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True Detective 
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Post Re: True Detective
Hot damn, that was a banging final episode! If you've seen The Silence of the Lambs (anyone seen that little sleeper) it'd be easy to say that it followed a similar route,
[Reveal] Spoiler:
but fucking hell, when McCounaghey was following the killer through the dungeon, and it was hard to tell if it was the killer's voice echoing through his head or a flashback from his drug induced nark work.... hell, I can't remember being on the edge of my seat for a full twenty minutes in a long time. I would've liked to see one of the main leads die, it felt like a little too happy ending for the bleak subject matter littered throughout the eight-hour epic, but why carp?
It's like The Wire has set a whole new level of television story telling and character development, then Breaking Bad and now True Detective are trying to match it. Surely TV can't get much better than this? The same writer and director for all eight episodes and hammer hard performances by WH, and “is he on this fucking planet with how cool and precise he is at the minute, MM,” I think TV is literally peaking. It felt like watching an eight-hour four star film.

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Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:07 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
wisey wrote:
I think TV is literally peaking. It felt like watching an eight-hour four star film.

While TV has gotten noticeably better over the last 10-15 years, there's still far too much soft comedy and soapy and/or campy drama for my tastes (though I'm sure this show doesn't fall into that category). :?


Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:39 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
I don’t think anybody is denying that the majority of TV is terrible; it’s just that the cream of the crop is absolutely fantastic, and has been for a while.


Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:01 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
AJR wrote:
I don’t think anybody is denying that the majority of TV is terrible; it’s just that the cream of the crop is absolutely fantastic, and has been for a while.

I think the majority is pretty good overall.


Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:04 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
I'm only four episodes in so will keep my opinion of the show as a whole to myself. For the interim, I offer these two opinionlettes:

(1)
Attachment:
True-Detective-Wikia_Charli.jpg
True-Detective-Wikia_Charli.jpg [ 9.73 KiB | Viewed 1020 times ]


The actor pictured in the above photo should be catapulted to stardom based on his incredible work in only one scene.

(2)
The credit sequence is so cool that it, too, should be catapulted to stardom. Somehow.

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:40 am
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:
I'm only four episodes in..


You are damn lucky.

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Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:33 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
Gedmud wrote:
Mark III wrote:
I'm only four episodes in..


You are damn lucky.


Indeed. I'm really, really looking forward to Mark's thoughts. The discussion kind of died down here, but Mark's watching of it should hopefully spike it back up.


Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:12 am
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:
I'm only four episodes in so will keep my opinion of the show as a whole to myself.

The credit sequence is so cool that it, too, should be catapulted to stardom. Somehow.


Will look forward to your opinion, that opening sequence is truly haunting, utterly impeccable. It's like it set's a level for the show to live up too, which is a pretty ambitious and cool starting point. Those fucking lyrics...

From the dusty mesa,
Her looming shadow grows,
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote.
She twines her spines up slowly,
Towards the boiling sun,
And when I touched her skin,
My fingers ran with blood.

In the hushing dusk, under a swollen silver moon,
I came walking with the wind to watch the cactus bloom.
A strange hunger haunted me, the looming shadows danced.
I fell down to the thorny brush and felt a trembling hand.

When the last light warms the rocks,
And the rattlesnakes unfold,
Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones.

And rise with me forever,
Across the silent sand,
And the stars will be your eyes,
And the wind will be my hands.


It’s been a little hard (to me anyway) finding a new T.V. series to watch following True Detective. I tried Justified after this, got 9 episodes in, than put it into the, “You can’t follow The Godfather with The Freshman category.”

Luckily GOT is back and Boardwalk Empire is just around the corner. They may not be quite in the same league as True Detective, but their pretty fucking close and you couldn’t piss on someone for rating them as highly.

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Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:57 am
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Post Re: True Detective
I'm now looking forward to the last two episodes, maybe with a little bit of earned reservation: the resolution of this Yellow King mystery almost begs to be left up to the viewer and I can't imagine that the season won't end with most questions answered.

