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The Yellow King
February 26, 2014 4:26 PM   Subscribe

HBO's controversial new True Detective series has sparked a renewed interest in an unlikely subject: an 1895 book called The King In Yellow. Praised by H. P. Lovecraft, the book is a collection of short stories in which a play called The King In Yellow is somehow involved. A play, which, in an alternate world, "could not be judged by any known standard" but in which it was "acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck" leaves its readers changed, and perhaps insane. It's inspired other authors (and the occasional imitator) ever since, and you can read it for yourself in your browser or, still free, on your e-reader. True Detective's bleak world view and story of lives tinged with madness fits right in, whether the mythology eventually pans out in the series or not.
posted by tyllwin (498 comments total) 115 users marked this as a favorite

 
The King in Yellow?

Okay, universe, I'll watch True Detective. Enough already. Jesus.
posted by Iridic at 4:27 PM on February 26 [44 favorites]


Between this and word of a long unbroken shot in a recent episode, count my interest as piqued!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:30 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Oh, I saw The King In Yellow last year at the Winter Garden- it was fine. I thought the production design was a little too literal with the whole black stars over Lake Hali thing, but Nathan Lane was excellent as usual.


/gibbers
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:31 PM on February 26 [51 favorites]


No Mask!
posted by Malla at 4:36 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I agree with the New Yorker piece.
posted by gwint at 4:37 PM on February 26


So, here's an awkward question before I bow out this thread because of spoilers: how much onscreen/plot-essential offscreen sexual assault is there in True Detective? I really want to watch it but damn if that isn't a plot device I can sit through.

For my sake if you can mention my name in the reply so I can quickyl ctrl+f that would be super appreciated.
posted by griphus at 4:37 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Wow, how did I miss this? I have a long weeked coming here (local holidays), ideal for catching up on the show. Thanks!
posted by Iosephus at 4:38 PM on February 26


The King in Yellow was really interesting, but iirc, the second half of the book of short stories isn't weird at all. Nothing paranormal or cyclopean in the slightest.
posted by themadthinker at 4:38 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


the fucking theme song is responsible for me getting into western/cowboy tropes so I will always blame this show for the slashy True Grit re-write I make where rooster and Lebueuf are doing it.

Also I think all the nerds are going to upset when demons aren't actually real. It's "From Hell" In the rural south not "The Mountains Of Madness" in the rural south.
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Also: eagerly awaiting mashups of Yellow Kid/Yellow King , and Carcosa/Carcassonne.
posted by themadthinker at 4:40 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I hope they pick up on "Repairer of Reputations" with the Imperial Dynasty of America.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:41 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


The evangelism for this show is inescapable. Christ. Now I know what the Breaking Bad abstainers went through.
posted by naju at 4:41 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Yeah, if memory serves the last half of the book was stories about bohemian life in Paris. Those stories still had an odd atmosphere about them however, sort of like you were never sure if the events and places weren't just a hair's breadth away from melting into unsettling weird shit.
posted by Iosephus at 4:42 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I look forward to marathoning this series in 3-6 years depending on how it does.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:42 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


Griphus, the series starts with ritual rape/murder, though the act itself isn't shown, just the corpse. It's extensively shown, though not in voyeristic way, it's a murder scene and the cops are there inspecting the scene.

Otherwise, everything occurs off screen, which isn't much, you just seen the aftermath or where a something took place. This up through episode six.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:44 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


griphus: Through the first 4 episodes I haven't seen any serious on-screen sexual assault. Not a spoiler, but in the first episode there's a girl who has been killed and posed, but it's pretty standard serial-killer-show fare. There's sex and violence, but not (so far) any physical sexual violence. I don't think I'm forgetting anything, but if someone else wants to chime in...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:44 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


but Nathan Lane was excellent as usual.

I'll admit I was a skeptic, but Kristin Chenoweth really nailed it as Camilla.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:46 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Spoiler: Episode 5 will suck your soul through a kind of portal to a hell like dimension unless you take specific precautions. Make a circle around your iPad or viewing device in salt about 1 inch wide. Inside the circle next to you digital viewing device leave an unopened cold six pack of Lone Star beer and a bowl of beans and rice with cajun sausage for the demon who will emerge 2 minutes after you start the episode. Do not look him in the eyes or speak to him, or disrupt the barrier during the episode. If he learns your name, he can call you through the barrier. If you are caught in the portal you may be able to negotiate your release with your HBOGO username and password. Do not listen to his spoilers they are LIES!!!!!
posted by humanfont at 4:48 PM on February 26 [40 favorites]


The Whelk: "not "The Mountains Of Madness" in the rural south"

Of course not. It's a coastal plain, there are no mountains.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:51 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Not upon us, oh HBO! Not upon us!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:52 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I agree with the New Yorker piece.
posted by gwint at 4:37 PM on February 26


I agree with the illustration in the New Yorker piece.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:52 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


The SCP Foundation regrets to inform you that all copies of The King in Yellow aka The Hanged King have been categorized as instances of SCP-701. You have been deemed to have been exposed. For your own protection, operatives of a vague, yet menacing government agency will soon visit you at your home or place of business to administer Class-A amnesiac medications and purge your computer with powerful magnets and fire.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:53 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


griphus: Just to add on to what others have said, while there's not a lot of sexual assault on screen, there's a lot of subtext about women in particular being the victims of a lot of bad shit. It doesn't happen on screen, but the world of True Detective is not a world where you particularly want to be a poor rural woman, I think.

Not that this world is that either.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:53 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Griphus: Griphus!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:57 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Be careful, Brandon. If you say his name three times while looking in a monitor, he will appear!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:00 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I still can't decide if this show is good or not. I've made it about 2 episodes in.

Anyone whose current on it have any comments? Does it pick up a lot after episode 2?

I watched that one clip of the ridiculous non-stop shot from episode 4 and it got me curious and started on the show, and now i'm just kinda like o_0
posted by emptythought at 5:01 PM on February 26


I will add my voice to those who absolutely love this show. I love every last motherfucking thing about it, and I was hooked from the first second. It is extremely excellent.

I do have a lingering question as to if, in its final two episodes, it will go someplace supernatural. It keeps walking right up to that line. I don't know if I want it to or not.
posted by kbanas at 5:01 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Anyone whose current on it have any comments? Does it pick up a lot after episode 2?


I don't think it picks up a lot after episode 2, because I have found every episode to be extremely excellent. So, I would say that if the first two episodes didn't sell you, you're not going to get sold.
posted by kbanas at 5:02 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


The Dead Milkmen's 2011 don't-call-it-a-comeback-except-it-really-kind-of-was album was named The King in Yellow, most likely a suggestion tossed forth by frontperson Rodney "H.P. Hovercraft" Anonymous and his growing obsession with Cthulhu Mythos. In any case, the title track needs to show up on the HBO show. Someone get on that, stat.

I know that drummer/graphic designer Dean Clean was at one point a Metafilter reader and I'd hate for him to see that I think the album was lacking in the production department, so if you're reading this Dean, maybe you shouldn't be. If you insist on continuing on: bring back Brian "Bongwizard" Beattie for the next one and all will be well on this sad little planet of ours.

I missed a rare chance to see them play this past December (on my birthday, no less) because I was hit with the one-two whammy of a nasty flu and a local ice storm. As much as it pained me to miss it, I'm afraid that going would've been an even more painful event involving taking unreliable public transportation with a fever. Oh well. At least they got my money - I still have my two tickets.

posted by item at 5:29 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Is there a way to download this goddamn show legally? I haven't seen it in the usual places.
posted by mullacc at 5:30 PM on February 26


Is there a way to download this goddamn show legally? I haven't seen it in the usual places.


It's HBO, so, no.

You can watch it on HBO. Or, you can watch it online on HBO to Go or whatever their streaming thing is, but otherwise, no. Not legally.
posted by kbanas at 5:32 PM on February 26


Your description of "The King in Yellow" reminds me of "Von Goom's Gambit".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:33 PM on February 26


I'm feeling very hipstery today. There are a number of tumblers I've seen with pictures of the guys from True Detective and quotes from the King in Yellow.

I'm feeling all, "I liked Hastur before it was cool!"
posted by bswinburn at 5:35 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


The most controversial show of 2015 will be HBO's The Guire, a remake of The Wire in which Jimmy McNulty is replaced by Tom Cruise playing Jerry Maguire
posted by oulipian at 5:39 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


*sings*

Oh, I wish I was back in old Carcosa
On the shores of Lake Hali!
On the deck of my yacht we would tipple ambrosia
And the nights would be careless and free!

How I long to be there in the gardens of Hastur
Underneath those pale twin suns!
As the Hyades sing, we would learn who is Master
And be strangely unable to run!



Everybody!




*faints*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:40 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


but Nathan Lane was excellent as usual.

I'll admit I was a skeptic, but Kristin Chenoweth really nailed it as Camilla.


I can't tell you how sick I am of the persistent whitewashing of the King in Yellow cast.
posted by pullayup at 5:40 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


What I find interesting about True Detective is a little to the side of all The King in Yellow conversation.

My favorite aspect is that it is a show very much defined by, challenging, and aware of it's own tropes (tropes of the detective and cop genre).

This is interesting because one of its main characters, Rust, is rather upfront about his brand of nihilism and he finds it absurd that humans actively look for a narrative with which to justify their lives.

What's wonderful about watching Matthew Mcconaughey bring this character to life is the delicious irony and thought cartwheels one has to do while listening to a fictional character who is, in fact, in the center of a very real narrative deny the existence of a central purpose or narrative to life.

The meta-narrative aspects of the show are delightful.
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:40 PM on February 26 [24 favorites]


Yeah, the Nussbaum piece is right on the money, and not just about the retrograde gender politics:
The series, for all its good looks and its movie-star charisma, isn’t just using dorm-room deep talk as a come-on: it has fallen for its own sales pitch.
I LOL/cringed heavily, exactly on account of this, when reading an interview with Pizzolatto about the pseudophilosophical Cohle monologues:
I’ve just read a couple pieces where the critic tries to dismiss Cohle’s monologues as “the sort of half-baked loopiness you’d get in freshman year philosophy,” and that’s not true at all. If you pay attention to Cohle’s philosophies they’re actually much deeper and more nuanced and grounded in legitimate scientific and philosophical thought than some asshole getting stoned and talking about the meaning of life.

So in episode five—not to spoil anything—Cohle gives one of his metaphysical addresses. And you can see it as Job crying out to an uncaring God—or you could see it as a character trapped in a TV show yelling at the audience. I think that much, at least, is safe to print.
This is what it looks like when a writer gets high on his own supply. Putting hand-wavey profundities in the mouth of a character for the sake of a spooky atmosphere is one thing; actually thinking that character is deep, though, is quite another.
posted by RogerB at 5:42 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


Bought it on Sunday at the Strand- going on vacation- we will see how it does as beach reading. Then I will read all the comments above. :0
posted by T10B at 5:43 PM on February 26


Yeah, the original story of mimetic horror. It's too bad that most of Chambers' work rapidly degrades into Bulwer-Lyttonesque twaddle, but I find it sad that such subtle menace is usually eschewed in the pursuit of the more grand guignol abstractions of Lovecraft.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 5:44 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


The meta-narrative aspects of the show are delightful.

Rust is straight up aware he's in a TV show. We're the 4th dimensional beings watching him on the circle of our DVD players. He's doomed to repeat his actions again and again every time we press play. His is conscious of this and this consciousness his is own personal horror.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:44 PM on February 26 [28 favorites]


> "Is there a way to download this goddamn show legally? I haven't seen it in the usual places."

Well, I should hope not. After the French Government seized the translated copied which had just arrived in Paris, it was denounced by Press and pulpit and censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists.

Human nature cannot bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurks.
posted by kyrademon at 5:44 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


One of the other librarians also enjoys this show. We're joking about busting in on the YA librarian's Welcome to Night Vale afterschool party tomorrow, our antlered crowns glistening with blood, howling with despair.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:47 PM on February 26 [14 favorites]


I'm just going to mention that Raymond Chandler, no stranger to detective fiction, also wrote a story entitled, "The King in Yellow."
posted by SPrintF at 5:48 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


The King in Yellow sounds like Infinite Jest's "Infinite Jest." Although I'm very possibly wrong, since I never finished Infinite Jest and curiously haven't met anyone else who made it through either ...
posted by Corinth at 5:50 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


kbanas: "I do have a lingering question as to if, in its final two episodes, it will go someplace supernatural. It keeps walking right up to that line. I don't know if I want it to or not."

I don't know if I want it to or not either, but if I'm going to guess, there's not going to be anything explicitly supernatural. I'm betting on satanic ritual abuse cult stuff, maybe, involving certain powerful characters, and maybe, just maybe, an ambiguously supernatural plot point, something that could have been coincidence, but maybe not, along the lines of the final fate of Lord Blackwood in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie.

I don't think they'll go full Cthulhu. Never go full Cthulhu.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:52 PM on February 26 [26 favorites]


Yeah, im betting on it's a cult, heavy ion the sexual abuse, notably children with lots of lovecraftian / satanic motifs but like, Hastur isn't literally real.

Although I would be super interested in a world where no, the cultists are right there is a satanic demon for real and you have to placate it or it will eat everyone horribly.
posted by The Whelk at 5:55 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


"I do have a lingering question as to if, in its final two episodes, it will go someplace supernatural."

The writer has stated (in some interview that I can't find anymore) that he's not going there.

But after all the little hints they've been dropping throughout the first 6 episodes, I believe they'll be going someplace pretty damn dark.
posted by sutt at 5:55 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


It won't go supernatural. The monsters have lurking around Rust and Marty for a while. BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


What's wonderful about watching Matthew Mcconaughey bring this character to life is the delicious irony and thought cartwheels one has to do while listening to a fictional character who is, in fact, in the center of a very real narrative deny the existence of a central purpose or narrative to life.

If I didn't know the show planned to go more than one season, I would say that Rust knows he's a fictional character and that Pizzolatto is The King in Yellow, sacrificing victims on the altar of entertainment.
posted by dortmunder at 5:57 PM on February 26


If I didn't know the show planned to go more than one season, I would say that Rust knows he's a fictional character and that Pizzolatto is The King in Yellow, sacrificing victims on the altar of entertainment.

It does plan to go more than one season, but it's like an American Horror Story thing - next season will be a completely different cast and narrative.
posted by kbanas at 5:59 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


One of the most amusing scenes featured Marty interrogating a bar tender played by Pizzolatto. Marty intimidates the bar tender to get him to reveal a key plot point with threats and then says, "Why do you make me say this shit"
posted by humanfont at 6:02 PM on February 26 [23 favorites]


Well, Corinth, I finished Infinite Jest twice and just downloaded The King in Yellow because it sounded like it might have influenced DFW somehow, including as you mentioned. I'll keep you posted.
posted by janey47 at 6:02 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: "Although I would be super interested in a world where no, the cultists are right there is a satanic demon for real and you have to placate it or it will eat everyone horribly."

Not to spoil anything, but that's called "The Cabin in the Woods".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:14 PM on February 26 [22 favorites]


Rust Cohle is McConaughey's creation, too, and however the writer may feel about the character, it seems to me the actor brings a level of self-awareness to the proceedings that lets us at once sympathize with the man, maybe even agree with him at points, without 100% getting on board with him. There's a distance and danger and sadness to Rust that makes him a character we care about but do not -- I don't think -- view as a fantasy figure we'd like to identify with. Like, early on I started calling Rust "Grunge Dale Cooper," but he's not, because Dale Cooper is a guy you'd want to be and Rust is a guy you'd like to be as cool as, sure, definitely as toned as, but you wouldn't want to be him. He's basically incapable of living life outside his job. He's depressing. Frankly, he seems to just believe that anything that sucks must be true because it sucks. Why are they condemned to some sort of living hell of repetition? There's zero evidence for this, other than it's awful so it must be true or something. It's an idea that makes no more or less sense than the religion he mocks. Again, it's possible that the writer doesn't see this. I strongly suspect at least McConaughey does. My take on Rust is that he's a tragic figure -- essentially heroic, but so sick with despair that he can barely participate in the world outside his cases. But that's not because he's some noble Jesus figure, to my mind. It's just because he's really messed up.

(And of course the more awful part still is that Marty is a marvel of social functioning who is basically an amoral, self-centered manchild, but who everyone presumes is an awesome guy because he smiles convincingly and looks like he has his shit together.)

I really like this show, but the New Yorker piece makes some good points. Like a lot of the last decade's best dramas, True Detective is unfortunately a show that just doesn't handle its female characters very well. Yes, I think that Marty's sexism is deliberate (and shown in-story to be wrong), but the show still fails to realize any of its women, and to be honest a lot of the stuff with the Vivid-looking actresses who strip butt naked and fuck (and then walk right back out of the show) seems more than a little dad-servicey. This is something that bothers me about the show for a number of reasons, but the main one is I feel like it could do better. I'd love to see a second season with women as the leads.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:18 PM on February 26 [25 favorites]


I believe it's not quite like AHS in that AHS uses a repertory cast while TD will be an entirely new cast. There will be no equivalent of Jessica Lange playing a different character in every season.
posted by Justinian at 6:19 PM on February 26


This show is a parade of unreliable narrators, all captivating in their own right. Though sometimes the writers have taken the easy way out to maintain tension, I'm all in for the last two episodes. I haven't done any reading on the show. Is there any unifying theme? Will it continue to be based in Louisiana?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:19 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


One of the other librarians also enjoys this show. We're joking about busting in on the YA librarian's Welcome to Night Vale afterschool party tomorrow, our antlered crowns glistening with blood, howling with despair.

“Hot singles in your area…”
posted by acb at 6:21 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I don't think they've said but I would expect each season to have its own theme and to be set in a different location.
posted by Justinian at 6:21 PM on February 26


“Madness, mayhem, erotic vandalism, devastation of innumerable souls - while we scream and perish, History licks a finger and turns the page.” ― Thomas Ligotti
posted by SPrintF at 6:22 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


Given that the title is taken from a 30s pulp magazine, I think we can expect something entirely new for next season. Which could be a good thing. Anthology shows used to be a giant thing back in the day. Season-long anthology shows could have merit -- like comparing novels to short stories.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I believe it's not quite like AHS in that AHS uses a repertory cast while TD will be an entirely new cast. There will be no equivalent of Jessica Lange playing a different character in every season.

Yeah, I realized that as I posted it, but at the same time didn't care as I figured I sufficiently made the point I was trying to make. But, yeah.
posted by kbanas at 6:24 PM on February 26


kittens for breakfast: "Again, it's possible that the writer doesn't see this. I strongly suspect at least McConaughey does."

That's an excellent point. When I read Pizzolatto defending Cohle's "philosophy", I thought he was joking, or at least having the audience on, but it's possible that it's McConaughey who's doing this. In that case, it's an astonishing piece of acting work, one that's entirely in step with his development from pretty boy actor to serious heavyweight.

Because seriously, Cohle's philosophy is understandable from the things he's lived through and whatnot, and it's sad, but it's nowhere near a coherent, believable philosophy in general. It reminds me again and again of Thomas Ligotti, a sophist 16 year old who's decided he's seen through the lies, man, and can tell you just how meaningless the world is. It's one step away from French cigarettes and a fucking beret. And if I had to think it was 100% serious, it'd annoy the hell out of me (like it does with Ligotti, whose writing I can't stand), but the feeling that the show itself thinks he's wrong makes it work. It's part of the character, not the Truth of the fictional world.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:25 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Technically correct is the best kind of correct!
posted by Justinian at 6:25 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Without giving too much away, I will say that I felt that the fourth episode was the riskiest thing that I've ever seen on television. Like, it could have derailed the series if it hadn't been pulled off perfectly, and they nailed it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:29 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I saw the Salon article and downloaded The King in Yellow to my Kindle, and I just finished the first chapter/story. It's every bit as weird as fiction can be, and I can see its appeal. And the writing is a lot tighter than H.P. Lovecraft's; the latter suffered from these overlong info dumps that killed any momentum. Anyway, I haven't gotten very far, but I'm on board.
posted by zardoz at 6:31 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Parasite Unseen: "Without giving too much away, I will say that I felt that the fourth episode was the riskiest thing that I've ever seen on television. Like, it could have derailed the series if it hadn't been pulled off perfectly, and they nailed it"

Why do you think so? I thought the "climax" being placed in episode 5 was a pretty ballsy move, myself.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:34 PM on February 26


I will say that while the show's use of visual symbols can be a little too on the nose sometimes (last episodes little ceramic devil during the sex scene) that it generally hits the mark.

For instance, without directly referencing Rust's back story, the show made me hate Marty episodes ago when he drunkenly drove over a children's bike on his way to confront the woman he's sleeping with.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:41 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]




Pizzolatto who is both writer and producer of the show has said that the show will be recast each season and focus on a new story. Of course HBO might decide that they've struck so much gold with the current cast that they will convince him to stick with what is working. He hinted today on Twitter that the next pair of detectives would be women, but then he deleted the tweet. He has also said that what we observe on camera is reliable. When the detectives are answering questions in 2012 they might lie to their interviewers, but what we see on screen should be interoperated as a true narrative.
posted by humanfont at 6:42 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I'm not necessarily 100% sold on Paskin's theory on True Detective and women, but I had absolutely noticed the various scenes where Marty believes he has made an authoritative statement, but no one budges until a woman quietly nods her say so. Also, the speech at the bunny ranch. There's certainly a lot to unpack.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:43 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Consider Marty's mistress in the police station, Lisa. She makes it clear that she's just having fun and Marty is a rest stop on her journey to something better. Yet Marty can only see her as a fawning girl who would obviously want to marry him. She just laughs at that idea and them does the unthinkable (to Marty): She tells his wife about the affair. Marty thought he was slick and in control, but in reality he was just a pawn, yet he's so blind he can never conceive of that.

Then, his wife swiftly leaves him after being told about the affair, forcing him to chase after her and jump through hoops to win her back. That had to piss him off on some level, prompting the second affair.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


I think the last two episodes will show conclusively that Paskin is correct. Cohle and Hart's inability to truly see the women around them is going to bite them in the ass. Why do you think Hart keeps bringing up the "detective's curse" where you don't see what's right in front of your nose because you're focused on the wrong thing?

Hart hasn't seen what's right under his nose for the last 17 years.
posted by Justinian at 7:12 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]




Yeah, I think the show is potentially doing something interesting with its female characters and take on women in general. Though I concede that I wouldn't be able to make it through the show if it was longer than 8-10 episodes given how relentlessly dude-focused it is. Like, I think it has interesting things to say about masculinity and all, but I only have so much patience for that shit.

I did find myself particularly struck and thrilled when, in response to Marty saying his family and home life were supposed to be easy, Maggie basically said, "who the fuck told you that? That's not what family is about," with the fairly clear subtext of "your wife and daughters do not exist for you." I loved it because it seems like in so much other media, whenever the detective/soldier/hero comes home to his family and makes a similar statement about how home is his easy, perfect refuge away from the harsh, cruel world where he has to do manly, terrible things, and how it's everyone else's responsibility to make sure it stays that way, there's not enough push back against that idea. True Detective seems to reveal that for the sick, self-centered fantasy that it is. Marty wants to have his cake and eat it too, all while pretending he's a good man (a better man than Cohle), but the show is steadily stripping him of any such pretensions.

