True Detective—Season 1

true detective season 1 dvd episode guide woody harrelson matthew mcconaughey
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, great story, perfect acting

Ending dragged a bit


Unlock the Mystery!

In 1995, a murder occurs and investigators Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) get the assignment.  As they track the murdered girl’s background, a tale of sexual depravity, drugs, and a potential serial killer surface…ending in a bloody mess.  Now in 2012, the crime has resurfaced and Hart and Cohle have been called back in.  What appeared to be a closed case has exploded open once again…and Hart and Cohle might not survive to solve it.

True Detective—Season 1 aired from January 12, 2014 to March 9, 2014.  The eight episode mystery police drama became an instant hit with critics and fans and began winning awards and accolades immediately.


Well, this is going to be a problem…

Having no access to HBO, I was anxious to see True Detective as soon as possible and feared hearing the course of the story since it was a mystery.  Luckily, I made it all the way through my viewing before knowing anything about the story…and plowed through all eight episodes in two short sittings. *****Spoiler Alert***** Due to the nature of the series, there might be spoilers in the following review and pictures.

The story from True Detective is possibly the weakest part…and I use that lightly because it too is great.  The story dips into classic cult literature with references to Robert W. Chambers’ short story novel The King in Yellow but also taking on the format of a pulp noire series.  Watching True Detective, I also found it “borrowed” (you could almost say stole) from the BBC three film adaptation Red Riding which followed a very similar crime and corruption through nine years.  The series gets dark and is filled with twists and turns.  I do dislike that for a mystery, True Detective sometimes threw out obvious important clues that the detectives didn’t pick up on or dismissed.


I can’t quit you…

The show is also very visual.  The rich southern Louisiana setting provided a Southern Gothic location that tied into the pulp nature of the story.  The bayou and darkness is much more realistic than the deep south of something like True Blood and these areas, scary as they may be, feel much more real.

What True Detective really does is provide great, great acting.  Matthew McConaughey has the much meatier role as the crazed, philosophy spouting Rust Cohle and plays it perfectly.  Cohle is delusional, a realist, and sees the dark side of society far easier than the light.  Though McConaughey is the easy “awesome” acting role, I think Harrelson has the more difficult role.  His Hart is more internal and fuming and explosive.  I saw him through the story as the far more dangerous character of the two and even believed that he could have something to do with the crimes.  Both McConaughey and Harrelson also had to play the roles through decades and change their characters with each setting 1995, 2002, 2012.  I could have seen either actor picking up either role and since McConaughey and Harrelson also were executive producers, I could have seen who was going to be whom being debated.  Both actors also have a very rich supporting cast and I can find no faults in any of the acting.


Y’all come back now, ya hear?

True Detective was a mini-phenomenon.  It was the highest watched first season of an HBO series and had people lighting up the internet.  You could argue that the ending of the series is a bit drawn out and I would have tweaked a few things there, but it still is one of the best new series on TV.  I look forward to the second season of this series and since it is an anthology series, a new cast, story, and location could mean True Detective could fly or flounder on its second outing.

True Detective—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“The Long Bright Dark”

1.1       The Long Bright Dark Airdate:  01/12/14

1995:  The body of Dora Kelly Lange is discovered in a sacrificial setting and homicide detectives Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are brought in as investigators.  Hart and Cohle seek out Lange’s identity and discover ties to a missing girl named Marie Fontenot who disappeared in 1990.  Hart and his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) try to adjust to the strange behavior of Cohle, and Cohle finds himself battling his depression and lack of sleep with pills.

2012:  Cohle and Hart have been brought in by detectives Papania (Tory Kittles) and Maynard Gilbough (Michael Potts) for questioning about the Lange case and Cohle and Hart learn that their case might not be over.


“Seeing Things”

1.2       Seeing Things Airdate:  01/19/14

1995:  The search for information about Dora Lange continues and ties to a mysterious church surface.  As Cohle and Hart track down the prostitutes that Dora has been working with, they find new pressure from government officials to solve the crime by tying it to anti-Christian crimes.  Cohle questions Hart’s secret extramarital affair with Lisa Tragnetti (Alexandra Daddario) while Hart continues to worry about Cohle’s mental state after the revelation his daughter died.

2012:  The truth of how Cohle ended up in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana is revealed.


“The Locked Room”

1.3       The Locked Room Airdate:  01/26/14

1995:  The investigation lead Hart and Cohle to a church led by a preacher named Joel Theriot (Shea Whigham) where they learn they might be searching for a tall, burned man.  As the threat of losing the case grows, Martin and Maggie’s relationship continues to strain as Martin finds Maggie’s interest in Cohle growing.  When Cohle and Hart uncover ties to another dead girl named Rianne Olivier, the detectives learn that the killer might be a man named Reggie Ledoux.


“Who Goes There”

1.4       Who Goes There Airdate:  02/09/14

1995:  Cohle goes undercover to track a lead that Ledoux was cooking for a motorcycle gang called the Iron Crusaders and finds himself falling into his old days as an undercover investigator in Texas.  Cohle is forced into illegal means to find a path to Ledoux, and Hart’s world was shattered when his wife learned of his affair.

2012:  Papania and Gilbough question Cohle’s reported leave in 1995 to visit his dying father and Cohle and Hart hide the truth of what occurred.


“The Secret Fate of All Life”

1.5       The Secret Fate of All Life Airdate:  02/16/14

1995:  Cohle and Hart have tracked down DeWall Ledoux (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) and discovered the hidden meth lab hidden deep in the bayou.  When Cohle and Hart decide to raid the lab, they uncover a horror and do something that changes the course of their careers.

2002:  Cohle uncovers information that the events occurring in the bayou might not have been the end of the killer and the Yellow King might still be in existence.

2012:  Cohle and Hart stick to the story of the raid and hide the truth of the events, but Cohle’s appearance at the recent murder scene is revealed.


“Haunted Houses”

1.6       Haunted Houses Airdate:  02/23/14

2002:  Cohle has decided to track down the Yellow King and to learn if he made a mistake by believing the 1995 gunfight ended the killing and the ties to the religious empire of Senator Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders).   As Cohle creates waves, Hart finds his marriage crumbling again with after an encounter with a prostitute leading Maggie to make a desperate move that will forever change Hart and Kohle’s partnership.

2012:  Maggie is questioned about both Cohle and Hart but hides what she knows form Papania and Gilbough.  Papania and Gilbough reveal to Hart why they are investigating Cohle and Cohle decides it is time that he and Hart talk.


“After You’ve Gone”

1.7       After You’ve Gone Airdate:  03/02/14

2012:  Cohle reveals the evidence of what he’s uncovered about Tuttle and his family to Hart and Hart and Cohle find themselves teamed once more to try to solve the case.  As they backtrack to investigate Tuttle’s schools and the stories of the scarred face man, Cohle and Hart uncover that Tuttle’s bloodline might run deeper than reported and a former investigator named Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) might know the information they seek…and might have to take more drastic steps when he doesn’t volunteer to give it up.


“Form and Void”

1.8       Form and Void Airdate:  03/09/14

2012:  The search for the man with the scars increases as Cohle and Hart force information out of Geraci and try to make sense of a child’s story about an attack in the woods.  When Cohle and Hart are able to make a connection, a trip to the home of William Childress deep in the bayou could provide the answers they have been seeking…but also could mean their deaths!

Related Links:

True Detective—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

True Detective—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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