As Donald O'Connor says in Singin in the Rain “Make’em Laugh”. No, True Detective did not suddenly turn into a musical comedy, though they did possibly brush over the Odd Couple antics after Rust and Martin move in together. The point is to entertain them and you can get away with murder. True Detective takes a left turn into crazy (possibly neo-nazi) biker gangs, the Iron Crusaders whom Rust knows, and heist jobs. Ending on an aerial shot with blaring electric guitar (Grinderman “Honey Bee”) as the police raid the Austin projects and Rust and Martin make off with their prize: a man named Ginger. That isn’t the type of finale True Detectives three prior episodes have given us. Those have been haunting and cold finales. This was something approaching rousing and bad as.
Having rewatched the Stash House Job several times it stands at 6 minutes of a single tracking shot. There are two spots that could be phantom edits but that doesn’t change the sheer beauty of this sequence. The camera, gliding forward and back trying to keep up with Rust as he attempts to control the chaos unfolding around him. “In and out 30 seconds, in and out 30 seconds” he keeps repeating to his compatriots like it’ll hurry them up. The Stash House Job has set a new watermark for sustained tension in an episode of television. Normally the tension found in Detective is a forboding kind thanks partly to the way Rusint Cohle speaks and the heavy humidity-esque mood that permeates through everything. True Detective is like a sweaty David Fincher piece. That sort of tension lies on the backburner ever present but not quite there. Here in the heist sequence it was right in your face all the time. The camera becoming part voyeur and helper as it points Cohle in the right direction or shows just how messed up this situation is. The camera follows Cohle and Gingers’ movements on the backside of a cookie cutter development house by going through it. Revealing the majority of it’s inhabitants to be wielding or arming themselves with automatic weapons of the rifle or submachine gun variety. At any moment it could all just go wrong, a random gun wielding figure shooting Ginger or Martin and where the heck was Martin?! And than right on schedule Marty shows up and you just want someone to put on sunglasses, make a bad pun or observation, and go “YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”.
On a technical level, the Stash House Jon, rave, and biker bar, are all amazing to look at. The set designers built these worlds within worlds so well. The bar scene in particular creates a better Sons of Anarchy than the much watched FX Series. True Detective shows the customers to be the low level scum that they are with no inclination to make them appear otherwise. Where as the latter biker drama has slowly developed a Stockholm syndrome love for it’s outlaws. Ginger(Joseph Sikora) claims he embraces the outlaw life and boy dose he. Offering Rust one of many hits of what appeared to be meth, coke, and heck maybe a little bit of weed….before they go and hit the stash house.
This show doesn’t try to make anyone look good, surprising for a cast of this quality. Martin Hart is a sad, misogynist, piece of shit, who may or may not have erectile dysfunction and everyone knows it. Even his fellow detectives in the present are seeing through his bullshit. Rust rubs his face in it, refusing to have the typical partner cheer up scene after Martin makes a scene while trying to reconcile with his wife. Except no such connection exists between the two, it appeared at first there would be some kind of bond formed by them but now it looks like they just happen to be too guys who work together. “It’s none of my business.” Rust keeps reiterating to his drinking partner. Hart just can’t except that he isn’t able to have it both ways like he thought he could. Cohle is no better a man than Martin is. The latter detective hides behind male privilege, the other just hides behind pseudo-philosophical bullshit. Neither bothering to think that maybe they are just acting like gigantic assholes to those around them. “You must’ve been an excellent husband” Maggie angrily shuts Cohle down after going on one of his inane screeds about how you can’t really blame Hart for acting on baser instincts. Cohle like everybody else rationalizes his terribleness and never takes responsibility for being terrible.
It’s been interesting to see how the narrative has changed perspectives from Cohle to Hart largely. Cohle has become more a driver of plot, while Hart has gotten the traditional “detective’s curse” arch emotionally. That arch hits the point where the detective’s world is obliterated. Not that the righteous paragon of masculinity, Martin Hart would ever admit that such failings where entirely his fault. Blowing off Lisa, causing a scene at Maggie’s work, being an absentee father all his fault and now they have all come to bite him in the ass. Martin doesn’t accept this lying down, threatening to do things to Lisa that I don’t care to quote. In such a male dominated show where women are little more than objects to put on the mantel piece it was rather nice to see Lisa and Maggie assert themselves and take back the power a bit.
True Detective is half way through it’s first season now and man dose that feel surprising. It doesn’t feel like it has been on for only 4 episodes (and 5 weeks) but months. As it approaches the back half I wonder if and when the present day will take center stage a bit more. If only for Cary Fukunaga to play with a modern aesthetic and try and get that same foreboding tone from the well lit pristine quality the present day seems to have.
The Bits At The End
- series director Cary Fukunaga did a nice interview explaining the process of creating that 6 minutes of AWESOME
- Ok, seriously, how did the bikers pass for cops with those beards!?!?
- · On the topic of awesome long take shootouts here’s the Hospital Sceen from John Woo’s Hard Boiled.