True Detective Season 1 “Who Goes There” Review

Previously, on True Detective, Eli Thompson delivered sermons, Hart and Cohle exchanged ideas on religion and the pair pushed on with their investigation into Dora’s murder, as well as the present day interviews about the murder investigation. Welcome back, True Detective. As someone who mostly watches the Super Bowl for commercials, I really missed the gritty series from my Sunday night lineup last week. Interestingly, the show returned after the one-week hiatus with an installment that was very different from the first three episodes of the season.

Up until last night’s episode, the show has mostly focused on unpacking the layers of Cohle and Hart as we watch them work the Lange murder. Although the series is indeed one centered on police work, we have not seen a lot of big action sequences in which the duo gets in an old west-style shootout or goes in hot pursuit of a fleeing criminal. The writing, acting and visually stunning cinematography have made such over-the-top scenes unnecessary. This, however, does not mean that a well done action sequence wouldn’t work in an episode. That was very clear after last night’s episode in we watched the culmination of a high stakes undercover operation in which Cohle infiltrated a biker gang. Who goes there? Cohle goes there and he goes hard.

With their sights set on a suspect, Cohle takes a leave of absence so that he can fully commit to his undercover persona, which included putting track marks on his arm so that he could properly fit in with the target – the Iron Crusader motorcycle club. What follows is a wonderfully shot, heart-pumping sequence in which Cohle finds himself in a kidnapping and drug theft gone awry. Although shootouts and high-stakes exchanges between criminals and cops is a staple of any show in the genre, True Detective found a way to elevate the trope. The technical execution was breathtakingly flawless.

The implosion of Hart’s personal life was very well-timed. Since the first episode of the season, we’ve gotten to know the character as one who values appearances. He wants to be seen as the family man who can provide for his home and does not need another man mowing his lawn, but indulges in mistresses on the side. In many ways, Hart appears more tightly wound than Cohle, which is saying a lot. It was not surprising to hear him threaten to “skull fu@k” his former mistress when she visited his home and shared the details of their affair with his wife. The man Hart just cautioned about mowing his lawn is now the one giving him a place to stay, pulling him out of an embarrassing argument with his wife at her job and cautioning him about the consequences of dealing with “crazy pussy.” Although they insist they are not friends, I liked the moment in which Hart sought reassurance from Cohle about his chances of getting his family back. I understand why Cohle lied and I’m curious to see if this lie will have further repercussions. Is this lie part of the reason the former partners are no longer in touch with each other? Time will tell.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode of True Detective. Although I’m fond the slower pace of the character exploration and the murder investigation we’ve seen in the first three episodes, the writers did a great job at seamlessly building up to the high stakes action sequence this week. The tracking shot was excellent. I also liked a lot of the musical selections in the episode, particularly the use of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers towards the end. What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off below!