Story trajectory aside, the strongest elements are the sometimes showy technical details, complicated shots that serve to elevate the material (at least on that arguably important visual plane) above the labored framework. On one side of the coin is the reality that True Detective is a standard-issue procedural with standard-issue procedural character dilemmas. The other side, the one that got people to respond, has a loathsome asshole (Woody Harrelson's Marty) paired with a psychopath (Matthew McConaughey's Rust, the most challenging character the actor has ever played) involved in solving a mystery that, arguably, doesn't even really matter. The most intriguing thing about the show is, without a doubt, Rust: amoral, missing a vital element that would make him something more than a mission-bent robot. Though he clearly has his passions, still largely uncovered while I hover before the seventh episode.

Up to this point, the hour goes by fairly quickly and commands attention. I don't believe it's perfect: Harrelson's reading of the character isn't as interesting as McConaughey's, a back-and-forth timeline is a well-worn cliche, and some of the drama (Woody's philandering ways) is standard vanilla bean. Perfect though it may not be, it's very good and more than just Sunday night entertainment. The No Country For Old Men vibe is strong both in the feel and the themes.

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Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:49 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:
1. I'm now looking forward to the last two episodes, maybe with a little bit of earned reservation: the resolution of this Yellow King mystery almost begs to be left up to the viewer and I can't imagine that the season won't end with most questions answered.

Story trajectory aside, the strongest elements are the sometimes showy technical details, complicated shots that serve to elevate the material (at least on that arguably important visual plane) above the labored framework. On one side of the coin is the reality that True Detective is a standard-issue procedural with standard-issue procedural character dilemmas. The other side, the one that got people to respond, has a loathsome asshole (Woody Harrelson's Marty) paired with a psychopath (Matthew McConaughey's Rust, the most challenging character the actor has ever played) involved in solving a mystery that, arguably, doesn't even really matter. The most intriguing thing about the show is, without a doubt, Rust: amoral, missing a vital element that would make him something more than a mission-bent robot. Though he clearly has his passions, still largely uncovered while I hover before the seventh episode.

Up to this point, the hour goes by fairly quickly and commands attention. 2. I don't believe it's perfect: Harrelson's reading of the character isn't as interesting as McConaughey's, a back-and-forth timeline is a well-worn cliche, and some of the drama (Woody's philandering ways) is standard vanilla bean. Perfect though it may not be, it's very good and more than just Sunday night entertainment. The No Country For Old Men vibe is strong both in the feel and the themes.

1. And how sure are you about the first part in bold? That's why I loved this series so much, people as switched on as you (and I mean that genuinely) are still trying to piece together a puzzle two hours before the curtains drop.

2. This is Woody's best performance by a country mile, can't think of anything else he's been in where he's so believable. The People V Larry Flint? Please no. I would think that by giving a vanialla bean performance (which you maybe underestimating a little?) it gives Rust the freedom to explore a side of detective work I hadn't yet seen before. If he weren’t beside an actor giving one of the best performances in the history of Film or Television, WH would win a lot of accolades.

Look forward to your analysis of the final two episodes, and the first season (which I hope will be the last) to see if anything else surprises you, or if it reaches a level of television perfection?

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Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:31 am
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Post Re: True Detective
wisey wrote:
Look forward to your analysis of the final two episodes, and the first season (which I hope will be the last) to see if anything else surprises you, or if it reaches a level of television perfection?


Why do you hope it will be the last? If the next one turns out to be sub-par, it will in no way affect this first one, since it's a whole new set of characters and story.

This may change on rewatch, but even to the end I still feel there are some extraordinary elements at work inside a rather familiar framework. Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, but I think only the middle stretch really pushes beyond that frame to be something I would call perfect, especially the long-take episode and the one immediately after. The ending is very good and satisfying, but I couldn't shake the feeling of it being a little simple for the grand gestures the show has set up beforehand.