Whatever other flaws the show has, and whatever the resolution of the mystery ends up being, I think True Detective will stand as a truly fascinating, compelling character study of two intensely flawed men.
posted by yasaman at 7:26 PM on February 26 [16 favorites]


Willa Paskin for Slate: Yes, True Detective treats its female characters badly. That's the point

Incidentally I was happy to see the article mention "More Light", which is sublimely creepy and probably my favorite elaboration of The King in Yellow.
posted by pullayup at 7:27 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"Anyone whose current on it have any comments? Does it pick up a lot after episode 2?"

I don't think it picks up a lot after episode 2, because I have found every episode to be extremely excellent. So, I would say that if the first two episodes didn't sell you, you're not going to get sold.

I wasn't really entranced with the first couple of episodes. I watched it pretty casually mainly because my boyfriend also watched it until episode 4 when I became obsessed. Then I had to go back through the earlier episodes where I hadn't been paying attention because I was playing Pokemon.
posted by melissam at 7:28 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"You're not getting a read on Cohle, he's getting a read on you." That line just so encapsulates that whole interview. MM might not get an Oscar but he's damn sure going to get an Emmy.
posted by Ber at 7:32 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


I hate cop and serial killer shows, but by the end of the first episode I choose to watch the rest. I think having the same writer and the same director for all of the episodes is really amazing. It's going to be a great 8 hour movie, full of tiny subtle details that will reward a rewatch, too.
posted by Catblack at 7:33 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Also learning about Pizzolatto it's clear he's a very interesting person to have writing a show.
Just growing up in south Louisiana, going to state school for college, and working two jobs. I spent four years bartending in Austin. I never had any money or any window into the world of TV.
The other show I'd been watching on HBO was Girls. In many ways Pizzolatto is the anti-Dunham, a guy that pretty much came out of nowhere from the middle of nowhere, whereas Dunham was born into the right world to get into TV from. True Detective is a perfect example of why we need more people like Pizzolatto, new blood to infuse the film/television world.
posted by melissam at 7:34 PM on February 26 [8 favorites]


I've read a few stories from the King in Yellow, and they're all decent. What I like the most is the way it builds a world out of several disparate stories, where this horrible haunted manuscript has basically taken over the world. In a lot of ways it's like science fiction, or a post apocalyptic novel.
posted by codacorolla at 7:40 PM on February 26


codacorolla: The King in Yellow does not "build a world." He deconstructs it.
posted by SPrintF at 7:45 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Having now stayed away from the thread for a while, I'll feel free to comment now.

One thing that struck me, particularly in light of the Nussbaum article -- and I know it's too meta and too much over-thinking it -- was that I wondered: did the writer choose the King In Yellow as the way that the story's evil would find expression specifically because he wanted the parallel of excellently-crafted art that was somehow inherently corrosive?

BTW, the flashier Matthew McConaughey may be getting the majority of attention, but I'm impressed with the range Woody Harrelson is showing here. This is the guy from Cheers and Haymitch from the Hunger Games?

I don't expect the show to go to the outright supernatural in the way that Millennium did. But a great deal, maybe most, of the King In Yellow -inspired fiction doesn't. There's the play, or rumors of it, and there's madness. Decide for yourself. And this series certainly qualifies: whatever turns out to be true of the villains, neither of these detectives ought to be trusted with a badge and a gun, not the nihlistic Rust, nor the explosive and controlling Marty. And it's chilling to me that on the surface they ring so true to the southern policemen I once knew.

As regards the King in Yellow the book, I actually though the "Bohemian Paris" stories were a nice changeup from the "weird boyzone" of Lovecraft or Hodgson. I only wish those stories had been interleaved with the King In Yellow arc.

Sorry to have neglected SCP-701. Don't categorize me as "D," OK?
posted by tyllwin at 7:46 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Griphus is the Michael Jordan of Griphuses.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:46 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I love this show and I really hope that they develop Maggie in the last couple of episodes (it seems like they are). Out of all the characters we've met, she strikes me as possibly the smartest one of all of them.

The storyline with Marty's daughter and the sexual stuff (when she was younger) was jarring and brief. But it was meaningful enough that it was shown twice and so far we haven't seen anything more on it. I can't imagine that not playing a very large part in the overall plot.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:47 PM on February 26


Griphus is a registered case file and we're working on containment now.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


BTW, the flashier Matthew McConaughey may be getting the majority of attention, but I'm impressed with the range Woody Harrelson is showing here. This is the guy from Cheers and Haymitch from the Hunger Games?
It seems white men CAN jump! (into our hearts)
posted by dumbland at 7:50 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


I always liked Woody. He literally never had to work again after Cheers but kept it up, doing out there weird things and paycheck-cashing fun-times. He seems like fun.

McConaughey is, of course, in his full cactus flower bloom, all cheekbones and sand.
posted by The Whelk at 7:54 PM on February 26 [21 favorites]


I like the theme song because it reminds me of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game which reminds me of David Lynch which reminds me of David Foster Wallace which reminds me of Infinite Jest which reminds me of The Entertainment and then it's PLAYS WITHIN PLAYS ALL THE WAY DOWN.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:00 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


Woody doing Marty in one of his vein popping rages is absolutely excellent. Probably the scariest part of the show for me, since it's so true to life of all the Marties I've ever known.
posted by codacorolla at 8:00 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


I think it would be interesting if next season's detectives were women.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:06 PM on February 26


I'm saving this show for consolation-watching after Hannibal gets cancelled.

(I really truly wish that 1. I was not so pessimistic about this, and 2. I was not so completely and utterly obsessed with this fucking show.)

But yeah, this thing looks amazing and right up my alley and I'm enjoying the hell out of the discussion, here and elsewhere.
posted by dogheart at 8:08 PM on February 26


Here's a very spoilery link (for past episodes) showing why I think it's clear that the thing about how they treat women is intentional and important. They aren't seeing what's right under their noses.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Calling Rust's ramblings shallow while the rest of the show demonstrates its brains in the characterizations and the pacing and the shots and the plot twists...that New Yorker article is contrarian bunk. Nobody watches a TV show to get tips on philosophy, except teenage dudes in fedoras, and hey, if they enjoy it for that, good for them. These are the same doofuses who complained that Tony Soprano was kind of a violent jerk. Rust is a flawed and fascinating character to enjoy watching, not an academic thesis. Just enjoy the good things when people make them. Sheesh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:21 PM on February 26 [17 favorites]


Dr. Zira: "I like the theme song because it reminds me of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game which reminds me of David Lynch which reminds me of David Foster Wallace which reminds me of Infinite Jest which reminds me of The Entertainment and then it's PLAYS WITHIN PLAYS ALL THE WAY DOWN"

So that was what it reminded me of. Of course. If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:22 PM on February 26


Anyway,

Rust.
Coal.

vs (+?)

Martin (from Mars, god of war)
Heart

?? Why?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:22 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I like how the show makes rural coastal Louisiana look like a fucking alien planet.
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 PM on February 26 [10 favorites]


Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

Sixteen Horsepower
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:23 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


melissam: "I watched it pretty casually mainly because my boyfriend also watched it until episode 4 when I became obsessed."

That would be my take too. Watch up until the end of episode 4 (I realize this is half the season, but whatever), and if you're not sold then, you won't be. But chances are you will be.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:24 PM on February 26


Potomac Avenue: "Sixteen Horsepower"

Googling that helpfully gives me "11 931.1979 watts" as the first thing on the page. But that looks interesting, thanks.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:25 PM on February 26


The Magnetic Fields record The Charm of the Highway Strip too.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:26 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


It's pretty obvious that Cohle's philosophy is not actually the philosophy of the show. It is the way he has to see the world in order to keep it together. Your child cannot die and your marriage cannot crumble unless it is actually the case that consciousness is a mistake and we are all just a bunch of walking spandrels, waiting to return to our proper state of nothingness.

Cohle is also obviously not a nihilist himself, as you can see from his actions - he actually has a well-defined sense of right and wrong, and he was obviously, genuinely furious at the person he interrogates in Episode Six. Much like the man Ligotti himself, he's a pessimist, not a nihilist.

(I can also say from personal experience that Ligotti is actually quite affable and funny - not at all like Rust Cohle, at least not in conversation.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:26 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


So that was what it reminded me of. Of course. If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

"Here in Arkansas", by Robert Earl Keen.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:27 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


I like how the show makes rural coastal Louisiana look like a fucking alien planet.

It is.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:31 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


So that was what it reminded me of. Of course. If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

Taking a stroll through the Southern Gothic tag at 8tracks should scratch that itch.
posted by yasaman at 8:32 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


yasaman: "Taking a stroll through the Southern Gothic tag at 8tracks should scratch that itch."

I think I love you.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:34 PM on February 26


I like how the show makes rural coastal Louisiana look like a fucking alien planet

As a former New Orleanian who made frequent driving trips to Grand Island, it always did look like an alien planet to me, albeit one I am now homesick for.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:34 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I love the fact that the suspect sketch might mean that someone in the next two episodes will, like Mr. Wilde in "Repairer of Reputations" have false ears. In this case, green false ears.

That said, I think there's not much wrong with Ligotti, I think that Hart is more deluded, immature, and dangerous than Cohle, and I secretly hope every season cuts a corner on a mythos topic without ever revealing anything supernatural, so that it remains that the world is the monster.
posted by LucretiusJones at 8:48 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


That New Yorker piece pretty much loses as credibility in my mind for referring to the Marty/Maggie/Rust relationship as a love triangle. So far there is zero indication that Maggie loves Rust or even cares that deeply for him. Their sex scene was incredibly gross and hollow, and that was entirely the point. She just needs a way to hurt Marty the way he's hurt her, and Rust is a weak man and gets caught up in a physical act.

It also seems bizarre to me that people are so preoccupied with trying to expose the immaturity of Rust's "philosophy". Yes, he's a misanthrope, but he's clearly not actually a nihilist. Why else would he be so obsessed with accomplishing justice? I think the philosophizing is basically him bullshiting and making outrageous statements to provoke and gain the upper hand in his relationships and interrogations (especially his own).

What I find most provoking and least discussed is the title itself. For a show that plays heavily with the truth and the morality of police officers "True Detective" is a very interesting title.
posted by cyphill at 8:52 PM on February 26 [15 favorites]


Fans of True Detective might also want to check out Nic Pizzolatto's novel, Galveston, which starts out seeming like a pulp story dressed up as literary fiction but ends up being probably the opposite. It's a short book that reads fast, in part because you'll (or at least I did this) sit there and read it for hours at a time. It's worth noting that there are a few elements of the novel that are reused in True Detective, but it would be a mistake to consider it a dry run for the show; the novel is very much its own thing, and well worth your time.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:54 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I hope that the show is emphatic that the cult does not accomplish anything supernatural, but at the same time, in the final episode, we briefly see an honest-to-god werewolf, working as a court stenographer. Nobody remarks on this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:54 PM on February 26 [13 favorites]


Martin (from Mars, god of war)
Heart


I'd say it's not "Heart" as in heart, but "Hart" as in hart, or stag. Given the show's use of antlers, hunting trophies, and other hunting imagery, that seems like the clearest allusion to be making with the name.

speaking of names, I am surely not alone in laughing out loud when the cell-phone salesperson/former teenage sex worker walked up to the bar next to Marty and ordered a dirty Martini – or what is often called "a dirty marty," right?
posted by Elsa at 8:57 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


True Detective is named after old pulp detective fiction magazines, a series of them over the years.

Some vintage covers!
posted by hippybear at 8:58 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I'd say it's not "Heart" as in heart, but "Hart" as in hart, or stag.

IT'S PROBABLY AN ALLUSION TO HART TO HART. AFTER ALL, MOST THINGS ARE
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 PM on February 26 [18 favorites]


I don't think they've said but I would expect each season to have its own theme and to be set in a different location.

It won't happen, but I wish they'd push that hard. Like, have the second season feature two women as the detectives, sure. But they're solving some set of murders in a divine-right monarchy governing a postapocalyptic, I dunno, Kinshasa or Reykjavik. Season 3 is two eunuchs solving a crime for Pharaoh. Season 4 features two heavily augmented people solving something like murder in a thought-controlly, rigidly authoritarian space habitat, involving extensive interviews of the reinstantiated victims.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:02 PM on February 26 [19 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "It won't happen, but I wish they'd push that hard. Like, have the second season feature two women as the detectives, sure. But they're solving some set of murders in a divine-right monarchy governing a postapocalyptic, I dunno, Kinshasa or Reykjavik. Season 3 is two eunuchs solving a crime for Pharaoh. Season 4 features two heavily augmented people solving something like murder in a thought-controlly, rigidly authoritarian space habitat, involving extensive interviews of the reinstantiated victims."

I'd totally watch this. But if they want to stay in the US, there are plenty of weird places to go to. Midwest UFO country, Northwest Twin Peaks forests, Lovecraftian New England, the US/Mexico Border desert...
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:12 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


If the show is an homage to pulp magazines, then there's tons of things they could do and still have it be a detective mystery. I hope they do.
posted by codacorolla at 9:14 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast: "IT'S PROBABLY AN ALLUSION TO HART TO HART. AFTER ALL, MOST THINGS ARE"

In fact, season two is Marty and Maggie Hart in a case-by-case remake of Hart to Hart.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:16 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


I do think there is more to women and their role in the show than just the new yorker critique, but the gender shit is typically problematic nonetheless. Still and all it's a fantastic show and Woody and Matty are doing it for me in a big way. I'm so glad TV has gotten so good.

I think the problem with Rust's nihilism is that (as many a person who fancies themselves hardboiled does) he takes the essential meaninglessness of a Godless universe personally, which leads inevitably to the other great and best kept private smart young persons vice: Existentialism as practical theology. Rust seems to have a kind of philosophical PTSD, which is not surprising given his history, this contains the best Lovecraftian elements for me. Both the detectives have been eaten up by their job and what is left over is mutated and at right angles to a happier, innocent world.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:19 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


MetaFilter: mutated and at right angles to a happier, innocent world.
posted by hippybear at 9:21 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


For added portent, try appending "in Carcosa" to your next fortune cookie.
posted by wam at 10:26 PM on February 26 [21 favorites]


Here's a very spoilery link (for past episodes) showing why I think it's clear that the thing about how they treat women is intentional and important. They aren't seeing what's right under their noses.

Man, part of me wishes I hadn't clicked that but is sort of glad I did, in a slobber-knockered sort of way.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:37 PM on February 26


Pope Guilty: “Between this and word of a long unbroken shot in a recent episode, count my interest as piqued!”
The most amazing thing about that six-minute continuous shot is that it's only at the end that — if you're a film nerd — you say, "Holy shit. Was that all one shot? One take? With all of that? Hoooo-leeeee shit."

As for the criticism that the female characters are two-dimensional, I feel like all the characters are two-dimensional. I presume that must be part of the point. I keep seeing the complaint that the sex in the show is "porny", but I just don't see it. I think what may be bothering people is that the show treats sex and death as utterly banal. There's no great mystery. It's just a biological function. It's what makes the intimations of the supernatural even creepier.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:48 PM on February 26 [5 favorites]


One of the disadvantages of our internet, instant gratification world is that books like The Kings in Yellow are also instantly available, rather than only known through loving descriptions in horror/fantasy coffee table books where it sounded really interesting, mysterious and scary. The reality when I started to read it a few years ago was ...less so.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:34 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Incidentally I was happy to see the article mention "More Light", which is sublimely creepy and probably my favorite elaboration of The King in Yellow.

What both the Slate article and the original post it refers to miss about "More Light" is that the second character, Atherling, is of course the pseudonym Blish used for his science fiction criticism, so basically Blish is telling a story about he met his alter ego driven mad by the King in Yellow...
posted by MartinWisse at 11:37 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


True Dog… Detective
posted by homunculus at 12:02 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I am being entertained by "True Detective," whatever its flaws, and look forward to seeing how they wrap up the story.

Beyond the content of the show, though, what I find interesting is that they seem to be taking good advantage of the limited-series format. From what I've read, the two lead actors likely wouldn't have been interested in doing a typical open-ended, 22-episodes-a-year network drama, but apparently had no problem making themselves available to shoot eight hours worth of TV.

And I don't think their performances, or the show's general mood/atmosphere, would be sustainable under the "many episodes, many seasons" paradigm. By telling a defined story, with a beginning, middle and end, they're able to do something that "feels" different, too, because they're not necessarily trying to set up a world that you'll want to revisit each week for many years to come.

I wish more TV programmers in USA, on the broadcast networks especially, would take a hint from this.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:08 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


All I know is that if you had told me ten years ago that people I respected would be effusively praising Matthew McConaughey's acting prowess, I'd've laughed in your face.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:20 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]






MartinWisse: "The Kings in Yellow"

Is that James Cameron's more action-driven sequel?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:17 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Why are they condemned to some sort of living hell of repetition? There's zero evidence for this, other than it's awful so it must be true or something.

It's Nietzsche's philosophy of eternal recurrence (as I recall Cohle has dissed Nietzsche obliquely on the show), founded in the Dionysian mythology of eternal spring, death and rebirth, and described in some final passages published in The Will to Power...the way I see it is, this iteration of the universe as we know it is either a bubble in a multiverse of infinite possible universes infinitely "foaming" and forming new bubbles of self contained apparent "universes," or it's a cycle of nothingness, followed by infinite expansion that eventually leads to nothingness, or possibly a collapse, but in either case an infinite repetition of universes.

In either scenario all things are possible. Some people frame this as "therefore there would be universes with klingons and stuff." Or "I will get to experience every choice I could've made in separate iterations" which is more feasible...but let's say there's a precise value, like the exact planck length in "our" universe, that defines exactly this particular outcome. This semi-shared experience in this time here on this Earth.

It needn't be a "value" per se but let's say you have an infinitely-sided dice and you roll it infinite times. Every outcome will come up eventually. So even if you do get to experience every outcome, you also get to experience this one, forever and ever, and in no case will you be aware of it.

It's definitely the sort of thinking that starts during the high school "dude the universe" phase for many people like myself, but I have some inclination to think that it's "real" and that it's more likely that "this" exact universe with "me" as I know it is the one I'm stuck with, rather than every choice I've made spawning a separate universe, because perhaps it's so freaking complicatedly deterministic that this exact roll of the dice is the only one that led to my existence affording me the ability to make choices in the first place.

Love the show BTW. Nietzsche's passage:
And do you know what "the world" is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by "nothingness" as by a boundary; not something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a sphere that might be "empty" here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple out of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of concord, still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and its years, blessing itself as that which must return eternally, as a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptuous delight, my "beyond good and evil," without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself--do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too, you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men?-- This world is the will to power--and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power--and nothing besides!
posted by lordaych at 1:17 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


homunculus: "‘True Detective’ Episode 6: Michelle Monaghan On That Sex Scene and the Show's View of Women"

Never has the euphemism "sleep with" been so inappropriate. Otherwise, good interview.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:20 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


homunculus: “‘True Detective’ Episode 6: Michelle Monaghan On That Sex Scene and the Show's View of Women
This interview does give me some hope that they're not going to St. Elsewhere us and pull back in the end to show a dude in prison reading a bad pulp novel.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:24 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


It's one step away from French cigarettes and a fucking beret.

The French, they wear this hat when they...
posted by mecran01 at 2:21 AM on February 27


I've actually found Cohle's philosophy pretty robust.
People flipping it off as "half-baked" have never read Plato. Pretty much all philosophy is "half-baked" and contains contradictions in some sense.

Rust Cohle's philosophical ravings seem pretty consistent with any real persons philosophical rants if they have little traditional education in philosophy but have read a lot of Nietzsche.

I agree that until the last episode none of the female characters have seemed real. I thought the scenes with Monaghan in the last episode actually fleshed her out a lot though.
posted by mary8nne at 2:59 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Like a lot of people, I find that some of the McConologues thrill my inner misanthrope. Yet I can't help but to find Cohle more than a little silly sometimes. He's the state's foremost interrogator, he seems to have superhuman abilities to consume drugs and still think critically, he makes Thoreau look needy, he's such an idealist that he's self-sabotaging, and he even knows some kind of kung fu. He's the Michael Jordan of being alone, and The Morally Upright Atheist. And NP can put any words he wants into his mouth because Cohle is also a mysterious genius that is out-reading and out-maneuvering everyone all the time, endlessly creating personas just like when he was narcing so he can manipulate people the way he needs to. It's too much, man, too much.

Spoilers for last week... And this is why that sex scene was so terrific. They showed us Cohle allowing himself to go along with someone else and just be a human being, and then him feeling hurt like a real human being. And Maggie's thanks and apologies were heartbreaking. I hope to see him disarmed more often in the future. I thought they turned what was an annoyingly predictable cop movie trope into a very fine piece of writing there.

So yeah, this is kind of a thankless role for Harrelson so far, and that's lousy since he's playing the hell out of Hart. The human tampon indeed. I'll bet he's got some massive dramatic payoff coming up.

I already miss Ginger. That actor is amazing. Did anyone else see The Heart, She Holler?
posted by heatvision at 3:45 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Ash. Aluminum. I can smell the griphusphere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:40 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I like the theme song because it reminds me of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game which reminds me of David Lynch which reminds me of David Foster Wallace which reminds me of Infinite Jest which reminds me of The Entertainment and then it's PLAYS WITHIN PLAYS ALL THE WAY DOWN.

That's the Handsome Family doing that song. They are excellent. They have always been excellent and will always be excellent. My favorite album by them is In the Air. Check them out.
posted by NoMich at 4:40 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Is Wooderson in Dazed & Confused actually Rust in his early undercover days? Texas, drugs, the voice? It all makes sense now.
posted by NoMich at 4:45 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

Jay Munly. I'd recommend the Jimmy Carter Syndrome along with Munly and the Lew Lewis Harlots
Reverend Glass Eye, pretty much anything by him/them.

This comment of mine from an earlier MeFiSwap breaks down and links to multiple artists in that vein.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Matthew Mcconaughey is a dead ringer for a young Harry Dean Stanton in True Detective; it's fun to imagine the show as a Repo Man prequel.
posted by Scoo at 6:14 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


As for the show, and the men in it, treating women badly. Art imitates life, no? TV is not utopia and viewer discretion is advised.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:55 AM on February 27


If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

Very loosely interpreting this...

