Monday, March 10, 2014


Let's Hold Hands and Talk About the True Detective Finale

Enigmatic mumbling.

We need a True Detective finale discussion post if only so I can find a support group in the comments. What did you think?! Too conclusive, not conclusive enough? Did they ever address their woman problem? What will happen in season two? Who was the real villain: a sinister cabal of abusers and murderers, or HBO Go?

My take: I live in San Francisco, and there was an earthquake exactly halfway through my viewing of the episode, so if Nic Pizzolatto failed to achieve the right amount of foreboding and atmospheric dread, Mother Nature filled that right in.

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Please, please let this be an active comment thread. I have thoughts, but would like to listen to ladies before a straight white guy starts offering up opinions on shows where straight white guys do a bunch of hero-ing.


I love this!!!!! Great sound!!@v


I can't give you any thoughts, sadly, because I'm only up to episode 4 and my attempt to watch episode 5 was thwarted by HBO Go going all pear-shaped :( But I wanted to wave to my SF neighbor over here! Also I'm annoyed that I was at least awake - and not even in bed - at 10:18 and I felt nothing.

I will have to come back to this thread in a few days, once I've finished mainlining the remaining four episodes. Sigh.


Hey, neighbor! Obvz you need to live in an older, jankier building. Also perhaps periodically check any glasses of water that are lying about for Jurassic-Park-style dramatic shaking. #earthquakepreparedness


Leon, I will start if you promise I won't just be talking to myself.

To me, the pivotal scene in understanding the two characters was that moment when Marty asks Rust if he ever wonders if he's a bad man, and Rust says he doesn't wonder, the world needs bad men to keep other bad men out. (Paraphrasing.) I understood Rust as basically someone who has sacrificed his whole life for the greater good of society, because his soul was already ruined. He could handle all the grotesque, horrifying knowledge and actions the case required of him because it was just more ruin heaped on top of ruin. But Marty was just a normal, damaged guy, who fucked up a lot but ultimately wanted love and a family. He was being asked to sacrifice himself the way Rust was, but he couldn't handle it in the same way.

But I don't know if the finale really played that out, because I was expecting something much grimmer and more nihilistic. I thought Rust was going to die saving Marty, as sort of the ultimate sacrifice for all the rest of us normal, damaged people who want love and a family. Or, even grimmer, that Marty would die and Rust for live, and it would sort of be like Rust had ruined his soul in vain.


@Lauren_O'Neal - I definitely expected Rust to die, especially w/ all his Gethsemane talk early on.

I think, from the point of view of someone interested in structure/narrative, the show was fascinating to me, in that, it felt really obvious from the structure / pacing to me all along that it was going to be about the two guys, not the philosophy or mystery - and yet, I didn't actually buy into that, cuz all of the content itself felt so different.

I didn't really think about Marty a huge amount, but I think what you're saying is really important - its really sad in a way that by the end of the show, he's resigned to a kind of grim fatalistic view, and it's Rust who has to add the buoyancy.

Also, I feel like tv is kind of fucked with endings, cuz of the spacing. I started to imagine my favorite books split into chunks over time - I mean, imagine if Gatsby getting show in the pool or Rochester able to see his son or like, all of that horribly depressing shit leading to Berthe going off alone in Bovary - I mean, none of those endings would feel good enough as TV Final-Hours, would they?


@leonstj I've been thinking about this all day, and I think I'm coming to the conclusion that actually, I dislike book endings pretty often. I've read a few books recently that I've gifted/recommended to people with the caveat that the ending is dumb, but the rest of it is really good. Endings are tricky, I guess. And/or I'm really narcissistic and get annoyed when the author uses a different ending than I would've.


I was both satisfied by and disappointed with the ending. I know that it really was a character-focused story, and I was satisfied by the conclusion of the relationship and development of Rust and Marty. But the L&O-and-Investigation Discovery-watching part of me really wanted a lot more out of the murder cult plot ending.


@meetapossum I was much more interested in character than murder-cult plot, but I wanted more there too! I had all these predictions about how Marty's troubled daughter (was her name Audrey?) would be involved. I thought there would be a big reveal where the art show Maggie mentioned would involve spirals and antlers, and we would learn the cult had done something to her as a child to cause all the weird behavior.

And then, okay, so the Yellow King is...Tuttle? And Carcosa is...the scarred guy's creepy filth fort? Or like...?


@Lauren_O'Neal Right! With the dolls in the beginning, and then her acting out with the boys...

Plus the idea of this being a rape-murder ritualistic CULT with A LOT of members. What drew them to the cult? Was Billy Childress that charismatic? Was it really the elder Tuttle behind the whole thing? Who STARTED it?

It's just...if you're going to incorporate all this mythology, I expect at least a little bit of a explanation. Otherwise it reminds me of the ending of Lost and makes me sad and angry.


