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Well. That's it for this series of True Detective. Was it everything you hoped it would be and more? Are you satisfied with the way it all went down? Did all your theories and twist predictions pan out? The flat circles, black stars and yellow kings. Jesus. Maybe Lucky Charms' Lucky the Leprechaun has been the killer all along! It's a case as strong as most that the fan detectives have built. Nope, creator Nic Pizzolatto has told audiences not to assume his literary allusions are foreshadowing for how "Cthulhu is going to rise up and take control of the world of True Detective." Last week's relatively quiet "After You've Gone" did a lot of the leg-work, changing gears into the 'third act' to set up the surprising, yet inevitable finish in "Form And Void."
"... you know you're lookin' at it wrong, that sky thing."
"Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light's winnin'."
One thing I was not expecting from the finale of True Detective was to get so emotional over the ending. Well, rage at a 'botched' resolution was a possibility but I wasn't anticipating that Rust's final words would hit me so hard. All this time, I've been saying how Matthew McConaughey's character doesn't really believe the nihilistic point of view he's so intent on sharing with the world. That's not to say, Rust isn't a philosophizer, he's that all the way to final frame, however, he's never been the 'realist' he claims to be and certainly not a pessimist. He wears that like a shield because all the light was taken from him with the death of his daughter.
Marty's journey is equally compelling even if Woody Harrelson's character has never been as flashy as Rust. Of course, it could also have to do with Marty's transgressions being less forgivable than his partner's, not to mention that Cohle is imbued with almost magical powers. Harrelson's performance has not gotten the same amount of praise either which is a shame considering his ability to handle the many facets of his character. Scumbag to comic relief. Marty's story has always been about his troubled relationships with women and his ability to fully forgive Rust (and Maggie) at the end says a lot about his growth as well.
Maggie wasn't wrong saying that his 2002 self would never be able to move past the transgression. Time may be a flat circle but things do change. We don't get much more of Michelle Monaghan (again, give her a badge for Series 2) or the Hart children except to show that Marty's capable of being vulnerable in front of them. He had his own little Captain Phillips moment there at the end. Oh, speaking of the end, I guess there was a mystery to solve as well? It's taken a bit of a backseat during this recap because, well, it was never really the focus of True Detective in the first place.
Pizzolatto used the murder mystery in order to tell a story about two men and show how these increasingly complex characters changed over time. Their characteristics and changes only heightened by the writer-creator's use of genre storytelling. When it comes to the mystery, or should I say horror, of True Detective, I'd say most of that credit lies with director Cary Joji Fukunaga and his crew for making the pervasive sense of dread and foreboding atmosphere of Pizzolatto's words a reality. And in the end, despite all the supernatural allusions, it was ultimately terrifying because of the reality that was created.
This was an eerie and unforgiving universe, with the show's version Carcosa serving as another example of the impeccable production design and location scouting. That final compound recalled some of the most terrifying settings recently seen on film, like the basement in Silence of the Lambs or the wicker and tunnels of Kill List, and I love how True Detective took time in the denouement to recall its other outstanding and haunted sets. The chase through the labyrinth eventually led to the final showdown with the monster and Rust having a vision before getting stabbed. Marty arrives only to get a hatchet buried in his chest but the delay does allow for his partner to blow off the Yellow King's crown.
I will say one thing about the fan theories, they were able to spot Errol Childress fairly early. (And perhaps with a better connection, the mower's potential earmuffs versus the painted house.) I'm not sure what that added to the viewing experience except to ruin a 'twist' on a show not too concerned with pulling the rug out from under you. Still. Congrats? Perhaps that's why some may find the finale unfulfilling where I found it transcendent. A beautiful way to wrap up a series rooted in existential and ontological crises. And don't tell me that the end is Rust living in his 'locked room coma.' His arc reminds me of Detective Somerset's quote at the end of Se7en, another undeniable influence on True Detective...
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote 'the world is a fine place and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."
Created (and written) by Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective returning for a second series seems likely. Expect an official announcement from HBO as soon as they start lining up potential replacements for Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and director Cary Joji Fukunaga.