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I was just finally was able to see the latest episode.

Let's see if I can describe this without giving away any spoilers.  So ... about halfway into the very first episode of the show, it occurred to me that if one particular thing was allowed to happen, then that would make the show really really good.  They could just do this one single little thing with the story, and if they did, it would make it even better.  Week after week, my conviction kept growing with every episode that this really needed to happen.  I wanted it bad.  If you haven't seen it yet, I bet that when you start watching it, you'll want it too.

And ... in the last couple minutes of this episode ... it happened!

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mrmando   

And ... in the last couple minutes of this episode ... it happened!

Well, yeah. But that was after that other thing, the one you felt was more or less inevitable but you somehow hoped wouldn't happen, even if in a way it was a reaction to the thing that had someone had promised to stop doing but did again anyway. 

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I was just finally was able to see the latest episode.

Let's see if I can describe this without giving away any spoilers.  So ... about halfway into the very first episode of the show, it occurred to me that if one particular thing was allowed to happen, then that would make the show really really good.  They could just do this one single little thing with the story, and if they did, it would make it even better.  Week after week, my conviction kept growing with every episode that this really needed to happen.  I wanted it bad.  If you haven't seen it yet, I bet that when you start watching it, you'll want it too.

And ... in the last couple minutes of this episode ... it happened!

 

 

 

And ... in the last couple minutes of this episode ... it happened!

Well, yeah. But that was after that other thing, the one you felt was more or less inevitable but you somehow hoped wouldn't happen, even if in a way it was a reaction to the thing that had someone had promised to stop doing but did again anyway. 

 

 

Not much discussion on these past two episodes.  I liked episode 6 quite a bit, knowing that it was going to have to be a transitory episode.  But somewhere during episode 6, I started to get the feeling that perhaps this should have been a 9 episode story rather than 8.  I just had this dread that with only two episodes left to wrap up this story, that episodes 7 and 8 might feel rushed.

 

And that's exactly how I felt about episode 7... everything seemed too rushed.  Too many names just being thrown out there.  Not enough time between Marty saying that Rust's evidence was just so much conjecture and speculation, to Marty setting up shop with Rust, and Marty getting so much unquestioned aid from his former precinct.  Many things seemed to come about too conveniently. 

Edited by John Drew

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Well, yeah. But that was after that other thing, the one you felt was more or less inevitable but you somehow hoped wouldn't happen, even if in a way it was a reaction to the thing that had someone had promised to stop doing but did again anyway.

On the plus side, it felt unpleasant and wrong. Cohle wasn't acting against his own will, but he was also evidently disgusted with himself.

 

Not much discussion on these past two episodes.  I liked episode 6 quite a bit, knowing that it was going to have to be a transitory episode.  But somewhere during episode 6, I started to get the feeling that perhaps this should have been a 9 episode story rather than 8.  I just had this dread that with only two episodes left to wrap up this story, that episodes 7 and 8 might feel rushed.

 

And that's exactly how I felt about episode 7... everything seemed too rushed.  Too many names just being thrown out there.  Not enough time between Marty saying that Rust's evidence was just so much conjecture and speculation, to Marty setting up shop with Rust, and Marty getting so much unquestioned aid from his former precinct.  Many things seemed to come about too conveniently.

Hmmmm ... the last episode actually was slower than I expected. After all the buildup, I was expecting a fast paced, edge of your seat type investigation. But instead we still were given long meandering and ruminating conversations. The episode was full of scenes where, when you feel like they should be rushing against time somehow they would instead just sit down and talk.

The reveal at the end seemed a little simplistic to me, but then again, Pizzolatto has repeated again and again in his interviews that, when he wrote the script, he was less interested in the police procedure story/plot and much more interested in atmosphere, substantive ideas and character development. I'd discuss it more, but I'm curious where they are going with the finale. I'm reserving judgment until then (while also recognizing that those of us who are actually seeing this are probably in a very very small minority).

I think just about every A&F member really needs to see this, but most of them are probably going to have to wait until the DVD release. After the last episode, we'll see if we want to use many spoiler tags. This is probably also a show, like many a difficult film, where our appreciation of it will grow with time. I'm already appreciating the first few episodes much more now, weeks later, than I did when I first saw them.

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Snork....

 

 

I actually thought this one is funnier...

 

http://youtu.be/X8zTSDFiI24

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Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews already, but I thought the ending was spectacular. It very much earned the last scene. And what a scene... Hopefully I'll have a chance to write some thoughts tonight.

