HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary Fukunaga


Sorry to say I was disappointed in the finale of True Detective on HBO last night. After seven great episodes the final installment was a let down. For two reasons. I thought the serial killings and child abductions would be found out to be part of a much wider ring of evil that involved Rev. Tuttle and his father (or was it brother) the State Senator. Those ideas were teased all through the miniseries but at the end it seemed like writer Nick Pizzolato just forgot about those elements, or chickened out at the end. 

And what about all those references to Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow? Nothing? Just another red herring among many.

The final confrontation with the lone killer was well staged but kind of weak. Two cops against one maniac. And they couldn’t handle him. Given all the deaths and missing children it seems improbable there weren’t more people involved.

But worst of all the writer followed the current trend of writing an arc for his main character. Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) all through the story is a total nihilist and one of the most interesting characters on television. But his near death experience converts him into a believer. Come on!

Dashiell Hammett wouldn’t have written it that way. But today’s writers and those who teach writing courses, are obsessed with the idea that the main character has to go through a metamorphosis. It makes a story totally predictable and that was one thing I thought this show would not turn out to be. Too bad.

It’s the bane of modern fiction writing– books and films. It makes a story too predictable. Start with a hero who is a loner and doesn’t like people. By the end of the story he loves everybody. Start with a person who hates cats and at the end he’s the owner of a pet store. He’s a hard-drinking cynic who at the end finds love and religion. Perhaps it’s an attempt by genre fiction writers to give their work a look of “literary” respectability.

The old pulp writers never worried about respectability. What they wanted to do was present a character who could face up to the evil in the world and not be changed or tarnished by it. I wished True Detective had ended when Marty visits Cohle in his hospital room and says he’ll come back to see him later and Cohle asks: “Why?”

“Don ‘t ever change, buddy,” Marty says and they give each other the finger.

The last scene outside the hospital gets all warm and fuzzy and totally ruins the previous 8 hours.

That’s my opinion. What did you think?