True Detective isn’t very procedural, not that last night’s episode “Seeing Things” or “The Long Bright Dark” would give you that impression. So far, the moments in which the case is worked serve a greater purpose beyond moving plot. Rust and Martin in the midst of a dry spell, eventually find the bunny ranch from which Dora Lange worked and from there actual direction to the church everyone seems to be talking about.
The ranch is hidden off in the middle of Louisiana woods, somewhere between freeway exists with barley a “sign” marking the turnoff. The locations available to this series are beautiful; they appear too big as if the state has yet to be won. That said, not being from the area I haven’t a clue what kind of geography the show is playing with. It’s all visually linked together rather nicely, it’s where it all is in relation to main city that has me a little confused.
Rust and Martin drive on into the ranch and it’s as if they’ve entered another world, a women’s world. The ranch is by a Madame who sees herself and her workers as owning heir sexuality in a truly dominant, sense. “Why is it when you add business to the mix boy’s like you can’t stand the thought…It’s cause suddenly you don’t own it the way you thought you did” the Madame counters back at Martins moral outrage driven by his entrenched male privileged world views. In the end they both are right. The Madame sees kindness and empowerment by allowing her to work, stay, and in some way “better” herself at the ranch. It’s better than her previous situation with her uncle. Martins insistence that there are better places to put her is also true, but the means and opportunities do not seem to exist in this stretch of Louisiana. Social welfare programs appear nonexistent. Everything in this world is faded and dirty like a decaying memory.
FX head John Landgraf likes to tell the press the series that he could not land on his network(s). True Detective being one of the most recent ones. It’s for the best that True Detective isn’t on FX, likely paired with American Horror Story, because there is no way “Seeing Things” would make it on basic cable. And that’s not taking into the account the scene in which we see actress Alexandra Daddario’s breast. The majority of this episode is based around exploring varying ideas of masculinity across generations.
Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle don’t make a good couple because they are portrayed by two fine actors. They’re sign posts for the changes in the expectations for the archetypical detective (insert title pun here) Hart is your more classical detective. He likes his job well enough, knows the routine of “good” police work: canvas that area, talk to people, find clues, talk to more people, arrest the bad guys. Sure there is some slight destruction to him in the way he finds his release, drinking and an affair. All of this is wrapped in his traditional views of masculinity. Funnily, he “puts up” with his father-in-laws even more traditional cultural views (read: blame that grass smoking Clinton). The political lines aren’t’ that subtle as Hart is in blue and the father-in-law in red. Hart even mocks him for his old maness, get off my lawn, opining for days gone by, and completely tone deaf to the fact that their views are a generation apart and not that different. Hart wants that same idyllic male privileged existence: his two women both totally subservient to his needs, his two worlds of work and home completely separated (why else would he go drinking too much and cheat on his wife?).
Rustin Cohle is a more modern rendition of the archetypical detective. He’s got some of that nineties grime on him – he and Frank Pembleton should talk. What would have been seen as a quirky detective character ala Columbo is given grit with personal demons, his back-story could be a series unto itself, and drug abuse. Cohle is into that new agey shit, profiling his killer, closed off, contemplative, not outwardly masculine and charismatically domineering. Unlike his former partner, he “accepts” who he is and lets it be as it is. Accepting that this behavior is just what is programmed into him and so why fight it. Harts justifications fall in line with his typical views of masculinity. All of that reasoning, is loathsome and a trite excuse to be a terrible person.
It’s fitting that the trailer for Hannibal season 2 drop the same day as “Seeing Things”. The railer is a plea from Will Gram for someone to believe in his sanity as everything around him points to the opposite conclusion. Like Mr. Gram, Rust sees things, due to his four years as a deep undercover narc and continual use of Quaaludes. Driving down the highway almost feverish, hallucinating, appearing as if he is about to enter hyper speed in the Millennium Falcon. Last nights episode ends on a meditative line from Cohle as he recalls the time he and Martin found the church. Most of the time he thought he was crazy but the other time he thought he was mainlining the truth of the universe and who’s to say he wasn’t. Cohle tripping balls constantly does call into question the reliability of his narration in a more obviously way than we should question the reliability of Hart’s narration. The views expressed by Hart could easily be made to make himself look better in the eyes of the detectives interviewing him and his own ego.
The present day portion of the story has made it abundantly clear that the two modern detectives Maynard and Thomas are more interested in Cohle and his methods. The retelling of the case is only a means to view them. This is the type of flag that will send my family down a rabbit hole of Cohle being the killer (he was cocked out of his mind). Such a move would fit the pulp roots of the show but it’s also such a trite move for a show like this to make.
Funny Notes I Write
- Louisianna, it's like Baltimore but bigger.
- Woody Harrelson has them anime eyes