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Every episode since the premiere has had people talking about True Detective, but since revealing "The Secret Fate of All Life" last week the series has really dominated the cultural conversation. Whether it's an in depth look at the literary references or just wild fan theories, it's impossible to go online without hearing whispers of 'The Yellow King.' Oh, and the memes. Can't forget the memes. Twitter has been suffocated for days with an endless barrage of (mostly joke) choices for #TrueDetectiveSeason2 (I still believe mine to be the best) which in turn has spurred many critics into fancasting the likely renewal for 'real.' Don't get me wrong, I'm not above playing the game either, I just feel superior for submitting my picks for a creative team to take over True Detective some time ago.
People just cannot get enough of HBO's existential murder mystery miniseries. And the speculation is only going to intensify after visiting the "Haunted Houses." Obviously, the most jarring aspect of the new installment was replacing Rust, and then Marty, with Maggie as our 'narrator.' At the end of "The Secret Fate of All Life" it was revealed that Gilbough and Papania are actually looking at Rust for the 2012 murder. No surprise there, since I had predicted that was the case right from the beginning but it was nice to see that Rust was playing them for information the whole time and that Marty, despite their falling out in '02, still had his partner's back. Or at least his own. As for the falling out, well, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who saw that coming as well.
Amongst the overwhelming praise, True Detective has taken some shit for its lack of any fully developed female characters (and rightfully so given that they mostly appear as instruments to highlight and deepen aspects of the complex male leads), but I still think that Michelle Monaghan is delivering a fantastic performance even with the somewhat limited material. I say somewhat limited because Maggie's role is expanding from week to week and I don't want to pretend to know how it will all shake out in the end. Again, the whodunnit is not really the point of the show but a vehicle to allow Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga to explore these two 'masculine' characters and what makes them tick. Or explode.
After finding out that Marty has once again started up a relationship with some 'crazy pussy' (the underage hooker 'saved' by the cop a few episodes earlier), Maggie decides to leave him for good. And knowing that her husband will never just let her go, she uses Rust's obvious affection for her to force Marty out. Everything was always her fault in his eyes anyway, might as well use that to her advantage. Too bad it takes a toll on the already fragile Rust, who, despite all his philosophical musing about the impossibility of true human connection, carries the scars of his dead family with him and seems to care for Maggie. Just like McConaughey, Monaghan excels as portraying the three different time periods except much more understated. I would love to see her star in the potentially female-led second series. Or Sarah Polley (directing and starring) and Michelle Williams as I suggested.
But we mustn't get too ahead of ourselves, there are still two episodes remaining and so much is left up in the air. So much for Shea Whigham's preacher being involved, he actually delivers some helpful information that sends Rust lone-wolfing out to see Billy Lee Tuttle to inquire about the Wellspring program. Did those religious schools serve as recruiting grounds for the would be murdered women and children? Seems that way but the cops might also be involved so Rust isn't able to keep investigating. That sour-faced, grey haired, task force cop showed back up to ensure that thread was severed. Unfortunately for him, Rust has no reason to keep ties with those he suspects are involved in the conspiracy so he just up and quits.
This was well after his partnership with Marty had deteriorated (I loved them flipping each other the bird in the new Major's office) but immediately after the falling out. Like, their faces were still bloody from each other's fists when the decision was made. Ten years of sleuthing on his own, I bet Rust has accumulated a lot of evidence. His place probably looking far more obsessive than it did when Maggie came over. That's something we'll see next week as "Haunted Houses" ended with the partners coming face to face for the first time in a decade. Sure, Marty is bringing that pistol but something tells me Rust will be able to convince him not to use it. At least not on him. I cheated a bit and watched the preview (below) before making that prediction. I couldn't help it.
True Detective returns with Episode 7, "After You've Gone," next Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO. Created (as well as written) by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the series stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts and Tory Kittles.