Tag Archives: Nic Pizzolatto

True Detective 3.8 – “Now Am Found”

Television is an unforgiving medium. Superficially, the longer format should theoretically give rise to opportunity for deeper character development than can usually be accomplished in a two-hour film. Among many takeaways from the first chunk of episodes of True Detective‘s third season was this: Wayne Hays is a great television character that would likely turn out differently in almost any other medium. The other edge of this sword, of course, is that a whole season of television is a fairly long time to invest in any specific narrative. And among many takeaways from ‘Tec‘s third season finale “Now Am Found” was this: Wayne Hays deserved a much better ending.

The issue with the climactic hour — which has already proven fairly divisive amongst both fans and detractors of this season’s arc — lies less in what happened than in how it happened. In our review of the penultimate episode “The Final Country”, we listed a few things that we expected out of the finale. Not all of them came to pass:

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True Detective 3.6 – “Hunters in the Dark”

If you’re as into this season of True Detective as I am, “Hunters in the Dark” had it all.

Plot-wise there were developments we knew were coming, like the wrongful incrimination of Brett Woodard in the 1980 timeline. There was a whole bunch of stuff we probably didn’t know was coming, mostly stemming from the 1990 timeline and Tom Purcell’s regression back into a suspect in the eyes of the police. There was, of course, a big ol’ reveal at the end, one that we’ll talk about in a second after we issue a spoiler warning for that spoilery spoiler.

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True Detective 3.5 – “If You Have Ghosts”

My favorite moments of True Detective, regardless of which season we’re discussing, are those that find an artful way to play with the storytelling devices. Very few television series even attempt something besides linear narrative, but at times ‘Tec goes beyond just a standard bookend flashback structure. At the outset of the first season, “The Long Bright Dark” seemed content to tell a 1995-set story framed by grainy camcorder footage of two characters recounting their experiences in 2012. But by the end of the episode our 2012 lens separated itself from the camcorder, and from that point on the first season had two timelines running with equal weight on both.

The third season has three of those timelines, more of a challenge in maintaining the feeling that each of them is as important, and “If You Have Ghosts” wobbled ever so slightly in juggling all of that. 1990 Wayne may always have been predisposed to snapping into an argumentative holier-than-thou rant, but his fuse in those segments of the story is now almost comically short. “Ghosts” felt like the longest episode of the season (which was actually last week’s 75-minute “The Hour and the Day”), partially because we’re inescapably at the threshold of a big break in all three timelines. We know the Woodard Altercation is linked to the Purcell case in 1980, we know Wayne and Roland do something bad in 1990, and we know 2015 Wayne will experience a revelation in what he does and does not remember about his life’s work. The fact that the specifics of that knowledge are still being withheld is still mostly tantalizing, but slightly frustrating in an episode as “long” as this one.

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True Detective 3.4 – “The Hour and the Day”

The fourth episode of a given season of True Detective is apparently where the action comes in. After the first season kicked off with three episodes of deep philosophizing, “Who Goes There” gave us a heart-in-your-throat action chase in one of television’s most ambitious tracking shots. The fourth episode of the second season, “Down Will Come”, similarly launched us into a shitshow shootout that we’d eventually learn was the high point of the season.

The third season’s fourth entry brought us right up to that point, prepping us for a major action sequence…and then it cut to black right at the literal detonation. It’s somewhat rare to have a dearth of action sequences in our modern film and television entertainment, regardless of the genre. Outside of Mindhunter — which had not a single car chase, shootout, fistfight or explosion over the course of ten hourlong episodes — police procedurals are especially reliant on action. NCIS and the like have at least one set piece per episode.

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True Detective 3.2 – “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”

HBO’s release strategies for their flagship series have always been carefully planned, and the one-two punch of the first two episodes of True Detective’s new season is no exception. The hooks were in after the first episode, “The Great War and Modern Memory,” but the character depth provided by “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” all but guarantees a return audience next week. The eight episode season will take us to the end of February, when the hype train for April’s Game of Thrones will be full steam ahead. And then, though there’s no official release date, look for HBO’s Watchmen to premiere right around the end of Thrones.

The premiere placement of “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” was smart on another level, though, because it got to the heart of what made ‘Tec great in the first place. Both episodes unfurled a twisty and time-jumpy mystery, but “Goodbye” had a particular focus on family that heightened investment in the whole affair. Complicated family dynamics are what the first season had and what the second season lacked, and the characters of this third season — Hays and the Purcell Family for sure, but even “minor” characters like Woodard — are better for having to balance a home life with their work.

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True Detective 3.1 – “The Great War and Modern Memory”

To a child of the 21st century, the ancient era referred to as “the Eighties” must seem like a difficult place to live. No cell phones. No internet. None of that pervasive interconnectedness borne of technology where everyone knows everything the second it happens. If you hear that Steve McQueen just died, you hear about it through a friend who heard from somewhere else. And if your kids don’t come back home when they’re supposed to, you can’t just ping the Find My iPhone button in your pocket.