@meetapossum Ahaha, they should've gone full Lost. Rust and Marty hold hands in a non-denominational church and ascend into heaven.


@meetapossum I was also satisfied and disappointed, but I am going to watch again later after I've thought some more. One thing I know that I love, though, is how funny this show could be. Rust and Marty flipping each other the bird in the hospital, amazing! And the sight gag of Rust in his bed looking like a resurrected Jesus, I loved that bit of writerly side-eye about his character.


@hungrybee Agreed that the bird-flipping was a *perfect* moment.


@meetapossum It's one of those things they lean on the setting heavily for - I mean, the Yellow King cult is basically a bacchanalia club for rich old families that draws heavily from the pageantry of Mardi Gras. It's an ivy frat in a bucolic setting. For all we know, the younger Childress (and his acid damaged buddies) was the only one who actually believed in the occult hokum.


"Are we getting engaged?"

chickpeas akimbo

Ok two things that have been bugging me all day:

1.) I think we can safely assume that creepy Errol killed Dora Lange, even though it wasn't explicitly spelled out in the finale. I'm still struggling with the "why" though -- most/all of the evidence (photos and that video) about the culty people indicates they like to prey on children. Why this woman?
2.) It's also not clear to me why Dora's body was posed and displayed the way she was. Like creepy underground cult functions for [some really long period of time] and then basically does the equivalent of sending up a flare for the police saying "come find me!" Did creepy Errol just go extra-insane that day?

It is entirely possible I'm missing something really obvious here, so please tell me if I just fell asleep during some vital moment or something.


@chickpeas akimbo I THINK the implication was that the systematic abuse of children was the work of the Tuttles' pedo death cult but the murders were the work of the Childress family. Not all the children from Light of the Way were killed. Lange was killed presumably because she was picked and groomed by Ledoux.

Or that yeah, the Yellow King cult had been killing young women for a long time and it was just Errol's personal murder projects that were ostentatious.


@chickpeas akimbo @Danzig! "I THINK the implication was that the systematic abuse of children was the work of the Tuttles' pedo death cult but the murders were the work of the Childress family."

Ohhhhh, I totally didn't get that. But the Childresses were related to the Tuttles, and the individual murders used the same symbols/icons as the cult, so...???


@Lauren_O'Neal right, the Yellow King cult was made up of a number of venerable families, the Childresses were the Boltons of this particular setting. Or at least that's what I assumed.

chickpeas akimbo

@Danzig! @Lauren_O'Neal Ah, interesting. Errol is the overachiever of the family, then. He could have hidden all those bodies in his nasty little rabbit warren and never been found... but instead he had to show off.


@chickpeas akimbo yea, as the link LON posted downthread indicates, Errol wanted to get caught, call attention to the child molester ring that had arguably created him, and transcend the endless cycle of recurrence that Rust articulates through the series.


It felt kind of flat, to be honest, and not just because we had 40 minutes of Silence of the Lambs (or Home via the X-Files, as many have compared it to). The show had my interest as an oblique critique of masculinity - Marty with his expectation that he receive a very specific kind of life from other people regardless of how he treats them, and Rust with his detached and overripe intellectualism that's ultimately self-serving. What I'd said in earlier comment sections was that the show needed to show an ambivalence toward its characters and not have them redeemed through their work (as ugly professionals in Sorkin shows constantly are, for example). For awhile there it was kind of like Girls, a show in which the audience is clued into its characters' self-delusion and -justification in a way they themselves can never quite grasp.

The resolution of the mystery didn't matter so much to me - as others have said, in itself it was largely of ancillary concern to the show - but all things being equal we get a relatively positive ending, with Rust having a profound spiritual experience and Marty apparently (finally) realizing his responsibility for the emptiness of his life. We don't know if this is a turning point for either of them, but it still felt like redemption out of step with what felt like skepticism from earlier episodes. I'd feel a lot more down about it were the performances not uniformly excellent. Matt McC's halfway to an EGOT at this point.


I...really did not care for the finale. I thought it was super cliche (like I know this is a southern gothic but for the love of christ did it have to be fucking incestuous hillbillies? there are Anne Rice novels with more creative endings.)
The only scene I liked was the part with Rust and Marty at the hospital, but then it lost me again as soon as Rust started talking about darkness and light because then it got all "STOP HITTING ME OVER THE HEAD WITH YOUR THEMES YOU ARE NOT A NINTH GRADER TRYING TO WRITE A 5 PARAGRAPH ESSAY, SHOW."
Uh, anyway yeah.


@Megasus Man, as soon as I saw the woman in the house I predicted that she was Errol's sister.

I kind of wish the show had ACTUALLY had a Southern Gothic ending. Marty gets shot and killed. ("He would've been a good man if there had been somebody there to shoot him every minute of his life.") Rust blinds himself with quicklime, ties barbed wire around his stomach, and starts preaching to everyone about the Yellow King.

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