True Detective Season 1 “Haunted Houses” Review

And that’s why you don’t let a man mow your lawn. More on that later in this review of last night’s episode of True Detective, “Haunted House.” This week’s episode was different. Not bad different, not good different – just different.

Ultimately, I think “Haunted Houses” felt different because it had two pretty hard acts to follow in the last two episodes. With only two episodes left, there are several issues that had to be dealt with before the finale. As many already know, True Detective is following the mini-series structure made popular by American Horror Story. Each season is intended to be its own separate story, that will not necessarily have any connection to subsequent seasons. The season 2 cast has not been announced yet, so we’ll have to wait to see if the series will also follow the American Horror Story approach of having the same actors portray different characters. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey have been excellent this season and I certainly would have no objections to seeing them again in season 2.

Back to this week’s episode . . .

With only two episodes left and without the benefit of resolving issues in a subsequent season, True Detective needed to find an efficient means at moving the murder investigation forward and giving more insight into the end of Cohle and Hart’s partnership and reluctant friendship. As we saw in last week’s episode, understanding the breakup of Cohle and Hart would also require a closer look at the breakdown of their personal lives. I can appreciate the writers taking the direct approach with the task and hope that the necessary groundwork developed last night will pave the way for two memorable episodes to close out the season.

Although the episode felt more like a traditional cop procedural,it was very well written. Seeing the payoff of seeds planted in earlier episodes was rewarding. Unfortunately, far too many shows fall short of this very simple idea of tying up loose ends. We learned that the end of the partnership, destruction of Hart’s marriage and Cohle’s departure from the force were all related.

So the connection many noticed between Cohle and Maggie wasn’t just Cohle being Cohle and Hart was not completely off base in warning Cohle not to mow his lawn. Despite the connection between Cohle and Maggie, it was pretty clear that her seduction of him was pure, unadulterated revenge sex. And what prompted Maggie’s revenge? Beth – the sweet, naive prostitute that Hart gave some money to after seeing her dire circumstances way back in 1995. Seven years later, Beth is legal and looking to “repay” Hart for his kindness. The reappearance of Beth wasn’t the most groundbreaking revelation, but it did give me new appreciation for the jab Cohle took when he referred to Hart’s charity as a down payment.

On the issue of young girls and sexuality, the episode opened with Hart teaching what a “man’s price” for having a threesome with his daughter was. The beating felt like it was more about Hart, which further exposed his shortcomings as a father. Beating the two guys in the prison cell felt no different than Hart breaking down Lisa’s door when he knew she was with another man. In the end, it wasn’t about his daughter’s honor – it was about Hart’s ego.

It will be interesting to see if we learn more about Hart’s daughter’s promiscuity in the final two episodes. I don’t think that her appearance and her “extracurricular” activities are part of some age appropriate angst. This was, after all, a girl we saw in 1995 staging a disturbing crime scene with her Barbie dolls. The signs point to some sort of childhood trauma. What is unclear is if Hart suspects this or if he already knows and is failing to properly deal with it.

We finally got the long-awaited reunion between the former partners. Hart left the station and found Cohle trailing behind him in his red truck. The pair agreed to get a beer and it remains to be seen what Hart thinks about the accusations against Cohle. Although Hart told the detectives that their theories were crap, we did see him checking the bullets in his gun after agreeing to have a beer with his former partner. Interestingly, it looks like Hart still hasn’t fixed the tail light broken during the fight between the two in 2002.

Random observation – True Detective is not known for tons of levity, but I definitely got a good chuckle at the tampon bit.

It’s 2012, the former partners are reunited and they’ve got some unfinished business. I can’t watch to see how things unfold! What did you think of last night’s episode? Sound off below!