This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.
The status quo changes yet again three-fourths of the way through the first season of True Detective, with the sixth episode providing a relatively muted but still provoking turnaround from last week’s guns-blazing action (“The Secret Fate of All Life“). This is the episode that fills in some gaps and gets us from Point A to Point B — so far, Point A has been a hell of a ride, and the final two episodes of the season will hopefully clear the bar that’s been set so very high. Spoilers follow for the sixth episode “Haunted Houses”.
The rift between Hart and Cohle is explored in full, and we delve into the 2002 events that would serve to alienate the two for the next decade. Michelle Monaghan finally gets some time to shine as Maggie when Hart’s ex-wife (in 2012) is brought in for questioning before Detectives Gilbough and Papania, and much of the episode stems from her recollections. Aside from her mere presence in the interrogation room, “Haunted Houses” offers up a fairly predictable feast of leftovers from earlier in the show — Hart reacts violently to everything and somehow gets laid by an attractive woman without even trying while Cohle does police work by himself, drinks by himself, and gets laid by an attractive woman without even trying (okay, that was new). The revelations were predictable mostly in the sense that they were inevitable, and any fears that True Detective is slipping into rote procedural territory can be swept aside — “Haunted Houses” was straightforward, yes, but it managed to clear the stage for the final two episodes.