"Brother My Cup Is Empty" - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
"Desert" - Other Lives
"Shithouse Rat" - Wooden Wand
"Adonais" - Deb Oh
"I Forget You Every Day" - Chris Whitley
"Workin' Woman Blues" - Valerie June
"In Your Dreams" - Dark Dark Dark
"I'll See You In Your Wildest Dreams" - Reverend Horton Heat
"The Truth is Fucked" - Division of Laura Lee
"Tattoo of Your Name" - VAST
"Feathers of the Wings of the Angel Gabriel" - Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat
"Waiting for the Miracle" - Leonard Cohen
"The Humbling River" - Puscifer
"Glory to the Gods on the Highest" - Sabbath Assembly
Hobo's Lament EP - Larry and His Flask

Not at all country/Americana/folk/whatever, but the score to the (wonderful) movie Ravenous reminds me a great deal of True Detective:

"Colquhoun's Story" - Damon Albarn & Michael Nyman

Further afield, here are some more European sounds which sort of fit into the show's universe:

"The Great, Bloody and Bruised Veil of the World" - Current 93
"Broken Birds Fly II (Maldoror Wails)" - Current 93
"Diana" - Comus
"Morning's Waking Dream" - In Gowan Ring
"Svend I Rosengaard" - Valravn
"May Rain" - Sand

Did you know that Thomas Ligotti is also a musician? Well, if you didn't, now you do:

"No One Knows the Big News" - Thomas Ligotti

Rust Cohle seems pretty metal(-ish), even if he probably wouldn't listen to the stuff himself:

"Korppi" - Oranssi Pazuzu
"In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion" - Agalloch
"A Prayer For My Death" - Foetus
"Evig Vandrar" - Kvelertak
"Every Last Drop" - Nachtmystium
"I Led Three Lives" - Grails
"Constellations" - Ancients
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:58 AM on February 27 [37 favorites]


Also: eagerly awaiting mashups of Yellow Kid/Yellow King , and Carcosa/Carcassonne.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:02 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


That's the Handsome Family doing that song. They are excellent. They have always been excellent and will always be excellent. My favorite album by them is In the Air. Check them out.

They sit at the left hand and their cups are never empty.
posted by winna at 7:13 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite podcasts, Pseudopod, did a reading of one of the short stories from The King in Yellow, The Yellow Sign, a couple months ago. Definitely worth a listen.

And for all the grimness and nihilism of True Detective, remember that it stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, so you can be pretty sure that every day after filming wraps they get really stoned and play the bongos (probably while naked).
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:36 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


Yeah I sometime have to remind myself that the compelling weirdo noir character on the show is being played by the same man who starred in Failure To Launch.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Why are they condemned to some sort of living hell of repetition? There's zero evidence for this, other than it's awful so it must be true or something.

Deep down, he knows that even if he solves this case, there is going to be another murder that is going to have to be solved, and then another, and then another, over and over again. He's read through boxes and boxes of case files on murders, and he both feels the need to solve this case and get justice but also knows there is kind of a futility of it all, since it just means he will move on to the next inevitable murder.
posted by deanc at 8:08 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


If anyone can suggest more music along those lines, I'd be thrilled. Bluesy, creepy americana sort of stuff.

Brown Bird also has some stuff that fits the bill.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:32 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]




Huh, seems like they've identified 11 or 12 of the 14 people in the yearbook photo at this point.
posted by Justinian at 9:16 AM on February 27


I want to see this now! And Game of Thrones. I must befriend someone with the HBO!
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on February 27


To the Southern Gothic-y songlist above, I would add:

Neko Case- Deep Red Bells
Tarnation- Game of Broken Hearts
Sacred Harp Singers at Liberty Church- Idumea
Dock Boggs- Pretty Polly
Clarence Ashley- The Cuckoo
Dolly Parton- Silver Dagger


And of course, "I Wish I Was Back In Old Carcosa."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:40 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


I was wondering why I'd started mysteriously getting favorites again on a comment about The King in Yellow from years ago.
posted by penduluum at 11:15 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


The scenes we see are supposed to be what really happened.

Wrong. Haven't Marty, Rust, and Maggie all proven themselves to be unreliable narrators?
posted by Strass at 11:23 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Best show on TV at the moment.

Any attention to the show is good, I suppose, but I wish people would be less cynical about its imperfections and instead focus on all the wonderful stuff it's doing right.
posted by eas98 at 11:45 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Wrong. Haven't Marty, Rust, and Maggie all proven themselves to be unreliable narrators?

Yes, but the interviews rarely reflect what's happening on screen. Pizzollatto has stated that what happens through the camera lens is the reality of the show, even if the narrative of the characters doesn't support it.
posted by codacorolla at 11:47 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Related thread.
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Strass: The scenes we see are supposed to be what really happened.

Wrong. Haven't Marty, Rust, and Maggie all proven themselves to be unreliable narrators?


They're not the narrators. At least, not our narrators; the story they tell is to Papania and Gilbough.

The scene where they find LeDoux shows that while what Hart and Cohle say to Papania and Gilbough is not accurate, what the camera shows is accurate. It's no different than us seeing Hart tell his wife he was working when we see him actually having an affair.
posted by spaltavian at 12:17 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


codacorolla: "Wrong. Haven't Marty, Rust, and Maggie all proven themselves to be unreliable narrators?

Yes, but the interviews rarely reflect what's happening on screen. Pizzollatto has stated that what happens through the camera lens is the reality of the show, even if the narrative of the characters doesn't support it.
"

Aaah, I guess I assumed that the footage were the character's memories, not the unequivocal truth...
posted by Strass at 12:24 PM on February 27


Gothamist on repeated visual motifs

The link to Yahoo TV in that article, which explores the idea that the show's advertising poster reveals the identity of the yellow king, is fascinating. I think it convinced me.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:09 PM on February 27


Well, damn, thanks, homunculus. No idea how I missed that thread, and I was thinking it was odd I hadn't seen one.
posted by tyllwin at 1:21 PM on February 27


The link to Yahoo TV in that article, which explores the idea that the show's advertising poster reveals the identity of the yellow king, is fascinating. I think it convinced me.

If so, that doesn't make sense and would be supremely disappointing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:37 PM on February 27


Curse you for beating me to a True Detective post!

I love this show so, so much. I think it's the best thing I have ever seen on TV (it's certainly my favorite thing I have ever seen on TV), better than The Wire, Friday Night Lights and even Homicide. I watched the first episode four times (yes, four), and I have watched every other episode at least twice.

I would have watched it even if it had turned out to be a nicely shot, well-acted, noir procedural. But it's so much more than that.

Everything about it is amazing, the cinematography, the acting from everyone in it, the writing, the clever little winks and nods and hints and clues, subtle and overt. The sleepy, dreamy, hallucinatory atmosphere of the first couple of episodes, the frenetic, stressful single take end of Episode 4. I cannot remember looking forward to a show as much as I look forward to 9PM on Sundays (but only for the next two weeks, which is also wonderful in its own way).

And it rewards rewatching.

It's rare that something magical happens like this, where everyone involved brings their a-game, but True Detective is magical.
posted by biscotti at 1:55 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Not that they're the same at all in terms of tone, but True Detective seems very much so the spiritual ancestor to Twin Peaks. It's a well written crime drama which is totally aware of its genre (although Twin Peaks was more concerned with the soap opera, whereas True Detective is more concerned with men's magazine style pulp) and able to commit to being weird.

Twin Peaks is quirky, but it's also incredibly dark (it also deals with violence against women). And even though its mythology is more literally mythology, there's the same feeling of intensely satisfying world building going on.

If you haven't watched Twin Peaks and like True Detective then you should watch Twin Peaks.
posted by codacorolla at 1:59 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


SPOILER

The writers write themselves into a corner and it's all a dream by Matthew McConnaheuy [sic, whatever]

END SPOILER
posted by Renoroc at 2:09 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Also similar to Twin Peaks is its cinematic look. Particularly in the first year, Peaks rarely looked like TV even compared to today, and was completely different from the norm when it was on. True Detective is its visual equal on average, with occasional flourishes like the end of episode four that raise the bar even further.
posted by ipe at 2:13 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


THEORY CRAFTING

So, I'm thinking Hart is the killer. We've been told that what we see on the screen is reliable, but that doesn't lead to the conclusion that the most obvious explanation of events is what we should go for.

It would explain:

1) Hart's mocking of Cohle's theories at the first murder scene.
2) Hart's continuing pointing out that Cohle doesn't see what's under his nose.
3) Hart's shooting of the guy when he's about to blab about "the king in yellow". The show leads you to believe it's because he sees the girls in the trailer, but their could be a different explanation. I don't think the guy on his knees saw Hart coming and hence had a chance to shut up before Hart heard.
4) Hart's disinterest of going into the school, while Cohle was questioning the grounds keeper.
5) We already know that Hart has, plausibly, threatened people with having convicts "earn a favor" if they go to jail. That could explain the suicide in the police cell after the phone call.
6) It would match his name with crime, in plain old screenwriting meta-ness.

/THEORY CRAFTING
posted by bswinburn at 3:28 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


So, I'm thinking Hart is the killer.

Like Brandon Blatcher, I would find this very disappointing. However, on a certain thematic level, it makes sense. Hart makes a lot of claims about himself that he clearly believes-- that he loves his family, that it gives him stability, that he has self control, etc. -- that are clearly NOT true given his actions.

The title "True Detective" implies that one can be a true detective or a false one. Being a detective isn't about your title, it is about what you DO. Cohle hasn't worked for the police department for 10 years, but he is still doing detective work. Hart, even though he has worked as both a police detective and a private detective, is showing how this aspect of his life is yet another case where his actions contradict his self-perception. So they could tie the threads together by making the big reveal that one character, the non-detective, is a detective, while the character who claims to be a detective is actually a criminal.

-- that said, the fact that Hart vomited after beating up those two men in the jail indicates to me that he doesn't have the stomach for the kind of sexual and physical violence visited on the murder victims. In fact I thought that vomiting scene was placed there purposely to show the viewers that Hart is not the killer.
posted by deanc at 3:55 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Point blank, Marty is too pigheaded, stubborn and impulsive to anything close to be the head of anything, much like a secret cult that sacrifices women and children. He's also narrow minded, which explains why he hasn't realized that his daughters have come into contact with the cult and probably at least one of them has been abused by it. It's been right under his nose and he never noticed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 PM on February 27 [15 favorites]


I can't imagine a way that Hart could be the killer without it being cheeseball and M. Nighty. I just don't think this is that kind of series. I can see that the former prostitute Hart hooked up with in the most recent episode may be connected to the killer/cult, though. Like, either her whole deal is just a detour to Skinimax land -- which maybe -- or maybe her whole deal is a little too Penthouse Forum to be true. The little devil figurines are certainly a not-subtle hint at something.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:24 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


His father-in-law is totally involved and he doesn't see it, that's right under his nose.
posted by The Whelk at 4:25 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Like, either her whole deal is just a detour to Skinimax land

Literally, even. She's main cast on the Cinemax original program Banshee. Which is actually quite good for what it is. Even more violence and sex than on HBO, though.
posted by Justinian at 5:04 PM on February 27


Banshee is awesome.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:24 PM on February 27


I lost interest in Banshee around episode 2, with the gun-toting rave drug dealers. Does it get better?
posted by squinty at 5:40 PM on February 27


His father-in-law is totally involved and he doesn't see it, that's right under his nose.

Probably. But that or the identity of the yellow king isn't the point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


The Yellow King aka the killer may not, hell probably isn't, a single man. If he were, there would be an end or way to stop this. But there isn't a way to solve all the crimes, to make people care about missing children in rural backwater.

I think Rust is working the theory that can he can destroy this secret ring of abusers. But in doing so, he's fallen pretty far himself. Will he reach a point with this case where he can say "Ok, I'm finished, I can live again." Doubtful. Like the King in Yellow stokes, Rust has probably been driven a bit insane. Where can he go after a case like this?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think the identity of the Yellow King is the least interesting part of the story. It's going to be someone - maybe Tuttle? - but the mystery itself is not what has made the show so good. It's about the atmosphere and the acting and the characters and so on.

There's no whiz-bang awesome answer that the show could provide, unless it took a hard left into The Man Who Was Thursday / Barton Fink / Crampton levels of reality-destruction.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:11 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


maybe Tuttle?

Tuttle died suspiciously in 2010. Now that, I could see Mr. Rust "It's never taken me longer than two minutes to know if they're guiltily" Colhe being behind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 PM on February 27


Ohhhhhhhhh right. Well, maybe The Yellow King is like the Dread Pirate Roberts, or Godot?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:31 PM on February 27


Not that they're the same at all in terms of tone, but True Detective seems very much so the spiritual ancestor to Twin Peaks.
I feel like if you could split the essence of Twin Peaks into two separate paths, one would lead you to The X-Files, and the other to True Detective.
posted by dumbland at 7:40 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


I'm excited to talk about this show with you guys during the last two episodes.

Also, some friends and I recently concluded that we're all in love with Rust because he's a more damaged Fox Mulder.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Just watched the first episode on the strength of this post. Mcconaughey and Harrelson are great as a pair. The flash forward device is incredibly well done, you can see the end points for these two, and it gives you an immediate, visceral sense of something very bad going down. Hart got more polished, slicker, nice suit hiding some sickness for which he's popping pills. Rust lost whatever veneer he was using to at least sometimes give the impression he cared about the same things as everyone else.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:50 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Also, some friends and I recently concluded that we're all in love with Rust because he's a more damaged Fox Mulder.

The poster in Rust's cubicle is a picture of a empty black void on a field of white with the caption, "I Don't Want to Believe."
posted by codacorolla at 8:02 PM on February 27 [19 favorites]


It's entirely possible that there is no "yellow king" as a tangible person, and all of the "clues" -- Tuttle's yellow accessories, Hart's "yellow crown" in the poster, Harts daughter = princess => Hart = king -- aren't actually clues as to the identity of the yellow king. Rather, those things are just like the yellow king symbols in the Lone Star Beer or in other parts of the show-- visual motifs that are supposed to remind the viewer of "the yellow king." Hart isn't the yellow king because of the focus on his head in the poster any more than his last name implies he puts deer antlers on dead bodies. They're all just thematic Easter eggs scattered throughout the show. I tend to find this kind of thing gratuitous, but that is why I would never make it as an artist.
posted by deanc at 8:16 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Probably. But that or the identity of the yellow king isn't the point.

That link basically argues that True Detective is best thought of as an 8 hour nihilistic My Dinner with Andre. Actually, I would probably enjoy watching that. But I am going to feel cheated if most of the plot ends up unresolved and Pizzolatto explains it away saying, "well, ultimately it was always all about the characters."
posted by deanc at 8:21 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


mary8nne: "People flipping it off as "half-baked" have never read Plato. Pretty much all philosophy is "half-baked" and contains contradictions in some sense."

Actually, there's a reason why most people who take Plato seriously as a philosopher in modern times are, well, not philosophers. Old greek philosophy has historical value, but no modern philosophers take it seriously anymore.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:26 PM on February 27


Sticherbeast: "
Did you know that Thomas Ligotti is also a musician? Well, if you didn't, now you do:

"No One Knows the Big News" - Thomas Ligotti yt
"

And that's about as pretentious and in love with the sound of his voice as his writing is.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:29 PM on February 27


Old greek philosophy has historical value, but no modern philosophers take it seriously anymore.

I think you've confused philosophers with academics who publish papers on that narrow set of topics entitled "analytic philosophy." The venn diagram shows an intersection between these groups, but just barely.
--
I actually think the writing in the show is the weakest thing about it. It's pretentious and a little cliched. The acting and the direction, however, more than make up for it.
posted by shivohum at 9:20 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


we're all in love with Rust because he's a more damaged Fox Mulder.

I thought he was a slightly less damaged Rorschach!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:37 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Just finished episode 2. Kind of not entirely thrilled at the way gender seems to be working here but it's goddamned great. Rust reminds me of Tom Ligotti in terms of his dark, hideous misanthropy and nihilism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:23 AM on February 28


Oh my god, we get it, [show] is gritty, enough with the fucking strip clubs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 AM on February 28


The Yellow King aka the killer may not, hell probably isn't, a single man. If he were, there would be an end or way to stop this. But there isn't a way to solve all the crimes, to make people care about missing children in rural backwater.

I thoroughly agree with this. I went home from work last night and rewatched the first five episodes. There is so much dramatic focus on the question of why there are still murders occurring if they got the right guy in '95. And there's the unspoken suggestion, of course, that they didn't. We're also supposed to be wondering about the real purpose of the new interviews, and it's easy to jump to the conclusion that they were wrong about Ledoux, or even that (god help us) either Cohle or Hart is a suspect. But I'm pretty certain that this is going to be one of the twists, that it was the right guy, but that there are always others. I mean, why couldn't there be? Why wouldn't there be? Whether it's a cult or merely a conspiracy, why wouldn't these scumbags want to take turns being king and lording over the nasty festivities?

"Ok, I'm finished, I can live again." Doubtful. Like the King in Yellow stokes, Rust has probably been driven a bit insane. Where can he go after a case like this?

There are several reasons I think Rust is going to bite it at the end of all this and that's certainly one of them.

The first two scenes with Cohle hallucinating are very weird and noteworthy, but I could write them off as establishment of the level of accuracy/truthfulness of the visuals. Yet in a later scene, he reveals that he's also synaesthetic. I wonder if they're setting up a very hallucinatory final confrontation. They haven't done anything with those things for quite a few episodes.

Hart is an Elk. Metaphor all the way down, I guess.

In this last episode, Cohle goes to see the victim he and Hart rescued from Ledoux in '95. There's a classical piece playing in this scene that was used in Silence of the Lambs. That makes sense as a reference, as that film was hugely influential to the genre. It's used in the movie when Lecter has just eaten dinner and killed his guard, and is about to escape... There's a beautiful shot of him you probably remember with Lecter standing there listening, pale as a ghost but blood-flecked, and the camera pans over his drawings. I think that may have been what the song was calling attention to; it's one of the only things the two scenes have in common, and of course as the Gothamist article points out, the drawings in the show seem extremely significant.
posted by heatvision at 9:01 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Rust also uses the cross as a meditation device to focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, while not believing in any higher power. Him being a martyr in the end wouldn't be at all surprising.

My personal thought is that Rust has infiltrated the cult and is perfectly fine with being caught as part of a sting operation so long as he can use himself for bait to get the current-day police interested in the case again.
posted by codacorolla at 10:05 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Rust also uses the cross as a meditation device to focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, while not believing in any higher power. Him being a martyr in the end wouldn't be at all surprising.

Yeah, I'm surprised more people don't make note of this. As soon as Cohle told Hart why he had the crucifix over his bed, I figured it was heavy-handed foreshadowing, or Cohle straight up telling Hart how he planned to die.

Also: Ask a Philosopher: What's Up with Rust Cohle? For all that it focuses on Cohle, I think philosopher Paul J. Ennis says some interesting things about Hart:
Marty is a classic moral hypocrite albeit precisely the type of person who keeps society from collapsing. In many ways, he is just the Everyman and he carries out his "duty" in an extremely predictable way — almost as if he got married just so he could move on to have affairs as the next step. I don’t quite think it’s a philosophy so much as he has just soaked up ideas of how to be a man and tries to live according to them (without reflecting on it all too much as he senses where that leads).....Marty reads to me as a pragmatist who tries to navigate life by a series of codes of conduct. Not always good ones — men have codes for misbehaving.

posted by yasaman at 10:31 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Hannibal is back tonight, so the obvious question is, how would he cook Marty and Rust?
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Rust also uses the cross as a meditation device to focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, while not believing in any higher power. Him being a martyr in the end wouldn't be at all surprising.

Yeah, to be more specific, he said that he meditates on "the moment in the garden," and the concept of "allowing your own crucifixion."
posted by heatvision at 11:50 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Hannibal is back tonight, so the obvious question is, how would he cook Marty and Rust?

Would he cook Marty and Rust? I think Marty is a no brainer, but Rust and him would probably have a mutual respect.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on February 28


HANNIBAL IS TONIGHT OH MY GOD
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on February 28


"Like the King in Yellow stokes, Rust has probably been driven a bit insane."

Or he goes/has gone sane. After all, one take on The King in Yellow is that the audience/reader realizes that one is merely a peripheral character/observer in a much greater story. Cohle sees at the end that the ones those in power have always told us we have to watch out for are the ones in power, and so has it always been. And they're merely the servants/puppets of the true power.

Confronted by the absolute stone-cold sober truth of the irrelevance of one's existence (Total Perspective Vortex, anyone?), what can one do? The whole law, order, and justice song and dance is a total lie, on the human/societal level. And on the cosmic level...?

(Yes, I'm aware that this is not a revolutionary/earth-shaking conclusion, but given what I've come to expect from TV finales, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the 'mind-blowing/revolutionary' conclusion to TD. I haven't seen anyone else draw parallels with They Live, but that's where my mind went immediately. And we as a society could use more revisits to They Live.)
posted by Eideteker at 1:02 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


It was refreshing, however, to see a character shrug off death as no big deal. I still want to see remakes of all those Final Destination movies with buddhist characters. "Oh no, we accidentally cheated Death and now he's after us!" "When it's my time, it's my time. If it happens, it happens. Let's live life to the fullest for whatever little time we have left." *They all go to an amusement park and skip arm-in-arm while holding balloons and ride all the rides like 12 times before finally dying in a "freak" accident but with smiles on their faces, knowing they treated each moment like it could be their last and took every opportunity to remind loved ones that they were loved, etc.*

(Obvs. I'm not Cohle, though we agree on a number of things. My flavor of nihilism/realism tends towards optimism, not pessimism. "We're all going to die and life is meaningless. Let's dance and make up songs and maybe make out a little before time's up.")
posted by Eideteker at 1:16 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Would he cook Marty and Rust? I think Marty is a no brainer, but Rust and him would probably have a mutual respect.

I actually don't think Rust would respect Hannibal; he'd just see him as a particularly pretentious killer. But I think Hannibal would like Rust, much as he likes Will, and he'd be sure to do something very original with him in the kitchen in order to honor him properly.
posted by homunculus at 1:32 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


"Confronted by the absolute stone-cold sober truth of the irrelevance of one's existence (Total Perspective Vortex, anyone?), what can one do? The whole law, order, and justice song and dance is a total lie, on the human/societal level. And on the cosmic level...?"

This explains Rust's desire to dull his sobriety with all manner of intoxicants, and probably also why the victims seemed to welcome their release... having glimpsed the truth (briefly: there is no meaning), it was to terrible to go on. Humans, with our programmed self-preservation, too frequently lack the constitution for suicide.

I think there's something to the detective's curse/ignoring women angle, but I don't think it will in any way 'redeem' the women of the series. I think if anything, we will see the 'heroes' undone, perhaps without realizing it, by ignoring/overlooking the women they've encountered. And, perhaps, the chilling realization will be in just how complicit they (and we all) are in the horrors that continue to go on, and are indeed perpetrated in our name, every single day.

This is Carcosa.
posted by Eideteker at 2:13 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]




Oh, and only tangentially related, but I didn't see anyone else mention this:

Ambrose Bierce, inventor of Carcosa, just kind of disappeared. Seriously, no one knows what happened to him (though there are rumors).

I doubt this will have any bearing on the narrative, but it'll be totally wondrous if it does. (It's certainly how I want to go... either very publicly, or disappearing without a trace.)
posted by Eideteker at 4:57 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I'm currently re-watching the series, and noticing alot of the stuff I hadn't the first time around, thanks in part to online discussions.