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So... Nobody has anything to say? I realize many haven't had the chance to see it yet, but there were a few of us following along.

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I saw it a few days late, but don't have a ton to say. I think it was wise for the seventh episode to conclude as it did, so the mystery was mostly solved for the audience and the final episode could focus on the investigative work Hart and Cohle did to catch up to the audience.

 

Because we know up front that the characters will not be back next season, I found the next-to-last scenes more thrilling than I normally would because anything was possible.

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I loved the final episode. This was easily one of the strongest shows I have seen in awhile. Along with House of Cards, I have had a chance to watch some great TV. True Detective is just so amazing a visual feast, every shot feels deliberate and purposeful. It was haunting and beautiful the way they made the dilapidated homes and buildings and forests feel as important characters in a way.

When they

force that sheriff to watch the video, the pull back where you hear his terrified screams from a distance, watching the boat from the sky, was far freakier than anything they could have showed us happening on the tape. That it scars men so badly that they are reduced to terror really was effective.



I felt the final discussion between Marty and Rust was just about perfect.

I had the idea I kind of would like it if each season used the two Police Detectives investigating the current murders of the first season as the framing device.

Edited by Thom Wade

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Greg P   

The series was superb, and the finale satisfying to me in almost every respect except for the fact that the almost none of the broader conspiracy elements were tied up or addressed fully. That wasn't a deal-breaker for me on the season as a whole. but it did feel like the writer took the easy way out. The final scene, with a hopeful resolution for Rust, was emotionally rewarding in a non-syrupy way, especially considering the almost suffocating sense of dread and unease of the entire series up until that point.  

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I wrote a longish piece on True Detective and its ending that I'll share soon, but in the meantime, I'll share this...

 

I find it fascinating, despite creator Nic Pizzolatto's many interviews and statements basically saying "there's no twist" so many people were coming up with these crazy theories. First, he said there was no twist. Second, the horror literature he was drawing on is markedly devoid of twists - it's just unavoidable, slow-building terror. But, what most viewers bring to the table is their concept of a hard-boiled mystery/noir. Which in the last few decades, almost always involves a conspiracy or twist.

But, in my opinion, the genius of True Detective was how well it placed itself into that hard-boiled mystery/noir genre, but at its core was talking about something else entirely. It's acting, writing, direction and production value were all also top-notch, so it sucked in everyone interested in mystery genres, philosophy and the debate between belief/science/nihilism and anyone interested in the craft of moving pictures. It's almost an apexual example of Roger Ebert's line, 'It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.'"

 

This is Seven reframed. It's Lovecraftian horror reframed. It runs very deliberately counter-wise to the Evil is Cool trope. And the ending here is hard won.

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I greatly appreciated the ending and now it's taking me some time to think through just what it is that the creators of the show have made here.  I still haven't gotten over the surprise and gratitude that here is a show that is really about ideas.  There's substance to it.  It's amazing how sometimes you don't know just how starved you really can be for something with substance, for something that really engages the intellect even a little, until you see and experience the real thing.

 

I've read some of the reviews by those unsatisfied with the ending, but I think their critique is still coming from a preconceived notion of "what TV shows ought to be like."  But I still have to work my way past my appreciation of the show for being intellectually interesting.  Once I accept that, then I'll be able to do some more productive thinking on what the show is about.

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NBooth   

I've finally got access to HBO, so I'll be checking this out as soon as I finish Borgia [sans s].

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My post.

 

ETA: I should note, there are some spoilers within. Well, the last scene really.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

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NBooth   

Well, three episodes in and I'm liking it quite a bit. It does fit comfortably in with my favorite uncanny-mystery flicks (Red RidingZodiac, Twin Peaks, Seven) and neo-noir (L.A. Confidential, Chinatown) [not to say the two categories don't overlap], and at its best the show approaches a level of Lovecraftian horror that one doesn't often see without, well, Lovecraftian monsters. McConaughey is, as everyone keeps saying, a revelation. And I was surprised and pleased to recognize Michelle Monaghan--who's apparently been in lots of stuff I've seen but whom I will always associate with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. 