About one-third of the new season of True Detective is set in these quaint, social media-less Eighties — starting on November 7th, 1980, to be exact. A few things happened that day. Steve McQueen died. It was a full moon. And two kids went missing in Arkansas, Will and Julie Purcell, ages 10 and 12. That missing persons case extends far beyond 1980, though, having a profound effect on those involved for decades to come.

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True Detective 2.2 – “Night Finds You”

As we ventured in our review of last week’s pilot episode “The Western Book of the Dead“, the structure of the second season does indeed come into slightly sharper focus in the second hour “Night Finds You”. This installment echoed some of the weaker points of the previous one, including a whole lot of exposition and a whole lot of angsty brooding. And what’s up with the melancholy bar singer? How about a hosting a karaoke night instead? Or bring in Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, liven the place up a bit. Velcoro and Semyon could be use some groove. Spoilers follow for the second episode “Night Finds You”.

Aside from all of that, there were a handful of exciting things that occurred in the second hour. Some of these things were pure True Detective. I suppose I never quite realized how much of the first season took place in a moving vehicle, but it felt fitting to see Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro and Rachel McAdams’s Ani Bezzerides exchange trailer-worthy capsule philosophies as they traversed the post-industrial Vinci (His: “My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve”; Hers: “I don’t distinguish between good and bad habits”). The starting point of their relationship is characterized by mistrust and conscious deception, as both are informed about the other during individual briefings at the start of the episode. Ani learns that Ray is rumored to be a bent cop, while Ray is more or less tasked with seeing that the investigation goes nowhere. The pair use the car ride to “get to know each other”, which in True Detective means testing the other for weak spots, for betrayals, and eventually for a point on which an alliance might be formed.

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True Detective 1.8 – “Form and Void”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Everything leading up to last night’s conclusion to True Detective’s first season has been pretty stellar, setting the bar higher for the show as a whole than any other first season you care to name. The finale was so sought-after, in fact, that the HBO GO server overloaded and crashed due to such high demand, sending millions into despair over whether Rust and Marty would finally get their man. Last week’s episode “After You’ve Gone” served up a nice volley for the finale to knock down — and the eighth and final installment did just that. Needless to say, spoilers follow for the season one finale “Form and Void”.

Writer and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto dug himself into a hole in several ways with True Detective, foremostly by turning out a phenomenal, pitch-perfect pilot and a five-episode arc that brought with it the most intriguing hour “The Secret Fate of All Life”. I didn’t hear any major complaints after the first three episodes, and only when the fourth episode “Who Goes There” indulged in an action sequence did reviewers post fears about the show becoming “just another procedural”. Now, it seems, we have something of the reverse: “Form and Void” was inarguably, inescapably, and at times frustratingly revelation-free, instead providing a straightforward “resolution” where most fans pined for a major twist involving the unveiling of the Yellow King.

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True Detective 1.7 – “After You’ve Gone”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Matthew McConaughey took home a well-deserved Oscar last night for his work in Dallas Buyers Club, beating out stiff competition in the likes of Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. While his acceptance speech was, as you would expect, very positive and un-Rustin Cohle, the usual drawling fatalism we’ve come to expect from Sunday Night McConaughey was going down on another channel. True Detective followed the slow-paced “Haunted Houses” with an even slower penultimate episode, and yet it still provided enough story progression that waiting a week to find out what the finale has up its sleeve will be torturous. Spoilers follow for the seventh episode “After You’ve Gone”.

At the end of “Haunted Houses” Cohle and Hart met in 2012 for the first time, having not seen each other for a decade and both looking a little worse for wear. Speculations as to what their ultimate meeting would entail were fueled by the shot of Hart checking his loaded gun, guesses ranging from standoff to a revelation that Cohle or Hart or both or whoever is indeed The Yellow King.

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True Detective 1.1 – “The Long Bright Dark”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Touch darkness, says the promotional poster for HBO’s latest series True Detective, and darkness touches you back. A tagline like this is all too generic these days, paired with a moody title card or a black-and-white shot of the strong-willed protagonist of a new film or television series. True Detective’s ad campaign has all of that — but one thing to take away from the pilot episode, which aired Sunday night in the US, is that the weighty tagline is rightfully deserved. Spoilers follow for the first episode “The Long Bright Dark”.

Conceived as an anthology series (more on that in a bit), True Detective’s first season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as newly-paired State Police Detectives in backwater Louisiana. The year is 1995, and the detectives are still operating in an awkward alliance as they begin an investigation into a gruesome murder. The victim’s name is Dora Lange, and it’s already clear that her case is a driving element of this season — and yet the vast majority of “The Long Bright Dark” is spent with McConaughey and Harrelson, and it’s also clear that this is a show that will focus on the character above the plot. The tension in the partnership is nothing revelatory for a cop show: McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is the unconventional but brilliant loner, Harrelson’s Martin Hart is the by-the-numbers family man looking to succeed in his position. These parts are acted perfectly, though, and McConaughey especially deserves to ride high on the wave of critical praise he’s received for recent roles such as this.

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