WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
“True Detective’s” Rustin Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey, is one of the most carefully fleshed-out and distinct personalities to come to the small screen in years.
He, along with Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), first appeared on television three years ago this month.
So, here’s why Nic Pizzolatto’s intelligent, wordy, twisted and philosophical show needs to be brought back. Mind you, there’s a catch: Season 1 cast only, please.1. The car rides Hart hates most
Throughout the season, whenever Cohle and Hart ride in their police cruiser, Cohle finds it to be an opportune moment to clarify, expand, skew and massage an entire spectrum of philsophy.
The normally reserved Cohle is always loquacious in the police car, drawing on his experiences, hallucinations, his thoughts on God, and the squalor that some struggle through (i.e., their “programming”).
In one scene in particular, the conversation about isolated “ghettos” turns to religion, where Cohle firmly expresses that he is not a Christian.
“I contemplate the moment in the Garden, the idea of allowing your own crucifixion,” Cohle says.
“I consider myself a realist, but in philosophical terms I’m what’s called a pessimist,” he also adds.
“What’s that mean?” Hart asks.
“It means I’m bad at parties.”
“I think human consciousness was a tragic misstep in evolution,” Cohle says a moment later. “We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law.”
The detective continues, saying, “We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self. A secretion of sensory experience and feeling — programmed, with total assurance that we are each somebody. When in fact everybody’s nobody.”
“I wouldn’t go around spoutin’ that s--t if I was you...” Hart warns him.2. Cohle’s disheveled self
In part, the show’s potency comes from the drastic physical differences between the characters in 1995 and 2012.
The story bounces back from one year to the other, as the same murder investigation continues.
But in that span, both of the show’s most foremost characters endure drastic life changes, aging and an unwillingness to simply forget the past.
For his part, Hart gets divorced from his beautiful wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) and Cohle slips deeper into neuroticism, troubled by his drug-laden past, the loss of his daughter and father, and his overall pessimism.
With long, unkempt hair and a wiry mustache in 2012, Cohle is still the same shell of a person he was while on the case in ’95. But life’s taught him too much, it seems.
While being interviewed by Louisiana police about a possible connection to the murders he once investigated, Cohle does not miss a beat; his demeanor remains the same and he just picks apart a beer can to make clever little shapes.
It’s intricacies like this, on a character level, that make the show just explode on the screen.3. The labyrinth that is Carcosa
Aside from Pizzolatto’s careful attention to detail with the crime-related (and almost procedural) portions — and Cohle’s keen powers of observation, the show also excelled at creating distinguishable settings. These were: on the bayou, in an abandoned brick compound dug into the earth, in the shadowy frames of everyday Suburbia, etc.
But there is no better layout than the compound — Errol Childress’ disturbing hideaway, what many meth-taking witnesses called “Carcosa.”
In it, strange latticeworks litter the perimeter while wicker archways draw walkers close. The tunneled sections are eerie, like a cavernous cave.
Meanwhile, the place is shown at “True Detective’s” most climactic moment of Episode 8.
Errol draws Cohle, who he calls “little priest” in his whisperings, deeper into the compound. Then, as Cohle hallucinates beneath a pallid moon and a strange, dome-like opening to the brick bulwark, Errol strikes.
Carcosa immediately becomes the locale of the show’s biggest moment. Then, after Cohle and Hart sustain a brutal stab wound and a hatchet wound to the sternum, respectively, the incestuous Errol is stopped dead in his tracks.
This is one of the best TV moments of the decade.4. Gang infiltration
Perhaps the second most compelling moment of the opening eight episodes is Cohle’s penetration of a vicious biker gang called the Iron Crusaders in Episode 4.
The Crusaders are relevant because a suspect, Reggie Ledoux, has been cooking meth for them. As it turns out, Cohle was a former member of the group and so takes leave in order to regain admission. He’s successful, insofar as getting closer to the meth source; but he’s forced to help the gang rob a rival group.
This robbery — in a wonderfully filmed scene featuring long takes — goes horribly, and gangsters fall on both sides. In another thrilling portion of the scene, Hart rescues Cohle as the latter takes his gang source, Ginger, as a hostage.
The scene not only gets the blood pumping, but it drives the narrative forward (faster than Hart could guide the cruiser while ignoring Cohle’s tangents).Send a Letter to the Editor