True Detective ends its first season as it began: with two indelible performances [Recap: season 1, episode 8]


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That was the big finish? Colour me underwhelmed.


Haven’t watched it quite yet, so didn’t read this… but I have to say half my enthusiasm vanished once I realized there was no intent to actually bring supernatural elements into the show. Excellently written and acted, but I (like many others) took the references to the Yellow King (and it’s related genres) as a promise rather than a simple homage.

I only dipped my toe in the theories presented on the interwebs through the run of the show, but given what I saw, I’m not surprised some people are disappointed. There’s no way they couldn’t be given the sheer intricacy of what some people were coming up with. I don’t know if it’s fair to fault the show for that, but on the other hand, I never saw it as more than an above-average crime drama, so I found the ending perfectly reasonable and satisfying.

And beneath that darkness there was another kind—it was deeper—form, like a substance. I could feel man, I knew, I knew my daughter waited for me, there. So clear. I could feel her

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Why does Hollywood/TV always have to “cure” their atheist characters by having them find religion/belief in the afterlife at the end? As if their atheism was a character flaw?

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Warning: spoilers in my comment.

There are a lot of shows and movies and such with supernatural elements these days. A lot. It dominates the market, and I get it - people like it. I like it too… sometimes.

There are also a lot of crime shows. Again, a lot. Most are not that interesting to me - often, it’s because the characters aren’t very good (in my favorite crime stories, the characters and the way they carry out the investigation are way more interesting than the crime itself).

Here’s a show that got the modern drama aspect perfect - though it’s all standard stuff really (though perhaps it seems that way mainly because it’s more novel-like than most TV and movies), the characters and the setting (a character in itself) were outstanding and the story and the side stories were all intriguing and never dull.

It didn’t need supernatural elements to make it good. In fact I would have been extremely disappointed. It just wouldn’t have been right here.

This is actually exemplified by a point brought up in the review here, the perhaps-hard-to-believe way they made the break with the green-painted house. That did strike me as hard to believe, but not impossible by any stretch, and probably far more common and realistic than we think. Other crime stories have trained us to believe that breakthroughs come in more poetic and/or straightforward ways, or through sudden revelations (which this wasn’t). I think we probably all know it isn’t like that in reality.

Here they took the “making a sudden revelation” trope and played it out like it would in reality. It was a hunch and one hell of a long shot, and they showed the complete process of following up on it, finding the tax records, etc. - something that would normally be completely skipped over. And I mean, we know that this wasn’t the first long-shot lead they followed up on - in addition to those shown earlier in the series, that’s probably most of what they were doing in the office off-camera the last two episodes.

So in fact I quite liked that this is how they made the break that led to getting the guy. I’m sure there are other satisfying options they could have gone with, but everything I can think of as an example would have cheapened it, IMO.

I also think it would have cheapened it if one or both of them had died at the end. That would have been expected and too easy in terms of the narrative. This isn’t a show about easy narrative and straightforward character development and so on. It worked great in a poetic way for Breaking Bad, though also not a show with easy narrative and straightforward character development, but would have felt off here.

I was in fact left a little underwhelmed by the conclusion, but not disappointed. Upon reflection (such as earlier in my comment), I don’t think it could have ended any other way and still work very well. I like that the ending was very novel-like, and not a novel that offers easy answers and a straightforward moral at the end, but one that taps into something deeper and makes you realize that maybe there isn’t an answer.

And I did like the small shard of optimism at the end from Rust, and given that this has already utterly consumed 17 years of his life, I’d like to think he’s not going to stop the investigation into the others who are/were involved.


I also hate when atheists are “cured”, but in this case I didn’t equate Rust’s comment to finding religion or spirituality but to finding his lost humanity.


Demented serial killer provoking all our taboos.


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Since when was believing in an afterlife tied solely to a religion, and atheism having the requirement of disbelief in an afterlife of some kind? An “afterlife” is not specific to religion, and atheism (the rejection of any deity) is not dependent on whatever happens when we die.

Additionally, Rust’s statements at no point specifically stated he suddenly found God or believed in a Christian afterlife. I would posit that his statement was in finding a sense of peace at his ending. He found happiness, something that has eluded him for most of his life. I would argue that its not an afterlife that he suddenly believed in…but that love exists even for him. Regardless of the awful things he experienced. For the first time in however long he could remember, he had hope.

That’s not a religious sentiment.


Never seemed like a show concerned with a “big finish” and I’m glad for it. A slow burning masterpiece that stayed true through the end. If you want cheap reveals, look elsewhere.


I was satisfied.

In fact, I was relieved to find that the supernatural trappings turned out to be the ideas running around in one crazy loon’s (Billy’s) head, as they often are in real life.

I also think there was so much more to chew on that would be realized in afterthought. I mean, if I saw it clearly, Daddy’s lips were sewn shut, weren’t they? Ugh.
And the dolls. All those dolls. It wasn’t until you see all the shoes, then the pile of clothing, and then the mummified remains, that you realize where the dolls might have come from.