As a whole I'd consider it an excellent first season though. For the technical brilliance and MM's performance alone it would be already top-notch. But the show's ambition at its thematic materials makes it memorable.


Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:36 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
peng wrote:
This may change on rewatch, but even to the end I still feel there are some extraordinary elements at work inside a rather familiar framework. Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, but I think only the middle stretch really pushes beyond that frame to be something I would call perfect, especially the long-take episode and the one immediately after. The ending is very good and satisfying, but I couldn't shake the feeling of it being a little simple for the grand gestures the show has set up beforehand.


I couldn't agree more with this. The otherworldliness of episodes 4 and 5 would have been tough to top, and I don't think there's anyone who was watching week to week that had any real clue as to where the series was going after that 5th episode. That's really what I remember most about the show outside of Rust Cohle - the possibility that the story could literally be going anywhere. It was a tremendous feeling, one that was virtually impossible to completely satisfy, but one where you felt the "aliveness" of something truly original. Granted, it didn't end up doing that, but that palpable feeling of "holy shit, what the fuck is going on here" is rare enough to laud. The finale was really good, but I wasn't as enthralled with episode 7 as I had hoped. I'm trying to avoid spoilery stuff here since Mark is finishing up.


Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:08 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
wisey wrote:

2. This is Woody's best performance by a country mile, can't think of anything else he's been in where he's so believable. The People V Larry Flint? Please no. I would think that by giving a vanialla bean performance (which you maybe underestimating a little?) it gives Rust the freedom to explore a side of detective work I hadn't yet seen before. If he weren’t beside an actor giving one of the best performances in the history of Film or Television, WH would win a lot of accolades.


This second-career takeoff of McConaughey may have the force to, in some regards, put him in the position that Philip Seymour Hoffman was so often in: placing him against other actors and actresses will only serve to highlight their deficiencies while he proves that he's undismissable and likely capable of yet another hidden dimension. And it isn't just the writing as McConaughey is clearly thinking through his role, communicating even while his face expressions remain an empty canvas. Harrelson, though very good, is against a more interesting character played by a actor that either has more depths to mine in his character or is just smarter/more skilled. I don't really think Marty is a dull or uninteresting guy but we'll certainly agree that he's less complex and with a more straightforward story. Harrelson nails the notes but there are less notes to nail. That's my half-full perspective.

As for the television perfection v. film perfection argument, well, the show is not handicapped by appearing on HBO. Scenes From A Marriage was, after all, a miniseries that is regarded (albeit in edited form) as a feature film. While True Detective has some of the indicators of being shot for a television audience, it's in large part free from the "wait until next week!" cliffhangerdom that is the grab of Breaking Bad. It may as well be an epic feature film for the pace and breadth.

My single biggest complaint, and it is entirely personal, is the marriage to a dual timeline. I can't really complain that they should have done it another way but, though I can't complain, they should have done it another way. I understand why they chose this cliched route of storytelling but I strongly believe that good writing works around this tactic and, what's more, improves all-important verisimilitude. I mostly find that structural defect to be condescending and cheap, the easiest way to illustrate character evolution and underscoring themes that an attentive audience would put together without any help from the creators. This alone keeps the show from being a masterpiece and all the great acting and character depth in the world won't help. That's my advice to the writers: dual timeline storylines are a huge mistake and should be used only when strictly necessary. And, should the story be told chronologically and feel stuffed to the margins, get an editor and whittle it down.

Pete singled out a strength that is balm to some of the problems in storytelling: the show has a life such that anything is possible. It is in this that I place my hopes that the final two episodes don't taxi over to straight plot and solve every little thing. It's more important to understand the obsessions of the leads than it is to understand the motivations of the probable serial murderer. The two detectives aren't safe when left to manage their own lives so it should be that they are at the whims of even greater forces.

By Friday. I hope to have the show wrapped by Friday.

