’s last name, Childers, was a coincidence with the Childress character in True Detective.

  4. 4

    The next seasons will not follow Rust and Marty, but perhaps they will continue on the quest for the Yellow King. When Marty said, “We got our part,” that’s what made me go there. I imagine the Yellow King has his tentacles in a number of places and all manner of endeavors.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    I was surprised at how little they used Michael Potts (who was third-billed in his episodes), but now I’m wondering if you’re right and the next set of “True Detective” will be Gilbough and Papania.

  6. 6
    dmbeaster says:

    @Mnemosyne: The flipping off scene was one of those brilliant moments that I loved – I laughed out loud at the humorous perfection of it. And it also further demonstrates Cole’s basic point.

  7. 7
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    This show knocked my socks off. I’m unable to appreciate 99.9% of teevee, ditto movies, (I’m more than a touch autistic and my inability to appreciate those two things seems to be a part of it) so I was surprised to find myself engrossed by the acting, the plot, and the show’s attention to detail.

  8. 8
    cbear says:

    Well put, Cole—I kept thinking the show was going to end at several points and was worried we would be left with that sense of never having a true denouement to the series—but the final conversation between Rust and Marty was beautifully scripted, beautifully acted, and deeply touching.

    I thought it was perfect.

  9. 9
    🍀 Martin says:

    OT: If you thought downhill skiers were brave, visually impaired downhill skiers are waaaay braver.

  10. 10
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @🍀 Martin:
    And quadriplegic base jumpers are braver still. What’s your point?

  11. 11
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: This is really impressive. I didn’t realize that the visually impaired skiers went this fast, and I confess to still not quite understanding how the guide gives instructions since the guide is usually in front and not really watching the skier.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    I don’t disagree with your analysis, Cole, but I was a little let down at the end, in that so much of what had gone before was revealed to be superfluous. Gilbough and Papania, the black cops, never really did anything. The whole “Rust undercover with the bikers” thing leading to the dramatic shootout/riot was a dead end; anybody remember what came out of that? Hart’s troubled daughters—no biggie. And the whole idea of a secret cabal of “big men” doing unspeakable things was mostly dropped, except for a tepid reference to “we didn’t get them all.” It all came down to one guy who was basically Duck Dynasty’s really, really crazy uncle. And who would buy the idea that rich, connected psychopaths would hook up with him?

    After last week, knowing that this week was the finale, I had the feeling that something was wrong with the pacing, because to me it felt like we were at episode 7 of about 10, rather than episode 7 of 8. It felt like they would have to rush to settle everything in the last hour. Instead, they just jettisoned a lot of it.

    I liked the series, and I probably sound more negative than I feel, but I think it turned out to be less than the sum of the parts.

  13. 13
    poptartacus says:

    I would have been happy if they had both gone out together, after lawnmower man had tomahawked marty and rust blew him away, they could have died in each others arms. AWESOME
    fucking Hollywood scriptwriters aint worth a fuck

  14. 14
    Comrade Luke says:

    @Steeplejack: I agree with all of this, but the only thing I had a REAL problem with was the not addressing the daughter’s involvement. There’s no way her behavior is a coincidence.

    I was hoping that they would pick up the story with different characters, but I read somewhere that they’re changing both the characters and the storyline, so I guess that’s that.

    I thought it was a fantastic show for about 6 episodes, which kind of petered out in the end. Still a great show though.

    ETA: Something else bugged me, which was that Rust borrowed a lawn mower earlier in the season, yet he lives in an apartment. WTF is that about, other than sloppy writing.

  15. 15
    Avery Greynold says:

    I was expecting a seven course meal, and all I got was a lousy surf and turf. There’s enough unexplained to continue this story if we fans demand it. And I want Joss Whedon to write and direct it. And flying rainbow unicorns.

  16. 16
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @🍀 Martin:

    I apologize for my snotty, jejune reply. Sometimes my bad jokes get in the way of my good sense.

  17. 17
    Steeplejack says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    They didn’t “follow up” on either one of the daughters. Remember the younger one was drawing explicit sexual pictures? That went nowhere (except to advance the creepy background vibe). At one point I thought we were possibly heading toward “Marty molested them” territory, which would have intensified the complexity/conflict of Hart’s character a thousandfold.

  18. 18
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Think nothing of it. Snarky comments are what we do here.

