True Detective is a much talked about and ballyhooed tv series that has only completed it’s first season. I wanted to check it and out and check it out I did – and I don’t know what the fuss was all about! The HBO created and written by Nic Pizzolatto, with the first season directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (both executive producers of the series) with Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, and Tory Kittles. It follows the case of two Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division homicide detectives’ hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana across seventeen years. It’s dark, it’s deary and it’s brutal – so they also had to get two characters who symbolizes a lot of that darkness and doom. Hey I like Harrelson a lot and think he’s fantastic but McConaughey kinda plays the same kinda roles in a lot of movies that aren’t comedy / action.
In Louisiana two homicide detectives Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle are investigating the death of prostitute Dora Lange, who’s body is foun wearing deer antlers surrounded by symbolic imagery and objects, including twig latticeworks resembling Cajun bird traps. Finding a body with Occult imagery in rural heavily Christian Louisiana means that the case receives heavy priority and lots of focus. It doesn’t help that most people, including his boss & other cops, don’t like Rusty for his dour persona and is considered to be rude. His daughter’s death in a car accident, which led to the collapse of his marriage, the beginning of his drug habit, and four years as an undercover narcotics investigator is the reason Rusty is the way he is. Marty tries to be social with him and has him over for dinner, introducing Rusty to his wife and 2 daughters but Rusty sees through the fact that Marty is cheating on his wife and sleeping with the court clerk. Infact for a show that is only 8 episodes and is supposed to be detective drama, an awful lot of time is spent on showing naked chick having sex with Marty and then the fall out that happens when the affair goes sour. The show switches back & forth between events of 1995 and two cops interviewing the ex-detectives about the case – Marty, having been divorced, runs a successful private investigation firm while Rusty works in a bar.
Although the celebrated evangelist and cousin of the governor, advocates a police task force focusing on “anti-Christian crimes,” including the Lange murder, it is obvious that a former local church had more than normal practices going on in their premises. In the wreckage of a burnt-out church Lange attended, they find a wall painting depicting a human figure wearing deer antlers – Lange’s diary had repeated references to “Carcosa” and a “Yellow King”. Rusty in particular has a dim view of Christianity and isn’t shy of voicing his opinions, while questioning the former pastor about Lange. While researching old investigations, Cohle identifies symbols similar to the Lange case in the death of Rianne Olivier, which was classified as accidental. Hart and Cohle visit Light of the Way Academy, a religious school run by Tuttle that Olivier attended, but find it abandoned save for a groundskeeper. They discover that Olivier’s boyfriend, Reggie Ledoux is an ex-con who was a cellmate of Dora Lange’s ex-husband, Charlie, and has since skipped parole. Rusty goes “undercover” to infiltrate the biker gang that Charlie is now cooking meth for.
Meanwhile Marty’s mistress tells about the affair to his wife Maggie who leaves the house with the kids. Rusty’s undercover gig almost goes bust but he manages to get away and his contact leads him & Marty to DeWall Ledoux, Reggie’s cousin and cook partner. DeWall refuses to do business with Cohle but unwittingly leads him and Hart to a meth lab hidden in the bayou. Hart apprehends Reggie, who makes cryptic statements about Carcosa. Hart executes Reggie in a rage after discovering two kidnapped and abused children in the compound. DeWall flees and dies to a booby trap. The detectives plant evidence to make it look like a shootout has taken place, a scenario they report as fact to a police investigation. They are hailed as heroes at the station and in the press, and they receive commendations and promotions. Cut to 2002, while Rusty is consulting on a police interrogation, the prisoner asks for a plea bargain in exchange for the identity of Dora Lange’s real killer, who he claims is still at large and killing. The prisoner kills himself in his cell before Cohle can follow up. Cohle returns to Light of the Way Academy, where he finds dozens of twig sculptures and dark imagery on the walls. A former pastor in Tuttle’s ministries claims Tuttle covered up child molestation.
Tuttle complains to the police department following a tense meeting with Cohle, who has been warned to cease his investigation, and Cohle is suspended from duty anyway. Hart begins an affair with Beth, whom he met when he was working the Lange case and she was an underage prostitute he interviewed. After she discovers the affair, Maggie has sex with Cohle. After she tells her husband, he and Cohle fight. Cohle quits the police force immediately after. In 2012, Cohle presents Hart with evidence of a cult he believes is responsible for the disappearance of dozens of women and children. Among the evidence is a videotape of the rape and murder of Marie Fontenot, a tape Cohle stole from Tuttle’s home. He denies killing Tuttle, speculating that others did it to prevent Tuttle being blackmailed over the tape. Hart agrees to join the investigation. They learn that Tuttle had an illegitimate half-brother with the surname Childress, whose son had scars on his face. They also learn that their former colleague Steve Geraci cut short his investigation of the Fontenot disappearance on the orders of his boss, Ted Childress, then the sheriff of Vermilion Parish. Hart and Cohle waylay Geraci to coerce the details from him. Meanwhile, Gilbough and Papania ask directions to the burnt-out church from a groundskeeper, the same man Cohle encountered at Light of the Way Academy in 1995. They drive off without noticing his badly scarred lower face.
In 2012, the “man with the scars” is shown living in squalor in a large house with a female relative, with whom he has a sexual relationship. Later, he goes to work painting a school, where he watches children on the playground. Hart and Cohle extract details from Geraci by showing him the Fontenot tape. Hart intuits that the “green-eared spaghetti monster” may have been the scarred man covered in green from painting a house in Dora Lange’s old neighborhood. They trace the paint job to a small business owned by William Childress that employed a man with scars on his face. They visit William Childress’s home, the house where the “man with the scars” lives. Cohle pursues the man, William Childress’s son Errol, through a labyrinth of trees and tunnels, which Errol identifies as Carcosa.
At the end Cohle discovers an idol, draped in yellow and covered in skulls, and briefly sees a spiraling vortex. Hart discovers William’s decaying corpse in a shed and then runs to Cohle’s aid. Hart and Cohle are both badly wounded fighting Errol but manage to kill him. Papania and Gilbough arrive with backup, called to the scene by Hart. Hart and Cohle recover in the hospital while Papania and Gilbough connect Errol to dozens of missing-person cases and murders, including Dora Lange’s. The Tuttles, however, escape prosecution. Hart breaks down into tears when Maggie and their daughters visit him. Cohle reveals that during his ordeal he felt the loving presence of his dead father and daughter, and the experience has given his life renewed purpose. The two detectives reflect on the universal battle between light and dark.