January 28, 2014

True Detective truly baffling in third episode

How long can a series go without properly addressing its main plot? HBO’s True Detective seems hell bent on pushing this boundary as it enters the third episode of its eight-episode run with its insistently slow pace still intact.

This episode admittedly does show some progress on that front: Detectives Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Hart (Woody Harrelson) find the first suspect of their investigation (a man implied by the interview scenes set in 2012 to be the killer, or at least extremely important) and we get our first view of said killer wearing a mask and brandishing a machete.

That being said, there are only five episodes left in this story arc, and in that time the show must wrap up the ’90s serial killer plotline, explain Cohle and Hart’s falling out (though the show has set that up reasonably well, so it’s on track there), and resolve or at least address the reemergence of the serial killer in 2012.

It didn’t help that this episode returned to the bad habits of the first in regards to writer Nic Pizzolatto’s philosophical ramblings by way of McConaughey. The latest episode opens with a derivative diatribe on the social dynamics and perceived falsehoods of religion and ends with a cringe-inducing monologue about human life being merely a “dream.” McConaughey tries his absolute best to get the audience to take this writing seriously, and succeeds some of the time, but even an actor of his enormous talent can’t salvage the most nonsensical script.

The series still has high potential for its final five episodes. The tone is good, the scenery is good, and the characters are interesting when they’re not waxing philosophical. It just remains to be seen whether or not the show-runners can find a path that’s going to work consistently going forward.

True Detective is available On Demand and on HBO GO.