One thing I noticed is that the first time we see Marty's wife, she's lying on the bed with her back to the camera in a top and her underwear. I think this is more than just a "butt shot" if that's what they were going for (there seem to be alot of butts in this thing!) -- it was a sleeping pose, which is a standard trope for death.

We're also shown Marty's two daughters asleep in their bunk bed, a scene I initially found sweet but upon second viewing found sinister: their poses are very death-like, with arms and legs hanging over the edge of the bed, and they have a tossed, toppled quality to their positioning. Again, sleep in novels and TV is a pretty standard device to suggest death.

The other thing I wanted to comment on -- I couldn't hear what Marty's girls were saying to each other as he approaches their room when they're doing their disturbing barbie doll scene, so I hit mute, and their conversation was, "You don't have a mommy and daddy, they're dead." / "There was a car accident..." It's at this point that Marty interrupts them.

I thought it was quite interesting in the context of the car accident that killed Cohle's daughter and also the car accident the preacher with the sideburns mentions in the latest episode. If Marty's daughters overheard adults saying this to another little girl, or what.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:16 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Ok, finally caught up to the current episode

As for the criticism that the female characters are two-dimensional, I feel like all the characters are two-dimensional. I presume that must be part of the point. I keep seeing the complaint that the sex in the show is "porny", but I just don't see it. I think what may be bothering people is that the show treats sex and death as utterly banal. There's no great mystery. It's just a biological function.

I feel this way too. The show is about the two main guys, and is showing their real experiences as they tell a sometime embellished or entirely fake story of it.

If you watch the entire thing as being sort of hazy memories both on the interviews and the flashbacks, nothing feels that weird and it doesn't feel like some characters are too "two dimensional", it just feels like the entire experience has this detached dreamy quality of an old memory.

Some parts that are more jarring or upsetting seemingly for the characters feel more clear or more intense, but the rest has this detached journal-like quality to it. It really all feels like someone recounting something from memory, both in the "truth" flashbacks and the interview story versions.

It kinda weirds me out how much people singled out those two things as handled in an objectionable manner. It's exactly in-line with how everything else was handled, and especially plays in to how those characters fit in to the story or would be hurt/etc(like the most recent detached revenge sex scene).

I just can't help but think, maybe what you see as shitty handling or gross is part of the show? Why can't it be? It definitely doesn't feel like lazy shittiness, or shittiness for the sake of fanservice/etc to me.
posted by emptythought at 7:22 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


I think we are absolutely supposed to think they're shitty and gross.
posted by The Whelk at 7:33 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


heatvision: "I think that may have been what the song was calling attention to; "

Well, it's the Goldberg variations. It's a pretty famous piece of classical music, using it doesn't have to be a reference to Silence of the Lambs. It might just be a "relaxing classical music played at a mental institution" thing, because it certainly is very relaxing and tranquil.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:02 PM on February 28


Really? How can you hear that music and not think of "Silence of the Lambs"?

It may be a piece of famous classical music, but it is also strongly linked with that movie - a movie that deals with some of the same themes as this work. I can't call it coincidence.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:07 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


I think we are absolutely supposed to think they're shitty and gross.

Especially Marty. And it's also supposed to be obvious that Rust is a hypocrite, even if he is the "right" kind of hypocrite, i.e. he muses that it might be better for a child to slip away in the night than to live another day, but he doesn't really think that - when he actually encounters a person who kills her babies, you can tell that he straight-up fucking hates her, and his last words to her are basically a sort of curse that he has placed on her in order to increase her suffering.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Exactly; neither Hart nor Cohle are the men they want themselves (and perhaps believe themselves) to be.
posted by Justinian at 10:05 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I came across the idea, a long while back, that the various Mythos gods are less gods as we'd think of them and more personifications of various constants of reality. So Yog-Sothoth is less a monster and more a personification of the modern view of spacetime, Azathoth is not so much a burbling horror somewhere out in space as the central meaninglessness and lack of order in the cosmos, and so on.

So I have this idea that the King in Yellow is a certain way that human minds fail- in that Gilded Age, yellow journalism, jaundice-sick degradation and corruption. Maybe somebody's feeding the symbolism to a certain class of degenerate, their minds addled by too much meth and LSD. Maybe somebody had an encounter with it and is spreading to the word to kindred souls. Maybe Hart's treading dangerously close to that territory.

Or hell, maybe it's all just a motif and it means nothing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:55 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


That's actually one of the approaches in the awesomely good Trail of Cthulhu by Ken Hite.
posted by longbaugh at 2:01 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, I like that idea and think it would fit the use of the King in the series for what I'm watching so far. There is a wiki (of course there is because INTERNET) about the King, and there's this very interesting tidbit on it:

In Tynes' reimagining, Hastur is described as an impersonal force of the universe, entropy, "which assumes an individual role only in response to the entropy caused by human beings – our destruction gives it form, our violence gives it name, our screams give it a voice. It is no more of a deity than gravity is, no matter how many people worship and ascribe it a personality and an intelligence". The King In Yellow remains a "curious manifestation of Hastur". Carcosa "is a strange ghost-metropolis that consumes other cities whose vice and melancholy draw the grim feaster-city towards them". The Phantom of Truth determines "whether the city shall be consumed or not". Yhtill was a city once consumed by Carcosa, but the royal palace remains separate, across the lake, re-enacting the events recorded in The King In Yellow (The Play). Byakhee are the inhabitants of a city long ago absorbed by Carcosa.

Even if the show's writer is not aware of this interpretation, it fits too nicely to not use it.
posted by Iosephus at 6:02 AM on March 1


John Tynes is almost certainly where I got it. I love that guy's work- he straight up gets Lovecraft and Lovecraftiana in a wonderful way. Friend of mine got to meet him while she was working for Pirates of the Burning Sea and I've been jealous ever since.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 AM on March 1


I only just got to the sixth episode, and it seemed like the the girl that Marty hooks up with, the girl from the backwoods trailer park/brothel dropped a pretty healthy hint into things. When she was talking about how Marty's weaknesses are how god made him, and how shed been taught that all things god made were good, that's referring to the Cathar's and their heresy, which links to one of their strongholds, Carcasonne, which, well, is supposedly the name inspiration for Carcosa. I've been trying to go back through the recaps and analysis of episode six, buti haven't seen anyone mention that yet. I imagine there's a very good chance that either she still has some connection to the yellow king, or they're just piling the red herrings on one that people are going back and checking things out. Personally, I'm willing to bet that pretty much everyone at the backwoods brothel was a part of the church of the yellow king, and that it will pop up again.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:40 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


McConaughey talks True Detective. Part of a larger conversation about Dallas Buyer's Club.
posted by codacorolla at 7:05 AM on March 1


That's actually one of the approaches in the awesomely good Trail of Cthulhu by Ken Hite.

Seconded. I can't recommend Trail of Cthulhu highly enough.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:19 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


When she was talking about how Marty's weaknesses are how god made him, and how shed been taught that all things god made were good

The little "no flaws" speech that Beth gives Marty is very similar to the speech Rust uses in the box to coax the pharmacy killer into copping to double homicide.

She says "God gave us these flaws, and something I learned-- He doesn't see them as flaws. There is nothing wrong with the way He made us. The universe forgives all."

Rust says "You're only how the Lord made you. You are not flawed. We, you, me, people, we don't choose our feelings. There's grace in this world, and there's forgiveness for all, but you have to ask for it."

Rust gets into people's heads, echoes their needs and desires, and says whatever he thinks they need to hear to get a confession, and he's shown turning his cruelty upon his subjects as soon as he's done manipulating them. Don't overlook the possibility that Beth is playing the same game on some level.
posted by Elsa at 7:23 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Has anyone caught the name of the 2012 victim who reawakened interest in the 1995 case? I've been rewatching and I can't catch it. Have they even mentioned her name? Did I just miss it?
posted by Elsa at 7:25 AM on March 1


Don't overlook the possibility that Beth is playing the same game on some level.

I meant to add: or, of course, serving the same function but without conscious intent or agency. And Beth has served the function of proving Marty's guilt yet again to his wife.
posted by Elsa at 7:33 AM on March 1


Well, there's a pretty strong gnostic/dualist current running through the whole thing. Both Rust's view of the flesh and the physical world as fundamentally evil, and the speeches he and Beth make, play into that same idea. That's also what the preacher's sermon was alluding to, I think, what with the whole "This world is a veil, and the face you wear is not your own" bit.

That also fits in with True Detective having quite a bit of debt to Cormac McCarthy, who's done a lot of Gnosticism allusions, maybe most notably in Blood Meridian.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:26 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Visual clues in True Detective (spoilers!!)
posted by shivohum at 7:44 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Ber: ""You're not getting a read on Cohle, he's getting a read on you." That line just so encapsulates that whole interview. MM might not get an Oscar but he's damn sure going to get an Emmy."

My only problem with the show is that it feels like McConaughey and Harrelson are battling over the best actor's Emmy a little too transparently. Sometimes it feels like Daffy and Bugs saying, "you think that was something, wait until see me in this scene!".
posted by octothorpe at 9:15 AM on March 2


They're both turning in great performances, and maybe feeding off of each other in a competitive way, but I don't think it ever crosses the line into overshadowing the story or overacting or anything like that. To me, the roles call for every drop of the raw emotion and bombast Harrelson and McConaughey have brought to them. I find it unlikely that the prospect of bringing home some hardware at an awards ceremony entered their minds during filming.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:34 AM on March 2


Has anyone checked out Sundance's new series The Red Road? If so, how is it?
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on March 2


Has anyone caught the name of the 2012 victim who reawakened interest in the 1995 case? I've been rewatching and I can't catch it. Have they even mentioned her name? Did I just miss it?

Her name is Stephanie Kordish. I don't think they ever said it, but it is listed on the incident report.

Another theory that's been floated over on reddit (that I think is very good) is that the whole thing is not a cult, but a sex trafficking ring.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:39 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


There is a picture of Woody Harrelson from the mid 90s on the wall of my local pizzeria so I assume this ties into the mystery somehow
posted by The Whelk at 2:29 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


True Detective will dovetail into Edtv, mark my words.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:44 PM on March 2


There is a picture of Woody Harrelson from the mid 90s on the wall of my local pizzeria so I assume this ties into the mystery somehow

Pizza is often delivered by people driving cars. A common beverage ordered along with pizza is Coke. Pizza is sometimes shortened to 'za.

Car-Coke-'za.

CARCOSA.

WAKE UP SHEEPLE
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:04 PM on March 2 [9 favorites]


A pizza is a flat disc.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on March 2 [9 favorites]




True Detective has managed to knock The Walking Dead out my personal 9pm live tv viewing slot. Downton Abbey never had a chance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:46 PM on March 2


I don't think they'll go full Cthulhu. Never go full Cthulhu.

Sometimes you have no choice but to call on the might of Cthulhu.
posted by homunculus at 4:07 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]




That closing song on 3/02 episode was Townes Van Zandt's Lungs. The Cowboy Junkies did a lovely cover.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]


I was really happy that the girl on the tape wasn't Audrey. That always struck me as one of the cheapest moves the plot could make. I do wonder if people are going to be mad when it gets to the end of this and there is no twist?
posted by codacorolla at 7:34 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah the ties to Hart's family appear likely to be thematic rather than literal, which does make sense. Everybody called the dude on the lawnmower, of course, but that one didn't exactly take a true detective.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


I bet a Hart family connection will be suggested but kept un-concrete - like we'll see one of her paintings and they'll have some repeated visual motif like the black stars or animal headed men.
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 PM on March 2


Someone in the reddit thread said that black stars ARE in the painting of Audrey's that we see. It flashed by so quickly, I didn't get a good look.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:47 PM on March 2




Matthew McConaughey is the wind beneath his own wings.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:13 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


I'm not ruling it out, but I think the show is much better if Marty's family is never directly involved in the case.
posted by codacorolla at 9:17 PM on March 2


I like the ambiguity, I think it fits in well with Hart's "Detective's Curse" monologuing as well as, per my comments in this and the other thread, his utter inability to see women as anything but possessions or (at best) bit players in the Marty Hart story.
posted by Justinian at 10:31 PM on March 2


Yeah, I'm pleased that the show isn't veering off into the supernatural. And that Marty's screaming at what was on the screen was simply about a child being harmed as opposed to his child being harmed.

At the show's heart, there's just Rust, Marty and Maggie and their relationships with each other and the world. There's all the bad stuff going on in the background, the bad stuff they did to each other. Now that the latter is more or less resolved, time for the former. I hope it's as low key as the rest of the series.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 AM on March 3


I do wonder if people are going to be mad when it gets to the end of this and there is no twist?

I haven't expected the supernatural... That is, I expect the show to leave it open to interpretation whether these cultists are just demented and cruel or whether there is a Yellow King. We don't have to see Him to think that he's real if we want to. We could even see things through the eyes of a character that was drugged.

Yet I do feel a little disoriented by the show now. A lot of other TV dramas--particularly Breaking Bad--were/are very good at establishing expectations and then violently subverting them, such that even if something occurred that was predicted by fans, it happened much sooner or later than everyone thought it would. This show has felt to me like it was playing the same game; having so many predictions validated by either the episode or spoilers in this last week makes me feel like I misread the show and its intentions rather severely.

I also feel like this trend of stories being told in non-chronological order represents a legitimate storytelling method being abused by certain filmmakers who are hell-bent on creating the illusion of depth in stories that have little... and that that sort of artist is also big on the twist-at-the-end. So that's contributed to the feeling that I ought to try to outsmart the show because it's going to pull a trick on me at any second.

Detective's curse, I suppose. There was a perfectly engaging drama under my nose the whole time.

I just hope now that future seasons are equally pulpy. I got out my Taschen book of men's adventure magazines as soon as I got into this show because somehow I remembered that True Detective was one. By focusing on biker gangs, drugs, and cult murders, and exoticizing the location, the show hasn't let me down. There is a disappointing lack of fan art made to look like those wonderful old painted magazine covers though. Everything is so damn minimalistic these days.
posted by heatvision at 6:21 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]


Can people please be a little more circumspect when posting spoilers about the latest episode???

A post with key plot points from something that only aired last night deserves a spoiler label at the beginning please!
posted by shivohum at 6:55 AM on March 3


Now that you know this post contains comments about last night's episode, you can make the choice on whether to continue reading until you've watched the episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


Did you not think that a thread that'd been discussing present-tense details of a currently airing show wouldn't continue discussing it up to the end of the most recent episode?
posted by codacorolla at 7:37 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


I thought that people would continue to indicate that there were spoilers in their post before disclosing key plot points, as most people did upthread up until just recently.
posted by shivohum at 7:50 AM on March 3


Well, there's your twist.
posted by Eideteker at 10:39 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Those warnings never do me any good. By the time my brain's processed the spoiler warning, my eyes have already sent the spoiler along for processing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:43 AM on March 3 [2 favorites]


I was intending to wait until next weekend and then binge the first seven as prep for watching the finale as soon as I could but ended up bored and impatient this weekend.

I don't think it's some game-changing, medium-redefining thing, a level of fervor I've seen some people have for it... But this is definitely some really high grade material, problematic aspects and all. That it's coming as someone's first effort at doing anything like this and that he wrote without a staff is quite something. I mean certainly the director for the whole season and so many others had their hands in it also because it's a collaborative medium, but the level of creative control Pizzolatto's maintained here is astonishing. I'm glad he's paid that trust back by turning out something special.

As for the finale... Part of me really wishes the final hour could just go batshit crazy and end with Rust and Cohle accidentally unleashing some actual demonic force. I think that's extraordinarily unlikely though. We've been given natural reasons for all the slightly Twin Peaks-y touches up until now: Sleep deprivation, synesthesia, drug use and so on.

The show's reminded me (among other things) of Fincher's Zodiac, given the presence of extreme obsession with a series of crimes by a relative outsider and the occult tinge. Speaking of Fincher, I wouldn't be entirely surprised by a gut punch at the end that'll cause Marty to have a "WHAT'S IN THE BOX???" style meltdown to close things out.

For some reason, I'm less worried about the show sticking the landing this time around in terms of tying everything off satisfactorily. It's the follow up series I'm more concerned about. I'm glad they're doing it anthology style (though without AHS's repertory-style casting it seems). Apparently the writer's found his way to some characters he likes and so work's began but the level of expectations people are going to have... Not an easy thing to live up to.

Anyway. Woo. Good TV is good, and a little gap after it ends before Game of Thrones resumes.
posted by sparkletone at 1:09 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


This interview with Nic Pizzolatto seems to make the possibility of either Rust or Marty as the killer fairly unlikely. He expresses contempt for Usual Suspects-style endings that try to "outsmart the viewer."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:53 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


I think after last night's episode it's pretty obvious that the dude on the tractor is the Yellow King, especially with the let me stand up, wipe the sweat from my brow, while the camera zooms in to show that I have scars on my face shot.
posted by pseudodionysus at 2:13 PM on March 3


He definitely is part of it. And really, there doesn't seem to be one killer anymore. But Hart being involved seems super, super unlikely now, given Pizzolatto's comments.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:19 PM on March 3


This interview with Nic Pizzolatto seems to make the possibility of either Rust or Marty as the killer fairly unlikely.

I'm glad someone wrote all this out for me as I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to say some or all of it to a number of people I know in the next week...
posted by sparkletone at 2:44 PM on March 3


I tell you what, if there's any show that's made me want to start drinking and smoking again, it's this one. But I can't do that, so I guess I'll have to be influenced by it in some other way. Really elaborate quasi-mythical serial killing? Seems like that would use a lot of petrol but by god we've got to try something!
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:48 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


Maybe you could grow a really sweet rat tail 'stache.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:50 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


There has been evidence that Hart's daughters have some contact with the Satanic cult, remember the drawing the youngest daughter drew? A naked man in a mask. There are also spiral drawings in the younger daughter's room.
posted by cell divide at 2:56 PM on March 3


That's definitely glaring, yeah. I'm of the mind that Hart's father-in-law may be involved.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:58 PM on March 3


For some reason, I'm less worried about the show sticking the landing this time around in terms of tying everything off satisfactorily. It's the follow up series I'm more concerned about. I'm glad they're doing it anthology style (though without AHS's repertory-style casting it seems). Apparently the writer's found his way to some characters he likes and so work's began but the level of expectations people are going to have... Not an easy thing to live up to.

I'm worried about this, but more worried that if he follows through with the hints dropped about the leads being women next time, that all the basement trolls who hated Carmela Soprano and Skyler White will pop up to go "BOO THIS SUCKS SEASON ONE WAS SO MUCH BETTER THIS SHIT IS GHEY".

And then you'll get a bunch of articles on b-list buzzworthy type sites going "does season 2 just not fill the shoes left by season 1? MORE INSIDE" and it'll sorta become canon that it "wasn't quite as good".

We'll just have to see though, i guess.
posted by emptythought at 3:27 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


This interview with Nic Pizzolatto seems to make the possibility of either Rust or Marty as the killer fairly unlikely.

For what it's worth, I just finished Pizzolatto's novel Galveston and he does eschew those kinds of "pull out the rug" devices in that book too. He's got his various plot twists and turns in there, but it doesn't wind up in some kind of Shyamalan-esque mind-blower. (That interview is well worth reading, too, thanks.)
posted by whir at 4:48 PM on March 3


I've liked this discussion! There's so much juice and pith to work on.
Gender
I'm a woman and I think this show is interesting because of the construction of US masculinity of this generation depicted. I held my nose the first episode, waited awhile to decide whether it was worth going back in, then watched every episode.

Race/Ethnicity/Regionalism
I am interested in what white and other people think about this show about poor white Southern people and the people who make their lives harder. A handful of shows have covered people of color in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, but often collapsing the difference into "New Orleans". The discussion/show recaps on AVclub have been really useful about proper context. This region's history as a center of brutal flesh trade Atlantic slavery as well as a multicultural confluence.

Religion/Ritual
I wonder what people who practice voudon, Santeria, Wicca, neopagan stuff, etc. think about this show. As an outsider, I think that the showrunners have made it clear from the beginning that this region's horror seems distinct from these practices. That is a step up from many other depictions. The mundane sinister feel of the Catholic and Evangelic movements in the show takes a hit and elevates this show away from shows that use non-monotheistic practices to convey Satanic evil.
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 7:02 PM on March 3


I cannot think of anything more insulting as an audience than to go through eight weeks, eight hours with these people, and then to be told it was a lie—that what you were seeing wasn't really what was happening.

Thank you. One thing I like about True Detective is that, even if something unexpected happens, it's never because of the "idiot cameraman"; i.e., the narrative doesn't depend on us not being shown something that we should obviously have seen in a coherent story.
posted by spaltavian at 7:17 PM on March 3


Rewatching some this show tonight had me like...
posted by sparkletone at 9:10 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]




SPOILERS for the finale ending:
A long, slow zoom out from Rust + Marty to space, to the tune of this song.
END SPOILERS
posted by Eideteker at 6:53 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


Spoilers for Season 2
posted by Eideteker at 6:55 AM on March 4


The King in Yellow? Oh, yeah. I saw a production of it at the Dog Park last year.
posted by schmod at 11:08 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


True Detective Director Cary Fukunaga on the Yellow King Theories, Jason Guerrasio, Esquire, 02 March 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 3:45 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


McConaughey Reveals the Four Stages of 'True Detective' Rustin Cohle
Oscar winner talks about charting the show's hero from crack cop to cracked-up
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:55 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]




I just basically broke it down and made a 450-page graph of where Cohle was and where he was coming from," McConaughey says

I'm sorry, am I the only one who had to pick their jaw up after this? 450 pages? Holy shit, how is that even possible? Is part of it a flipbook? I know I'm really, really far from being an Oscar winner, but I've done some of this for RPGs and have never prepped more than 20 pages of background. I'm very curious as to what would even be in there in the hundreds. Jesus.

...Between obsessing over this show and boring garbage like work, I've also been rewatching The X-Files in its entirety lately. I was a devoted fan when it was on, but I dropped it when the first movie came out and rebooted the mythology, so all the Doggett stuff is new to me. I'm enjoying it, and have always liked Robert Patrick a lot, so of course right now I'm feeling very True Detective Season 2! about him. Then a couple of nights ago I got to "Via Negativa," the episode where Doggett goes after the hallucinatory death cult, and for a while there it felt like my experience of the world of entertainment had fractured and collapsed in on itself.
posted by heatvision at 9:00 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]




I'm sorry, am I the only one who had to pick their jaw up after this? 450 pages? Holy shit, how is that even possible? Is part of it a flipbook?

Yeah, I wondered about that and what exactly was made. Was it 45 pages of single spaced, handwritten drawings? Or just a general book that he wrote, typed, drew and whatever in? I'd love to see it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on March 5


it's just drawings of dongs
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Oh that's a good point, he said 'made' and not 'wrote.' So this 450-page graph could just be a Carrie-from-Homeland style assemblage of pages of relevant background info--psychology, police work, philosophy, etc.--arranged chronologically into the phases of Cohle.
posted by heatvision at 11:14 AM on March 5


Or it's his notes on the script pages? FWIW in the associated Q&A he says "We shot 450 pages in six months."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:18 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I interpreted it NOT as him saying that he made a graph that took up 450 pages or something like that. Rather that the scripts for the entire season amounted to 450 pages or so. He took those 8 scripts and went through and in addition to making notes about Cohle's mental state for himself, he made a graph kind of visually representing where Cohle was at in his life over the course of the various episodes: "In this episode 1995 Cohle is here, 2012 Cohle is here" etc.

