True Detective “After You’ve Gone” Review (1×07)

3 Mar

True-Detective-After-Youve-Gone“My life’s been a circle of violence and degradation, long as I can remember. I’m ready to tie it off.”

So, we’re back to the idea of time being a flat circle. We’re now at the beginning of our story, back to the beginning of our case and the first leads we encountered. We’re now simultaneously sliding toward the end, and my, what a ride has it been.

This is certainly a place-setting episode, but it’s as riveting as ever. Early on in the season, the central mystery definitely wasn’t up to par with the character exploration, but now, it’s all Marty and Rust are. It’s all they have now. Over time, everything else has been scrubbed away, and their shared loneliness (pretty sad seeing Marty on and eating alone) seems to bring them closer. It all makes sense from what we’ve seen, and staying true to the “time is a flat circle” theme, we’re back to the first leads of the case and the fundamentals of pure detective work. The show’s earned it’s title, eh?

We’re at the point in the story where we’ve seen the two dig themselves deeper and deeper, and they’re finally left with one last thing to solve: this case. There’s something poetic, heartbreaking, and thrilling about this situation, and I really like how we see the events of the episode mainly through their eyes. Horror is horror, but it’s even more effective when we only observe, say, Marty’s reaction to the Marie Fontenot video; we’ve seen before how he can be swayed by something bad happening to a child, and Harrelson handles the quiet rage building up in his character throughout.

The season’s done a nice job of contrasting our two detectives, but here, we focus on their similarities as they give in to their roles and embrace their mission. Yet, what exactly is their mission? At one point, it feels like a need to confront the past and redeem themselves; at another, it’s because they owe it to each other to finish what they started–a debt, if you will. Finally, it also all seems like a death march of sorts, the one true escape from the world they inhabit. Note how Rust mentions that he hopes the old woman is wrong–fantastic and intense scene, by the way–when she says that death isn’t the end. There’s a a sense of defeat here, and this may lead to the light at the end of the tunnel: a dead end.

Elsewhere, we get a few scenes with Maggie, the first of which is brilliantly acted by Michelle Monaghan. When Marty goes to visit her, we can tell she, understandably, still cares for him; yet, she’s come out of this situation looking pretty good and she knows it, wordlessly holding it over his head as he both apologizes and says farewell. There’s a sense of closure permeating this episode, a need for closure from this flat circle of life.

Of course, there’s one more case to solve. Quite a bit is revealed tonight, most notably the “man with the scars” being Errol, the lawnmower man from the third episode. Gilbough and Papania are in the area, Marty and Rust have Geraci captive on the boat, and Errol’s mowing the lawn in a spiral pattern, repeating the shape we all know so well. Time’s a flat circle, indeed, and it’s time to see whether anyone will break free.



-Same circular idea with the jukebox record at the beginning.

-“What do you call a black man who flies a plane? A pilot, you racist bastard.”

-“Get the jumper cables ready.” Oh man, intense.

-“If you were drowning, I’d throw it a fucking barbell.”

-Congrats to McConaughey on his Oscar win. I look forward to seeing him take home another trophy at the Emmys this fall.

-I like how the daughter holds her hand out and gets her money’s worth; it’s all about necessity here, and given the foreboding nature of the series, who knows? Maybe Marty and Rust won’t be needing that money anymore.

-Constant references to destruction throughout, most notably with Katrina.

-Fantastic work by Fukunaga in that final shot. I like the pan around Errol until we see the scars, and it’s a genuinely unsettling moment when he menacingly goes “My family’s been here for a long time.” A bit cheesy, but I love it.

-Speaking of Errol, it’s Remus from Boardwalk Empire! Nice to see Glen Fleshler here.

-That preview for the finale looks amazing.

-I wonder just how much the finale will answer; there’s still a lot we don’t know about Carcosa, for example. I also wonder if Audrey will factor into the ending somehow.

-So, how’s the season going to end? Have at it in the comments. The only ending I’d truly be unhappy with is if either Marty or Rust turns out to be a murderer or something; I trust Pizzolatto to not sweep the rug from under our feet like that.

-One more episode. *Sigh*

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective


One Response to “True Detective “After You’ve Gone” Review (1×07)”

  1. JustMeMike March 3, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Nice writing here PB.

    Lawnmower man. I called him the maintenance man. I think I identified him by applying mystery writing principles rather than deduction or police investigations. It would have to be someone we’d already met. On that basis I came up with: Tuttle, the tent revival minister, and the maintenance (lawnmower) man.

    the one I missed considering was Geraci – who was in Episode 1.

    Liked the way Pizzolatto gave us the triple proof –

    the scars
    cutting the grass in a distinct pattern
    he says – family been here a long time….

    And that’s what the old lady meant – when she says, Death isn’t the end.
    Now isn’t that what is so troubling and chilling. What the killer (and descendants) have done long ago, through the years, and more recently, is something passed down along the family tree – almost a genetic trait which is also a trail. And a road map as well.

    I’m a little concerned about the fact that Gilbough and Papania are out in the same bush. I think that means Rust or both Rust and Marty are going to die. As Rust put it – ‘tie it off’.

    Liked the way you referenced the circular aspect.


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