True Detective Review: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

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Rust may have held something back when he and Marty fought in the parking lot the day Rust quit, but there were no punches pulled when it came to the season finale of True Detective.

As the end of the season approached, with just a couple episodes left, I had trouble imagining how Marty and Rust would wrap everything up.

I've since realized that was large in part because I simply didn't want the season to end.

Rust at the Bar

What we got in True Detective Season 1 Episode 8 was a fitting conclusion to one of the best seasons of television I have seen in years. It was a finale packed with all the elements of the show which have made it so compelling to watch.

After Rust flexed his confession copping skills on the boat, Marty pitched in by solving one of the biggest enigmas of the case. I had assumed, like many, that the green ears were a pair of green earmuffs worn by Errol while cutting grass, but the house paint twist was great. The tiny detail, a single photo, sent the pair off to do some serious forensic accounting.

While they were getting closer to finding Errol, we got multiple glimpses at just how twisted an individual we were dealing with. His mental state was as scarred as his face, highlighted by the various character voices we heard come out of his mouth.  A chill ran up my spine as those school children ran out onto the playground, unaware of the monster that stood above them leering down.

As Rust and Marty followed him deeper into that old stone fort, they came face to face with multiple haunting images, like the dangling shoes of children, piles of their discarded clothes and several mummified corpses.

The man with the scars had been described as a giant, but it wasn't until he stabbed and picked Rust up off the ground that we got a real perspective on how big Errol actually was. He was without a doubt the man they were looking for.

His father's house, which he shared with his half sister, looked like American Hoarders met American Horror Story for an extreme home make-under. I had a hard time picturing other members of some cult hanging out there, particularly ones like suspected member Senator Tuttle.

The fort, though, was another story. With all its trophies and the labyrinth of tunnels ending in the altar room with the disk shaped hole in the ceiling, that structure had a more ritualistic feel.

Errol was definitely part of something bigger. His dad most likely was as well, but at some point Errol decided to get some payback for what he had done to his face. His face looked a whole lot better than his head did, however, after Rust squeezed one off to save Marty. 

At the hospital we listened along with Rust to a news report that mentioned how the state and the FBI discredited the rumors that Errol was linked to Senator Tuttle and his family. Marty and Rust got their guy but not all the guys. 

Rust could have slipped away. The way he described feeling his daughter and dad's love in the darkness was practically palpable. The man who had pooh-poohed any notion of an afterlife earlier in the season was talking about his daughter waiting for him on another ethereal plane.

He was ready to accept the darkness, but then woke up. Something pulled him back to this world. As painful as it was to have felt then lost that love, he seemed okay with it. Like he still had work to do.

Then at the end, when Marty remarked how the darkness seemed to be winning the battle against the light of the stars, Rust showed an uncharacteristic level of optimism as he noted how in the beginning, there was nothing but darkness.

Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light is winning.


I know the show's stars haven't signed on for True Detective Season 2, but the fact that both characters lived through the ordeal, has me hoping they somehow might. Matthew has his Oscar. Woody's crusade to legalize marijuana is claiming more and more victories.

Why not come back for another run?!?

Whether it's Marty and Rust or another pair of detectives, I felt like the door was left open for someone to continue the search in Season 2 for the other Carcosa members from that video tape. McHarrelson or not, I will certainly be back for another round, how about you?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (89 Votes)

The problem with modern cinematic TV shows is they truly feel like generously edited films at the expense of a longer storyline and regular season timing. The word "season" has become meaningless - let's not kid ourselves, showrunners present what's actually a film that's stretched out from 1.5 to 8 hours, including credits. As such they're able to make it palatable for film quality actors/directors/screenwriters to get on-board, if they're not already a part of the initial show idea. Netflix doesn't even insult your intelligence by making you wait weekly for the next episode. So you can actually watch something like True Detective in a few sittings, just skipping over the "previously on" and intro/outro credits.


I was disappointed by this final episode. Felt it could have been so much more. The NY Times review said it so well:
The detective story had been replaced by a buddy story with one buddy back to being a jolly buffoon and the other overacting in the worst way. I really felt the quality had slipped from the very high standard of the previous episodes.

@ allie701

I'm way late to this discussion, but I just did a 3-day marathon watching of the series so I could really see the stark difference in the last two episodes. Pluses - filling in of the back story, direction and cinematography. Minuses - no emotional investment in the current main characters, the victims or villains. Biggest disappointment - by backdating it two years you're thinking Marty and Rust will continue on into a Second Season, but apparently McHarrelson were just lending their star power to draw viewers into the series, a la American Horror Story.