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Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:24 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:

1. This second-career takeoff of McConaughey may have the force to, in some regards, put him in the position that Philip Seymour Hoffman was so often in: placing him against other actors and actresses will only serve to highlight their deficiencies while he proves that he's undismissable and likely capable of yet another hidden dimension. And it isn't just the writing as McConaughey is clearly thinking through his role, communicating even while his face expressions remain an empty canvas. Harrelson, though very good, is against a more interesting character played by a actor that either has more depths to mine in his character or is just smarter/more skilled. I don't really think Marty is a dull or uninteresting guy but we'll certainly agree that he's less complex and with a more straightforward story. Harrelson nails the notes but there are less notes to nail. That's my half-full perspective.

As for the television perfection v. film perfection argument, well, the show is not handicapped by appearing on HBO. Scenes From A Marriage was, after all, a miniseries that is regarded (albeit in edited form) as a feature film. 2. While True Detective has some of the indicators of being shot for a television audience, it's in large part free from the "wait until next week!" cliffhangerdom that is the grab of Breaking Bad. It may as well be an epic feature film for the pace and breadth.

3.My single biggest complaint, and it is entirely personal, is the marriage to a dual timeline. I can't really complain that they should have done it another way but, though I can't complain, they should have done it another way. I understand why they chose this cliched route of storytelling but I strongly believe that good writing works around this tactic and, what's more, improves all-important verisimilitude. I mostly find that structural defect to be condescending and cheap, the easiest way to illustrate character evolution and underscoring themes that an attentive audience would put together without any help from the creators. This alone keeps the show from being a masterpiece and all the great acting and character depth in the world won't help. That's my advice to the writers: dual timeline storylines are a huge mistake and should be used only when strictly necessary. And, should the story be told chronologically and feel stuffed to the margins, get an editor and whittle it down.

Pete singled out a strength that is balm to some of the problems in storytelling: the show has a life such that anything is possible. It is in this that I place my hopes that the final two episodes don't taxi over to straight plot and solve every little thing. It's more important to understand the obsessions of the leads than it is to understand the motivations of the probable serial murderer. The two detectives aren't safe when left to manage their own lives so it should be that they are at the whims of even greater forces.

4. By Friday. I hope to have the show wrapped by Friday.


1. Nice, really nice. That was top shelf.

2. Agree with that too. This is dumbing down the brilliance of Breaking Bad, but logically due to the relatively small cast, the show had to keep the main stars around from season two, right up until near the finale. Some episodes felt like an impeccably shot version of MacGyver. Well folks, we know Walt and Jesse are going to get out of this one, but the question is, how will they do it? Who should we call? Let’s try Lee David Zlotoff. Actually, let’s get Zlotoff on the line then conference call in the creator of True Blood, Alan Ball. That way we’ll get some feedback on having three dimensional main characters who can’t fucking die, get them out of ludicrous situations on a week to week basis, then have the show end on a cliffhanger note. Everyone will be pleased.

That’s why I loved True Detective so much. Every frame in each episode felt important. Many of the highlights weren’t at the end of an episode, they were littered throughout.

3. I don't agree with that at all, and would like you to explain why a chronological storyline would've made the show more interesting, or helped it any way really? This isn't lazy writing; this is the way the story had to unfold. Anyway, if it was made this way purely for dramatic impact, surely it worked?

4. Look forward to reading your thoughts when you finish. I’m not saying the show is faultless by any stretch, or any shit like that. I’d just like to know another show (other than a comedy) that had an opening season as brilliant as True Detective did, apart from The Wire? They are both ****, and for a television show, that to me, is close to perfection.

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Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:44 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
Quote:
would like you to explain why a chronological storyline would've made the show more interesting, or helped it any way really? This isn't lazy writing; this is the way the story had to unfold. Anyway, if it was made this way purely for dramatic impact, surely it worked?