    I’ll also note that the paralympic coverage lacks all of the saccharine human interest stuff (ironic considering the target-rich environment), and instead they spend a lot more time explaining the categories and technology involved and just covering the competition. They’re doing a really nice job. Glad to see it getting airtime.

  19. 19
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Steeplejack:

    After last week, knowing that this week was the finale, I had the feeling that something was wrong with the pacing, because to me it felt like we were at episode 7 of about 10, rather than episode 7 of 8. It felt like they would have to rush to settle everything in the last hour. Instead, they just jettisoned a lot of it.

    I read an interview with the director, Cary Fukunaga, where he said they switched several scenes around from the last 4 shows during editing. That might have a lot to do with the pacing issues of the last three episodes. He also mentioned production costs and HBO wanting elevated tension at certain points.

    With the success of this season, I suspect Nic Pizzolatto will have a bit more power in the editing room next season.

  20. 20
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Steeplejack:

    How often do you follow up, to the bitter end, when you see something in your daily life that causes you to ask yourself “I wonder what that’s all about?” I know that I don’t. I don’t because I can only do so much in a day and because most of the time the denouement would likely turn out to be quite mundane.

  21. 21
    Steeplejack says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    Something else bugged me, which was that Rust borrowed a lawn mower earlier in the season [. . .].

    Heh. The trivial, pointless thing that bugged me was a glaring continuity flaw in the episode where Maggie comes to Rust’s apartment and has sex with him. The door behind them clearly has the chain on—and it was riveting because I expected Marty to come busting through the door at any moment—but then immediately afterwards the chain is off as Rust hustles her out. And there was no break in the staging to even hint that he had unhooked it.

  22. 22
    James E. Powell says:

    We didn’t get ’em all.

    Stated another way :

    Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

  23. 23
    Steeplejack says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    There’s a difference between me “following up” on mundane shit in everyday life and the creators of a mystery “following up” on mysterious stuff that they have deliberately dropped into the mystery. Even red herrings usually get explained away at some point.

  24. 24
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Were the daughter’s drawings relevant to the case? Nope. I thought that they were brought into the piece in the interest of informing our knowledge of Hart’s character.

  25. 25
    Joey Maloney says:

    Here’s the thing about Cohle: he has to come to terms now with his entire wordview being shattered. Before he could take comfort – cold comfort, but still comfort – in his nihilism, in his conviction that consciousness was just an illusion, that we were nothing, we came from nothing, and we were headed for nothing. And while it made him disdainful and contemptuous of others and of human connection, that was a comfortable place of superiority for him to live.

    But now he knows that there is something more. He knows that consciousness continues after death. He knows that the love of his daughter and the love of his father are waiting for him. And it’s destroyed him, it’s ruined his place of comfort.

    Before, he prided himself at being able to look unflinchingly at the abyss, and not construct pretty illusions. Will he be able to look as unflinchingly at how wrong he has been and to redirect his life accordingly?

    (I shouldn’t need to say: but the word “know” as used above applies only to Cohle’s character. I don’t “know” any such thing.)

  26. 26
    J.Ty says:

    Scrolled through everything to offer my comment, will read thread after.

    In my opinion, the entire show was an elaborate misdirection. We were completely distracted by the exquisite dialog, the imagery, the gruesomeness of the murders and the gothic intrigue, and we spent eight episodes trying to figure out who the murderer was and what clues we had missed. But that was all a ruse, and what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle. We missed the story they were telling while looking for the clues to a murder mystery.

    Yep. I was expecting a twist. I figured the painter guy was the weapon, but I figured there would be some sort of, I dunno, king that’d be outed tonight. But nope. It was just a well-written, character-driven drama that happened to involve some brutal murders, on both sides.

  27. 27
    J.Ty says:

    Appended to add (edit button isn’t working on Safari on Snow Leopard, for me):

    I thought a big strength of the show was the way that it managed to boil down into mundanity over episodes 4-7. It kind of felt like an (admittedly forced) application of the “hourglass-shaped” story: start about big things, conclude the plot about minute human things, and then the denouement is about big things again. But short stories are shaped that way for a reason, they tend to work.

    Actually kind of sad to hear there’s a season two.

  28. 28
    raven says:

    @J.Ty: Season two will not have any of the actors from season one.

