Film & TV Reviews

True Detective Mid-Season Review

by on March 4, 2014
Plot Synopsis

The lives of two detectives, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, become entangled during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.


60 minutes per episode


Man is the cruelest animal. HBO’s True Detective takes television by storm and may just be the best cop show ever.

Originally when the first trailer for this show came out last year I couldn’t help but be excited for the prospects that it left of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey teaming up for a police drama on HBO. Both actors are known for being able to take their talent to the next level especially with McConaughey taking on role after role where he could show his range and skill. The show runners on True Detective also brought us the intense and dark The Killing (check it out on Netflix), so the table was set in this shows favor.

Our main characters are Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (McConaughey), two cops that–as the season begins back in 1995–seem like good cops with some problems that do not necessarily get along very well. This is reflected well by Hart in 2012 when he is interviewed by Papania (Tory Kittles) and Gilbough (Michael Potts). The main focus of the season is on the brutal murder of a girl left in a field in a scene set up to leave our detectives to think it was cult related. During the season, we flip back and forth between 1995 and 2012 as Cohle and Hart investigate. Time is also spent reflecting back on what went well and right on the case, or in some situations how details change for Kilbough and Papania. At the same time, we still get to see what really happened. The whole time though we consistently see that something is not right and doubt is cast on nearly every character. Someone may be hiding something major related to this case.

The season takes a nice pace, revealing all its cards slowly rather than just tossing them on the table in a few episodes. Also, what is refreshing is that the season is about one murder case that unveils as we go, unlike other police dramas that will wrap it all up by the 45 minute mark of one episode and move on. As the show runners have stated, this show will be an anthology series, with the season wrapping up the plot. The next season will be something unrelated with new actors a la American Horror Story, which seems to be a popular way of doing things nowadays.

Mostly through clever writing and acting, the whole storyline doesn’t seem forced or contrived. Through a slow reveal and the untouchable acting skills of the two leads, the quality is phenomenal. The show progresses forward constantly without really seeming like its detouring purposely to steer us in false directions.

Our two lead detectives are both less than perfect; Hart having some serious anger and fidelity issues and Cohle having a very rough past and a history within the police force that he cannot necessarily talk about with Hart. These are very deep rich characters that really only get deeper as the season progresses and we get more involved with them and learn really what makes them tick.

There are also a few very interesting supporting characters played by relatively recognizable actors from other shows spread throughout the first season that it really takes the show level up a notch with the likes of Michelle Monaghan, Shea Whigham, Kevin Dunn, Alexandra Daddario, and even Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie from The Walking Dead).

It would do the show such a disservice to give anything away really at this point other than the very basics because it is such fun to watch and see what the next episode will reveal. True Detective may be one of the finest examples right now of television becoming a superior medium to film. It stands easily with the likes of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Sons of Anarchy as examples of how good television can be. If you haven’t caught up with the exploits of Hart and Cohle yet, I highly recommend this show.


+ Phenomenal acting
+ Easy to follow plot with lots of surprises

+ One of the best cop shows ever made

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Bottom Line

This show is ridiculously deep.

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