The effect of this convention, used in all kinds of media (NPR's newscasts use virtually no other format) and for a couple of stylistic reasons, is what I'll dub 'additional omniscient narration' as the technique gives rise to a particular distance from material that a chronological telling would otherwise not have. The effect makes much of the action, particularly that which occurs sandwiched in between the 'past' and 'present' intervals, feel like a post-mortem. The contrast in time adds an additional voice that not only knows how events played out but has a complete understanding of the direct line of consequence/though that results from action. This is the point in that it does create further dramatic impact, in my mind extraneous drama that renders what could be subtle into something that is all telling without the grace of allowing the audience their own time to catch up. I find it condescending although that surely isn't the intention. All the same, I appreciate when writers let the audience work things out for themselves.

A lot of writers will use this method to highlight character growth or wide swings in situation or mood. But, in the case of True Detective, it's almost completely useless: most of what we learn in the interviews is information that has no bearing on the past save for further narrating what we've already seen and learned. The entire 'interview with the cops' puts the characters in a removed context, lets us suspect one or both of them for a crime they didn't commit, and interferes with the flow. It could be edited out entirely and nothing would be lost.

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Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:20 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:
Quote:
would like you to explain why a chronological storyline would've made the show more interesting, or helped it any way really? This isn't lazy writing; this is the way the story had to unfold. Anyway, if it was made this way purely for dramatic impact, surely it worked?


The effect of this convention, used in all kinds of media (NPR's newscasts use virtually no other format) and for a couple of stylistic reasons, is what I'll dub 'additional omniscient narration' as the technique gives rise to a particular distance from material that a chronological telling would otherwise not have. The effect makes much of the action, particularly that which occurs sandwiched in between the 'past' and 'present' intervals, feel like a post-mortem. The contrast in time adds an additional voice that not only knows how events played out but has a complete understanding of the direct line of consequence/though that results from action. This is the point in that it does create further dramatic impact, in my mind extraneous drama that renders what could be subtle into something that is all telling without the grace of allowing the audience their own time to catch up. I find it condescending although that surely isn't the intention. All the same, I appreciate when writers let the audience work things out for themselves.

A lot of writers will use this method to highlight character growth or wide swings in situation or mood. But, in the case of True Detective, it's almost completely useless: most of what we learn in the interviews is information that has no bearing on the past save for further narrating what we've already seen and learned. The entire 'interview with the cops' puts the characters in a removed context, lets us suspect one or both of them for a crime they didn't commit, and interferes with the flow. It could be edited out entirely and nothing would be lost.


That's an interesting perspective and to be honest, it's not something I considered while watching the show. Do you have any examples of where the non-chronological narrator convention/technique has been used effectively, so I can make my mind up as to whether True Detective suffers by comparison? Does something like Fight Club fit into this category?

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Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:38 am
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Post Re: True Detective
Mark III wrote:
But, in the case of True Detective, it's almost completely useless: most of what we learn in the interviews is information that has no bearing on the past save for further narrating what we've already seen and learned. The entire 'interview with the cops' puts the characters in a removed context, lets us suspect one or both of them for a crime they didn't commit, and interferes with the flow. It could be edited out entirely and nothing would be lost.


I don't disagree that it's a cliche, but I found the tactic effective at highlighting the differences between past Rust and Marty and present Rust and Marty. Sure, it's also functions as a cheap trick designed to make the audience suspect that one, or both, of the detectives could somehow be involved. That's certainly a flaw in the design, but it does do a good job of informing us (while also explicitly telling us, so completely fair to criticize) that something went terribly between the two. You've seen episode 6, so you know what I'm referring to. The season probably needed to be a little longer for the tactic to be truly effective, as the last few episodes naturally drop the structure and hurriedly mend the fences. That's really my main criticism of the show as a whole - separation from the show makes me realize those last two episodes just feel rushed, despite giving a nice payoff. I didn't mind in the moment because while waiting a week at a time I just wanted to know what the hell was gonna happen.