It'd be interesting to get a look at it. Maybe it'll be shown in the behind the scenes stuff once this comes out on bluray.
posted by sparkletone at 12:28 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]






Rust isn't getting the deposit back on that storage unit, is he?
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:52 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Depends on the the quality of the wang drawings in his book.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:16 PM on March 5


Hugh Dancy draws dong clocks.
posted by homunculus at 8:51 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


"draw me a dong"
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 PM on March 5


I can't decide if that would the best or worst episode of Storage Wars ever.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:35 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


"Depends on the the quality of the wang drawings in his book."

drawangs

































griphus
posted by Eideteker at 7:31 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Has anyone seen a timeline of the show depicting the various events chronologically? I get confused about what happened when.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:51 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I just use Marty's hairline as a bellwether.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Heh. I'm thinking more about the various off-screen events (murders, abductions, church burnings, school closings, etc) than the actual episodes themselves.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:23 AM on March 6


Unless I am misremembering, until the most recent episode, every single event outside the interrogation was set in the past and proceeded chronologically. With this episode, we entered the present, and the show has been proceeding forward from there, without any more flashbacks.

It gets a little confusing in that the original investigation took place in 1995 and looked into events that happened years earlier, but we find out about that stuff in the 1995 timeline only through photos and interrogation, never through additional flashbacks (except the male prostitute and the housebreaking), if that helps. I suppose the timeline looks like this, if it were all laid out:

Before 1994:

-- Tuttle family events, including the scarring of the lawnmower man
-- Foundation of Tuttle schools, series of undiscovered ritual murders in areas surrounding schools
-- Rust spends years in deep cover infiltrating drug rings in Texas

1995:

-- Murder of Dora Kelly Lange; Rust joins CID; investigation begins that culminates in Martin killing Ledoux and recovering Kelly
-- Martin has disastrous affair with court reporter
-- Martin gives underage prostitute money to start new life
-- Martin's daughter shows signs of possible sexual abuse similar to the cases being researched

2002:

-- Martin has affair with former underage prostitute
-- Maggie sleeps with Rust to break up with Martin
-- Martin's daughter is caught in sexual relationship with two other boys; boys are beaten by Martin
-- Fight between Rust and Marty; Rust quits CID

Between 2002 and 2010

-- Rust spends most of decade in Alaska on fishing boat
-- Marty resigns after seeing a baby accidentally killed by an addict, opens private investigation business

2010:

-- I belive this is when Rust begins his investigation again, and meets with the male prositute in a New Orleans bar
-- Tuttle commits suicide (or is murdered) subsequent to Rust stealing evidence from his house

2012

-- Interrogation with Papania and Gilbough
-- Martin's daughter has moved to New Orleans and works as an artist, is on some sort of psychiatric medicine
-- Rust and Mary join forces again to solve case
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:00 AM on March 6 [9 favorites]


The “True Detective” Creator Debunks Your Craziest Theories "As Sunday’s finale looms, Nic Pizzolatto discusses the first season’s arc, crazy fan theories, misogyny, female nudity on the show, and Season 2." (Buzzfeed Q&A)
posted by gladly at 10:00 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I loved that Angel Of The Morning was playing for that meeting - just the perfect camp gracenote
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on March 6


I also like how everyone who works with HBO says "yeah there's an onscreen nude requirement."

When Sparatcus: Blood And Sand was being developed the network said they wanted to compete with HBO by using COPIOUS MALE NUDITY on a show where the main characters are usually just in straight up cloth thongs.

I'm not saying it DIDN'T work....
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on March 6


For all the crap HBO gets about that they actually have the least explicit sexual content and nudity of all the premium channel original programming.
posted by Justinian at 11:55 AM on March 6


Huh, I forgot about Showtime which tends to have less. I guess that makes HBO 3rd out of 4. I'd rank them in terms of gratuitous nudity as:

1) Cinemax
2) Starz
3) HBO
4) Showtime
posted by Justinian at 11:56 AM on March 6


HBO Should Show Dongs
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on March 6




Hodor dongs.
posted by Justinian at 12:21 PM on March 6


we just can't get beyond dongerdome.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


One of the most interesting responses to the True Detective discussion is Maureen Ryan's look at who creates prestige dramas for cable television. Spoilers: It's dongerdome behind the camera, too.
posted by gladly at 12:57 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


we just can't get beyond dongerdome.

You know, it's an old joke, but I laugh every time.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:24 PM on March 6


We don't need another dildo
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond
Dongerdome
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:09 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]




Well I guess its okay to post this, then: True Warrior Cats.

Mildly amusing.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:11 PM on March 6


Well I guess its okay to post this, then: True Warrior Cats.

Don't know about the rest of you, but this is the show I've been watching the whole time.
posted by sparkletone at 8:56 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


True Detective's Mystifying Kurt Vonnegut Connection, Luke O'Neil, Esquire, 04 March 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 2:58 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'll say it. That Esquire link had me, had me, had me, then lost me:

Cohle, I'm going to hazard a guess, is dying of cancer.

I thought we were all agreed that if anyone has cancer, it's Hart, what with the "ass cancer" comment and the pill-eating.

NO ACTUAL SPOILERS, JUST VAGUE PRONOUNS, DON'T GET FRIGHTENED:
I imagine that I'm not the only person here that saw the Instagram spoilers. And I figure people here don't want to talk about confirmed future content, but I'm also pondering how much of a spoiler that pic is to begin with. So, to anyone who knows what I'm talking about, do you reckon that in this day and age we can assume that it wasn't an accidental leak, but deliberate clue-dropping like everything that's actually on the show? That we're meant to know about that going into the final episode and to make assumptions/speculate based on it?

Pizzolato seems to have kind of a weird attitude about what we should and shouldn't speculate about (for example, saying that we only expect a twist like Hart or Cohle being the killer because we've been "abused" by entertainment, then admitting that he wrote the story specifically to make that idea plausible until the end of episode 7). In a way I feel like they're just gaslighting us all the time, but I guess that's all just part and parcel of being a smart showrunner nowadays.
posted by heatvision at 6:17 AM on March 7


Rust Cohle's Pinterest page.

(Heatvision, I saw those behind-the-scenes pictures on Instagram but they didn't seem to spoil anything ... I'm obviously missing something? Which pic in particular are you referencing?)
posted by jbickers at 7:16 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Has True Detective seen the yellow sign: "The writer and director aren’t going to suddenly open a gate between worlds and have our anti-heroes step through into lost Carcosa. They've accomplished something far more rewarding: They established a literary precedent to justify and punish Rustin Cohle."
posted by jbickers at 7:44 AM on March 7


This spoilery thing, don't even hover if you don't want to know anything.

You might not be missing anything at all, jbickers. That appears in the episode 8 preview, but only partially and briefly, in darkness. I think it's something that a lot of viewers could/would have imagined by now. But the way I see things, it defies some speculation that was posted in this very thread, so if people don't want to know about it, then that's cool too. I don't want to upset anybody.

I had felt like the coloration indicated a possible conclusion in the context of the FPP; the preview makes much clearer the extent to which the image has been re-colorized, and that makes me feel like this was a false lead.

I now realize how paranoid and fixated I probably sound, so apologies if this is an uninteresting addition to the conversation.
posted by heatvision at 8:41 AM on March 7


"Paranoid" and "fixated" are entirely appropriate contributions in a thread about this show.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:01 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


(for example, saying that we only expect a twist like Hart or Cohle being the killer because we've been "abused" by entertainment, then admitting that he wrote the story specifically to make that idea plausible until the end of episode 7)

His attitude here doesn't really strike me as odd at all.

If there was literally no rational reason for the two detectives doing the interviews that make up so much of the season to suspect Cohle, then they'd look stupid and it would be weak writing. By episode 7, it's really clear imo that neither Cohle nor Hart are ritual serial killers.

Rejecting an out-of-left-field twist where Hart's been killing people all along as ham-fisted and lame isn't weird at all.
posted by sparkletone at 10:54 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


"I thought we were all agreed that if anyone has cancer, it's Hart, what with the "ass cancer" comment and the pill-eating."

Neither man dies in the line of duty. Marty develops Cohle-on cancer. Rust overdoses and dies of a Hart attack.

They die within hours of each other, in different cities, a la Adams and Jefferson. Neither man is aware of the irony of their deaths.
posted by Eideteker at 1:46 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


You are wrong, Cohle will die first because Rust never sleeps.
posted by Elmore at 10:20 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


six hours people. Lets do this!
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on March 9




7 minutes in and I've already screamed as much as last week's Hannibal.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:09 PM on March 9


Dr. Zira: Fo' reals, yo.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:26 PM on March 9


I have a feeling that this will not end well.
posted by octothorpe at 6:35 PM on March 9


Well I am sad now.
posted by SarahElizaP at 6:41 PM on March 9


Not as sad, yay!
posted by SarahElizaP at 6:46 PM on March 9


Still expecting it to not end well.
posted by octothorpe at 6:48 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


That was deeply satisfying as a story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


I mean this without any sarcasam at all: What a twist!
posted by ob1quixote at 6:59 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


That was awesome and a perfect segue into Cosmos.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:00 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


God damn!
posted by codacorolla at 7:01 PM on March 9


I hope they do another season with these two. Doesn't have to be next season...just, you know, eventually. Six seasons and another Hart and Cohle.
Also this: I am never setting foot in a bayou.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:06 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Fantastic. The thought I had halfway through this episode was, this is the first time a TV show has given me the same feeling that reading a good novel gives me. That sort of beginning-middle-end, well developed characters, interesting story, "I'm glad I spent this time with this story" feel.
posted by jbickers at 7:08 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


And now it's time to rewatch.

Thing that shocked me the most: the accents that one character put on in the first couple scenes. Threw me for a loop.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:31 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


If you get an invite for Shakespeare in the Bayou DO NOT ATTEND.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:34 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Or, at least, bring your own hatchet.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:35 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Everyone has a fucking phone
posted by humanfont at 7:44 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


The twist is that the ending is not totally depressing! That's the twist!
posted by Justinian at 8:01 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


That was awesome and a perfect segue into Cosmos.

You know, surprisingly, it really was.
posted by yasaman at 8:01 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Thing that shocked me the most: the accents that one character put on in the first couple scenes. Threw me for a loop.

That and what Cohle saw are the things that let it be a little uncertain whether it was just a crazy inbred pervert murder cult or a correct-about-the-universe inbred pervert murder cult.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


The room with the hole in the ceiling reminded me of the silo in the latest episode of Hannibal.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


I'm very curious if there really are abandoned forts like that.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:55 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


homunculus: I noted that as well. Oculi featured prominently in both of this week's episodes! Very interesting.

It's oculi, right? I hope.
posted by Justinian at 10:02 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Loved the ending. The last line from Cohle just made the whole thing perfect. Such a deeply satisfying show.

Now, based on the comparisons people have made, I'm starting Twin Peaks (which I've never seen!) tonight.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:03 PM on March 9


What an amazing show. Walking Dead after that is a let-down.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:04 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Twin Peaks is an amazing show, too. Different than TD, but commensurate in quality.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:07 PM on March 9


Thing that shocked me the most: the accents that one character put on in the first couple scenes. Threw me for a loop.

Apparently Alan Sepinwall interviewed Nic Pizzolatto shortly after the finale aired. One of the tidbits he throws out in his review (the full interview is still to come) is that part of the unshown backstory for Childress is that he had to relearn how to talk after whatever messed up his face. Part of doing so was adopting accents of actors in movies he liked, hence the various voices in that scene.

As fucked up and monstrous a character as he is, that kind of little touch whether it's explained or not is the kind of thing that really helps this season be a cut above most shows like this.

As for my thoughts on the ending.... I'm not dissatisfied exactly, and I 100% agree with the people above mentioning the novelistic (in a good way) feel of the season as a whole. This episode had me in the palm of its hand up almost to very end. The final scene with Rust and Marty is beautiful. The writing, the acting, seriously. Fucking amazing. But from a plot construction point of view (and I agree with Sepinwall that this show is SO MUCH BETTER when you care about character more than plot) it felt a little pat.

The execution was fantastic but... I dunno. At several points during that post-climax denouement, I almost felt like we were being given "the happy ending" where the "real" ending was that Marty straight up gets got in the final show down. Rust survives and has to try to vaguely comfort Marty's ex-wife and kids in the hospital and then that scene where he's just staring out the window... No final monologue from him. No more bullshit pretensions. You just see him as the wreck that managed to do one good thing with his life (basically) in the most messy, costly way possible.

I'm not mad at the actual ending, and WOW do I want to see what S2 turns out to be, but after the seven episodes previous... This felt just a hair too clean.
posted by sparkletone at 10:22 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Two musical questions: what was creepy homeslice whistling at the beginning of the episode, and what was the song playing over the credits?

Also, buhhhhhhhh. After that, my brain is the most delightful pudding of WTF.
posted by palomar at 10:23 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I was wondering about the whistling also. The end credits song I'm sure will be public shortly. There's stuff like this which should have it shortly if it doesn't already. The whistling seems more incidental so we might not know soon.
posted by sparkletone at 10:27 PM on March 9


(Never mind my second question, I done answered it myself!)
posted by palomar at 10:29 PM on March 9


it felt a little pat

I feel a bit let down by "atheist sees the face of God" as the conclusion.

(Pizzolatto says in one of the HBO "inside the episode" extras that Rust is probably agnostic; maybe that was how he wrote him, but it wasn't at all how I read him.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:51 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or does Rust look an awful lot like Jesus when we first see him in the hospital (while the TV news is playing)?

I love how the news reported that the AG and the FBI were discrediting the connection to the Tuttle family.
posted by homunculus at 10:59 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


ob1quixote: “I'm very curious if there really are abandoned forts like that.”
To answer my own question as well, Fort Macomb was the location used for those scenes. It's owned by the state. I'm striking out in trying to find examples of 19th century masonry forts in private hands.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:59 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I was absolutely convinced both Cohle and Hart would be killed and freaky-deaky lawnmower Cary Grant would be allowed to live; it seemed like a dark ending that the writer would go for. How did we end up with a (somewhat) happy ending?

Upon preview: yep, Cohle Jesusing it up big time.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:00 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


The execution was fantastic but... I dunno. At several points during that post-climax denouement, I almost felt like we were being given "the happy ending" where the "real" ending was that Marty straight up gets got in the final show down. Rust survives and has to try to vaguely comfort Marty's ex-wife and kids in the hospital and then that scene where he's just staring out the window... No final monologue from him. No more bullshit pretensions. You just see him as the wreck that managed to do one good thing with his life (basically) in the most messy, costly way possible.

I see where you're coming from here, but that "real," "dark," ending would honestly have felt just as, if not more, pat and boring to me. The grim ending is, at this point, the easier road to take with these sorts of dramas, and it wouldn't have really meant anything. We've already seen that the investigation and Rust and Marty's natures have stripped both of them of their illusions about themselves and their lives. We've already seen both of them at rock bottom, and past it.

What we got instead was catharsis. That final scene with Rust and Marty was beautiful and powerful, not because Rust found god in his own way or whatever. It was powerful because it was a display of incredible vulnerability from Rust, and it represented Rust moving past his nihilism and determined lack of feeling about his losses, into actually feeling those losses and the real, positive emotions that were once connected with those he lost.

What Rust gets at the end is a terrible peace: he has felt the love and sense of completion that he thought were out of reach of the "locked room" of his mind, only to be dumped back in the imperfect world with the knowledge of that now seemingly out of reach love and completion. Marty has a similar moment when his family visits him (a demonstration of their love, and likely the first time the family had been together in years) and he briefly breaks down.

To me, all this adds up to a less pat ending than it might seem on the surface. It's instead intensely bittersweet. Rust and Marty have moments of cathartic healing and pain, they reaffirm their friendship, and Rust expresses hope, but it's all against the backdrop of the things they've lost and can't get back again. They have each other though, and the measure of hope from the "one," "oldest" story of "light versus dark" that Rust talked about. I guess it's a happy ending, but it's not an easy one.
posted by yasaman at 11:09 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


I see where you're coming from here, but that "real," "dark," ending would honestly have felt just as, if not more, pat and boring to me. The grim ending is, at this point, the easier road to take with these sorts of dramas, and it wouldn't have really meant anything.

I completely understand, and your further underlining of this is even more interesting to me.

It feels like you and I (I wouldn't speak for others) feel like this show did a GREAT job of threading that particular needle, but our feelings about the shape and size of the needle being threaded aren't quite the same.

You are sooooo right about the feeling of catharsis on many levels. And Rust's dissatisfaction is one of the reasons the ending as presented works for me. It's a.... nod in my direction? Something like that.

I completely agree that it's a happy ending but not an easy one and is ... if not entirely earned for me comes close enough that I will voice quibbles because I feel like this show deserves and has earned that level scrutiny... But I'll also not be super upset by any of htat. The voicing of quibbles is not an entire rejection of the finale of the piece or of the whole.

Whatever comes of S2, this is a memorable 8 hours of TV worthy of the picking over it has gotten/will get.
posted by sparkletone at 11:28 PM on March 9


That was very, very good. If I'm unsatisfied with anything, it's probably some of the loose threads that were forgotten about, the main one being Hart's daughter and her drawings and whatnot. If there's no explanation for that, it seems like it was just a thing to do to make things extra creepy and portentous, without having to really account for it, which feels like cheating.

I'd love to see Pizzolatto explain that somehow in an interview or something, even if it's just some simple explanation.

Apart from that, pretty great. I like how Cohle's hallucinations allow for kind of supernatural visions and cosmic horror tones without having to go objectively supernatural. It's a fine balance that could easily have not worked at all, but that final reveal in the, well, I guess I'll go ahead and call it the throne room, is just awesome and horrible and works for me.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:44 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Here's Alan Sepinwall's interview with Nic Pizzolatto.

sparkletone, I think Pizzolatto's first answer gets at why I felt the "happy" ending worked so well for me, though I do agree with you also that it was a bit pat and not entirely earned. I think my lingering dissatisfaction with the ending comes more from the mystery side of things, and how it ended up feeling kind of disconnected from Marty and Rust's character growth.

This quote from Pizzolatto really gets at what I loved about the finale though:

Considering what these characters had been through, it seemed hard to me to work out a way where they both live and they both exit the show to live better lives beyond the boundaries of these eight episodes. Now they are going to go on and live forever beyond the margins of the show, and our sense, at least, is they haven't changed in any black to white way, but there is a sense that they have been delivered from the heart of darkness. They did not avert their eyes, whatever their failings as men. And that when they exit, they are in a different place.
posted by yasaman at 11:46 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, and although Hart had a sort of breakdown near the end of this, I still think he's an asshole and kind of deserved worse. After beating up those two kids a few episodes ago, I've kind of wished him misfortune worse than this. I'm ok with Cohle getting a sort of happy ending, he's deserved it after all the crap he's been through, but it feels a little like Hart gets off easy just because he's a hothead, but he's a hothead about the right things, like protecting kids, and I don't entirely buy that.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:54 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


joseph conrad is fully awesome: "freaky-deaky lawnmower Cary Grant"

If I ever need a sock puppet account name...

It's also kind of a fun little detail that "Carcosa" is the ruins of an old fort built on the same site as an older, presumably French fort, now used by religious cultists, when Carcassonne is a fortified French town once inhabited by the Cathar heretics.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:16 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Normally I hate "atheist finds god!111!!!!1!!111!!eleven" (fuck you Signs) kind of endings but I do not think that's what we got here.

Rust wasn't a nihilistic atheist because he sat down and thought about it and came to that conclusion rationally. He became a hollow shell of a man spouting half-assed (as people have rightly pointed out) nihilistic atheism because his family died and he couldn't cope or process the grief. It was a purely emotional reaction to their deaths. So I read his experience at the end as less of an actual religious or spiritual awakening and more as Rust finally being able to process what happened to him and start to... not heal, precisely, but at least to start living again. Yasaman a few comments above appears to have read it similarly. And, yes, it also works as a mirror of what Marty experiences with his family gathering at his bedside.

Oh, and although Hart had a sort of breakdown near the end of this, I still think he's an asshole and kind of deserved worse. After beating up those two kids a few episodes ago

I disagree. Hart was an asshole but, remember, "a few episodes ago" was actually 10 years in the context of the show. And those 10 years appear to have weighed pretty heavily on him. He's not the same guy. And secondly those "kids" were adults who raped his daughter, not kids his daughter's age. That doesn't make it right, of course, but it's not the same as if they were just a couple of his daughter's peers.

He did also almost die in the process of putting a stop to a monstrous ring of child rapists protected by a powerful family and in the process stopped a prolific and active serial killer. Which has to weigh pretty heavily on his side of the scales whatever his personal asshole problems.
posted by Justinian at 2:53 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


"I'm striking out in trying to find examples of 19th century masonry forts in private hands."

Course not, man. Those records have been suppressed. Deleted. Disappeared.
posted by Eideteker at 3:33 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Note To Self: If you are looking for some Sunday night nookie after watching the finale of True Detective, there are few worse approaches than waiting for your wife in the darkened bedroom afterwards and growling, "Come die with me, Little Priest." upon her approach.

No amount of offering to draw flowers on her will bring her around to a romantic mood and you will have donned your antlered crown for a great big circle of nothing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:37 AM on March 10 [25 favorites]


I think the trick is to use the suave English accent instead of the Slingblade accent.

I initially misheard "Little Priest" at first as "Little Chef" so for a few seconds in my brain, there was a really warped sequel to Ratatouille running amok in my brain.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:16 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


We kept wondering about the supernatural. How much of it would be there in the climax? Not much, but, as with the rest of the show, hints.

My favorite: Childress learned to speak again by impersonating voices he heard of VHS tapes, and so he often is doing obvious impressions, such as James Mason. When we hear his voice, it is slurred. But in Carcosa, as the xreator points out, he has another voice.

Who did he hear in Carcosa? Whose voice is he using when he says "take off your mask"?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:34 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


I'm very curious if there really are abandoned forts like that.

I've visited some places VERY similar to that. All the branches inside that brick structure gave me chills and really reminded me of an abandoned section of an old combination farm+mental hospital i explored a couple years ago...

I'll also note that place was still owned by the state, and a portion of the property was still in use with a structure on it. So uh... yea. Some parts were just pretty much open to the public and you didn't have to cross any fences or go into anywhere that had a tresspass sign(and it butted up against a public park area, so heh), some parts... not so much.

