True Detective “The Locked Room” Review (1×03)

26 Jan


This is my favorite episode of the series thus far.

I know it’s only been three episodes, but man, what a start it has been. Every episode is revealing more and more about our characters and shading in yet another element of the atmosphere, and I continue to be impressed. With that said, let’s get to the episode itself.

As I’ve said before, the show is handling the central Marty-Rust relationship in a nuanced and compelling way. I find it interesting how Marty always seems to comment on his partner’s “showiness”–his elaborate speeches and unique demeanor–calling Rust out whenever he gets the chance. These are two people who’re able to analyze each other and pick out certain flaws, but when it comes to their own lives, it’s different.

That’s illustrated very nicely in the double date scene, which is just an excellent, excellent sequence. It’s fairly humorous, but there’s definitely an undercurrent of dread throughout; it quickly turns dark as well, conveying the damaged psyches of those involved and the deteriorating relationships. Marty and Rust aren’t people who can really just head out for a genuine night of fun because they’re already past the point of no return. Rust says afterward that he knows he wants to be alone, and Marty sets his sights on Lisa’s new boyfriend. It’s the mark of someone who’s already given up and someone who continues to insist on keeping up appearances, and they’re both messed up inside. When Marty asks his partner whether he can love two women at once and Rust responds with a statement about the inability of men to love, it perfectly encapsulates their situations: Marty seems to view women, even his daughter, as ideas rather than people, ideas that he needs to take on in order to remain respectable. Rust, on the other hand, feels like it’s useless to bother with them.

Speaking of views, the conversation about religion at the beginning is very well written. McConaughey and Harrelson play those kinds of conversations perfectly, with just the right amount of humor and tension, and I like how Marty is starting to hold his own against Cohle. Exasperated reactions to his partner’s speeches are hilarious, but I want to see him learn and start to adjust to his surroundings.

I also like what the show’s doing with Maggie and Rust and the fact that she seems to glean more comfort from their conversations (for the record, I don’t see it as much of a sexual tension as I do an emotional connection). It’s a nice continuation off of that fantastic dinner scene in the pilot, and it’s a wonder that the show is able to keep all these plots from becoming cliched. It breathes new life into various storylines that would be exhausting on any other program.

Thus, the main storyline feels just as refreshing. I’m impressed by the way the show brings in a bunch of characters and gives them all some weight. Too many shows use background characters as just that–background characters–but True Detective manages to make each conversation and character, whether we see them again or not, worthwhile. The atmosphere is just as important to this show as anything else, and man, does it play a role in those chilling final few minutes. The pan over the grass followed by the monologue about a monster followed by Walter White traipsing through the woods with a machete…impeccable. I cannot wait two weeks for the next episode.



-“Mow another man’s lawn”….heh.

-It’s nice to see Shea Whigham here. He does a great job on Boardwalk Empire.

-Lisa only sucked his dick “a little bit”.

-Rust’s speeches seem like they would get annoying, but I find them compelling. In fact, his schpiel about the dead girls seems very killer-esque, and I like how the show is blurring the lines here.

-Here’s an obligatory point about how attractive Alexandra Daddario is.

-I like how Marty and Maggie handle Audrey’s picture crisis.

-Uh…I heard something about a gun battle. I’d like to see that now.

-We’re off next week for the Super Bowl.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

2 Responses to “True Detective “The Locked Room” Review (1×03)”

  1. JustMeMike January 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    Hey PB –

    Glad you’re in to this show, and equally glad that you get your articles about the episode finished so quickly. It provides a neat post episode analysis. I broke away from the Grammy’s to watch T/D at 9:00, then went back to The Grammy.’s. So I still have my to write my article.

    I liked that bit where Marty was telling Rust about their differences. Marty made his statement and closed with something like you don’t do that because you’re in denial. (or something like that) and Rust gave the simplest of denials – I doubt that…

    Which gave me a chuckle.-

    I also liked how the episode title, The Locked Room got worked in. As I watched – there was no locked room in a physical sense – but Rust mentioned ‘Locked Room’ twice in his interviews with the detectives.

    I also liked the way it took a while before we could realize, or see what Rust was doing with his knife and the beer cans.

    • polarbears16 January 26, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Thanks! Yeah, I’m trying to get my reviews up faster now so I can get to sleep earlier. Glad you’re enjoying them.

      Oh yes, that was a fantastic moment…gave me a chuckle as well. Agreed on the title, and I think it ties in nicely with our main characters, thematically speaking (especially in that double date scene).

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