Man that finale had me at the edge of my seat ! Didn't talk, breath !!! WOW. The chase in the cave... shivers. It was like a tomb. So creepy ! That show was amazing. But damn, them 2 were twisted, half bro and sis ? I thought Marty was gonna shoot her, but nope. I too wondered how the cops got there, but he must have called it in. The man was tall indeed, I thought both Marty and Rust were gonna die right there and then !
At the hospital, when Rust admitted that he would have rather stay dead, I got pretty emotional. He really wanted to be with his daughter... What a finale !
HOWEVER, I too, would like them to go after the other members of Carcosa... It felt like they (maybe not Marty and Rust) could carry on with that storyline.


Just read this about a Season 2: At present, creator Nic Pizzolatto is said to be hunkered down writing scripts for the second season at his home in a picturesque area of Ventura County. HBO execs have said they intend to order a second season of the anthology series, which will return with new characters and a new mystery to unravel. Speculation about the possible casting for the next batch of episodes is running rampant online, but those in the know say the plan is to wait until a script or two is completed before going out to actors. As for the focus of the second season, Pizzolatto has been mostly mum but he dropped a good-sized hint in an interview following Sunday’s finale with Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall. “This is really early, but I’ll tell you (it’s about) hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system,” he told Hitfix. Pizzolatto and execs at HBO and Anonymous Content, which co-produced the series with HBO, are expected to powwow this week to hammer out more details.


I don't know how you came to the conclusion that they would be back or some other detectives would take over the case. If this show is to go on, it will have to be something like American Horror Story, with a different plot/characters/actors each season.

@ zgangsta

No it wouldn't necessarily have to be like that...............BUT as of now HBO has yet to annouce a second season even though it's been said that a second season is being written.........and it's also been said that Matthew and Woody won't be on season 2..........


You might be interested in this strange reference in the quasi-optimistic finale of "True Detective. It's the "Love's Winnin, good vs evil, love vs hate" speech given by the evangelical serial killer Robt Mitchum (as a form of psychological manipulation) in the classic film noir "Night of the Hunter."


So, I have not seen anyone mention the blue "galaxy hole" thingy Rust saw. I do remember reading some of the mythology of Corcosa and the Yellow King to help dive deeper into this story, so to me that did make sense to see. I had ASSUMED only Rust saw it, however they took a VERY deliberate shot of when the flare went over to highlight where the cops' cars were, and the BLUE light where Rust and Marty were. It's supposed to be a portal to a type of hell (loosely paraphrasing).
If it were only Rust who could see it, that area wouldn't have been lit up blue. No one mentions that in any reviews I saw (not knocking you Chris - there was a LOT to talk about). I couldn't believe it but I had tears streaming down my face when Rust was talking about his daughter. I too feel like there is SO much more that could have been - should have been - resolved and hope they do something to satiate us! :)

@ TiffanyO

I saw it too, but thought it was one of Rust's visions.

C f ohara
@ TiffanyO

I will have to go back and watch that scene again, but I thought the cosmos Rust saw looked to be right in front of his face, as if to show it was another one of his visions. They set that up earlier when Marty asked him if he still saw things.

@ Chris O'Hara

Chris, did you go back and see that part?

@ Chris O'Hara

That's what I figured it would be too, so that's why the blue light coming from where they were shocked me so much. It was DEFINITELY a deliberate play by the director. This is the poem about Corcosa, and the literary references make it appear to be on another planet, or possibly in another universe: Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.
—"Cassilda's Song" in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2 Which is what makes the universe part so "WOW" to me. Like he ALMOST got sucked in there.


What a great show! Loved every minute of it. The last 25 minutes was just fantastic. I actually don't want season 2 to be of this case. I look forward to new faces and new cases.


Loved the show but didn't get where the "Yellow King" was resolved? We heard so much about him and I guess we are to assume it was Errol....but thought that connection would be more vital than the green ears. Maybe I missed it? Also expected the issues with Marty's daughter to tie in....but I guess in episode 7 when they discussed her being on medication that was the end of that storyline. Anyway, thought the show was brilliant....will miss Rust and Marty!


hey Bri, that has to be the worst comment i've ever read in response to a review. Talk about underthought. Go back watch the sode again, re read the review, and then we chat.

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True Detective Season 1 Episode 8 Quotes

It's hard to find something in a man who rejects people as much as you do.


Something's been bugging me the last ten years. Not ever day, just now and then. When we went at it, the day you quit, were you holding back?