True Detective “Who Goes There” Review (1×04)

9 Feb

True-Detective-Who-Goes-ThereThis right here is the best show on television right now.

My goodness, where to start? The way this episode manages not only to be a transition into the second half of the season, but also an hour of pure, unbridled intensity, is a sight to see. It’s ripe with interesting character development, humor, and one of the best television sequences I have ever seen.

Let’s start at the end. Kudos go out to director Cary Joji Fukunaga and cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, both of whom contribute to a six-minute long tracking shot–no shaky cam, either, which is great–in which everything hits the fan. This is just exquisite film-making that can be held up to the high standards of cinema, and I am so glad I got to see it.

Even though the camera work is just top notch, McConaughey is just as essential to that scene. He carries it with so much energy, and he really sells the tension and the buildup to the frenzy that ensues. As he tries to keep the powder keg from exploding, we’re afraid for him, even though we know he’ll make it out alive; that right there is tension, ladies and gents.

The spectacle of the final sequence is already a sight to behold, but when you consider how the show’s characterized these characters to lead up to this point, it’s even better. Cohle and Hart’s actions are (marginally) justified, but we continue to see how destructive these guys are, and not just in that final sequence. Marty’s a possessive asshole a lot of the time, but he’s always cared about appearances, about playing the part at work and at home. Even after his wife leaves him, he goes around blaming everyone but himself; even back in the pilot, he was claiming that his behavior was necessary, and when it all blows up here, he can’t accept that it’s not all as perfect as it should be. Why isn’t Rust there to support him? Why doesn’t Maggie get back with him? Why is it that what he’s considered an imperative is now crumbling all around him?

We also see some parallels with Rust, who’s acting throughout much of the episode–like Marty has–before eventually falling into it all, getting swept up in the situation; there’s a part of him that wants to live the life that those bikers live. The show’s done a really great job of showing how these two fundamentally different guys are barreling down similar paths toward some kind of explosion, one of which happens in this episode.

What’s interesting is that this is merely an explosion that sets up future developments with Ledoux, and not only is it a transition in terms of plot, but also in terms of character. Note how Rust doesn’t seem to spout his existentialist speeches here, instead electing to focus on the task at hand and capitalizing on his partner’s vulnerable state. It’s a huge turn for the character, really, as he is still fundamentally a lawman; I’m interested to see where this all goes. Anyway, every week, the show finds a new way to strengthen this central relationship, and every week, it succeeds.

Every week, True Detective succeeds as a show. There are stock characters and stock plots that could easily make their way into the show, but it’s able to transcend those difficulties with its beautiful ambience, brilliant acting, and tight writing. And if you need proof of just how good this show is, take a look at this episode. This is television at its finest.



-There’s a really great final shot here, emphasizing the idea of leaving behind a path of destruction. They’re all speeding away, but they don’t know just the kind of chaos they’ve caused; they’re, in a way, responsible for quite a number of deaths.

-“You’re like the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch.” Awesome delivery by Harrelson there.

-“They really should have a better system for this.”

-“Gotta be tough sittin’ in here, havin’ someone talk insane stuff in your ear.” *Looks at Rust*

-Great music, too. Grinderman over the credits…hell yes.

-I feel really bad for Maggie, and Michelle Monaghan’s doing good work with the character.

-More Rust+Marty living together, please!

-Please don’t let it be your last episode, Alexandra Daddario.

-The last 6 minutes remind me of “Children of Men” and Cuaron’s direction.

-“Got that big dick swagger, but don’t know crazy pussy when you see it.”

-This episode raises some interesting questions about the 1995 vs. 2012 stuff.

-The Iron Crusaders make SAMCRO look like a bunch of schoolchildren.

-Harrelson does a good job of conveying the loss of control, as well; his reaction to his wife leaving him is really well done.

-If you watch Raising Hope, it must be weird to have Todd Giebenhain show up here.

-Fantastic television.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

2 Responses to “True Detective “Who Goes There” Review (1×04)”

  1. JustMeMike February 10, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    Great job PB.

    I loved the episode too, even to the extent of calling it the best of the series so far.

    I also like the way Hart is slipping downhill so fast with his possessiveness and his sexual swagger. Which contrasts well with Cohle’s gear switch from weirdo to action tough guy.

    Then when you balance that against the 2012 versions it places us in the position of wanting to how and why Cohle and Hart fell apart even more than how the go about capturing Reggie.

    Simply a great episode of a terrific show.

  2. morerainwriting February 10, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    “There are stock characters and stock plots, but it’s able to transcend those difficulties with its beautiful ambience, brilliant acting, and tight writing.”- This is spot on. I forgive all sins through the show’s greatness! Also, I watched next week’s preview and there’s some let out about why the 2012 detectives seem to suspect Cohle.

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