True Detective Season 1 “After You’ve Gone” Review

As the penultimate episode of True Detective closed, it was clear that the first season of the series was truly about exploring the multiple layers of Martin Hart and Rust Cohle. Watching the development of these complicated characters with a grizzly murder mystery as the backdrop is what has elevated True Detective above the typical crime show. It also probably doesn’t hurt to have excellent writing, visually stunning cinematography and an Oscar winner on your show.

We’ve seen the pair in 1995 when they first began working the Dora Lange case, we’ve seen them in 2002 when their partnership fell apart and we’ve now finally gotten to the reunion of the former partners in 2012. Given the reason the partners have been brought back into each others orbit and what we know about the tumultuous end of the partnership, there were two things I was seeking as a viewer – the dynamic between the two during their first face-to-face after 10 years and additional details about their respective lives during their time apart. The True Detective writers proved quite adept at accomplishing this feat with only two episodes left in the season.

For Cohle, we had already received several indications as to how he’s been spending his time and how that effected him. Hart, unsurprisingly, was more difficult to read during his interviews. His outward appearance suggested that he was still holding it together, but we know that’s how Hart operates. He might look like he has it all together, but his personal and professional spiral in 2002 was a clear indication that looks can be deceiving.

We learned that Hart is running an investigation/security business. He continues to struggle with his vices, as he shared that he was approaching several weeks without an alcoholic drink. His conversation with Maggie confirms that the couple did not reconcile and that Hart likely continued his “hands off” parenting, as he thanked her for raising their kids. It appeared as though Maggie and the girls got through the rough patch in 2002 and are doing well now.

Despite having clear indications as to what Cohle had been up to since 2002, it was interesting to hear him admit that even he thought he might have lost his mind at one point. Anyone who sees Cohle might get that impression, but it was interesting to learn that he had doubts as well.

Additionally, the writers made a smart choice in not bogging down the reunion with Hart’s suspicions about Cohle. It allowed for a much more interesting interaction between the two, as Cohle eventually sold Hart on their unfinished business. The two share an undeniable bond in the way in which they internalize their cases. Learning that Hart walked away from the force after dealing with a meth addict and a microwaved baby, was a fitting reminder of that.

The partners are reunited, have done some necessary healing and have some decent theories with which to work. Interestingly, for the the first time, the audience has more information than Hart and Cohle. In a series that has redefined expectations for crime-based dramas, I’m not sure that seeing Hart and Cohle actually close the case is a realistic expectation. True Detective does not strike me as the type of series that ends with everything tied up in a neat package and our lead characters finally having some peace. I have no idea where this is all leading, but I’m really looking forward to watching it unfold in the finale.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Any thoughts on how the first season of True Detective ends? Sound off below!