The parts most like what was shown there i actually spotted in a very similar way to how it was presented in the show, and then bushwacked my way over to the structure(or most creepily, ended up inside a hollow bush that had formed in a (_) with some bits of structure in it that looked like several of the "tunnel of branches" shots from the show)

As for the show in general though, and the ending... jeeze. This is really something you have to digest as a whole, and in that sense it's like a gigantic turkey dinner with lots of side dishes. I'm still of the opinion that a lot of aspects of this don't hold up well outside of the context of the whole series. What i mean by that, is little affectations or things rust or cohle would say or do can come off as just terrible writing or campy bullshit(like the nihilism in the early episodes just sounding like college freshmen crap).

I actually hated the ending until i had just sat on my couch for an hour reading stuff and spacing out and really reflecting on how it dovetailed into the rest of it.

And in that, i can only really conclude that especially since it's only 8 episodes long... this is really a show to just marathon. Not necessarily in one sitting, but in 2 or 3. 1-4 and 5-8 would probably be the most satisfying actually. There's just too many little bits that don't stick unless you really ruminate on them unless it's fresh in your mind.

This definitely feels like a TV show that would not have gotten away with being made this way(or shit, probably made at all) even just a few years ago. The structuring of it is decidedly just... not tv like. I actually can't even think of anything else i've seen like it that wasn't a movie, and even then it would be a pretty left field one.

Overall though, this is a great show. I was really REALLY afraid of how the ending would play out. I'm one of the people who wasn't that impressed or satisfied with the breaking bad ending(it felt too checklist and rote to me), and i just couldn't escape thoughts of this stuffing it really awfully. The only bits that bothered me in retrospect are a good 50% of episodes 1 and 2 when it just hasn't gotten off its ass yet, and the afterlife rant in the sort of epilogue of the ending which really felt like something a sociopath would monologue about when they finally thought they had cracked playing at being human. And not in a good "that was the point" way, just like... really bizarre detached writing that didn't fit the tone of the rest of it somehow.
posted by emptythought at 5:37 AM on March 10


Thinking on the my previous question some more, if Childress is impersonating a voice he heard in Carcosa, then are we sure it is Childress voice coming out of the darkness when Rust enters the ruined fort?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:53 AM on March 10


emptythought: As for the show in general though, and the ending... jeeze. This is really something you have to digest as a whole, and in that sense it's like a gigantic turkey dinner with lots of side dishes. I'm still of the opinion that a lot of aspects of this don't hold up well outside of the context of the whole series. What i mean by that, is little affectations or things rust or cohle would say or do can come off as just terrible writing or campy bullshit(like the nihilism in the early episodes just sounding like college freshmen crap).

Yeah. If you try and explain the show to someone (two mismatched cops investigate a Satanic serial killer), it comes off as pretty trite and cliche, but (as with so much in life) it all comes down to the execution.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:06 AM on March 10


Has anyone pointed their iPad constellation app at the closing screen to see if those stars are even visible from our planet?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:18 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


I was trying really hard to recognize constellations. I'm not an astronomer, but I thought I picked out Draco (OMG, True Detective exists in Potterverse. Rust is Ravenclaw, Marty is Gryffindor, discuss).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:35 AM on March 10


Rock Steady: Yeah. If you try and explain the show to someone (two mismatched cops investigate a Satanic serial killer), it comes off as pretty trite and cliche, but (as with so much in life) it all comes down to the execution.

Ten minutes after I post that, Drew Magary posts 31 Buddy-Cop Clichés On True Detective on Deadspin. Time is a flat circle.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:38 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]




Rock Steady: "Marty is Gryffindor"

Marty is more huff and puff, if his persona is anything to go by.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:18 AM on March 10


I can't believe I'm actually doing this, but Hufflepuffs are loyal and honest, and that ain't Marty.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:38 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think that Bryan Cranston now has next year's Emmy on layaway.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:19 PM on September 29, 2013


Eh, I think Matthew just paid off the balance and walked out with it.

/strained metaphor
posted by fuse theorem at 7:48 AM on March 10


So I guess spoiler specifics for the final episode:













When Marty and Cohle flip one another off in he hospital, it really made me happy.
posted by codacorolla at 8:47 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


It's a bit of a derail, but looking at the images of Fort Macomb make me think of Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park. The doctor who set John Wilkes Booth's broken leg was sentenced there and was pardoned after he helped quell an outbreak of yellow fever.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:13 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling as I reflect on it, I'm going to like the ending for what it accomplished in terms of the story thematically and in terms of the characters' journeys. But as a horror nerd who loved the occult/conspiracy aspects of the show and what had seemed to be densely layered clues about that, my instant reaction is to feel deflated at all of the unresolved threads and the heaps of ostensible clues that ended up being a combination of red herring/background texture.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:15 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Colin Wilson wrote his Lloigor stories as a sort of response to H. P. Lovecraft.

True Detective feels like a similar sort of response, but to Thomas Ligotti.

Amazing stuff either way.

I'm glad they didn't go for the easy loldark ending. Those endings are just as pat as corny happy endings.

I'm also glad that they left some loose threads dangling. It created a sense that the universe was much bigger than the show, and it left some remaining sense of mystery. I hate stories that don't know when to quit their endings - stories that overexplain.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


buzzkill sourfaced response

which was largely my reaction which I had been preparing for in the last two weeks. Total Meh.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


It was great; I'm glad the conclusion wasn't just end-tying to satisfy Lost-style fanboys.

One of the best parts was that while Chole figured out the why and the who with the deep-Carcosa stuff, it was Hart who figured out the where with just old fashioned police work. He noticed a detail and make a connection.

They're both the "True Detective", in different ways. Shoe leather and mythology; both were needed to solve the case.
posted by spaltavian at 9:43 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]




Oh, and although Hart had a sort of breakdown near the end of this, I still think he's an asshole and kind of deserved worse.

I didn't think that Marty deserved worse, necessarily, but I was hoping for a more explicit acknowledgement from Marty himself of what went wrong with his family and why. Rust seems to have spent the whole series exactly aware of what was wrong with himself and why, and he had few illusions about himself or others. But I didn't get the sense that Marty reached any real awareness of what exactly his failings were. He's aware of the consequences, sure, and that scene in the hospital bed makes it clear that he mourns what he's lost, and perhaps accepts some responsibility for it. It just wasn't quite enough for me in terms of resolving Marty's philandering and hypocrisy.
posted by yasaman at 9:55 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I think the loose-end angst was summed up in the show itself when Chole bemoans that there were other members of the ritual abuse circle out there and Hart says something like "We got our guy." They followed the thread that they were pulling - that there were other threads being loosed in the process didn't matter, an aspect of the detective's curse.

I'm going to wait a week or so before I take too much stock in all these 'final verdict' pronouncements. People writing for deadlines might not have the time to think on the ending and instead follow their gut responses. At first viewing, I thought the epilogue stars bit was drawn out, but after sleeping on it, I'm not so sure.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:01 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Linda Holmes: little more than "a monster in the woods did it."

That was pretty clear from early on, so no surprised there. They've been chasing this guy for years, all through the weeds of society.

I don't think the various clues about the cult or wooden figures are unsolved mysteries. It's pretty clear that some men do terrible things to women and that Marty's daughters may have been touched by this. Or at least assimilated certain lessons from simply living in society. Perhaps bits of both. We don't know, much like in real life we don't know which particular women have attacked so blatantly. Rust and Marty stopped a particular killer, but all that sick shit still goes on, they couldn't stop it all.

The most important part was Rust choosing to leave the hospital and leaving all the things he didn't need behind. He does this while hanging onto Marty at literal support. In the end, the chapter was mostly about this two men, coming to terms with who they are, their limitations and what that means in the world they inhabit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


I was hoping for a more explicit acknowledgement from Marty himself

How much more explicit can you get than his good-bye scene with Maggie last week and him totally breaking down in the hospital in front of them this week?

Marty already did the explicit "I'm bad and I did bad things" when he signed up for Promise Keepers in 95. Didn't take, because it didn't really mean anything and he didn't really feel it. When he thanked Maggie, that was his display of "real awareness of what exactly his failings were". The one thing he always told himself is that he was a family man. Thanking Maggie, and really meaning it, for doing the one thing he always claimed to do is a pretty clear admission he was always lying to himself.
posted by spaltavian at 10:07 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


As to the lack of supernatural elements, I was struck by how utterly scary Childress was. His switching of not only voices, but demeanor came off as he was inhabited by a demon. His physical presence switched from jovial to immensely terrifying and the way he seemed to shrug off bullets was like he was possessed.

All of this is just to note that supernatural forces weren't needed. Humans are fully capable of birthing of birthing monsters.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:21 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


After sleeping on it and digesting it more, there were two things about this episode that bugged me:

* The scene where they're looking up tax records online, Cohle leaning over Marty's shoulder, Marty explaining every detail to make sure we know what he's doing. It felt like the show switched over to CSI for a minute. Tonally, it was jarring.

* Marty's jump to "maybe it was the person who painted this house green" felt like something out of Sherlock. And besides that, why would a house painter necessarily paint their ears the color they're working with? (I thought the idea of the green noise-cancelling headphones the guy wore while on the lawnmower made much more sense.)

Other than that, still deeply satisfying, both the episode and the whole series, IMO.
posted by jbickers at 10:27 AM on March 10


And besides that, why would a house painter necessarily paint their ears the color they're working with?

I took it that the paid had dripped on him, not that he painted his ears on purpose.
posted by spaltavian at 10:35 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I am going to feel cheated if most of the plot ends up unresolved and Pizzolatto explains it away saying, "well, ultimately it was always all about the characters."

I'm pretty fascinated how it managed to disappoint me in the exact way I expected. The first 6 episodes were some of the best TV I have ever seen. The last two were pretty much just average episodes of Dexter or SVU. Everything we thought were "clues" (black star tattoos, the daughter's explicit drawings that evoked the cult imagery, etc) were just, as I said earlier "thematic Easter eggs."

At best, possibly the concept is that the cult's imagery and behavior has pervaded society so fully that everyone has "heard" of these things via urban legends passed between kids.
posted by deanc at 10:38 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


The one thing he always told himself is that he was a family man. Thanking Maggie, and really meaning it, for doing the one thing he always claimed to do is a pretty clear admission he was always lying to himself.

Hmmm, I guess I can buy that. I guess I just saw that scene as more of a generic "I'm probably about to get myself killed, so goodbye and thanks," scene on initial viewing. And Marty's storyline was one of the clearest portrayals and criticisms of misogyny and patriarchy in the show, and I had hoped that was leading somewhere. Alas.
posted by yasaman at 10:40 AM on March 10


And besides that, why would a house painter necessarily paint their ears the color they're working with?

I imagined that they were using a paint sprayer and thus wore a mask/cleansuit setup. Did the gasmask we saw at the methlab scene cover the ears?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:43 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Little things that seemed like clues — the repetitions of five figures standing in a circle, the now notorious "yellow king" business, the mystical chattering from various witnesses — just sort of turned out to mean "a bunch of crazy people used to do crazy, monstrous stuff out in the woods."

I disagree with this. I don't know if it was deliberate -- I suspect it was -- but the repetition of the figures created a deeply suspicious mindset. When we see that Marty's daughter has duplicated this, we're likely to think that she is also a victim, just as other little clues -- the graphic spiral on the wall of Marty's house, the repeated motif of the flowers on Marty's wall and on the wall of the asylum, and the fact that Marty's stepfather is a rich politician -- lead us to suspect that Marty's family is linked to the murders in some way.

This is us playing armchair detective, and, in our own way, we end up treating the family the same way he does -- as props, meant to support his detective lifestyle. It also means that we end up treating Marty's daughter's budding sexuality with suspicion, as he does. It's not just a child playing naughty games with dolls or drawing sexual figures, as children do, or having fumbling first sexual encounters, as teenagers do (albeit with a predilection toward group sex, which simply makes her someone with early defined, if a little nonmainstream, tastes and appetites).

In fact, it turns out that the only sinister influence in these women's lives is Marty himself. And because of the cat and mouse game the show has played with us, we're repeatedly complicit, in one way or another, in ignoring the needs of female characters and treating them exclusively as supporting character in a detective story.

And the villains aren't just some crazy people in the woods. They are entrenched in Louisiana power structures, and were busily covering their tracks even as the show ended, and is likely based on a true story. And this was used for what I have to say seem to me to be a pretty devastating look at how even traditionally heroic characters -- and Pizzolatto has said his characters are heroic in the sense that they are uncorruptable -- can precipitate exactly the same sort of damage that they are investigating by doing exactly the sort of thing that traditional heroes are supposed to do. In fact, the climax to the show has our heroes breaking and entering, threatening torture, stealing, doing a home invasion, physically threatening a woman, and shooting down a man on his own property in a clear violation of the Castle Doctrine. Were it not for the fact that they are pretty canny about covering their own tracks, through a timed release to the press and through a relationship with the police -- they would be doing time as well. They abuse their power and cover their tracks, just as the villains do.

The show seems like it follows a lot of the same tropes as your typical television show, but it also seems to be critiquing those tropes at every turn. Pizzolatto has repeatedly said that the theme of the show is that our lives are made up of the stories that we tell, and True Detective retells a popular one, but repeatedly, and subtly, makes the case that these stories may mean something that we don't realize they mean.

The ending of the show seems to wrap everything up, it seems to end like we expect a show like this to end, but I see it riddled through, not with problems, but with deliberate ambiguities. I mean, the punchline is that the atheist nihilist has had a near-death experience that has caused him to believe the light is winning?

This is the guy who straight up looked at the camera and admitted he was in a teevee show. This is not a happy ending. This is how a story happy ending happens, and the more we dig, the less sense it will make, and the more counter narratives we will find, and the more this ending will seem hopelessly unsettled, because narratives are just stories, and stories break down.

Here's a counter narrative. How the hell did Rust and Marty not die? One was stabbed in the stomach, the other was tomahawked. Both should have bled out in minutes.

I dunno. Maybe they did die. Rust describes dying. Maybe the climax, in which Marty reunites with his family and Rust finds his dead daughter in an afterlife, is a fiction that dead people tell themselves. Maybe you can't die in Carcosa, and that's what's going on with Childress' father, why it's unclear if he's living or dead or how long he's been there, and therefore Childress may have survived a shot to the head in the same way his victims survive his knifing and tomahawking. The cultists do seem to think of death as being something we repeatedly experience or don't experience at all.

That's just me tossing around ideas. I haven't really investigated the counter narratives yet, but they are there. Just like you can watch There Will Be Blood twice and one time see Daniel Plainview as the villain and the next see Eli as the villain, you can probably watch True Detective many times and get a different story from each. In one, there is a n actual supernatural force. In another, it's just terrible men doing terrible things. In one, women are props. In another, women have their own storyline, which both the main characters and the story arc ignore but is nonetheless present. This show is interesting, because it is about storytelling, and is sort like a choose your own adventure, in which you, as the audience, decide what sort of story you're watching, and the show will simultaneously support and criticize that decision.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:04 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


I thought the idea of the green noise-cancelling headphones the guy wore while on the lawnmower made much more sense.

Hunh, forgot about the headphones; I assumed the ears were stained green as a result of grass-cutting/weed whacking.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:29 AM on March 10


Marty doesn't avert his eyes as he watches the Red Wedding.

(Spoilers for True Detective and season 3 of Game of Thrones)
posted by fuse theorem at 11:44 AM on March 10


Little things that seemed like clues — the repetitions of five figures standing in a circle, the now notorious "yellow king" business, the mystical chattering from various witnesses — just sort of turned out to mean "a bunch of crazy people used to do crazy, monstrous stuff out in the woods."

Not necessarily. You can also read it as the Yellow King being some sort of real supernatural entity. That Childress didn't just seem possessed. And Louisiana is the sort of place where the walls between our world and the next seem a bit thin at the best of times, so I can easily imagine the Yellow King influencing people outside the murder cult. Influencing young girls to play rape games with their dolls. Giving particular visions to artists. Etc.

I did like how their choice of shooting locations and cinematography combined to make Louisiana an unremittingly hostile, threatening place.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:29 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


You could read it that way. But Pizzolatto said in interviews that he wasn't going supernatural. So if you're taking him at his word, that doesn't track.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:31 PM on March 10


Properly, he has said he didn't want his climax to "retreat" into supernatural, or go "full-bore" supernatural, depending on the interview. I don't think his storytelling precludes the possibility of supernatural events; he simply didn't want this to turn into a story where they take over, when the supernatural themes aren't the ones he really wanted to investigate.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:36 PM on March 10


Authorial intent is usually the least convincing argument about, well, anything.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Something something death of the author something something.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:37 PM on March 10


Marty doesn't avert his eyes as he watches the Red Wedding

They should get Marty together with "killed my nigga Ned" Larry. (Postscript)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:37 PM on March 10


If nothing else, I sort of hope that Pizzolatto takes note of how much so many of us loved sifting for clues and symbols and maybe lets his next story incorporate more of them into his ending. Even those of us who end up liking how this season shook out might appreciate fewer bits that turn out to be red herrings and/or thematic coloration.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:46 PM on March 10


I'm still not convinced they are truly red herrings. I think he's a good enough writer to know that Marty's antagonistic relationship with his father-in-law, his daughter's sexually-charged doll-posing, these things are all MASSIVE Chekov's guns. I think the show consistently treated the audience as smart enough to know that unseen things were going on; so I (currently, at any rate) believe that the father-in-law IS in the cult and the daughter WAS involved somehow, hence the paintings and the black stars and all that. It's just that the story as a whole is much bigger than the story he chose to tell here; the guns go off eventually, but not on-screen. (I think that's the point of Cohle's line at the end about "we got our guy, but there are more out there.")
posted by jbickers at 12:51 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I'm not suggesting what he did didn't work on his terms, only that there was definitely an element in the viewership appreciating the mystery/conspiracy on a different level than he had planned. Maybe next time, he can leave the blanks he wants to leave but still throw more of a bone to those who relished sifting for clues.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:58 PM on March 10


You are suggesting or you aren't suggesting? I'm not sure I'm parsing that correctly.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on March 10


Made a correction. Sorry. Omitted a key word there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:01 PM on March 10


That's what I figured but I wasn't sure.
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on March 10


Carcosa/the magical incest compound felt right out of sleep no more to me. Gave me the same kind of nightmares, too, about people with no faces and such.

I was happy with the ending--this is really how to do satisfying character-driven fiction. We got enough answers about the primary mystery aspects, and they were compelling enough, that I certainly didn't mind the lack of a big "twist."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:29 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


The stars, the dolls, etc. are symbols to us. They stand out to us, the viewers, as odd or signaling or important; but in the reality of the show, they are woven into the very fabric. They draw our attention because they're supposed to; they represent the things woven into the fabric of our society that we take for granted but that themselves are problematic, evil, or horrific (taken separately but especially all together, as would be the case with someone marathonning a show set in our reality). The inequities and imbalances of power in our society that allow some to take advantage of others, rape culture, racism both overt and subtle/baked-in... the list goes on. The black stars that we don't see (or write off as "thematic easter eggs"—is that the equivalent of shrugging and saying "that's the way it is" or "what can I do about it?") are everywhere; they're all around us.

What aren't you seeing? What's right under your nose?
posted by Eideteker at 1:32 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


"Omitted a key word there."

Was it "griphus"?
posted by Eideteker at 1:32 PM on March 10


For the most part, I admire and agree with the theories outlined here explaining the thematic import behind items that could be mistaken for dropped threads. There is, though, a nagging part of me that is reminded of the No Prize from Marvel's letters pages, in which fans are semi-sarcastically commended for feats of mental gymnastics that explain away apparent failures in logic, contradictions, and unceremoniously abandoned plot points.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:46 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


You haven't seen my take on Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, have you?

I'm a No Prize gold medalist.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:53 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]




The spiral diffuses as it grows. There is hope in calling it a circle when it is not - hope that things will come round again and not spin out into nothing. That gathering of people that seemed to control the state? Reduced to a lone monster in the woods who does not understand his predecessors' power and success came from who they were, not the ritual cruelty they perpetrated. Childress is a one-giant cargo cult of cruelty, especially after his cohorts were killed by Hart and Cohle and with them he lost the ability to "recruit" (ie lure to a ceremony and encourage participation via drugs). The cultists are desperate for the circle, to be again as they imagine they were before, but they are on the spiral, flailing away from the center and into nothingness.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:59 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


homunculus: HBO GO Crashed Because of the 'True Detective' Finale

I'm really glad I didn't try to watch it last night, but I'm also glad I had some weird DST-related insomnia this morning and woke up early enough to watch it before I had to get ready for work, so I didn't have to avoid the Internet all day to avoid spoilers.

I wonder if this isn't a reason Netflix seems to be sticking with the bulk availability format. If there was a new House of Cards posted every Sunday at 10:00pm, I bet Netflix would go down too.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:59 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I'm also glad that they left some loose threads dangling. It created a sense that the universe was much bigger than the show, and it left some remaining sense of mystery. I hate stories that don't know when to quit their endings - stories that overexplain.

Yea, I think this is a good example of why I hated the breaking bad ending. It really felt like they had released an ending that left stuff hanging, listened to all the fan whining, and gone back in time and made a really horsebeating ending that covered everything.

I was actually really afraid of the show doing either that, or making some bizarre left turn off the road into a cornfield where like both of them die/rust goes to jail and it just doesnt resolve and gives a really silly THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE type of message just to flip a finger.

Over explaining endings are common though, and I often feel like it's a shitty design by committee decision by network idiots that is especially likely when you trade out writers from episode to episode a lot.

I said above that I think this show wouldn't have been allowed to exist the way it does even a couple years ago, and this is actually a good example of what I mean. It's sorta breaking a weird rule here.
posted by emptythought at 2:14 PM on March 10


Back on the soundtrack stuff:
If they decide to dip into Lovecraft's "From Beyond," they could use AFI's Totalimmortal, which I've always connected to one another. (In much the way I've always felt like Spiral Architect was a better-than-deserved sequel to "Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," what with their similar descriptions of bizarre architecture/landscape.)

(These are both things deeply 'felt', rather than rooted in any actual factual relationship or even clear inspiration. Less than tenuous. Fun to think about, though, so I share them with you here so that you may indulge (and perhaps assuage any Mythos-void left in you by the finale).)
posted by Eideteker at 2:26 PM on March 10


Minority report from SO: pretentiously poorly plotted crap wrapped up in some slick direction.
posted by The Whelk at 2:34 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I definitely feel like the directing, cinematography, location selection, and overall polish of a lot of that kind of stuff really outclassed the overall package. Like i'd even say that's a slightly bigger part of what sells it than the story itself. The story is good, don't get me wrong, but this was directed and shot like a good hollywood movie, and stands up in that sense better than a lot of recent movies i've seen.

It's sort of the flip of several other recent shows that are merely competent at that stuff but win with a really amazing/interesting story. I definitely feel like it raised the bar on some non-story things though.
posted by emptythought at 2:58 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Slate's "Spoiler Special" made the astute point that Pizzolatto seemed to have "drunk his own kool aid" on the idea that he was creating high art which at the same time meant that the show as a police procedural was merely a genre distraction. Thus, he didn't think this was important enough to delve into because it would have distracted from the art he was trying to create, and this is kind of a false dichotomy: in fact, the whole thing is weaker when you set up a genre piece and then don't bother to flesh out the story elements inherent in the genre.