  29. 29
    raven says:

    Your less succinct take was right on.

  30. 30
    scottinnj says:

    im hoping when this is released on dvd that they also enable you to watch not just in episode order but also in showtime chronological order so you can experience it as Hart and Cohle did.

    endings always seem hard and controversial. they seem to fall into the unsatisfying (eg Lost) or the too neat (Breaking Bad) or the strange (St Elsewhere). That said im trying to think of the best ones and the couple that come to mind are MASH and Mary Tyler Moore. Others?

  31. 31
    Dennis says:

    What was Rust’s very last line, that Marty snickered at as they walked away from the wheelchair? We replayed it several times, and never could decide if we heard it right.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @scottinnj: It’s not a series but try John Sayles “Limbo”.

  33. 33
    Hawes says:

    The thing about Marty’s daughter (it was the eldest, not the youngest) was simply the pervasiveness of evil. The idea that Marty’s stepfather was the Yellow King and had exposed Audrey (?) to the perversity of the Carcosa cult never made any sense to me. He was a staid old shouter-at-clouds who was upset by Clinton’s blowjobs. The Tuttles were the sort of literary creation you can only place in Louisiana. Maybe Texas.

    So Audrey’s exposure to some form of rape and her later “acting out”/Goth thing was really just another layer of a corrupt, evil society.

    But Audrey at the end had turned it around. She was a painter, had had a show. Maybe all of that made possible by the fact that overbearing Marty was out of her life.

    In other words, “the light is winning”.

  34. 34
    Hawes says:

    @raven: It might have the same actors, but they would be playing different roles. They’ve hinted they might just recast everyone as different people.

  35. 35
    Tyro says:

    But that was all a ruse, and what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle.

    Yes, “it was always about the characters” a la Lost. The thing is that they still could have done that while minimizing the murders to a background issue. The murders were simply too weird, to elaborate, and the result of too large of a conspiracy to justify making the show about the evolving relationship between the two detectives.

    The crimes promised to be something more interesting than and episode of SVU, but in the end, it wasn’t.

  36. 36
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Dennis: “Once there was only dark. You ask me, light’s winning.” That’s what I hear.

  37. 37
    JeanG says:

    @Dennis: I turned on the close captioning because I couldn’t catch it, either. He said it seemed to him that the light was winning.

  38. 38
    JeanG says:

    @Dennis: I turned on the close captioning because I couldn’t catch it, either. He said it seemed to him that the light was winning.

  39. 39
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Hawes: Which device they could use to explore different perspectives.
    Marty could be visibly portrayed as the self centered cretin that his daughters and wife see him as. Of course, that was pretty clear to us after a very short time, but it could still be an interesting dramatic device. The Major (their CO) could be portrayed as a blind man…

  40. 40
    AdamK says:

    @Dennis: “mmble muhm mrble” and something about light.

  41. 41
    Giord says:

    The Yellow King? Never mind. Nothing to see here.

    Daughter making a scene with her dolls where five men having sex with one girl. Just ignore. Meant nothing

    High powered pedophiles engaging with a psychopath right out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yeah, okay.

    Rust spouting nihilism throughout the whole show and then being saved by some “religious” experience while he was being
    cut open by a serial killer. Throw that whole philosophy out the window. There is a Heaven and Rust is now saved from suicide.
    How convenient. After all, if there isn’t a heaven where you get to meet all your long lost relatives, what’s the point of living?

    Thank God Rust was in that coma. I suppose he is now over his alcoholism as well. Just needed a cigarette.

    I thought this writer and this show would avoid the happy ending that most Americans obviously still crave.

    We were all just hosed by another writer who couldn’t complete what he started. Never thought the last show would be a combination of Texas Chainsaw and Highway to Heaven.

  42. 42
    jomike says:

    we spent eight episodes trying to figure out who the murderer was and what clues we had missed. But that was all a ruse, and what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle. We missed the story they were telling while looking for the clues to a murder mystery.

    Well put… that’s why it’s going to be just as engrossing on the second viewing, and the third, and…

  43. 43
    Dennis says:

    @AdamK: That’s what we heard the first few times!

  44. 44
    Brian R. says:

    @Steeplejack:

    The whole “Rust undercover with the bikers” thing leading to the dramatic shootout/riot was a dead end; anybody remember what came out of that?

