A Look Back At True Detective Season 1

Sahil Sirsat Sahil Sirsat
June 22nd, 2015

A Look Back At True Detective Season 1

When HBO announced a new television series called True Detective, it felt like just another “buddy cop” series. Although the cast was pretty loaded with star power, the premise was seemingly dull and unoriginal. Two detectives working on the case about a serial killer is hardly interesting to anyone anymore.

Then I saw the first episode of True Detective. The opening sequence of the show, the tone, the atmosphere all came together and created a captivating experience that is True Detective. I knew then and there that this was not what I expected it to be. It was not just another “buddy cop” show.

I was instantly hooked.

(Spoiler Alert)

True Detective focuses as much on the personal lives of two detectives as it does on the case of serial killer. As a matter of fact, the early episodes focus more on Rust and Marty as persons rather than detectives. The advancement of the serial killer case is given a backseat during this time and more attention is given to the development of characters of Rust and Marty.

Personally, I believe that the interaction between Rust and Mary is the best part of the series. The extraordinary character development is what separates True Detective from other shows with similar plot, like The Mentalist. Matthew McConaughey created a 450 page analysis, the "Four Stages of Rustin Cohle", to study his character's evolution over the course of the story.  It's really rare for an actor to put this much effort in studying his character.

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) is an enigma. People know very little about him and his aloof nature doesn’t help it either. He keeps himself busy at work and avoids socializing. Despite his lack of social skills, he is very good at his job. He is smart and has a good eye for detective job. When Rust is not solving a case, he is reading various books. From books, he picks up theories on religion and existence. He has different views on life than the people he is surrounded by.

Cohle's Theory

One of these people is his partner Detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson).  As Marty says himself “I’m a normal kind of guy”. Marty is good at socializing, has a family and just wants to enjoy life as it is.  He does not want anything to change.

Marty and Rustin are paired up by the Police department for the case of murder of Dora Lange. Rust takes a good look at the crime scene and derives that this murder is not the whole story. This has happened before and it is going to happen again. Thus starts the hunt for the serial killer.

As established before, True Detective tells us two parallel stories. The events in personal lives of Rust and Marty are just as important as the events in serial killer case. Unfortunately, True Detective fails in delivering a captivating and breathtaking serial killer story. The story is in no way boring or stale, but it is not up to the standard set by the quality of character development. Don’t get me wrong, this story on its own is not at all bad. But when you insert it between two brilliantly written conversations, it just feels dull.

The lack of action in True Detective is substituted by emotional intensity of the dialogues. I was on the edge of my seat when director wanted me to. True Detective nails the thrill in the story. Direction is seamless and intense where it needs to be. There is a six minute long tracking shot in one of the episodes which is just perfect. There are no cuts and no editing. It was so intense that I couldn’t sit down for those six minutes. This is how a thriller is supposed to be.

True Detective is essentially an eight hour long movie.

It's even shot on film unlike many other TV series. Being shot on film gives True Detective an edge. It leaves an impression in your brain. Here’s an interview with the cinematographer Adam Arkapaw in which he explains the amount of work put into filming True detective. This show is one of the reasons that this era is called the Golden Age of Television.

True Detective is gritty, atmospheric, and almost gloomy. It is really difficult to be all those things at the same time but this show pulls it off. It is different than anything I have ever seen.

The second season of True Detective with a different story and completely new cast is airing on 20th June.

Let us wait and see what it has in store for us.


Sahil Sirsat is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @sahilcomicsguy

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