UK TV review: True Detective – Season 1, Episode 7
James R | On 05, Apr 2014
“Father Time has his way with us all. So you must have pissed him off.”
The prospect of Rust and Marty’s reunion in the present day was a thrilling cliffhanger with which to end Episode 6 of True Detective. Now, the penultimate episode of the series, After You’ve Gone, sees the dynamic duo back together. 10 years have passed. And boy, have they been unkind.
Matthew McConaughey’s Cohle, we learn, has spent his time working in bars in Alaska, sucking up the cold and shutting out the depressing world around him. But two years ago, he was drawn back to Louisiana, to the darkness he had uncovered – determined to get to the bottom of it all. He has a debt. And he needs to repay it.
Woody Harrelson’s Marty has been no less lonely. The family man hasn’t seen his wife or daughters in years. That’s the other dramatic reunion on the cards in Episode 7: Marty and his ex-wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan). She tells him that she kept their personal problems secret from the police – something we can verify to be true having seen it for ourselves. After the seedy deceptions and uncertainty of the last two weeks, Monaghan’s smart appearance and calm politeness add to the feeling that we’re finally free of the immoral haze of the past. The air is cleaner, the sky is sunnier.
Our two detectives, though, haven’t aged well. Hart claims he doesn’t drink very much, but looks like he’s barely able to prop up a bar. McConaughey’s long hair, meanwhile, is just the surface of Rust’s bare-bones existence. The one thing that hasn’t changed? Their desire to uncover this cover-up. Beneath his sunken eyes and unkept locks, Cohle clings to his black ledger; a record of all the wrongdoing the pair discovered and, in some cases, carried out. He carries it with him, a visual reminder of the blackness gnawing away at his innards – testament not only to the detailed costume design of Cary Fukunaga’s team, but to the righteous commitment of our lead duo.
How far up the chain does the Yellow King go? For Rust, it’s all about Reverend Tuttle and his church, who appear to be linked to the disappearance of children up and down the bayou. One chilling scene sees Hart watch a videotape of a victim, a girl called Marie. He turns away, unable to look. “I will not avert my gaze,” counters Rust, who’s already watched the whole thing. Marty, meanwhile, sees just what averting your gaze can get you: he meets with the Parish Sheriff, Steve Geraci, a man happy to play golf and not discuss the past. The beautiful daylight sport couldn’t be a bigger contrast to the dark dingy living room of one woman who is willing to talk about history – a conversation with Rust and Marty that descends into spooky shouting and wild coughing.
Throughout it all, there’s a sense from Nic Pizzolatto’s script that we’re finally getting answers. Gone are the back-and-forth edits and the police interrogations. Instead, this is straightforward police work – the kind that Rust and Marty have been trained to do. When we do get a brief glimpse of detectives Papania and Gilbough in 2002, it’s only fitting that they’re lost, adrift in a maze of meandering truths passed down through generations. Hints of family, legacy and illegitimate offspring litter the maze, one that Rust and Marty are finally seeing through with clarity. At its heart is a disease in the very blood of the town, not just in one serial killer’s mind; an infection that has spread through the soil, consuming even the men trying to get away from it – for years.
After You’ve Gone may not be a gun-toting, shot-tracking spectacle, but its slow-paced, back-to-basics structure, combined with the low-key threat of its final shot, is a sign that Rust and Marty’s footwork is more relentless than ever. Father Time has had his way with them. And they’re both mighty pissed off. Waiting to see how they exact their revenge is a cliffhanger even more thrilling than the last.
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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