TRUE DETECTIVE: Season One Finale Review

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 11, 2014 to True Detective

TrueDetective_logoIt is finally upon us. The Season One Finale of TRUE DETECTIVE completes the convoluted case for Martin Hart and Rust Cohle. It was gripping, thought-provoking and tense and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It is going to be a bit hard to write this post because it represents a wrapping up of one hell of a first season with two complex and profound characters and one chilling case. There is no way I can sum it up to satisfy everyone. I know that there have been some wild speculations of how this show could have played out. I personally ignored those forums that expounded on them, but did read some articles along the way that sparked on some of those notions. And I, myself, did venture a bit down that road myself with a thought or two along the way. For example, I fretted over the absence of Detective Gilbough in Episode Eight’s preview and did so all for naught. In fact, any and all of the theories I ever read about, including the ones at different times that pinned the crimes on Cohle & Hart were ALL WRONG!

What ended up being the correct theory of how it all went down was played out just right from the pen and camera of Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga and the excellent cast.


Episode # 8 – “Form & Void”

 Truedetective_greenearsLet me cut to the chase. There were many moments I loved from TRUE DETECTIVE and out of the eight hours spent with it there were only two moments I did not like and they both appear in this episode. I know, I know, you want to whoop and holler that this was one of the best shows HBO has given us and I totally agree with that sentiment, so how dare I ruin all that. It is because that is what I am supposed to do in this role. Trust me in the entire scope of the show these are minor points that don’t mar the whole experience very much (so much for cutting to the chase.)

The two plot points that seemed to come out of nowhere for me was the logic used to figure out why our number one suspect was sporting green ears and the moment when Rust proclaimed that “Marty, this is the place.” In the first incident all of a sudden Marty remembers seeing a house painted a different color and the color was green and so some paint must have dripped on the painter’s ears. You find the painter you found your killer they surmise and from that they are back on the trail. Huh?? I thought that was a bit weak. If our “lawnmower man” had been wearing green headphones to cut the noise instead of clear goggles I would have bought that!

 As to our other moment I never understood Rust’s sensitivities and visions clearly except to know that drug use had rattled him some and so we arrive at a moment when he walks into an environ and can just feel that it is the evil place they were searching for. Okay, I’ll quickly buy that so we can move on, but I’m still not sure how he could arrive at that declaration. Okay, now onto what was right about the episode.

 We truly get the sense from the stressful engagement our detectives get into, clear back to tangling with Steve on the boat, that thesTrueDetective_Errole two cannot do this with anyone else but each other; they complete each other, they drive each other and they need each other in order to do this. Papania was asked to trust in that and be there when called, but it was Cohle and Hart that needed to go in. So into the back bayou they went and surprisingly, both out of the back bayou they came out.  

Getting to the end of the case was interesting enough, but it was still a story of a backwoods simpleton turned serial killer in an odd relationship with a woman. We’ve seen that scenario before but since we have invested so much emotional energy into this story we didn’t, or I didn’t seem to mind it.  Could it or should it have gone on an episode or two as they took on the Tuttles? Well, remember Detective Hart mentions that it “doesn’t work that way.” You know, that is the problem with speculative theories, which again the internet abounded with. So many imaginative suggestions threatened to lessen the impact of what ended up being presented; that is why I don’t read them.    

 I totally did not expect Rust Cohle to come out of the twisted maze that was Carcosa. He has had a fatalistic outlook for so long and talked often of the dark and death that he did wish it for himself. He verified all that in his talk to Hart outside the hospital as he revealed what he dreamed(?) while in his coma. I thought he was going to die in that hole. I thought that his death was going to be impactful enough and that Marty Hart was not going to be killed or even injured. Then I expected the cops to move in and that would be the end leaving our last image of the guys in that hole; after that, however is a fade to black and a voiceover from Marty and I thought then that was our ending. Once again I was WRONG! It could have ended that raw and hurtful, but two more twists yet in this twisting story were ahead.  


 Even though the last episodes were more about wrapping up the serial killer case than anything the story was called TRUE DETECTIVE and it needed to end back where it began with our two main characters and the coda to their story. So, twist number one is not some brutal end that we felt was going to occur, but a healing instead. Rust and Marty needed a physical healing and a restart. The final scenes gave them and us just that. Marty even had a reconnection with his family and they both reconnected with their purpose.

More on that “purpose” in a moment. I want to point out the second twist yet. It happens in some of the last dialogue of the episode. Rust & Marty are out under the stars and Marty says the following  after Cohle talks about feeling his daughter’s love in the darkness. He says –

 “It appears to me the dark has a lot more territory.” 

That hit me as a rather fatalistic Rust-like remark. It was something Rust in his existential moody tone would have said. But then we are hit with the last twist as Rust follows up with –  

 “Well, once there was only dark. If you ask me the light’s winning.” 

What? That seems to be an optimistic Martin-like remark for sure. Have these two switched perspectives? What a cool ending, in my opinion. Rust Cohle actually sounded hopeful. That moment links us back to their “purpose.”

Follow with me as I wrap this up. As I said, these two have been granted a restart. Cohle realizes that his daughter will wait for him in the dark and that he came back from there because he is not done. Hart’s live is restarting as Maggie and the girls come back to him. They still have their private agency to return to as well. Remember, the less evil men are here to stop the more evil of men and that life is a flattened circle repeating itself. They still have work to do as they are each a True Detective. And because of that flattened circle that loops back unto itself we know that out there  are more true detectives going after the evil and, surely with the success of this season, we will be caught up in that loop as well when we see a Season Two of TRUE DETECTIVE.

Thank you for the journey  Hart & Cohle.  



  • loco73

    A fitting ending to the first season of one of the smartest, emotionally and intellectually engaging shows on recent years!

    “True Detective” really stands head and shoulders above many others!

  • Cassie

    I think the disgusting and horrifying video was shot at the killers house and that’s how he knew they were in the right place…

  • Eleonora Iafano

    I am hoping and praying that Season 2 of True Detective will be just as thoughtful, tense and gritty. The season finale got me anxious from the get go. I admit, the one part I thought I was going to be sick was when they showed Errol and his woman (who we later find out is his half sister) touching each other. I really did feel grossed out, for lack of better terminology. Great show and I have been recommending it to my colleagues, family and friends.

  • Audrey Ellertson

    Will Marty and Rust be in the next season…I have been reading that there will be two different detectives….and that kinda makes me sad because I still want to see these two guys.

    • Jef Dinsmore

      The show is meant to be an anthology series with each season looking at different True Detectives in different locales solving different crimes.

      No we will not see Hart & Cohle again.

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