“The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”
Painful confession: a feeling of sheer bitterness was the only thing I felt throughout the duration of True Detective’s Episode 2 airtime. It marked an official week since the airing of my most anticipated premiere of 2014, and I still hadn’t had the time to check out HBO’s new anthology mystery series.
The same feeling was abundant in Week 3 – still no time to catch up on the previous two episodes. So the following Monday, I finally sat down and dove in.
Cue one of the most evocative and visually stunning opening credit sequences that I’ve ever seen on TV (sorry Masters of Sex, you have competition now); one that perfectly prepares one for the haunted locale they’re about to be immersed in; one with music that wholly encapsulates the show’s rich Southern influences, while also bringing to mind the show’s surface premise as a hard-boiled detective story; one that confidently delivers gorgeous/horrifying image after gorgeous/horrifying image to let its viewers know that in all actuality, this is not going to be a standard detective story by any stretch of the imagination.
Cue the muted and simple opening sequence of cane fields burning angrily at dusk – followed by a patient fade to black – that immediately sent a shiver down my spine.
Cue the show’s framing narrative – deposition-style testimony from Woody Harrelson’s regretful Marty coupled with Matthew McConaughey’s utterly haunted and nihilistic Rust – that piqued every bit of curiosity necessary as to what (over the span of 17 years) led these men to this point.
What I’m really trying to say is this: TV drama in 2014 has its work cut out for it for the next eleven months.
When you have a series firing on all cylinders –career-best performances from McConaughey, pitch-perfect direction from Cary Fukanaga, ferocious writing from Nic Pizzolatto, and (thankfully) a final Episode 8 endpoint to build towards – on such a consistent, week-to-week basis, it’s really hard to imagine many shows out there right now that can match the potential of this tremendously exciting new series.
Admittedly, viewing the first three episodes in quick succession means that this post in particular won’t be chock-full of specifics – I sincerely wanted to sit and write about each episode immediately after, but the desire to tear into the next chapter always won over, and I’m really hoping I can be more consistent from now on.
Suffice it to say though, my anticipation to see where this story goes is only matched by my sadness that I only have five more weeks with Rust and Marty in Louisiana. As I mentioned earlier, the eight-episode order will likely prove to be one of the show’s greatest assets – in that Pizzolatto has a specific A-Z arc to fulfill over two months and won’t have to stretch the narrative to the point of staleness.
But seeing a show emerge in such confident and compelling fashion from the very start is truly a rare feat – and it has me hungry for more at the end of each chapter. Long after each vicious cut to black, I find myself only thinking about any assortment of beautiful images constructed by Fukanaga, or McConaughey’s unnervingly reserved manner of walking (always with one hand tucked in a pocket, the other grasping his full-sized notebook, and a stance that suggests an intense and wholehearted disinterest in everything surrounding him), or T-Bone Burnett’s tonally perfect music supervision.
And that’s when five more whole hours in this world suddenly sounds like a perfectly wonderful gift to start off this new year of television.