True Detective “Haunted Houses” Review (1×06)

23 Feb

24602f637d6b4490c4d568f19eb89598“If you ever get the opportunity, you should kill yourself.”

What a quintessentially Rust Cohle line. It’s honest, horrific, and and chilling, and it’s one of many in yet another fantastic episode of True Detective. Although “Haunted Houses” serves as a palate cleanser of sorts–what with tying up loose ends and all–it still delivers some engaging character work.

Let’s talk about Rust Cohle, who we see continuing to investigate as Marty drops back into his old habits. Rust–who’s passive except during his case work, which is an important thing to remember later on–drops by Theriot, Kelly, Charmaine, and Tuttle, and each interaction adds to a character who eventually winds up in a room with Maggie Hart. This is a huge scene for the both of them, and it all revolves around the idea of loss. When Maggie does this, she’s adding onto this world of pain and loss, crossing a threshold that both of them know that, to Marty, is unforgivable. Part of Rust allows allows her to take what she wants because it seems as if, just for a split second, there’s a moment of relief for him, a moment where he can succumb to his desires, a moment where he also knows she’s going to be able to break free. This is a completely logical decision for her because for a guy like Marty, this is the only way to do it.

But then, he slowly realizes the implications of their actions. This act is the only way she can truly assert herself, and when he realizes it, it makes him sick. It’s just another family ripped apart, another wife lost, another daughter lost; sound like someone we know? Someone with a self-perpetuating cynicism encompassing everything he does? That shines through with his disgust for Charmaine, the fact she’d just piss away her own family.

Rust, after all, doesn’t believe in forgiveness, while Marty’s too quick to believe in it. What’s interesting about his relationship with Beth–other than, you know, Beth–is that the last time he saw her, he commented on her not looking like a woman. Well, now she’s older and she understands what he wants to hear: The universe will forgive you. The tampons earlier on are a nod to the maturity of the rest of the family, something that happened a bit too quickly for his liking. He’ll retreat to his old habits and the younger women, but as soon as they’re out of his grasp, he’ll lose his shit and compensate with violence. Of course, then he’ll immediately retreat to his car to vomit; it’s interesting how he’s careful in the first scene to use gloves, but then will immediately go around leaving easy clues and starting fistfights with Rust. Typical Marty.

Rust, as I said above, is a guy who’s past the point of forgiveness, who’s going to carry this burden around with him forever. He knows it. There’s this cycle between the three–Marty, Rust, and Maggie–that’ll keep on turning, something that he’s both been trying to push against and is giving in to. And so it goes with the symbolism behind the last shot.  The final two images we see are Marty checking his weapon and that broken taillight, a reminder of the past that just can’t be shaken. It can easily be fixed, but that won’t repair the emotional damage, the loss of all too many souls.



-Okay, so it looks like everyone’s going to be searching for Lili Simmons tomorrow. Marty’s really got it good, aside from the, you know, destruction of his family. So far, he’s had Alexandra Daddario, Lili Simmons, and Michelle Monaghan. Pretty good.

-What I like about this show is that although everything is telegraphed–the fight, for example–the way we get there seems fresh; nothing loses the intended impact.

-Maggie seems to start to realize herself just how much she used Rust, but she turns that into defiance, standing up to her husband and knocking down his macho man moves. Great work, by the way, for Monaghan throughout; I like the small flicker of pride that crosses her face when her kids get up and leave. At least Marty gets good pasta out of it.

-What an electric scene between Tuttle and Rust.

-There’s a lot of nice direction in this episode as well, especially with the slow zooms on Kelly.

-“I said something about forgiveness, and he said that there was no such thing as forgiveness—that people just have short memories.”

-“I…I think I want you to fuck me in the ass.” *Priceless Marty face* “Oh, Beth.”

-Marty did make a down payment on Beth. Good work, Pizzolatto.

-“Nice hook, Marty.” These two are perfect for each other.

-I like Salter’s building exasperation throughout.

-Marty could use Snapchat, eh?


-“Without me, there is no you.”

-Does this show objectify women? I can certainly see the arguments, and I hope the show handles some of these things better next year. However, let’s not forget this is fundamentally about Rust and Marty, and even so, I still think Maggie’s layered and complex.

Photo credit: True Detective, HBO

2 Responses to “True Detective “Haunted Houses” Review (1×06)”

  1. In Writing February 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Maggie also adds to Rust’s pain, the delicate trust that he had placed on her is shattered as she uses him as a weapon against Marty.
    I love your mention of the down–payment, that was immediately where my mind went after Marty has sex with her. It made a point of how sometimes women, in their perceived disenfranchisement, hang on to men like life boats and allow sexism to persist.
    I don’t think the show objectifies women so much as it shows a sexist world where women grow fearful and pessimistic about their own ability to help themselves, so they look for men as physical supports. This is not unusual behavior in sexist societies. It’s easy to feel pessimistic about your own abilities when you’re always told those abilities are less.

  2. Anonymous February 26, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    the best show since the sopranos

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