True Detective “Form and Void” Review (1×08)

10 Mar

True-Detective-Season-1-Episode-8-Video-Preview-Form-and-Void“Once, there was only darkness, so if you ask me, the light’s winning.”

With that, season 1 of the absolutely fantastic True Detective comes to a close, capping off a thrilling, emotionally resonant, and satisfying finale. It’s sure to disappoint some viewers–especially the theorists–but overall, it’s a fitting end to this intelligently crafted, endlessly compelling eight-episode run.

Light vs. dark is, admittedly, an overused trope in television and cinema, and it does feel a bit underwhelming considering the scope of the series prior to this; yet, it still works for me here, as much as I wanted a deeper grappling with the characters and their philosophies. Over the course of the first seven episodes, we’ve seen Marty and Rust dig themselves deeper into a downward spiral, perpetuating the “time is a flat circle idea” as they left behind waves of hurt and sadness. It’s nice that we’re now given a glimmer of hope, something that these two characters can hold on to even though their lives are in shambles.

For, that’s really what their situations are, isn’t it? As Marty states, they were never going to get them all. They were never going to come out of this high and mighty, with their families in tow, all happy and carefree as the bad guys are hauled off to jail. As I said last week, this case is all they have left now, and the resolution, first and foremost, serves them. The Tuttle family’s gone, so this isn’t an all-out sweep of the criminals. There’s a sense of melancholy that serves as the foundation for that glimmer of hope at the end, as our two characters just barely make it out alive.

Speaking of barely making it out alive, the entire Carcosa sequence is legitimately unsettling, delivering true, unflinching horror and tension, as well as some magnificent set design (Rust and Marty trapped in a circle; how fitting). Errol comes across as a bit too cartoonish, but his work in that scene is, without a doubt, chilling. The sequence in general works as a visceral, bloody explosion that serves as a climax, both for the story and for Rust’s psyche.

Elsewhere, I like what the episode does with Marty, portraying a man whose facade has come down, who’s past keeping up appearances like he does in the beginning of the season. When his family shows up at the hospital, he breaks down, clearly seeing the way he himself has pushed them away; Harrelson is sublime, with a very powerful performance there.

Of course, what this season has shown us is how much Marty and Rust need each other (note how Marty knows exactly what to say to Rust when he breaks down in the parking lot, even though something like this has never happened before). There’s a buddy-cop narrative weaved throughout, but there’s also a deep emotional connection between the two, a connection that has to be at its strongest as they move on with their lives.

For Marty, he has to live with the knowledge that he’s ruined his family, and for Rust, he has to live with the knowledge that he came so close to slipping into the warmth of the void with his daughter; this isn’t some “I see the light!” moment, nor is it remotely religious-based. It’s permeated by pain, as Rust truly did want to die. Reality still hurts, but at least there’s a sense of reawakening. At least there’s a sense of catharsis, and at least our characters have now realized there’s a way they can try to grapple with and cope with their losses. As they limp off into the night, we gaze up at the sky, and although the dark has a lot more territory, there are specks of light here and there. The light holds the hardships of the characters’ journeys, but it also looks forward to the future. It’s winning, if you ask Rust.

I agree.



-“L’chaim, fatass.” That scene just delivers some grade-A badassery. Love it.

-“You want to make flowers?”

-Rust probably could’ve stated that he wanted to become a Teletubby/male stripper in the future, and McConaughey probably would’ve sold that character turn.

-I love the shot taking us from Errol’s house, through the swamps and the woods, and back to the tree that started it all. First of all, it’s a testament to the fantastic directing, and it also serves to emphasize just how essential the location was to the story.

-“Don’t ever change, man!” *Middle fingers* I’ll miss the Rust-Marty banter, and I’m especially glad that this episode brings that back with the car conversations; one last Woody Harrelson exasperation face, guys.

-“What’s scented meat?”

-That’s Ann Dowd as Errol’s half-sister. Um, fingering.

-I honestly couldn’t care less about Audrey tying into the finale, as I took this storyline as a mark of someone who, although something probably happened, was going through this dark period in her life. Yes, there was a connection to the cult, but sometimes, we don’t get the full picture, and that’s fine.

-Marty sipping the straw made me laugh harder than it should have.

-I would’ve liked to see more done with the interviews; it was a fascinating concept that could’ve tied together some character beats nicely, but it ended up not doing as much as it should’ve.

-So, after Rust went “And then I woke up”, anyone get “No Country For Old Men” vibes?

-So, who do we want for season 2? How about…Laura Dern/David Lynch?

-It’s been a pleasure writing about this show. See you all next year.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

9 Responses to “True Detective “Form and Void” Review (1×08)”

  1. JustMeMike March 10, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    On the creepiness scale A+
    On the violence scale A
    The Acting A+
    The writing of the last episode B-
    The direction A+
    Set Direction & Set Design – AAAAA+++++

    Other thoughts – how did the police find them?
    What was the point of Errol eying the little boy?
    How long did it take them to ‘decorate’ the last home?
    Finally – can you explain why the green paint was significant to me.

    I;ve read everything you’ve written on this show – I think this was easily your best one.

    • polarbears16 March 10, 2014 at 12:40 am #

      Marty tied the green paint to the green-eared spaghetti monster, which led the two out to Errol’s house. A bit far-fetched, of course.

      Thank you! Will you be having a review up?

      • JustMeMike March 10, 2014 at 1:10 am #

        Actually no – I won’t be doing a True Detective piece. I’ve started a series called Borgen. A major series for three seasons on Danish TV and the BBC. I bought the DVD for season one, and will be ordering the DVD for Seasons 2 & 3.

        Think of the best parts of West Wing, The Newsroom, and House of Cards – Borgen is better than all three. I’ll have a post on this show in a day or so.

        link to the trailer:

      • polarbears16 March 10, 2014 at 1:17 am #

        Ah, I’ve heard good things about that show, but I’ve never seen it. I’ll see if I can find some time to squeeze that into my schedule; it looks good.

    • polarbears16 March 10, 2014 at 1:03 am #

      Also, it’s my understanding that they sent out a call to Papania and Gilbough, and that’s how they were found; it was iffy for them on whether it went through, though. Apparently it did.

  2. holditnow March 10, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Going to miss this show, and your great recaps.

  3. louisoc March 10, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Great recaps, hope you continue them next season if HBO picks it up again!

    • polarbears16 March 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      Thank you! I’m 99% sure it’ll be picked up again, and I will be covering it next year.

      I’m so glad you commented, because I checked out your blog and we watch (and cover) pretty much the exact same shows. I look forward to reading more from you.

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