    Finding Reggie Ledoux, killing him and Dewall, rescuing the little girl, seemingly solving the case in ’95.

    Other than that, a total dead end.

  45. 45
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    the entire show was an elaborate misdirection.

    I wondered how Marty’s repeated lament about the detective’s dilemma – I was looking for clues and all the time the truth was right under my nose – would be worked in. He repeated this phrase over several episodes, usually in regard to his relationship to Maggie. I thought it would turn out that Maggie’s dad was a part of the ring (there were hints that the older daughter had been molested). But you may have found his meaning. I did notice Marty’s increased respect for Rust even last episode – “I took some convincing.” Rust also began to respect both Marty’s technical and reasoning skills (tracking down leads through tax records) and his ability to deal with ‘straights’ or ‘citizens.’

  46. 46
    Manyakitty says:

    @Mnemosyne: That would be brilliant! I was glad to learn that Gilbough and Papania were “good.” I need to rewatch the episode, but overall, the end left me pretty well satisfied. SO MUCH FUN!

  47. 47
    Brian R. says:

    @Giord:

    We were all just hosed by another writer who couldn’t complete what he started. Never thought the last show would be a combination of Texas Chainsaw and Highway to Heaven.

    What the hell were you watching?

  48. 48
    raven says:

    OOO, poor brilliant intellectuals no happy, You so smattt. . . .

  49. 49
    Manyakitty says:

    @scottinnj: Best show ending ever? Newhart, hands down, when Bob woke up in bed in Chicago next to Emily (Suzanne Pleshette).

  50. 50
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    @Dennis:It used to be all dark; seems to me the light is winning? Is that the line you’re talking about? I need to watch again, but I think that’s the last line of the show. At least it was for me.

  51. 51
    Gopher2b says:

    I thought it was great. Loved the ending and couldn’t care less about Hart’s daughter’s story not having a conclusion (it did by the way; it’s obvious she cleaned herself as 99% of teens do).

    My only gripes: (1) There’s no way Cohle survives that injury. I was annoyed at first that he didn’t die but understood it in the end because of his transformation, (2) for a show that portrayed criminal investigation very we’ll, I was annoyed they used tax returns as the missing link. You can’t just pull tax returns, even if your a cop (they wre PIs at that point).

    “Do I look like a talker or a doer?” Great line.

    P.S. If you’re ever stabbed by a serial killer pedophile, don’t pull out the knife. The knife may be the only thing keeping you from bleeding to death.

  52. 52
    Tyro says:

    we spent eight episodes trying to figure out who the murderer was and what clues we had missed. But that was all a ruse, and what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle. We missed the story they were telling while looking for the clues to a murder mystery.

    Sounds like the setup for a miniseries on Lifetime. The trailer voice over could be “They say that the hardest cases to crack are murder cases. But for detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, they’re going to find that the biggest mystery of their career is… Friendship.” [cue “Salisbury Hill”]

  53. 53
    Giord says:

    Tyro………..lol

  54. 54
    billNaustin says:

    @Gopher2b: I agree…no way that wound was survivable. In addition to the location, the bad guy had Rust lifted off his feet with the blade, so the internal damage would have gotten worse every second. And, yeah, don’t pull it out. See: Steve Irwin.

  55. 55
    raven says:

    @billNaustin: The hatchet to the chest was a bit dicey as well.

  56. 56
    Sondra says:

    @Joseph Nobles:
    I agree, I thought that too. We got the guy who just prior to the end had shown us, in his ability to speak in differenct dialects ,that he was not slow or retarded as was initimated in his other appearances.

    His Bristish accent was the clue for me, that he wasn’t just a minor actor in the cult. Maybe something like the voodon equivalent to the Christian belief in “speaking in tongues”.

  57. 57
    Sondra says:

    @J.Ty:
    I did expect that the ends would be tied up and that the Yellow King would be explained: that the gardener was the King didn’t occur to me because I always thought the evangelicals and politicians would be involved.

    I could have accepted that the daughters got the ideas from Hart and Cohle talking about it and/or bringing pictures into the house, but they didn’t go there either so that’s still a question.

    But both daughters came to see Marty in the hospital and they looked like they had come thru OK from what little we saw of them.

    I would have liked the mystery to be solved because after all, their only reason for being together was to solve it. Not to mention it was how the show started – with a mystery. To suddenly switch to “just a character study” is sort of lame to me.