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NBooth   

Warning: Semi-Coherent WalloText

 

Finished this last night. The last couple of episodes are interesting--structurally different from the first half of the season, since the flashback thing is abandoned--and going full-throated Faulknerian Gothic. I mean, the mentally challenged illegitimate child of an aristocratic family living amid the ruins of the Old Southern past. Now where have I heard that before? And there's more: Absalom, Absalom! adopts a similar structure--it's essentially (as C. Hugh Holman observed) a detective story, in which Quentin Compson and his roommate sift conflicting stories and attempt to arrive at some sort of truth, though Faulkner being Faulkner and not Ellery Queen, whatever truth they arrive at is compromised by uncertainty. Kind of like True Detective, which warned viewers early on that the temptation to construct narrative is powerful and misleading (and I wonder if this isn't why some folks found the end disappointing--I read someone elsewhere wondering why the chains of corruption aren't followed as far as they might be, but of course that's the point--they can't be. These detectives can only follow so far, can only resolve one part of the puzzle). What's conventional about True Detective is the fact that--unlike Absalom, Absalom!--or, to take another obvious touchpoint, Zodiac--this show does offer answers. A more daring series might have let the whole thing end without any answers at all. But, then again, such a series wouldn't last a season.

 

This is an intensely generic show. I don't mean that in the pejorative sense. I mean, True Detective demands to be watched with an awareness of other works within the crime genre. Again, the touchpoints are pretty obvious: ZodiacL.A. Confidential, Chinatown, and so on. Heck, it virtually apes the Red Riding trilogy plot point for plot point (seriously--I spent at least half my time in the last two episodes mentally ticking off similarities: corrupt preacher, check; male prostitute as a key to the mystery, check; storage locker as ditto, check; people with animal faces?--what about the Badger, the Owl, and the lovely swans under the carpet?). Which isn't to say that TD is ripping off RR so much as that they're both in the same generic universe--the uncanny/strange world of Badgers and spaghetti-faced monsters. TD differs stylistically, of course; where RR is murky and uncertain, TD is shot with the cold precision of late-period Fincher. Whether that adds to or robs from the horror is up to the viewer, I guess.

 

Then there's the other texts--the Lovecraft, the Chambers--explicit references to which misled some viewers into thinking they were getting a Twin Peaks-style voyage to the Black Lodge (although there is a Black Lodge here, perhaps several, only the most obvious of which betrays a debt to another generic masterpiece of murder and incest--Psycho). But what TD does is, I think, more interesting in some ways in that it doesn't rationalize the Lovecraftian monsters--it irrationalizes the everyday world. This is, of course, an impulse deeply embedded in the genre itself; the mystery of why Poe would concoct such a thoroughly rational genre, given his other interests, is actually quite solvable once we realize that his whole theory of ratiocination is a sham. It's an exercise in myth-making, in projecting the dark world of uncertainty onto the increasingly formalized and normalized world of the City. And True Detective taps in to that impulse, like other masterpieces of the sub-genre do (ZodiacSeven--Fincher, again--Red Riding, Chinatown).

 

But all of this means that, viewed by itself, True Detective might seem curiously hollow in a way that other prestige-genre shows (The Wire, possibly Game of Thrones) do not. Because it's less of a text than an intertext--it's consciously grappling with questions, not about the Human Condition but about the genre itself. It's riffing and remixing dozens of tropes and cliches, and much of its power comes from the unexpected combinations, the sudden reversals of generic expectations. Or the reversal of the expectation of reversal--since, of course, there is no twist. This is very deliberate; this show is an experiment in over-doing things. The faux-philosophical conversations that run throughout the show strike me as a perfect example of this tendency: The bleak nihilism of Cohle is slightly more sophisticated than the ramblings of a Nietzsche-addled teenager, but it's delivered with such intensity and focus that it becomes, itself, a manifestation of the Lovecraftian horror that elsewhere shows up in the mysterious sacrifices in the woods (this latter being a direct lift from "The Call of Cthulhu").

 

Of course, the real root of True Detective's horror is not the murder, not the Gothic trappings, not the ritual sacrifices--it's Cohle himself. As on-the-nose as his arguments might be, as predictable as they seem, they have a certain power--perhaps only for a certain kind of person--because, deep down, I think most people are deathly afraid that Cohle might be right. And that's another way in which complaints about the plot-resolution are misguided; it was never about the plot. The plot, the murders, the murderer, are all avatars of a creeping dark thing at the center of the universe (I'm thinking now of a passage from The Idiot), which has consumed or will consume or threatens to consume even the most Perfectly Good Being there is. This is Azathoth, if we want to get Lovecraftian again:

 

[O]utside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes

 

 

That True Detective backs abruptly away from this nihilism may or may not be an artistic flaw; that it's able to interface such blatant Cosmic Horror with the crime genre at all--without tipping over into supernatural/science fictional elements--is, I think, very remarkable indeed.

