UK TV review: True Detective – Season 1, Episode 5
Ivan Radford | On 22, Mar 2014
“I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive, like acid.”
DeWall Ledoux understands Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) as soon as he looks at him in Episode 5 of True Detective. “You’ve got a demon, little man,” he hisses, before driving back off to his secret meth lab. Cohle follows, helped by Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), where a shootout between DeWall and his cousin, Reggie, ensues. Or does it?
If Episode 4’s one-shot finale started True Detective’s story sprinting forward, The Secret Fate of All Life makes you pause for a minute and think about what you’re seeing. In 2012, we see Rust and Hart telling cops Papania and Gilbough about how the shootout went down – but Cary Fukunaga cuts back to 1995, revealing a very different series of events.
It’s a flawless piece of editing, not only because it reminds us that Rust and Hart are more than capable of lying in their modern-day interviews, but because it also takes us forward to 2002. There, Dora’s murder remains unsolved, while Martin has made up with his wife and is back playing happy families.
Or so it seems, until his daughter is caught doing naughty things in the car park – something Hart ain’t so happy about. As tensions surface again in his house, we cut again to 2012.
“I cleaned up and I changed,” says Hart of his past self. Then adds: “Maybe not as much as I needed.”
Another flashback by seven years reveals the same of Rust: he remains desperate to find the elusive antler killer and despite his clean-kept outer appearance, he’s as messed up as ever. He’s become a master interrogator, though, capable of teasing a guilty plea out of anyone – not to mention a second allusion to The Yellow King, along with a hint of conspiracy from his superiors.
“Everybody wants confession,” Cohle explains, “everyone wants some cathartic narrative.”
It’s that insight that sets him apart from Martin Hart: together, the pair are like the duo in David Fincher’s Seven, but (worryingly) Rust is Morgan Freeman. Regardless of the time period, Cohle sees through the world around him, waxing lyrical about death, life and destiny to anyone who will listen. That never changes.
“Everything we’ve done or ever do, we do over and over again,” he drawls in 2012 as he discusses our unreliable perception of time. The same is true of rage, obsessions, death and – most important of all – lies. Is someone higher up in the force somehow behind this? Is Cohle? What about that sinister church from Episode 2? And can we trust anything that we’re being told? For all its talk of fate, Episode 5 introduces doubt into the series in a serious way – a injection that gives Nic Pizzolatto’s riveting thriller, which relies upon the unknown for tension, even more fascinating ambiguity.
Like the rest of it, whether the show can ever provide a satisfying pay-off to all this mystery is anyone’s guess. But with only a few episodes left, True Detective will have to start offering answers soon. For now, though, it’s happy to simply pile on more questions. That uncertainty eats away at any answers we do have. You can see it in their eyes. It’s corrosive. And that’s the truth.
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.