Edit: Natch – Not Billy, Erroll.


I’ll keep saying this - TV cops always rush into the hideout of armed killers waving their cop handguns. Clearly they need assault weapons or at least police shotguns.I guess Rust lost his footlocker of milspec ordnance.

They made no effort to cast older versions of the daughters for their split second of screen time in the finale. They had not aged 10 years, that’s for sure.

I’m a little uncomfortable with Rust’s near-death religious experience, but it’s OK. I’m less satisfied with the idea of an eternal battle between light and dark - I think that’s more of a personal vanity that is out of character for Rust. But on the other hand, he had to spend years searching for a tangible evil that he could physically conquer, and that’s a pretty special quest.

No one seems to be talking very much about Rusts’ ‘hallucination’ inside the fort. I actually found it very exciting; What did it mean? I am assuming that the old man tied to the mattress was Billy Childress, scarred jawfaces’ probable dad (or grandad?). So when Marty asks the woman at the door about Billy, she says this really weird thing - to the effect that he s alive before you are and alive after you are dead. Which is a really weird thing to say indeed. But this guy is right across the clearing in an old shed; in a not very awe inspiring state. So why does she say that? Later, Rust enters the atrium with scarred jawface. He is singularly distracted by a strange, twisting nether image (presumably a 3D version of the continuing spiral image in the show). Why does he see this here and now, and why is it so important that it literally distracts him from scarred jawface? Up till now, almost all of Rusts hallucinations relating to the case have been utterly true, in that they refer to something real in he real world. So I think that what Rust saw was Billy Childress, caught in some kind of awful existence between the flat circle and the beyond. What s more, I think scarred jawface knew Rust would see it (and explains why he keeps calling Rust ‘little priest’ , as priests are expected to be concerned with such things) and deliberately used it as a distraction. Most disappointing moment for me was when Rust finally dropped what was bothering him in the hospital, and started with ‘light and darkness’ , the oldest most hackneyed western dualistic thinking. other than that, quite happy with episode.


Of course belief in an afterlife is religious. How can’t it be? The idea of the afterlife is based on the idea that our consciousness isn’t based on biochemical reactions in our brains but rather the result of the religious idea of a “soul” that lives on after the body dies. And actually, yes, this is a large reason of why I and many people are atheists – we don’t see how anything can go to the afterlife after the biochemistry ends.

I understand that they wanted to have Rust be happy, but they could have shown it by having him find joy in life rather than “knowing” his dead daughter is waiting for him.

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Without spiraling too deep into a metaphysical discussion specifically about afterlife and its possibilities. I would call upon multiple episodes of Star Trek wherein the alien assumes a form beyond its physical one. It evolves beyond “this world” and its mortal coil of being tied to a physical body.

A scientific transformation into a incorporeal form is at its essence no different than the idea that upon dying a soul continues on through an “afterlife” in a similar incorporeal state. However you are rejecting one because the form is called a soul and tied to a religion, and validating the other as plausible/possible based on it being a state of matter/energy change and tied to science.

I’m not condemning or passing judgment on either, and admitting since I do not know what happens when we die what state our being transforms into or if it even perhaps simply ceases to exist. As such, I am not assuming that Rust takes one stance or another either. I hold true to what was SAID by the character. He never said he found God. He never said he found heaven. He never said he was suddenly religious.

As such, don’t make the assumption that Pizzolatto intended that conjecture.


Well, the younger daughter was different from the first two age-variance portrayals. The older one, I guess they figured we’d assume that she didn’t physically change much from the first “fast-forward”, seeing that she was an older teen then.

Edit: If my chronology is correct, it’s '95, then '05, and then 2015 at the end, right?

Regarding the comment in the 6th paragraph about sweeping Maggie’s memories under the rug; I think you’ve misunderstood. In that episode, Gilbough and Papania were interviewing Maggie in relation to Cohle and Hart. It was intended to show her memories and perspectives, but only in relation to Rust and Marty. Whereas showing Errol in his home was strictly to give the audience a glimpse of him, what he’s like, where and how he lives, a little of what he’s like.

Prior to this, everything on the show was only in relation to the central characters, because first and foremost it’s a character study. The serial killer case (and everything else) is secondary and only there to illuminate the main characters.

My favorite musing thus far about the show, from Maureen Ryan of the Huffington Post:

How long until Louisiana changes its tourism motto to ‘You in Carcosa now’?


Rust didn’t find God or religion. He felt his dead daughter’s “presence” when he was in a coma.

Every atheist can have a different idea of what happens after death. The only thing atheists have in common is answering “no” to the question “Does a god exist?” There’s nothing else that makes atheists atheists.


@pattwist73: Do you assert this as an atheist yourself? I ask because I have yet to meet an atheist who believed in an afterlife. Admittedly I haven’t met them all.

But you’re right in that Rust didn’t “find religion”–that’s glib. He did however experience evidence of something like a spirit world. Whether he actually equates that with an afterlife, or merely echoes of his own mind, is still open to question. It sure did reset his moral compass though, didn’t it?