  58. 58
    Sondra says:

    @billNaustin:
    A wound to the abdomin is not the same as a wound to the chest. A chest wound causes a pneumothorax which causes the internal pressure to the lungs to change from negative to positive: that’s deadly so you leave the point in.

    It’s still deadly even if you leave it in, but it does buy a little extra time to get a chest tube in to control the air leak and bleeding if there is some.

    Marty’s ax in the chest would have been more of a problem unless it was just in the clavical which I guess it was since he didn’t die either.

  59. 59
    chopper says:

    so…no cthulhu? what a gyp.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    So did everyone miss the fact that the killer is, in fact, a close relative (though on the “wrong side of the blanket,” as they used to say) of the (in-story) governor of Louisiana? The guy was the governor’s cousin, and there’s more than a small hint that he was not the founder of the cult, just the current high priest (“Daddy” was probably the founder).

    Of course, the governor denied any connection, but he would, wouldn’t he?

  61. 61
    Tyro says:

    @Sondra: Not to mention it was how the show started – with a mystery. To suddenly switch to “just a character study” is sort of lame to me.

    It seems that professional writers prefer character studies to plot/story-driven narratives, so they use plots/mysteries to sell their ideas to producers and audiences and then transition to character studies as quickly as they can once that creative freedom becomes available. This works best in an open-ended series where the network can keep milking the revenue for as long as possible, but the entire point of a fixed number of episodes is the ability to plan out the story arc.

  62. 62
    Rob in CT says:

    what we were supposed to take from the show was the relationship between Hart and Cohle

    FWIW, that’s how I experienced the show. I almost didn’t care about the murder mystery (which is a very unusual thing for me to do).

    The ending was ok. Good, not great.

  63. 63
    JimV says:

    For the record, I pretty much agree with Giord of
    March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am as to the logistics of the show. However, I found it marginally worth watching for the two lead characters as depicted by good actors. Also, I wasn’t greatly disappointed by the plot flaws because I have come to expect that – everybody makes it up as they go along these days, it seems to me. At best the writers may have started with an idea for an arc they wanted to follow, but the devil is in the details and those – I won’t say they had no clue, but very little clue.

    Novelists also work things out as they go along, but then they go back and revise, plus they have readers and editors who advise them before a finished product is released. So a great movie, such as “Presumed Innocent” and “Silence of the Lambs” is usually a close adaptation of a good novel (wherein the details have been well worked out).

    Take the first two or three episodes of “True Detective” as a start, then imagine how great a series could have been made from there (given a lot more work) – in my opinion, it could have been much, much greater.

    As an aside, as smart as Rust was, he should have realized that the random neuron firings as a brain shuts down are no more relevant and revelatory than dreams or drug hallucinations. Details.

  64. 64
    MCA1 says:

    @Sondra: Personally, I couldn’t have imagined, before reading your comment, how one could watch the first three episodes of this series and think it was about the particulars of the mystery nearly so much as it was about Rust v. Marty and an exploration of faith, intellectualism, manhood, family, coping, and how humans get along with one another, or don’t. To each their own, I guess, but the dialogue in the first couple hours of this to me was painting all those things, just using Dora Lange as the canvas.

    I agree with someone upthread that perhaps the mistake here was to make the background murder/cult/satanism/cosmic horror stuff so grandiose that it became too important. Given 12 episodes, you could have perhaps tied off a little more of the traditional plot thread and come away as a double feature about the stuff I mentioned above as well as a meditation on the pervasiveness of evil in our world. To me, knowing that it’s now exposed that the Tuttle clan was involved in all this but not seeing that rooted out and what happens from there was disappointing. Not disappointing enough to eclipse the final scene and Rust’s re-acceptance of emotional attachment into his world, but I was left a little cold by the wrap-up of the Carcosa/Yellow King story.

    At the end, though, I think a lot of the criticism about the numerous red herrings and McGuffins in this show miss the point. It was never going, in 400 minutes of screen time, to wrap up that intricate and broad of a plot, to explain why there was a preponderance of black stars all over the place, or introduce some supernatural Yellow King (seems more likely to me someone way back in the Tuttle clan read some of that old stuff and incorporated it into their own f’ed up family’s hobbies).

