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True Detective Review: Do You Believe In Ghosts?

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The True Detective premiere opened in darkness, as a person appeared to drag a body across a field. We heard a lighter spark, followed by the camera pulling back to show a large ring of fire ignite.

After the opening credits, the first face we saw on True Detective Season 1 Episode 1 was Detective Martin Hart. The date was May 1, 2012. Martin was being questioned by detectives about his former partner Rust Cohle.

Woody Harrelson on True Detective

The next scene flashed to April 26 of the same year, as we got our first look at Rust, who was a stark contrast to the clean cut Martin. Both men were asked to describe the case of Dora Lange, a ritual murder back in 1995 that they worked together.

Flashing back to that year, it was quickly evident Martin Hart was established Louisiana murder police. From his interview earlier, though, we knew that while he was professional he wasn't above making an occasional joke.

I was just a regular type dude, with a big ass dick.

Martin

He and Rust's partnership was a case of good cop, weird cop. Little was known about Rust's previous work in Texas, but their collective strengths seemed to make them a very effective duo. As they arrived at the Dora Lange crime scene, Martin quickly took control of the situation, while Rust set in on examining the macabre state the body was posed in.

At this point Rust was clean shaven and well groomed, but it was apparent that beneath his exterior there was a great deal of turmoil brewing. As soon as Rust began expounding on his views of mankind, Martin rued the moment he tried to get Rust to open up to him.

Rust started in on how human consciousness was an evolutionary misstep and how humans should all stop reproducing and walk hand in hand into extinction. Despite sounding like a killer, it would be too obvious and a let down for Rust to be one.

Yet that didn't stop the show's creators from dangling little bits of possibility which could have swayed one's thoughts that way. Rust lit his cigarette with a Zippo lighter, which when lit made the same sound we heard in the opening scene. It is a more distinct sound than say a traditional BIC lighter. Then there was his living situation and his seesaw relationship with drugs and alcohol.

All misdirection if you ask me.

My feeling is, while working robbery in Texas, Rust's daughter was murdered. Her death was the impetus for him to move into homicide and why he spends his time reading as much as he can about serial killers and violent crimes. He asked Martin at one point if he believed in ghosts when he saw that little girl on the side of the road waving. Based on his reaction to her and the way his eyes widened upon seeing the billboard offering a reward for a murdered young girl, that his daughter met an unnatural death.

Things took an interesting turn when Rust acted uncharacteristically normal at dinner with Martin's family, despite being drunk. I think something about being at the dinner table, with Martin's wife and daughters, took him back to a time when his family was still alive and his life was good.

Things between Martin and his wife Maggie seemed strained. When she woke him from sleeping in the chair, she mentioned how she had missed seeing him the last few nights.

Later on Martin jumped up from his desk and suspiciously ushered away that woman who showed up to the station with some files. He wanted to find a place where they could "talk." As we continue to see how the Dora Lange case unfolded, I foresee Martin growing even more distant with Maggie and Rust in even more need of someone like her to talk to.

Past a certain age, a man without a family, can be a bad thing.

Martin

Perhaps this is why they ended up parting ways as partners and quitting the force. In his interview, I'm pretty sure Martin did not have a wedding ring on his left hand.

The one guy who sent my Spidey Sense tingling was that mountain of a man, Reverend Tuttle. His demeanor and his involvement with the department's fundraising efforts made me thing of Gus Fring from Breaking Bad.

Rust's interview felt more like an interrogation, like he should have been wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffed to the desk. Rust knew he was an asset to them, which  is why he knew he could make them go on a beer run. 

It's Thursday and it's past noon. Thursday is one of my days off. On my days off I start drinking at noon. You don't get to interrupt that.

Rust

When the recent murder at Lake Charles came up, the young detective started in on Rust as to where he had been all these years. The older and seemingly more senior detective quickly jumped in to cut him off. Rust figured the detectives would probably want to hear about he and Martin's "hero shot." When they pulled some kids out of the woods.

That little comment, those bird trap/demon nets straight out of the Blair Witch Project and Dora's ex-husband's remarks about how she said she had found her king, lead me to think we might have more than one killer on our hands. Perhaps some sort of cult.

There was so much to take in, with the jumps between years and different cases, but I think the show has all the right ingredients to a recipe for success. Time will only tell, but I'm definitely intrigued. How about you?

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Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (67 Votes)
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I have to agree, I thought of other shows as this premiere episode, that's been showing trailors for months, went on and on for months. I love Harrelson, even though I felt he'd been brought back to life from "No Country For Old Men." McConnequy (bad spelling) and Harrelson seem like brothers and the scenes are shot beautifully with rich hues of golds and browns. So why didn't I care? I will rewatch and give it a try. Can't believe Magic City won nothing on Golden Globes!

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Everything about this episode seemed so derivative! "Hannibal" with the deer horns and ritual killing, "Dexter" the same. Even the slightly deranged dad grieving his dead daughter ("The Mentalist). And the dialogue went from cliche to cliche, with the flashback formula and excruciatingly slow pace making the show almost unwatchable for me. I will probably give it a few more episodes, but not a good start.