UK TV review: True Detective – Season 1, Episode 2
James R | On 07, Mar 2014
“I’m just a regular guy… with a big ass dick.”
That was Woody Harrelson’s Marty Hart in Episode 1 of True Detective. Taking it in turns with his partner, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), to talk to a pair of detectives in 2012 about a 1995 murder, he presents himself as a normal cop, complete with wife and daughter.
Rust, on the other hand, seems to live in a different world – almost literally. Cohle lives in a sparse, white apartment with no one else in sight, the exact opposite to Hart’s family home.
It’s a fascinating duality Nic Pizzalatto’s script has established, one that set Rust’s twisted existence up as a mystery dying to be delved into over the coming eight episodes.
One hour on, though, and we’ve already found out most of it. While answering so many questions should put an end to the attraction of McConaughey’s intriguing cypher – and its apparent contrast to his straight-laced partner – Seeing Things manages the exact opposite: they both become even more interesting.
That’s partly because director Cary Fukunaga shows us the visions that Cohne has as he wanders through the valley of Louisiana’s seedy underbelly – one sequence sees a flock of birds swarm in the style of that old Capital FM advert before briefly forming an occult symbol, a moment as stunning as it is unnerving.
The eerie unease keeps building as the detectives dig away at their victim’s queasy death. Interviewing prostitutes to found out her own tale, Hart is content to ask questions and leave without answers. Rust, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to throw his fists around first. That grizzled, unhinged determination is what gets them the leads they need to uncover a “bunny farm” in the middle of nowhere – and other things below the society’s respectable surface.
While McConaughey’s haggard features, shared hallucinations and tragic past inspire sympathy, True Detective Episode 2 puts you unexpectedly on his side of the police car by revealing even more truths about Marty Hart. Once the wholesome man in their relationship, Seeing Things’ success is in revealing that he’s not a good cop either. His happy marriage to Michelle Monaghan’s Maggie is nothing of the sort. Shouting at her for not being a good wife, he then sleeps around with Lisa (Alexandra Daddario), who handcuffs him to her bed and strips provocatively – only for him to order her not to go outside and see her friends, because of the serial killer on the loose.
When Rust confronts his partner about his domestic life, the reaction isn’t pleasant: a burst of anger breaking through their strained professional bond. It’s a fascinating duality – both of them figures of masculinity gone wrong. One a possessive, lying, angry father, keen to control everything and put things in their place; the other, scarred physically and mentally by losing control of everything altogether.
There’s something wrong in the state of Louisiana – and these men are caught up in it. It’s not that one is wrong and one is right; it’s that they’re both messed up. As they continue to dive into the darkness of their God-fearing community, Fukunaga forgets the crime: the shifting bond between these two is what makes you want to keep watching. Hart may present himself as a regular guy, but “big ass dick” is closer to the truth. You wonder what the hell we’ll found out about them both in the next 60 minutes.
True Detective Season 1 and 2 are available on Sky Box Sets. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it legally on NOW, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial.
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All photos: © Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved.