This final episode is pretty much everything you might expect from True Detective. There’s no real mystery to be solved: we see the killer with the scarred face at home, and what a home it is: the stuff of a set designer’s dreams, and everyone else’s nightmares. Cluttered and labyrinthine, with his father tied to a table in one room, and his half-sister/wife requesting sexual gratification in another. It would be easy to call him evil, and perhaps he is, but he’s clearly remarkably damaged as well; the show doesn’t make it too easy for us.
Anyway Hart and Cohle track him down and chase him through his maze-like complex of buildings in a dazzling, hallucinogenic sequence. It perhaps went on for too long, but there’s genuine suspense at work: we really don’t know who, if anyone, is walking away from the approaching confrontation. In any event, we get as much of a happy ending as can reasonably be expected from a show which featured a videotape of child abuse so shocking that people screamed on watching it, and the whole thing concludes with a moral from Cohle about darkness and light which, like the show itself, you can regard as enigmatic and profound if you’re a devotee, trite and hollow if you’re not.
At the conclusion of the season, it seems churlish to mention the show’s shortcomings, when so much of it – the acting (particularly the astounding Matthew McConaughey), the directing, the complex structure, the ambition – has been memorably good. But the occasionally portentous dialogue, the attitude to women, and the overall feeling that it wasn’t quite as profound as it thought it was, all need to be weighed in the balance as well. For the avoidance of doubt I liked it a lot, and I would watch the shit out of a second season (as yet unconfirmed, but a racing certainty). Adding it all up, though, I’d have to say that I thought this to be a very good show which fell just short of the greatness for which it was striving. But it’ll live with me for quite a while.