    The show was a musing about storytelling itself. That’s what Hart and Cohle were doing in that interview room with Papania and Gilbough the whole time – telling stories. Pizzolatto and Fukunaga succeeding in getting a million and one viewers to concoct their own stories and side stories and subthreads, and make up all kinds of shit that could turn out to be the particular truth the creators had in mind. Although there’s only one actual truth in the specific universe they happened to portray, there are infinite ways it might have turned out.

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    @JimV:

    It does seem that there’s a divide between mystery fans over how they prefer their plots to go. Some people like it to be a perfect little puzzle box where every piece fits together (the Christie/Sayers model) while other people prefer it to be about the detectives themselves and how the case affects them (call it the Jim Thompson model).

    I like both kinds, and don’t get particularly upset when the story turns out to be one or the other, but people who prefer puzzle box mysteries do seem to get annoyed when a story turns out to be the second kind.

    Last thing: I think a lot of people didn’t pick up on some of the more subtle clues that were being dropped and felt like the ending was a cheat, but I think if you go back and re-watch the episodes, the arc is going to be more clear as things that happened in the first few episodes come to the forefront.

  66. 66
    Tyro says:

    @MCA1: The show was a musing about storytelling itself

    I generally find that kind of thing self indulgent. The thing is that with an open ended series like Lost, I knew the little mysteries weren’t going to get resolved– it was too long and there were likely too many writers involved to expect anything coherent. But a murder mystery with a fixed set of episodes and clues spread throughout the show is something I expect more out of. Or it could have been much shorter and with far fewer characters and plot development.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tyro:

    It wasn’t all spelled out, but I thought the mystery resolution was pretty clear: the Tuttle clan and their relatives had formed a cult that managed to fly under the radar for years, but once “Daddy” was incapacitated (whether it was originally an accident or a deliberate plan), his son took over, went too far, and attracted the attention of the police beyond what the Tuttles could cover up.

  68. 68
    MCA1 says:

    @Tyro: Fair enough, I can see the self-indulgent criticism. I mean, it’s a pretty meta theme. The acting overcame that for me, personally, so I thought it was more than worth watching. Not transcendant, but really good. Even though I felt the plot aspects were getting a little unwieldy, they managed to get some pretty damned creepy, spooky stuff in there, too, like the scene with the old woman last week, and the last 5 minutes of the second episode. At the end, it either had to go for fantastical or supernatural, or end up with something more mundane, like putting an actual human face to the evil, so either way it wasn’t going to please everyone. Like I said, maybe a more banal mystery would have served it better. I understand the expectations you mention given the genre, and it was clear that this was not intended to be a full deconstruction of the genre itself. But a simpler, tidier plot also wouldn’t have allowed for letting the audience’s imaginations run wild like they did, which I actually enjoyed.

    I never watched more than an episode or two of Lost, so can’t speak to that. It just seemed too silly for me. Maybe it was the network production values or something, but I couldn’t buy in.

  69. 69
    MCA1 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Interesting. I had been thinking more along the lines of the junior players like Reggie and Errol were tasked as younger members with obtaining victims for the elaborate rituals. It turned out Errol was more of an uncontained monster than the rest and was doing all this serial killing stuff on the side. Perhaps occasionally leaving a body out in the open was a desperate plea to come find him and put him out of his misery or something. The family was aware of this but let him continue because he was still supplying them, and they knew that he was so far gone it would be easy to disconnect themselves from him if ever he were to be exposed, and portray him as just an aberrational psychopath. They killed Billy Lee over the videotape thing. There’s some link back to the original King in Yellow story, and its modern counterpart, The Ring, in the videotape and its effect on the viewers we know who have watched it. Unresolved, but it’s now out there in the hands of a dozen reporters, too.

    In any event, there was definitely a little Faulkneresque, multi-generational degradation of once great families sort of thing going on. Errol’s house and decomposing father practically screamed “A Rose for Emily.”

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MCA1:

    The family was aware of this but let him continue because he was still supplying them, and they knew that he was so far gone it would easy to disconnect themselves from him if ever he were to be exposed, and portray him as just an aberrational psychopath.

    There was a line that Rev. Tuttle had in ep. 6 (I think) when Cohle went to talk to him in his office that was something like, We closed down the schools when we realized we had lost control of the situation. In retrospect, that probably referred to Errol’s getting out of control — possibly that was around the time that “Daddy” was incapacitated since that was the last time his business license was renewed.

