I just finished watching my DVR of last night’s True Detective, “Black Maps and Motels” and I’m stunned. I think I may have seen the best hour of television I’ve ever watched. I was literally glued to the screen, mesmerized by the story, the characters and, yes, even the cross-cutting plot. Nic Pizzolatto has woven more than a first rate crime drama. It’s an existentialist noir masterpiece.
At long last Frank (Vince Vaughn) comes alive as a character. For six episodes he was a sleeping cobra, trapped by circumstances and seemingly impotent. But in episode seven the cobra strikes, and its obvious (especially from the preview of next week’s 90 minute finale) that his plot line will mesh with the situations the cop heroes have found themselves in.
I don’t want to give too much away about he conclusion of this episode, but I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done while watching a TV show. I was on my feet shouting at the screen. At that moment I realized how much Pizzolatto has made me care about the characters in his story.
There was no wasted footage in this week’s segment. Everything built on what has been presented on earlier episodes. The only predictable scene was one involving the death of the person giving Ray, Adi, and Paul authority to do what they have been doing. You could see it coming, but it didn’t detract from the suspense and even terror that has built to a crescendo at this point.
What makes Season 2 so engrossing is that each of the main characters not only faces the threat of death from the corrupt power system they’re investigating, they face even greater personal destruction because of their own flaws.
This is not cop TV drama. It’s a modern day attempt to present something equivalent to Greek Tragedy. It’s different from Shakespearean tragedy. Shakespearean tragedy reveled more in its language than the “pity and terror” the Greeks wanted us to experience. Pizzolatto is the Sophocles of HBO