He could have elevated the police procedural mystery to a higher place we didn't realize was possible, but instead it turns out that he really did want to make My Dinner With Andre with broken police officers but felt he needed a background murder case to give them something to do.
posted by deanc at 3:18 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]




Pizzolatto seemed to have "drunk his own kool aid" on the idea that he was creating high art

From that Sepinwall interview, the pomposity just keeps getting more cringeworthy:
For people who thought Cohle's philosophy was simply hogwash, be aware that you're calling Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche hogwash. Just be aware of that. That is not, in fact, a college freshman stoned eating a pizza talking about life; that's Arthur Schopenhauer's thoughts on life.
The true meta-twist of the show seems to have been that the dorm-room stoner philosopher is Pizzolatto himself
posted by RogerB at 4:24 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


A couple of critical reviews: How The ‘True Detective’ Finale Failed

‘True Detective’s’ predictable, simplistic finale


Interesting. The authors of those articles arestuck on the idea that this chapter of the series was about X, when it was actually about Y.

Pizzolatto, in an interview somewhere, talked about how people were coming up with various theories about the Yellow King and his supernatural origin and what not. He noted that the theories were interesting, but ultimately wrong, because the story was about something much simpler and that as an audience were too used to being tricked and fooled so we felt we had to look for hidden secrets.

Yet in the end, a number of people are looking for those twists in a story he wrote where he was determined not to have twists. Does that mean he failed as a writer or audiences are too trained to look for twists? Probably some mixture of the two. But when the show clearly shows Rust seeing a spinning vortex in space,sp clearly it's fine with throwing bits of footholds for those looking for the supernatural aspects.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:50 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "The authors of those articles arestuck on the idea that this chapter of the series was about X, when it was actually about Y."

Well, it seems to me that viewers pay more attention to the show as presented and less attention to what Nic Pizzolatto says in interviews. If he was trying to communicate something else, and this many people ended up not getting his point, then he should probably fine-tune his approach.

Don't get me wrong, it was still a fantastic season, but when reviewers are wondering if Pizzolotto was flat-out trolling his viewers with red herrings, it's probably not right to suggest that it's the viewers who are too accustomed to final act plot twists. Chekhov's gun isn't an iron-clad law of storytelling, but it sure isn't the viewer's fault if they're misled.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:28 PM on March 10


I think a bunch of those reviews are being unduly harsh but I will admit that "we didn't mean to include the cult spiral in the daughter's drawings, it was an accident" and "we didn't mean to have a framed picture in Hart's bedroom be the same as the mural in one of the victim's asylum, it was an accident" are extremely feeble excuses. The set people need to get on that.
posted by Justinian at 7:02 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I've pressed rewind 5 times now, and I still can't make out Cohle's last line. Can anyone help me out? Memail if you don't want to post it here.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:17 PM on March 10


"Once there was only dark. You ask me, light's winning."
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 PM on March 10


This reviewer (who thinks that last line is great, and is right) also had to rewind the show a few times to make it out.

So did I. I think the other difficult line mumbled by Cohle was misinterpreted as "scented meat", when he actually said "sentient meat".
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:34 PM on March 10


"Once there was only dark. You ask me, light's winning."

Would have been better if he noted that it wont last.
posted by rr at 7:37 PM on March 10


RogerB: "The true meta-twist of the show seems to have been that the dorm-room stoner philosopher is Pizzolatto himself"

I read that, and and cringes were crung indeed. But I still think it's a really good series, it's just that sometimes creators don't get what they're doing themselves.

And the weird "could be supernatural stuff" works because it's established that Cohle has hallucinations, which are sometimes just fucked up, and sometimes, how does he put it, "mainline to the mind of the universe" or something.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:40 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


"we didn't mean to include the cult spiral in the daughter's drawings, it was an accident" and "we didn't mean to have a framed picture in Hart's bedroom be the same as the mural in one of the victim's asylum, it was an accident" are extremely feeble excuses.

This makes me wonder if this season was fluke if they're saying there were that many accidental symbols. Even the costume designer says Tuttle wearing a yellow handkerchief was fluke. That's just insane.

Well, it seems to me that viewers pay more attention to the show as presented and less attention to what Nic Pizzolatto says in interviews. If he was trying to communicate something else, and this many people ended up not getting his point, then he should probably fine-tune his approach.

Agreed. Putting out a multitude of interlinked symbols and then bemoaning how audiences are used to being tricked is willful blindness.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


This show was so great up until these last two bullshit episodes. I can only generously guess that Pizzolatto was being pressured by execs to wrap things up quick for the first season, hence how contrived the last two episodes were; or he's just a bullshitter and full of bullshit.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:21 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Man. I do not get the angst over the motifs and the red herrings and so on and so forth. None of that frustrated me in the slightest. I loved the tense, weird, repetitive imagery of the show, just as I also didn't expect the mystery to be of the puzzlebox variety. Hell, not a one of the fan theories were even half as interesting as what I actually saw in the show.

Even the stuff with his daughter: sure, it could have been interesting if she'd actually been a victim of the cult, but IMHO it was more interesting that she wasn't. The viewer stumbles all over themselves trying to figure out how she ties in with the cult, but she doesn't. The real answer is that she is troubled because her father is a dismissive, inattentive ass.

...

This would probably only have pissed people off even more, but I would have enjoyed it if the show had given the viewer one subtle, but ultimately undeniable moment where the supernatural had obviously occurred. Something along the lines of how Kubrick's version of The Shining could maybe exist in the real world, up until the point where the spirit frees Jack from the freezer. Or, how The Ninth Gate contains a key moment where the audience, but not the main character, sees something magical happen. Or, how Before the Rain curls itself into a Möbius strip, without too much underlining of how this technically doesn't make any logical sense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:37 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


True Detective’s Glenn Fleshler on Playing Lawn-Mowing Monster Errol Childress

(I didn't know he was also in Boardwalk Empire)
posted by triggerfinger at 10:00 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


it could have been interesting if she'd actually been a victim of the cult, but IMHO it was more interesting that she wasn't

Agreed; if there was a huuuuuge conspiracy that everyone and their dog were in on, it would have been far too tidy. While it's a bit of a tease or sloppy to have things repeated/echoed, I thought Harte's daughter's drawings and games were more an indication of how corrupt the world is, and a further illustration that perhaps her parents weren't doing that great a job. I mean, put some life jackets on those kids when they're in the boat, for pete's sake!

I really liked the ending, even Cohle finding/thinking/deluding himself that there's something more to this existence. It left me feeling that maybe there was some sort of peace in the hearts of those two humans.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 PM on March 10


This would probably only have pissed people off even more, but I would have enjoyed it if the show had given the viewer one subtle, but ultimately undeniable moment where the supernatural had obviously occurred. Something along the lines of how Kubrick's version of The Shining could maybe exist in the real world, up until the point where the spirit frees Jack from the freezer. Or, how The Ninth Gate contains a key moment where the audience, but not the main character, sees something magical happen

Really glad it didn't go that route; that's pretty much where both of those stories lost me. Really can't think of a story that is improved by supernatural forces (unless it's specifically about the supernatual) it's just lazy and hand-wavy.

Actual, boring humans did all the awful stuff in True Detective without any help. All the good stuff too. That's a better story than any demon stuff.
posted by spaltavian at 5:53 AM on March 11 [10 favorites]


"Actual, boring humans did all the awful stuff in True Detective without any help. All the good stuff too. That's a better story than any demon stuff."

Underscored.

For every critique of the casual misogyny of True Detective, how many people were there sifting through minutia, trying to decipher symbols real or imagined (I'm still laughing at the reddit recap posted above where they tried to figure out which one of the New Detectives was "Suck" and which one was "Fuck"). But hey, it's far easier to do that than untangle the horrors of society.

The idea that there would be a big, coherent conspiracy and cosmic mystery at the heart of it all—that our heroes would successfully detangle or at least reveal—is laughable. People have always used myths and gods to cover for the evil they do; looking for the truth behind those myths doesn't relieve the symptoms of the sickness.
posted by Eideteker at 6:23 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


if there was a huuuuuge conspiracy that everyone and their dog were in on, it would have been far too tidy.

In one of his interviews, Pizzolatto says that conspiracies tend to be ad hoc things where people conspire as needed, rather than massive ongoing conspiratorial networks. That makes sense.

The idea seems to be that in the 30s, the elder Sam Tuttle started some kind of cult centered around a yellow king idol that they constructed, using the ruins of the fort as Carcosa. Kind of a theosophy/Masonic/pseudo-pagan group that various locals, like his maid, were involved in. It wasn't explicitly a rape-and-murder cult, though surely the elder Tuttle used it as a source of access to sex and probably killed people when necessary to keep it a secret.

Childress is one of the many children he has out of wedlock, probably with a cult member, and as with many locals, is part of the cult as well. He goes on to have Errol Childress, whom he sexually abuses with his friends, and this is where the cult starts to turn into a child molestation ring, while the Tuttle family moves on to bigger and better things even though they still stay connected to the Louisiana coast.

Errol Childress and his father take over the Carcosa homestead, and the Yellow King cult goes from being the Tuttle family's franchise seeking spiritual ecstasy and control of the locals to slowly becoming a child moleststion ring with the elder Childress and his friends to being a meth-and-LSD-fueled sex/murder ring attracting various criminals and prostitues that the Errol Childress hangs out with.

The Tuttles are creating their school network which is intimately tied into their political machine, and as part of the spoils, Childress & Son get the maintenance contracts. They and some pedophilic members of Tuttle's church see this as an opportunity to give them access to children. When this gets discovered, the Tuttles shut down to schools and also protect the Childresses from being found out, both out of family loyalty and self-protection.

At a certain point, all that's left of the yellow king cult is Errol, Reggie Ledoux, DeWall Ledoux, the Childress prison guard, and a few other low level creeps and meth heads, along with any prostitutes they can bring into their cult who are into sex, drugs, and murder.

By the time we get to 2012, only Errol is left.
posted by deanc at 7:03 AM on March 11 [44 favorites]


That explanation wins the ring, as far as I'm concerned, deanc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:28 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


That all fits very well into the original Yellow King story, of a "lost Carcosa". Even evil degenerates in the bayou.
posted by spaltavian at 7:48 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


(like the nihilism in the early episodes just sounding like college freshmen crap)

Why is everyone so dismissive of this philosophy? And dismissive of the author for quoting his sources in this interview?

From that Sepinwall interview, the pomposity just keeps getting more cringeworthy:

For people who thought Cohle's philosophy was simply hogwash, be aware that you're calling Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche hogwash. Just be aware of that. That is not, in fact, a college freshman stoned eating a pizza talking about life; that's Arthur Schopenhauer's thoughts on life.

The true meta-twist of the show seems to have been that the dorm-room stoner philosopher is Pizzolatto himself


Is this not an acceptable philosophy to have? Are we supposed to grow out of it, presumably in sophomore year of college? Folks talking about this sound so blase, like oh, you're still in your nihilism phase? How cute.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:55 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


Seriously. "I liked that band before they got big." has never added anything to the conversation.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:07 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


It's not an acceptable philosophy in the same way that views held by the majority in a group are usually unacceptable. People see it as a personal attack because of their own choices. See also: any discussion on overpopulation.
posted by rr at 9:10 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


As apparently this show was only written for me, I also don't understand why people were so put out by Cohle's philosophizin'. Or, if you were put out by it, then you were probably reacting to the on-the-nose "here is my philosophy" monologuing, and not because his ideas are all that terrible.

Maybe I'm biased because I have actually read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and Metzinger (and, well, Ligotti), but I don't see what was so "freshman stoner" about his rants. It's not that he's necessarily "right", but Cohle's rants are quite a bit more sophisticated than "have you ever really looked at your hand" or "nothing means anything, man."

And when I'm checking off those thinkers, I'm not saying I'm a philosophy genius, because I am obviously not. What I'm saying is, it's very clear where that character is draws his ideas from. When he says that "consciousness is a mistake", I know exactly how that dovetails into what Schopenhauer and others have written about. When he talks about time being a flat circle, I remember how that ties back in with Nietzsche.

So, in that sense, Pizzolato is totally correct to say that, if you think Rust's ideas are only at the freshman stoner level, then you also think that Schopenhauer, et al. are freshman stoners. Either you're comfortable with that appraisal, or maybe you shouldn't jerk your knee so hard when a fictional character talks about how they see the world.

Either way, the rigor of Cohle's philosophy is sort of beside the point. The point is that his character felt that way, and felt the need to speak that way, especially since his behavior didn't always match his philosophy, and especially since the other characters did such a good job of deflating him on an as-needed basis.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:16 AM on March 11 [16 favorites]


Just watched the finale last night and have finally caught up on the thread. Lots of interesting discussion & links, so thanks to everybody!

I have a couple of trivial questions, if anyone wants to indulge me. In ascending order of triviality:

1) what happened to the dog at Childress's house? Why did he run straight past Cohle (rather than attacking) and then apparently drop dead? Was he shot and I missed it while Cohle was yelling "clear the house"?
2) Was Sheriff Childress the one referenced by the head woman at that community of prostitutes? The sheriff Hart & Cohle figured must have an interest in the place?
3) With all the evidence Cohle had on the Tuttles, why was it necessary for them to remain untouched? I understand that the photos and video would not be admissible in court. But why would Cohle hesitate to make them public? There are no professional obligations keeping him from doing this. And he had been prepared earlier for them to be released to the media in the event of his death.
posted by torticat at 9:38 AM on March 11


what happened to the dog at Childress's house?

Childress killed it.

Why did he run straight past Cohle (rather than attacking)

That's what dogs do. They rarely do more than a single bite and then run. If you watch enough COPS, you'll see even trained police dogs just turn tail and run once they realize that the person they're biting is actually fighting back for reals.

and then apparently drop dead? Was he shot and I missed it while Cohle was yelling "clear the house"?

I didn't hear a gunshot, so I assume Childress just whacked it on the head. Either on purpose because he didn't seem to like it very much, and he's a bit of an asshole, or because he was lying in wait for Cohle and whacked the first thing that came around the corner.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:44 AM on March 11


Also, the dog would have followed him if he tried to hide.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:48 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The dog would have given away his location.
posted by spaltavian at 9:56 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Oh so the dog did bite Cohle? I missed that.
posted by torticat at 9:59 AM on March 11




deanc, where does Billy Lee Tuttle fit in the evolution/disintegration of the cult? Any specific comments on him?
posted by torticat at 10:07 AM on March 11


I think that Billy Lee Tuttle and his religious empire is kind of the Yellow King cultists realizing that the "real" power isn't in an underground mystical cult but in running a "legitimate" church. He is still tied to the Yellow King cult socially and by blood, and he both covers up their crimes and keeps the documentation of them as leverage over them. Possibly he enables them as long as they keep things quiet but cracks down on them and covers things up when their rituals start to leak into the public and bodies get found. I don't see Billy Lee riding around on horses wearing weird costumes, though obviously he knew about it.

It's kind of a multigenerational spiritual mafia story similar to a crime family that starts out bootlegging, where one branch of the crime family "graduates" into finance and politics while the other branch ends up being drug dealers and street thugs, with the former covering for the latter while trying to maintain their empire.
posted by deanc at 10:28 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Oh so the dog did bite Cohle? I missed that.

No -- it's just that the expectation that the dog would have attacked Cohle in defense of, uh, Madam Childress is not well-founded. Which doesn't mean that it can't happen in a tv show, only that the bit where the dog wasn't Stereotypical Dog Defending Its Mistress was a good bit.

And, yes, I agree that Childress probably killed the dog to prevent it from following him into the fort.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:33 AM on March 11


But... Billy Lee is the one who had the child porn & the videotape, no? You think he kept that stuff as evidence for his own purposes but was not personally involved in the rapes etc?

I think he was involved if only because the deacon (whatever his name was) found the kiddie porn pics hidden in a book in his office. (But who knows...)
posted by torticat at 10:45 AM on March 11


It is unclear to me how much Billy Lee Tuttle was molesting people himself or whether it was just some of his staffers and his relatives who were using the schools as a source of victims, via a cult that his father founded. That would lead to him needing to cover it up, close the schools, and keep evidence for himself to keep everyone else quiet.

I am flying blind here, so I really am just speculating.
posted by deanc at 11:15 AM on March 11


Annalee Newitz: What the hell kind of ending was that, True Detective?

RE: "The Bad", at first I was a little bit disappointed by the stereotypical white trash mutant serial killer stuff, but the more I think about it, the more I think that the way it was handled both allowed us to have a pessimistic ending (without going down the boring path of having the detectives outright fail and die), and also to show the secondary evil of the show, systemic corruption.

Rust and Marty end up killing the most obvious and terrible part of the cult, but in doing so all they've really done is LeDoux part 2 (please excuse me for that terrible turn of phrase). They kill the obvious evil: the insect-man in the mask, the scarred giant, but leave behind the structures that lead them to exist in the first place. Time really is circular in the series. The giant in Carcosa is just a more full fleshed version of LeDoux in the bayou with the same result overall.

The anti-climax that we never find out the true connection, and the higher-ups are never punished is part of that. The sheriff they capture is a coward, certainly, but never really knew anything. He's really just a useful idiot who can be counted on to follow orders. That's where the commentary in the show comes from: the disappointment that we feel as an audience in seeing the "big bad" (to use an unfortunate but common term for discussing TV plots) apprehended and realizing it doesn't solve a whole lot. When you've got the news in your pocket and can silence clear evidence of the conspiracy then there's always another monster out there ready to kill.

Sort of goes against the idea of "the light" winning, however.
posted by codacorolla at 11:15 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


Annalee Newitz: What the hell kind of ending was that, True Detective?

Ok, she didn't connect with the show. But the criticisms are odd. The villian was too white trash and Rust becoming hopeful is just too much after he see's a spinning vortex and is brutally stabbed and almost dies? Wth was she looking for I wonder?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:10 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the Tuttles came out of the countryside (swamp? bayou?) where they practised their own messed up traditions. One of the branches of the family goes legitimate and is a success and is then sort of weighed down by his sinister yokel roots. The Reverend may have participated in those Old Ways in his youth, but I doubt that he does it now. Maybe he still got some jollies out of hurting kids? Still, he pretty much turns his back on the goings on at Carcosa (he has how many houses?), which pretty much lets the illegitimate remnants of the clan do whatever they want. The Tuttles only have to pay attention to them when they mess something up because if the Childress end of things goes down, they could probably bring down the Tuttles.

I suspect the Rev's death is linked to the Childresses somehow. He's still connected to them, still tainted by them, but there's another Tuttle, the politician, who is even more "legit" than he is. Given how that family operates, I don't have much difficulty believing that even the Rev could be put down in order to protect another wing of the family's interests.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:23 PM on March 11


Great discussion!

This show was extremely rewatchable before it concluded, and I expect that it will remain rewatachable given that there isn't an all-important twist in the final minutes.

I agree that the way it wrapped up feels very novel-esque.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:26 PM on March 11


I feel like if Bully Lee Tuttle were really out of it all, he'd have burned the tape rather than have it lying around.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:44 PM on March 11


But robocop, the videotape and the pictures (which may or may not have been the ones the deacon found years back) were in the Reverend's possession! I mean no one except Rust could even bear to watch that video. Why did Tuttle have it? It's not like a minor embarrassment by the backwoods branch of the family.

Also he said the deacon was let go for embezzlement when actually the deacon had reported child porn found in his office (right?). And also also, back before the schools shut down, he had to know that Errol was doing maintenance there.

Seems to me like the Reverend was implicated in more than just a coverup. Or at the very least--considering what he was covering up and his full knowledge of it, he might as well have been involved himself.
posted by torticat at 1:28 PM on March 11


Just wanted to say I thought Brandon Blatcher was on point with this comment from a couple weeks ago--

The Yellow King aka the killer may not, hell probably isn't, a single man. If he were, there would be an end or way to stop this. But there isn't a way to solve all the crimes, to make people care about missing children in rural backwater.

I think Rust is working the theory that can he can destroy this secret ring of abusers. But in doing so, he's fallen pretty far himself. Will he reach a point with this case where he can say "Ok, I'm finished, I can live again." Doubtful. Like the King in Yellow stokes, Rust has probably been driven a bit insane. Where can he go after a case like this?


--or at least, he was asking exactly the right questions. Nice!
posted by torticat at 1:34 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


But robocop, the videotape and the pictures (which may or may not have been the ones the deacon found years back) were in the Reverend's possession! I mean no one except Rust could even bear to watch that video. Why did Tuttle have it? It's not like a minor embarrassment by the backwoods branch of the family.

Fair point. Maybe he still gets his rocks off hurting kids? I think he's backed off from the weirdo hoods and masks aspects of the Old Ways, but he still might be a straight up sicko who has realized its easier to keep things on the down-low without all the pageantry.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:07 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


(Also while I was typing that the copies of A Season in Carcosa and The King in Yellow i ordered for my library showed up. Going to make a devil's trap out of pencils and old catalog cards now.)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:16 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Is this not an acceptable philosophy to have? Are we supposed to grow out of it, presumably in sophomore year of college? Folks talking about this sound so blase, like oh, you're still in your nihilism phase? How cute.

Because the way it's presented is like "LOOK AT THIS, THIS IS DEEP, THIS IS SMART" screaming like that one loud guy from dilbert. It's not the actual philosophy that i, at least, take any issue with. It's the way it's presented both in the show and by the writer that makes him sound like a dorm room philosopher who thinks he wrote something brilliant.

When you combine that with the fact that he's all like "haha you guys think there's something deep going on here when there really isn't" just makes him seem like a smug prick, who hopefully doesn't injure himself patting his own back about how he "pulled one over" on everyone.

Because seriously, read the interviews and watch the show. It's like smug slam poetry by someone who thinks they're blatantly cooler and smarter than everyone in the audience, which is just really cringey and teenagerish to me. And i'm writing this as someone young enough to still clearly remember their honors high school LA short stories where i was shoveling that exact brand of manure.
posted by emptythought at 3:29 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I guess it's just that like a lot of decent to somewhat above average-but-not-amazing artists, he's gets just enough tugoffs and praise that he developed an ego and smugfield surrounding him(and probably some yes-men) that make him think he's entirely too big for his britches. I've watched it happen a lot of times.

What he made is pretty decent, but his interviews completely change the way i view it.

Without them, it would be like "Oh, that was pretty cool i guess. Too bad the ending left so many threads open and completely ignored the political tie in to high-up people and all that, but i'm happy it wasn't a MUST TIE UP EVERY THREAD ending"

With them, it's like "Oh, nice, so the whole thing was just a big joke on the audience for being too stupid to not chase all the squirrels into the bushes of little story lines. The whole point was that there's nothing complicated and it's just a simple story. What a brilliant satire on modern twist-laden television, omg u r so smart such great writer".

It's like a really complex, polished version of one of those parody videos where halfway through the normal video everyone explodes into piles of blood and dies or something.

The massively mixed messages and staircase-witty "Oh, actually those drawings and stuff you see don't mean anything teehee" just reinforces depending on your attitude either the tiresome "the audience is sheep and i'm a genius" trolling, or the sloppiness, or some combination of both depending on how you look at it.