    And, yes, there was definitely a Southern Gothic “degeneration of the family” thing going on. In one branch, you have the reverend and the governor, but there’s this degenerate branch that underpins the whole thing so the family is actually rotten at its core.

  71. 71
    James E Powell says:

    I thought the performances in the series were excellent. Some parts were very well written – the dialogue often avoided the cliches of the genre.

    That said, we had quite a few rather tired cliches. A detective in pursuit of teh truth and the bad guy is ordered, by a dickish superior, to give up his badge and his gun. Strip bars, can we ever have a detective movie without strip bars?

  72. 72

    Great television. This is the Golden Age. Meth makers, Jersey gangsters, drugs in Baltimore. Now this. Yes, there were a lot of loose ends, or dead ends, but then we never found out what happened to that Russian in the Pine Barrens. Or Tony.

    Just enjoy.

  73. 73
    mclaren says:

    Let’s be blunt: the plot didn’t make sense.

    We start with a bunch of missing hookers who wind up dead in ritual killings. This gets connected to a secret cabal of ancient voudoun practitioners who torture/rape/murder girls while wearing animal masks.

    Okay, but in that case, how does the guy Rust and Marty kill at the end fit in?

    The guy at the end did not kill hookers. The guy at the end was not (presumably) part of some secret cabal of powerful guys in Louisiana. The guy at the end did not wear an animal mask.

    So what we got was a “solution” to a mystery that was never even presented. The original mystery involved missing hookers, LSD + meth, and ritual killings.

    The guy at the end that Rust & Marty killed was abducting children, not hookers, he didn’t drug them with LSD + meth, and he appeared to do ritual killings but not in any kind of secret group of powerful men.

    Mnemosyne claims:

    It wasn’t all spelled out, but I thought the mystery resolution was pretty clear: the Tuttle clan and their relatives had formed a cult that managed to fly under the radar for years, but once “Daddy” was incapacitated (whether it was originally an accident or a deliberate plan), his son took over, went too far, and attracted the attention of the police beyond what the Tuttles could cover up.

    Pretty UNclear. What evidence is there that the Tuttle clan was involved at all? Rust claims he stole the videotape from the Tuttle’s house but Rust is known to be an unreliable narrator — he admits to having hallucinations and not knowing reality from fantasy, and in the final episode Rust mentions “What’s wrong with my head doesn’t get better.”

    It remains unclear whether the Tuttles were directly involved in Errol’s crimes or whether they just helped cover them up. Toward the end of the finale, a newscaster says that rumors of a suggested family tie between the senator and Errol Childress had been denied. But we know better: They’re closely related, and the reverend, at least, was in deep. It seems likely that his powerful cousin was a part of the conspiracy, too, if not a participant in the crimes.

    The reverend’s father and the senator’s uncle, Sam Tuttle, was Errol’s grandfather. He raped both Errol and Errol’s sister, and he was open enough about his sexual appetites that his housekeeper, at least—whom we met in Episode 7—was well aware of them. Reverend Tuttle knew more: He kept a videotape of Marie Fontenot’s rape (and perhaps her murder), which occurred in the place Errol called Carcosa, in his safe. What’s more, Reverend Tuttle helped cover up the sexual abuse that took place at one of his Wellspring schools, in part by dismissing a deacon and claiming that it was due to charges of embezzlement. Did he orchestrate the abuse as well? True Detective doesn’t say.

    Source: The True Detective FAQ

    Mnemosyne must be a Hollywood screenwriter, because only a Hollywood screenwriter could judge the incoherent farrago of contradictions and impossibilities required by the plot of True Detective to be a “mystery resolution” that was “pretty clear.”

    On the contrary: nothing in the 8 episodes made sense, and many plot threads contradicted one another flagrantly. CONTRADICTION #1: The Tuttle family is involved in an ancient voudoun ritual girl-killing cult. Yet they do nothing about Errol’s murder spree that

    CONTRADICTION #2: The Tuttle family exerts vast powers to cover up an ancient ritual killing cabal — yet the Tuttle family allows a videotape to be made of their ritual murders and kept by one of their most prominent memebrs.

