Best: The Discussion of Religion and the Religious

At the beginning, Cohle and Hart discuss the people of the tented church that their murder victim once attended. Hart relates to the religious people, but Cohle is more unsympathetic and callous about them. There’s a fine bit of writing here, especially in this bit of banter:

  • Hart: “Can you see Texas from your high horse? What do you know about these people?” Cohle:“Just observation and deduction. I see a propensity for obesity, poverty. Yen for fairytales. Folks putting what little they do have in little baskets they pass around. It’s safe to say nobody here is going to be splitting the atom.”

In another show, I’d find the argument about religion to be preachy and unneccesary, but True Detective uses Cohle’s adamant dislike of the institution of religion to further explore his character and continue to rip open the divide between the two detectives. Also, Cohle’s rants against religion (which extend to the future) say a lot about how he feels about the victim, who turned to religion in her time of trouble.

Worst: Suspect #1

True Detective has suffered from a lack of sufficient evidence, suspects, and interest in the victim. In “The Locked Room” the show introduces a suspect, only to rule him out in a matter of minutes. Bert, the mentally disabled assistant at the church, is suspected, but ruled out when Cohle discovers that he was castrated. “He shit himself,” Cohle says. “Literally.” Was that completely necessary? It sounds gross for the sake of grossness. Later, Cohle interrogates a man who clearly isn’t the killer, even after he proclaims, “Tell me what to say. I want to confess.” It’s not that we need a major suspect in the first three episodes, but it’d be great to add a more human element to this case instead of impersonal burnt churches and strange paintings.

Best: Maggie Hart

True Detective is not heavy on female characters (alive ones, anyway.) However, Maggie is a gem of a character. Her interactions with Cohle are extraordinary because she’s the closest to actually understanding him. He opens up to her like no other and in turn she can point him towards a healthier life. Maggie offers him advice to get a pet, sets him up on a blind date, and calls him when she needs to talk. Her interactions with her husband are equally interesting. I particularly liked when she told him, “You were much smarter when I met you.” More of her, please.

Worst: Martin Hart

Martin sure was a whiny baby in this episode, wasn’t he? While on a double date with his wife and Cohle, Hart sees his mistress out on a date. He has the gall to tell her not to date around while married to another woman. When she tries to let him down easy, Hart storms into her home and intimidates her date. He doesn’t even have the decency to be the fun sort of crazy. Just a typical hypocrite.

Best: The Lawn Mower Fight

Has there ever been a fight about a lawn mower with as much subtext as this one? Hart comes home to discover that his lawn has been mowed by another man. When he walks into his home, his worst fear is revealed. Not only has his lawn been mowed, but by his own partner. There Cohle sits, having an actual conversation with Hart’s wife and sitting peaceful near his daughters. While Hart is trying to lead a dual life, pretending to be unencumbered by a family, Cohle is yearning for the family he lost. It’s interesting to see Hart not appreciate the thing that Cohle wants back the most and adds to their underlying animosity towards each other.

Other Musings:

  • Some of Cohle’s greatest hits: “People incapable of guilt are able to have a good time.” “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”
  • The future detectives seem to believe that Cohle may have pushed the case in the wrong direction. It would make sense they think that since so much of Cohle’s detective work is based on intuition, but I wonder if they have more concrete reasons for thinking that.
  • Once again, Woody Harrelson is in a sex scene where the female is nude and he’s not. That’s HBO for you.
  • Cohle has more sympathy for the suspect in interrogation than for any of the religious people.