True Detective is an anthology series in which investigations seem to uncover secrets in both the professional and personal lives, however how this happens isn’t always within the law…
Season 1 follows the story of Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) – two mismatched detectives put together on a case spanning 20 years. During their time working together, they see some of the cruel things human beings can do to one another, and go through some of the lowest points in their lives. It was a very uplifting program.
First of all, you cannot deny that with McConaughey and Harrelson heading up the cast it looks to be a stunner, and it delivers to every expectation. Yes, it’s fair to say this is a slow burner, especially in the first three episodes where, I’ll be honest, not an awful lot happens regarding gun fights and raids and arrests, but these opening episodes are crucial to introducing you to the main characters and possible lines of enquiry. They also introduce you to the ongoing investigation into the detectives themselves. True Detective flicks back and forth between 1992 and the following years when the original investigation begins and unfolds, and 2012, when the detectives’ conduct during this investigation is being questioned. This means that it takes a bit of watching, but if you enjoy it, which I can more or less guarantee will happen, you shouldn’t have too much trouble staying with the story.
Secondly, can we just take a moment to appreciate the quality performances of the main cast members? Harrelson plays Marty, who, in 1992, is a man who just cannot settle for an easy personal life. He is clearly troubled, and finds solace in his day job putting away Louisiana’s bad guys, or at least that was what he did until the Lange case came along. Over the years, it becomes apparent through Harrelson’s performance that Marty has matured a lot, but also that he has had to lose more or less everything for this to happen. Harrelson delivers a terrific performance, and despite the things he does throughout the program, you do feel for him.
Michelle Monaghan as Marty’s wife Maggie plays a blinder as the woman who has put up with way too much for way too long. She shows the tensions placed on her family by her husband’s behaviour brilliantly, and the chemistry she is trying to ignore between her and her husband’s partner, Rust, is excellently portrayed, however, I felt that her character at time could become slightly irritating as she had a tendency to be a bit whiney. I also strongly disliked her towards the end of the series for what she did to Marty’s partner, but you’ll have to watch it to find out exactly what that was.
However, I think the hands-down star of the pilot series of True Detective is Matthew McConaughey as Rustin “Rust” Cohle. This part came at the same time as did his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club and I strongly believe that both of these roles worked in perfect conjunction with each other in propelling McConaughey back into the spotlight after a short career break. He plays the mysterious, brooding Rust, who has blatantly had his problems in the past, in such a captivating way you will not be able to wait for the next episode. At times, Rust’s scenes are quite heavy viewing, and this intensity is a constant feature of both time frames in which the series is filmed, but light relief is offered when car journeys between himself and Marty take place. They take the meaning of mismatched detectives to a new level, trust me.
Writer Nic Pizzolatto does a magnificent job with the gripping storyline, writing in a way that means you can watch each episode again and again and still see something new each time. He also builds a relationship between the audience and the two heroes that sees you rooting for them until the very end – I can definitely vouch for this, and possibly so can the neighbours who may have heard me screaming at the TV. You do build a secure bond with each of the characters, and I think it’s fair to say you also feel a bit heartbroken when the series finishes and your journey with Rust and Marty finishes – that is how much it draws you in!