    CONTRADICTION #3: The Tuttle family murders a bunch of little girls but Errol murders hookers — except he doesn’t actually murder hookers, no, it turns out he abducts little boys and girls, as gets revealed when Rust and Marty track down Reginald LeDoux and find the abducted children at his meth lab.

    CONTRADICTION #4: Lots of talk about the Yellow King — but we never find out who the Yellow King is, if anyone; and there doesn’t appear to be any one person in charge of the Tuttle ritual murder cult: instead, it’s a group of people in animal masks, with no single obvious leader.

    CONTRADICTION #5: The ritual killing cult secretly and quietly procures children for their ritual murders — but Mnemosyne expects us to believe that they also allow a flaming psychopath to grab little girls willy-nilly for them, creating such havoc that the police pick up his trail and get led right back to the ritual murder cult.

    CONTRADICTION #6: The ritual killing cult is so powerful and so secretive that the mruders go undetected for generations…yet the ritual murder cult is so powerless and so inept that they can’t manage to purge the missing cases files in the police archives.

    CONTRADICTION #7: The ritual killing cult is so incredibly ingenious that they fire Rust Cohle once he gets onto them…yet the ritual killing cult is to amazingly half-witted that make a videotape of their ritual killings and leave it in a safe so someone can find it.

    CONTRADICTION #8: Once the tape of the ritual murders gets stolen, the guy who had it, the Tuttle preacher, gets killed — but this wouldn’t accomplish anything because the videotape would still be out there. So what’s the point of murdering the preacher?

    CONTRADICTION #9: Marty and Rust are so superhumanly ingengious that they track down Errol the crazed psycho serial killer in his lair out in the hinterlands…yet Marty and Rust are so incredibly stupid that they follow him into a catacomb that Errol must know inside-out and stand around staring at various ritual objects so that Errol can sneak up behind him and clobber them and knife/axe them.

    CONTRADICTION #10: Marty and Rust don’t simply pull their car out of Errol’s driveway and drive to a nearby pay phone so they phone in their information about the killer, because Marty and Rust are far too stupid to figure out something like that…yet Marty and Rust are so ingenious that they manage to track Errol down through an elaborate string of tax records and corporate records of the house-painting company.

    No, Mnemosyne, nothing in the goddamn series made sense. Classic bad writing. It requires the principal characters to act like idiots at multiple points in the series to move the plot forward, at the same time mandating that the villains do things that don’t make the slightest sense in order to keep the plot going. This is writing as bad as the screenwriting in the movie Alien, where a lethal creature with acid for blood starts murdering the crew and their response is…to cram themselves into confined air ducts armed with…bunsen burners???!??!???

    As the True Detective FAQ site points out:

    At the end of the first season, the show didn’t so much explain all the answers as gesture toward them, leaving us to fill in the blanks (or, perhaps, plot holes).

    Holes? More like plot sinkholes.

    The most annoying part of the last episode is the old supernatural-villain scam. In action movie after action movie, the villain exhibits seemingly supernatural abilities: the villain is able to make his voice appear everywhere, the vilalin is able to catch running girls while he himself only walks, the villain is able to sneak up behind gun-armed hyper-alert heroes in the middle of vast open spaces, the villain takes multiple gunshots that would incapacitate ordinary humans but the villains never even flinches, the villain exhibits superhuman strength, lifting the hero off his feet to strangle or stab him, even though the villain is a pudgy flaccid out-of-shape middle-aged guy.

    Yeah, check, check, check, and check. All there.

    Classic rotten writing.

  74. 74
    mclaren says:

    And, yes, neither of those wounds Marty or Rust suffered was survivable. A perforated bowel will kill you with sepsis before the ambulance can get you to the hospital, and, as mentioned, Rust made it worse by pulling the knife out. So if he didn’t bleed out, he’d be dead from septicemia.

    And of course a hatchet to the chest pretty much resects the heart. That is not survivable, period.

    Anyone else notice the glaring contradiction where Rust says about the ritual killing cult: “We didn’t get all of them”?

    Huh?

    How did anyone get any of the ritual killing cult members?

    They all wore masks, even in the video. The videotape now has Sheriff Chambliss’ fingerprints on it. Nothing points to any member of the Tuttle family, just vague accusations unsupported by hard forensic evidence.

    What evidence exists to allow any members of the ritual killing cult to be arrested? Much less tried?

    Once again, nothing makes sense.

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