 

On a side note, what are the odds that David Foster Wallace read The King in Yellow?

Edited by NBooth

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NBooth   

This just crawled through my feed:

 

Human life must be some kind of mistake. The truth of this will be sufficiently obvious if we only remember that man is a compound of needs and necessities hard to satisfy; and that even when they are satisfied, all he obtains is a state of painlessness, where nothing remains to him but abandonment to boredom. This is direct proof that existence has no real value in itself; for what is boredom but the feeling of the emptiness of life? If life—the craving for which is the very essence of our being—were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all: mere existence would satisfy us in itself, and we should want for nothing. But as it is, we take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something; and then distance and difficulties to be overcome make our goal look as though it would satisfy us—an illusion which vanishes when we reach it; or else when we are occupied with some purely intellectual interest—when in reality we have stepped forth from life to look upon it from the outside, much after the manner of spectators at a play. And even sensual pleasure itself means nothing but a struggle and aspiration, ceasing the moment its aim is attained. Whenever we are not occupied in one of these ways, but cast upon existence itself, its vain and worthless nature is brought home to us; and this is what we mean by boredom. The hankering after what is strange and uncommon—an innate and ineradicable tendency of human nature—shows how glad we are at any interruption of that natural course of affairs which is so very tedious.

 

Edited by NBooth

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Tyler   

Watched the first episode last night. Not many thoughts, other than this one:

 

Matthew McConaughey is Cillian Murphy as Rust Cohle.

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BethR   

I don't watch this show for reasons, but based on everything I've read about it, I thought The Good Wife might be alluding to it as characters watched a deeply pretentious crime drama called "Darkness at Noon." Review/recap at TV.com confirms:

 

Darkness At Noon on morality: "People just think there are black hats and white hats, but there are black hats with white linings and white hats with black linings. And there are hats that change back and forth, between white and black. And there are striped hats. Evil rests in the soul of all men. It haunts them like ghosts haunt a graveyard, and there is nothing you can do but curse God." On human beings: "Pigs in mud, that's all we are. God looks down on us and all he sees is mud and more mud." While this episode felt like a real jab at it already, I swear, if Darkness at Noon doesn't utter some variation of the "Time is a flat circle." speech from True Detective in Season 6, this is all for nothing. (Slight update: The whole discussion of black hats and white hats feels like a Scandal jab as well, but such a weird target for this show, and in the context of Darkness at Noon.)

 

BTW, why in the world do we not have a thread for The Good Wife? Is it just because nobody but me has a TV any more? It's been one of the best shows on broadcast or cable for the past five years. Currently tied with Madmen for #4 on Metacritic.

Edited by BethR

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NBooth   

io9: Why True Detective is a supernatural show after all

 

I'm reluctant to say that there is any one absolute reading of True Detective. It's a highly textual show, and there is a lot to read into it. (Plus, I am relying on the text, while some commenters note that certain aspects of my analysis are explained differently by the producers.) However, the events of the finale that seem odd or disappointing make a great deal of sense if you view it as a supernatural show, one whose true nature is never revealed to our protagonists.

 

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io9: Why True Detective is a supernatural show after all

 

I'm reluctant to say that there is any one absolute reading of True Detective. It's a highly textual show, and there is a lot to read into it. (Plus, I am relying on the text, while some commenters note that certain aspects of my analysis are explained differently by the producers.) However, the events of the finale that seem odd or disappointing make a great deal of sense if you view it as a supernatural show, one whose true nature is never revealed to our protagonists.

 

 

 

Just skimmed that - maybe I'll read it in full later, but my initial reaction is: No, True Detective is not Gnostic. wink.png

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NBooth   

Lance Parkin: Truth Strategies in True Detective

 

Watching the first episode, it felt a lot like Alan Moore’s work to me. Fittingly, this says plenty about my partial, filtered view of the world – I’ve just come off three years of writing a biography about him, Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, so I tend to see a lot of things through the lens of Alan Moore at the moment. That said, I’m hardly the only one, and a number of articles have spelled out some of the parallels. Moore’s stories The Courtyard and Neonomicon are very clear examples of detective procedurals with a Lovecraftian twist. It’s easy enough to see that True Detective has the same basic story as From Hell – it’s an investigation into a serial murderer of women, with a strong sense of place, and the occult viewpoints (and occasional mystic visions) of several major characters providing the structure. The last line of the show is pretty much a straight lift from an issue of Moore’s Top 10.

 

It’s perhaps less obvious that True Detective has plenty of similarities to Watchmen

 

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