After A Showdown, 'True Detective' Morphs Into A Different Kind Of Whodunnit

Feb 16 2014, 10:12pm CST | by

“Y’all have given me a lot to absorb,” says Marty Hart to Papania and Gilbough, the two detectives who’ve spent the day interviewing him. From the point of view of the audience watching HBO’s True Detective, it’s the understatement of the year. (Spoilers to follow for True Detective to Episode 5)

For its first four hours, True Detective was a straight police procedural. It was brilliantly executed. With nuanced characters. Lofty dialogue. Feature-worthy camera work. And Emmy-worthy acting.

But at its core, it was a whodunit: Who killed Dora Lange?

But in Episode 5, that premise is tossed out the window. Sort of.

The hour begins where the last one left off. A meeting in a dive bar with Reggie Ledoux’s partner, Dewall, a sociopathic meth cook who talks like Tom Waits’s mountain man cousin, using a vocabulary borrowed from William S. Burroughs.

“I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive. Like acid,” he growls. “And I don’t like your face. It makes me want to do things to it…There’s a shadow on you, son.”

Our heroes follow DeWall through the bayou to Ledoux’s hideout, and all of a sudden, this tale that unfolded so languorously has shifted into hyper drive. No dead ends. No plot twists. In ten minutes of screen time, Hart and Cohle find their man.

Things start to unravel as Marty tells the detectives the story of the, well, shootout. “I tell it the same way that I told the shooting board and every cop bar from Houston to Biloxi. You know why the story’s the same 17 years gone? Because it only went down the one way.” Perhaps he doth protest too much.

“Blam!” We hear Marty tell the story of the final moments of Reginald Ledoux like a nine-year old describing a scene out of a Michael Bay movie. Complete with sound effects. “Blam! Blam!”

What do we see? A by-the-book arrest. Marty sneaks up behind Reggie LeDoux, claps the cuffs on him, just the way they teach it in the police academy. What passes for resisting arrest by big, bad Reggie Ledoux is nothing but a stream of stoner talk.

“You’ll do this again,” he tells Cohle, on his knees, half giggling. “Time is a flat circle.”

It’s all very routine. Boring even. Until Marty walks out of the shed where Ledoux had tortured two children, and pops a cap in his head, execution style. Dewall running into the woods and –ker blam–triggering a booby-trapped grenade? That’s just icing on the vigilante cop cake.

Cohle picks up an automatic weapon and fires some false evidence. It’s more than sufficient to fool a police force that can’t secure the better part of a kilo of cocaine in its own evidence locker.

There’s a round of applause and a toast when Marty “Captain America” Hart and Rustin “Crash” Cohle  return to the squad room. They embellish the story for the review board, and it’s promotions and commendations all around. Followed by seven years of relative peace.

Until a low-life pharmacy stickup man says the words “Yellow King.” At that point it becomes clear that this case didn’t close with the untimely death of Reggie LeDoux, at least as far as Rustin Cohle was concerned.

And the two detectives? They could care less about the Yellow King or the half-baked philosophy about the time-space continuum that Cohle plagiarized from a pedophile meth cook.

They just want to know why Rust Cohle and his red Ford pickup kept popping up at a murder scene in Lake Charles. And what he’s hiding in his storage unit./>/>

“You want to arrest me, go right ahead,” says Cohle with thinly veiled disgust.  “You want to follow me, c’mon. You want to see something? Get a warrant.

It wasn’t all that hard to get a line on Reggie Ledoux. But pinning down the inscrutable Rustin Cohle? That’s a whole different matter.

“If you two talked to Rust and you weren’t getting a read on him,” laughs Marty Hart. “He was getting a read on you.” As it moves into its second half, True Detective remains a story about capturing a monster.  But what’s less clear than ever is just who that monster is.

Please follow me on Twitter: @avincent52

Source: Forbes Business


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