That's all interesting to me and makes me wonder if the nature of TV prohibits shows from standing by themselves. Yes, the show is free from the cliffhanger aspects of other shows, but a huge reason for the show's popularity was the central mystery and finding out where it would go. There's still a certain amount of "what will happen next" that draws audiences in week-to-week. Even something as good as this show, something that clearly also has other things on its mind, isn't above that. I don't know that it's impossible to see the flaws in a show if you're watching it as it airs, but it has to be more likely you'll overlook/not notice them if you're so focused on a cliffhanger or purely watching the narrative unfold, right? I guess I'm saying it's tough to really analyze something if you're only watching one hour every 7 days over a period of months.


Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:33 am
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Post Re: True Detective
wisey wrote:
That's an interesting perspective and to be honest, it's not something I considered while watching the show. Do you have any examples of where the non-chronological narrator convention/technique has been used effectively, so I can make my mind up as to whether True Detective suffers by comparison? Does something like Fight Club fit into this category?


Fight Club is 99% flashback but, as it's the body of the movie, doesn't really have dual timelines. Television is where this is more likely to be found (cop shows, sitcoms) and it's not typically as integral to the flow as it is with True Detective. One movie that uses this trick creatively is Looper. There, the avoidance of 'alternate realities' gives rise to a disturbing scene wherein a man is deprived of several appendages when dual timelines clash.

Pete wrote:
That's all interesting to me and makes me wonder if the nature of TV prohibits shows from standing by themselves. Yes, the show is free from the cliffhanger aspects of other shows, but a huge reason for the show's popularity was the central mystery and finding out where it would go. There's still a certain amount of "what will happen next" that draws audiences in week-to-week. Even something as good as this show, something that clearly also has other things on its mind, isn't above that. I don't know that it's impossible to see the flaws in a show if you're watching it as it airs, but it has to be more likely you'll overlook/not notice them if you're so focused on a cliffhanger or purely watching the narrative unfold, right? I guess I'm saying it's tough to really analyze something if you're only watching one hour every 7 days over a period of months.


In this new era of on-demand viewing, shows that would definitely read better over a series of months or weeks are consumed in 5 hour blocks over a few nights. This will absolutely show flaws that would otherwise be ignored or forgiven, as they probably should. Each episode has to stand somewhat independently and most of the television I've watched does a good job with this. True Detective would be challenging to follow from episode 5 onward without at least a solid wikipedia article at hand to fill in the gaps. I'll have to concede that I was at a certain advantage in picking apart the show because I didn't watch it as broadcast BUT it's only 8 hours and my problem with the dual timelines started in episode 1. I know why they did it but I still don't like it. It does have a purpose and it does raise questions about what happened to Rust, why he's talking circles and drinking himself to death.

Only episode left and this weekend it'll surely be wrapped up. Episode 7 was pretty cool, especially the end: they had the scar-faced guy right on their doorstep as early as 1995 and just didn't connect the dots. How could they? This should lead to some interesting philosophizing from Rust.

Speaking of which, I find it amusing that my hackles would be raised about factors of time when there's an entire speech regarding time as a circle. I suppose my prejudices can be blinding. You know, like prejudices are by definition?

I was secretly hoping a battery with jumper cables would come into play but, alas, they went a more sane way.

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Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:12 pm
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Post Re: True Detective
The final conversation between the leads was pat. “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

The finale really was a finale: the most flagrant loose ends tied up, hope of sunshine despite the death and pain and lost years. Taking away the last five minutes, the episode was what it needed to be and I can't fault the team for giving us a headlong move into popular serial killer fare. Along the way, True Detective proved it was never really about catching the bad guy and making him pay. It wasn't on the same level as The Wire, comparisons between the two don't do any favors to TD, but as an epic drama with a strong dose of philosophy on time it mostly worked.

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Post Re: True Detective
Jessica Chastain Offered Lead Role in Season 2

Awesome.


Tue May 20, 2014 10:55 pm
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