Something about the approach displayed in the interviews+the show just strikes me as disrespectful of the audience to me, and it damages my opinion of the show. Does that make any sense?
posted by emptythought at 3:36 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I admit I tend to stay away from interviews, especially when the show is ongoing/movie is about to premiere/book just came out because I want to avoid what you've experienced there, emptythought. I want to develop my opinion of the work before I develop one about the creator's intent. Dude did a full court press with his interviewing, though, so they were hard to avoid when chasing those plot squirrels, so many that I wonder if they show the nervousness of a newb showrunner suddenly finding himself tied to the tiger of a critical hit.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:59 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]




Another trivial question (and thanks for the help with the dog! I figured Errol got him, but it happened so fast I didn't see how):

Would any southerner say "the 49" when referring to a highway, as Gilbough and Papania did? I grew up in the south (North Carolina though, not the deep south), and I only learned this construction as a west coast/California thing. In the south you would say "where's 49" or "highway 49," never "where's the 49."

Am wondering if a bit of LA (city not state) has rubbed off on Pizzolatto, or if other southerners here would disagree with me that that was out of place.
posted by torticat at 12:03 AM on March 12


Am wondering if a bit of LA (city not state) has rubbed off on Pizzolatto, or if other southerners here would disagree with me that that was out of place.

I grew up in the weirdography of the southern piedmont on the border of NC/SC, with somewhat frequent familial sojourns to Alabama and Louisiana. That rang absolutely true to me. There were so many unincorporated municipalities and roads that it became necessary to use the determinative sometimes.
posted by Token Meme at 12:52 AM on March 12


Why would you kill a dog to stop it from following you into a fort and then tell the guy following the dog "hey follow me into this sick fort"?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:26 AM on March 12


Because you don't want the yapping dog to give away your position.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:53 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Because the way it's presented is like "LOOK AT THIS, THIS IS DEEP, THIS IS SMART" screaming like that one loud guy from dilbert. It's not the actual philosophy that i, at least, take any issue with. It's the way it's presented both in the show and by the writer that makes him sound like a dorm room philosopher who thinks he wrote something brilliant.


I don't find this in McConnaughey's delivery at all.

It sounds like a combination of the author's off-page/screen persona getting in the way and the explosion of the media surrounding this show that have given folks this perception.

I haven't seen any interviews or read any more than the snippets of the author's interviews quoted here, so I'm going solely off the performance. I suspect this show will hold up over time. Once the weekly articles and interviews die down the show will be allowed to be much better.
posted by GrapeApiary at 5:38 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


It's not the actual philosophy that i, at least, take any issue with. It's the way it's presented both in the show and by the writer that makes him sound like a dorm room philosopher who thinks he wrote something brilliant.

Outside of other snippets, the only interview I've read with Pizzolatto was one in which he explicitly talked about how Ligotti's philosophy was chilling, but not his own. Combine that with all the "shut the fuck up Rust" bits, how genuinely good the revival preacher turned out to be, and the whole point of the final scene in the show, I don't buy the idea that Pizzolatto thinks that Cohle is super deep in the sense that he's telling the audience Truly True Truths.

Maybe Pizzolatto comes off as arrogant in interviews, but I don't especially care. I agree with GrapeApiary that you might be getting a certain impression of him and the show due to how the interviews had intertwined with "WHO IS THE YELLOW KING!?!?!" media hype. Red herrings, recurring motifs, and thematically related tangents are all very old traditions in mysteries. I can't see the harm in an author using these tactics.

For example, it's not a dirty trick that the show had hinted that maybe the daughter had been abused by the cult, perhaps by her grandfather. The point was to keep the viewer thinking about the mystery. In a sense, the show induced in the viewer the "detective's curse". The viewer pores over these details, viewing them through the lens of the Yellow King, but the real answer is that these were all just regular life problems. Marty is a pompous, deceitful, confrontational, unfaithful, inattentive husband and father. It's only at the very end of the show that we finally see him behave in a freely genuine, caring, nurturing way towards somebody else - his partner, of course.

Too bad the ending left so many threads open and completely ignored the political tie in to high-up people

How did the ending ignore the political tie-in to high-up people? By the end of the show, the feds are already discrediting the "rumors" that the Tuttles were involved at all.

There were three big things about the ending. One, they couldn't get all the guys, just their guy. This seems pretty straightforward to me. This doesn't seem any more gratuitously open-ended to me than, say, the ending to any particular season of The Wire, or the ending to any particular John Le Carré novel. Two, Rust is a guy who's always been making up stories about the stars. His philosophical rants are a vivid example of this. By the end of the show, he has finally found a story "about the stars" that allows him to feel okay with being alive. Three, Marty has a breakthrough when he faces his family as a truly vulnerable and broken man, in contrast to the cheating tightass who has to lie in order to dominate the house at all times. This breakthrough is what may have helped him behave in a truly therapeutic way to his friend - he doesn't just visit him and give him cigarettes, but he actually comforts Rust and talks him through to a better place.

I'm not saying you have to like the show, not at all. But, I do think that many of the criticisms of the show come from a place of wishing that the show had been something else entirely. The mystery was much more than just window dressing, but the focus at all times was on the two main characters and how they felt about the mystery and how they wound up changing as people after investigating it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:36 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


Other TD thoughts:

Even people who weren't crazy about the writing have to admit that the direction was top-notch.

As far as examples of quality direction is concerned, some of my favorite work came during the interrogation of the Marshland Medea. Early in the scene, Marty makes a dick remark about condoms. Rust motions Marty to leave. This probably wasn't intentional on the characters' parts, but this winds up being a perfect example of good cop bad cop: Marty is stern and judgmental, but Rust seems empathic and almost protective. Rust tells her that he has lost a child. He reaches out for her hands, and she reluctantly gives in. Later, as she's writing her confession, Rust has his hand over her shoulder. As many cops will play the game when they want to get a confession, he appears to be comforting. And then, immediately after he gets what he wants, the kindness turns off like a faucet. He gives her the infamous "when you get an opportunity, you should kill yourself" remark. He leaves without looking back. Sobbing, clutching a kleenex, she reaches out for him. This man had been her last connection to anything resembling empathy. He has basically cursed her. We then hear from the outside her keening wails. Presumably, now her every waking moment will be consumed with a desire to kill herself.

The script has the ingredients for a good scene, but the direction is what sells it. The blocking and gestures make it work. Marty is already just hanging out in the background when he makes his dick remark. It's clear here that Rust had been in control from the very first second, and that Marty was a hanger-on. This also adds resonance to the later scenes, in which Rust gives Marty the thankless clerical work, and walks out on Marty. After all, Rust has just made Marty look like an unnecessary amateur. And contrast all of that with Marty's macho officiousness in the interviews - he talks to them like he's a seasoned hand and they're a bunch of greenhorns, but in that sequence, he looks like an ineffective intern.

There is also the Marshland Medea's hesitance, but then willingness to accept Rust's hand. The staging of this scene contains a number of unfurling emotions. How much of her grief is real? What is it like for her to confront a man who has "honestly" lost his child? What is it like for him to use his dead child as a prop? Are her cries at the end a sign that she truly did feel grief and guilt? By the very end of the scene, has she been driven totally mad forever? (Weirdly enough, her cries sort of remind me of Sam Neill in In The Mouth of Madness, shouting "I am not insaaaAAANNNE!")
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:03 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


"LARB's "Dear Television" has a bunch of nice takes on the finale."
Monster, as every English professor likes to remind us, comes from the same root as demonstrate: a monster is supposed to mean, to signify, to instruct. Errol Childress has nothing to teach us, and neither does True Detective in its fond hope that these old manly genres can keep operating in the exhausted currency of mutilated women, or its insistence that evil somehow proclaims itself.
Interesting, as I just read this last night:
Monsters are meaning machines. They can represent gender, race, nationality, class, and sexuality in one body. And even within these divisions of identity, the monster can still be broken down. Dracula, for example, can be read as aristocrat, a symbol of the masses; he is predator and yet feminine, he is consumer and producer, he is parasite and host, he is homosexual and heterosexual, he is even a lesbian. Monsters and the Gothic fiction that creates them are therefore technologies, narrative technologies that produce the perfect figure for negative identity. Monsters have to be everything the human is not and, in producing the negative of human, these novels make way for the invention of human as white, male, middle class, and heterosexual.
Lest I come off as defending the series (or Pizzolatto) in this thread, I tend to agree that the lessons embedded in the series are metatextual, and unintentional. They're about how we dig for clues amidst de rigueur horror, how men focus on punishing other men rather than truly protecting (by restructuring society and in day-to-day actions—looking at you, Marty; husband and father of the year), and how we seek cosmic causes for our own lack of compassion and inhumanity toward one another (Rusty, in this case; who blames his shitheelness on a cruel and uncaring universe).
posted by Eideteker at 7:07 AM on March 12




The library display in progress.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:01 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


And the weird "could be supernatural stuff" works because it's established that Cohle has hallucinations, which are sometimes just fucked up, and sometimes, how does he put it, "mainline to the mind of the universe" or something.

Cohle is a mystic, but that doesn't necessarily mean his visions are supernatural, and that they may not be doesn't make them meaningless. I think his acid flashbacks and ability to read people are of a piece -- his mind is making connections that it can sometimes express only through what amounts to poetry (his visions), and it makes what seem like intuitive leaps only because Cohle gets the answer, as it were, but doesn't see the work. But I think it is work. He's thinking and drawing conclusions, but he isn't conscious of the mechanics of the process. It only looks like magic, or what we think of when we use the word "magic" dismissively. Ultimately, he really is a master detective in the Sherlockian sense...which is what makes it a little ironic that a meat-and-potatoes dude like Marty is the one who finally solves the mystery. (Cohle's "Oh, fuck you, man," or words to that effect when he realized he'd been shown up -- the best.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:47 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Combine that with all the "shut the fuck up Rust" bits, how genuinely good the revival preacher turned out to be, and the whole point of the final scene in the show, I don't buy the idea that Pizzolatto thinks that Cohle is super deep in the sense that he's telling the audience Truly True Truths.

On this point, however, from an interview:
You gave Cohle a lot of opportunities, especially in the first five episodes, to express a lot of his belief system. Reading much of the commentary on the show, there were some people who were really impressed by what Cohle had to say and some who were thinking the entire time that he's full of crap, and some people insisting the show thinks he's brilliant and others feeling that the show is well aware that he's full of crap. How did you want people to take all of the things Cohle was saying to us?

Nic Pizzolatto: I don't want to restrict an audience by telling them that "this means this" and "this means this." My intentions are the inalterable definition of things. For people who thought Cohle's philosophy was simply hogwash, be aware that you're calling Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche hogwash. Just be aware of that. That is not, in fact, a college freshman stoned eating a pizza talking about life; that's Arthur Schopenhauer's thoughts on life.
I can't say I think that Pizzolatto did a great job of presenting Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, then, though.
posted by shivohum at 6:55 PM on March 12


Monster, as every English professor likes to remind us, comes from the same root as demonstrate: a monster is supposed to mean, to signify, to instruct. Errol Childress has nothing to teach us, and neither does True Detective in its fond hope that these old manly genres can keep operating in the exhausted currency of mutilated women, or its insistence that evil somehow proclaims itself.

"Monster" derives from a word meaning "portent", but it is beyond even an etymological fallacy to say that this would mean that monsters themselves must go beyond even mere portent, in order to mean, signify, or instruct. Quite on the contrary, formlessness and categorical impurity are widely appreciated aspects of monsters, especially in the Chambers/Lovecraft/Ligotti mode of horror. Check out The Philosophy of Horror, by Noel Carroll.

Halberstram has a more mature approach with the "meaning machines" remark, as at least she sees that the reader is the one who applies meaning to monsters. As for finding "meaning" in Childress, et al., it seems fairly simple to read into Childress anxiety about "white trash" and modern civilization; anxiety about faith and false prophets; anxiety about what preys on children and what protects children. Also note the contrast between the ineffective approach of just shooting them, and the effective approach which only materializes when Marty and Rust reject the rules and relationships that have been applied to them by others (men, basically) and deal with one another in an open and empathetic manner.

It is meaningless (haw) to say that Childress has nothing to teach us, because he does not exist in a vacuum. Not only is it the viewers who can give Childress meaning, but he has meaning to the extent that the characters around him interact with him and his works. You might as well say that Lovecraft's monsters have nothing to teach us, which seems a little silly considering, among other things, the surfeit of theoretical work surrounding Lovecraft, as well as the pervasive influence of his Mythos.

Hell, as long as I've brought up Carroll, let's look at some relevant quotes. It's interesting to compare and contrast the ways in which True Detective both fits and does not fit within Carroll's rubrics.
[I]t has often been observed that a crucial difference between fairy- tale monsters and horrific monsters concerns the ways in which the characters of these different respective genres react to them. Both Beauty and her father are scared by the Beast; but they do not react to him as if he were unnatural—that is, as if he were a violation of nature or an impure creature. He is, rather, a marvelous or fantastic entity in a world of the marvelous and the fantastic. He is not a cosmological or metaphysical category mistake. The universe of the fairy tale accommodates such creatures as the Beast as part and parcel of nature. He’s frightening for being a largish, animal-type being with a foul temper. But he is not a violation of nature. And this is signaled by the way characters like Beauty and her father react to him....

However, when one turns from a fairy tale like Madame de Beaumont’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” to paradigmatic cases of horror, such as the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, Mr. Hyde, Lovecraft’s Old Ones, and so on, the reaction of the human characters to such monsters changes. The monsters are regarded to be violations of nature, and abnormal, and this is made clear in the reactions of protagonists. They not only fear such monsters; they find them repellent, loathsome, disgusting, repulsive and impure. They are unnatural in the sense that they are metaphysical misfits, and, in consequence, they elicit disgust from fictional characters, and, in turn, they are supposed to elicit a congruent response from the audience....

And where the Enlightenment convert strives for a naturalistic conception of the world, the horror novel presumes, for the purposes of fiction, the existence of the supernatural. Moreover, it might be said that in opposition to the Enlightenment’s faith in progress, the horror novel indulges regression. Or, at the very least, the horror novel might be seen as a sphere in which superstitious beliefs are provided with a residual and ghettoized forum of expression. The horror novel, along with poems like Goethe’s “The Erl King,” that is, might be seen as the return of the Enlightenment’s repressed.70 Here, the horror novel can be thought of in several different ways: it might be construed as compensating for that which the Enlightenment suspects, operating like a kind of safety valve; or it might be conceived of as a kind of explosion of that which is denied.
On the one hand, TD appears to take place in the real world, which would theoretically take it outside the realm of horror. Nonetheless, the crimes and monsters in TD are presented as being unnatural in the manner of a horror novel. Childress, et al. are not mere pedophiles and murderers. They are inhuman monsters, who commit acts so depraved that those who gaze upon them appear to go mad. It is not merely that they are especially evil - they are evil, but that's not really what freaks people out. No, it is that they actively seem to be out of this world, things that should not be, and yet they are nonetheless insidiously embedded into society of the real world.

Some viewers have found this approach frustrating, as they had variously found the Childress climax to be underwhelming, or they had wanted more explanation as to the nature of the cult, and so on. In my opinion, much of this frustration stems from how TD picks and chooses from the crime and horror genres.

For example, in a Lovecraft story, it would be typical to have the main character chase down the bad guy, only to receive horrifying visions and inconclusive answers. For one thing, bear in mind that Lovecraft is a niche figure, and that most people generally wouldn't like his stories at all. But, more importantly, also consider how Lovecraftian heroes are often necessarily one- or two-dimensional, and also that Lovecraft would never have a story where at least one of the bad guys was actually caught, and then the protagonists experience personal and spiritual growth as a result.

Contrast this with how American detective stories are supposed to be logical mysteries that play fair with the viewer. Some consider it rude that there were, in their opinion, an excessive number of red herrings in True Detective. But, the idea that mysteries must be made this way is not universal. Twin Peaks presents one obvious example, with its use of the supernatural and its heavily extended mythology. On the other hand, there have also been frustrating and asinine attempts to ape Twin Peaks. Another example would be to look at the Italian genre of the giallo, in which the plots are markedly less logical, unfolding with gory dream logic. (There is a very smooth gradation from Dario Argento's gialli and his horror films.)

None of this means that one is "wrong" to not like True Detective. What I'm saying is, the reasons why True Detective had intrigued but then frustrated many of its viewers may have something to do with the fact that True Detective itself is precariously balanced between at least two different genres.

For what it's worth, I had a similarly frustrated reaction to Peter Straub's Koko, which is a horror novel that is also not a horror novel, but it gets better when you give in and let it do its thing.

I tend to agree that the lessons embedded in the series are metatextual, and unintentional.

I may be misreading you, but - really? Unintentional? The story has been constructed to juxtapose Marty and Rust's sins and contradictions. The Marty who beats the two young men and treats his family like an ill-kept lawn is obviously meant to be contrasted with both the Marty who treats his fellow officers with moralizing, tough-guy condescension and the Marty who tearfully thanks his family and comforts Rust. I don't understand how this story construction could be seen as unintentional.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:07 AM on March 13 [8 favorites]


Sticherbeast: anxiety about what preys on children and what protects children

Cohle's line about needing bad men to keep other bad men from the door seems relevant here. Is that true, or self-serving rationalization? Both, I think. Shades of Apocalypse Now and ultimately, Nietzsche.

They are inhuman monsters, who commit acts so depraved that those who gaze upon them appear to go mad. It is not merely that they are especially evil - they are evil, but that's not really what freaks people out. No, it is that they actively seem to be out of this world, things that should not be, and yet they are nonetheless insidiously embedded into society of the real world.

I think the point here is not that those monsters aren't of this world, but our conception of the world is wrong. We want the world to be a certain way, but the Errols of the world are out there, whether we want to think they are or not. And in some way, they're a more primal expression of reality; rapacity is not an innovation. The Yellow King cult itself may have the same pedigree as neo-Druids, but it represents something not alien but archaic, from a chaotic nightmare time we'd like to forget. Returning to the same well, Heart of Darkness.

So, is it actually us who are the aliens, with our civlization of rules not codified by blood? Are these rules even real, or is the predation now just more complex? Or are there slow but real improvements?

Cohle didn't "find Jesus" at the end, he just changed his mind on those questions. The Yellow King, is the original void, the primal dark. But slowly, the light's winning.
posted by spaltavian at 5:31 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]




Sticherbeast: "For example, in a Lovecraft story, it would be typical to have the main character chase down the bad guy, only to receive horrifying visions and inconclusive answers. For one thing, bear in mind that Lovecraft is a niche figure, and that most people generally wouldn't like his stories at all. But, more importantly, also consider how Lovecraftian heroes are often necessarily one- or two-dimensional, and also that Lovecraft would never have a story where at least one of the bad guys was actually caught, and then the protagonists experience personal and spiritual growth as a result. "

This seems trivially untrue to me. Most of Lovecraft's larger stories end with the protagonists achieving at least temporary victory, although there's usually the implication that the base evil is still out there; much like True Detective.

Consider three of the big ones, The Call of Cthulhu, where Cthulhu is sent back to his slumber by Johansen crashing the ship into him (see also Boats: an Elder God's Only Weakness) and Thurston realizing he's now a target of the cult, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, where the protagonist calls the authorities to destroy Innsmouth and Devil's Reef, but he experiences a kind of personal growth by realizing that he's going to be changing into one of the creatures, and even looking forward to living forever in the sea, or The Dunwich Horror, where the academic protagonists definitely thwart the plot and kill the monster.

It's kind of a much-repeated cliché without that much basis in reality that Lovecraft protagonists always lose. They often sort-of win, but usually at great personal cost. Other examples of this are The Horror at Red Hook, The Shunned House, etc.

Now, there isn't much personal growth, I'll give you that, but several important protagonists come out of their ordeals changed, but basically ok.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:01 AM on March 16


(There probably isn't a lot of personal growth because Lovecraft didn't care much about characters, or thought their motivations and thoughts were mostly obvious.)
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:15 AM on March 16


I should have been more clear. The "and then" in my quote specifically meant that Lovecraft stories don't feature victories AND personal growth in combination, especially since Lovecraft's stories are intentionally centered around one- or two-dimensional characters. I would think that we'd agree on that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:54 AM on March 16


I was just about done watching tonight's new episode of True Detective. It was so great, with the true form of the Yellow King revealed, and Rust turning into a literal Avenging Angel, and Marty's daughter showing up to save the day, but then my wife came into the room and asked why I was staring at a screen of noisy static. :(
posted by Rock Steady at 8:39 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]




Once I started watching the show and found out about its anthology format, I thought the two black detectives that were interviewing Marty and Rust would be the stars of next season.

If Brad Pitt is one of the new detectives, ok. I say that thinking Pitt is a fine actor, but without knowing the story or seeing him in this particular role. The first episode hooked me and the wife with the characters and moody feel. Hopefully episode 1 of season 2 would accomplish the same feat, but in a different way. Female detectives would be a nice touch.

However, I'm wondering if this first season was just lighting in a bottle, a fluke. The script was all over the place and pulled things together by the skin of its teeth by the end. Still enjoyed it, but considering the number of people who were disappointed, I'm curious to see how the second season handles itself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Optimistically speaking: Brad Pitt's presence could make it easier for HBO to sell a TD season with a female lead who is not an A-lister. My wife and I were musing about whom we'd like to see in TD2, and none of the people we were thinking of are particularly big as of yet.

I've been open about how I was a huge fan of not only this season, but also how this season turned out. Optimistically speaking again, I would say that TD2 could shape up to be even better, if both the showrunners and the audience have a better idea of what the big picture will look like.

They say that they'll keep the occult influence for the next season. I hope they go for a more Peter Levenda sort of influence for this go-round, to spice things up.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:04 AM on March 17


Pitt seems like a wise, but boring possibility. I too was hoping for them to move out to other types detectives that we don't get to see too often on screen. Hopefully Pitt wouldn't preclude that, but might be used as a way to attach a big-name star while showcasing some new talent as well.

I also recently remembered the book Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which is a detective novel in New Orleans with a magical realism bent. Might be worth checking out for fans of TD.
posted by codacorolla at 9:39 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Optimistically speaking: Brad Pitt's presence could make it easier for HBO to sell a TD season with a female lead who is not an A-lister. My wife and I were musing about whom we'd like to see in TD2

I'd like Elizabeth Moss, given that Top of the Lake could basically be a season of True Detective.
posted by spaltavian at 9:40 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of Top of the Lake being a season of True Detective. GJ should meet Rust.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:55 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


If we are going international, maybe Detective Tyler Durden can hook up with DSI Stella Gibson in one way or another.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:19 AM on March 17


Sorry I'm so late! I just now finally finished after starting then having to wait for my girlfriend to catch up so we could watch the second half of the season together. I gotta say I was most shocked by the revelation that Rust is actually played by Bill Nye the Science Guy - that post-credits scene where he puts on a black bow tie and says, "Call me Nyesenberg" gave me chills.
posted by komara at 8:52 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]










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