True Detective "After You've Gone" Review: Time Is a Straight Line

By Tim Surette

Mar 03, 2014

True Detective S01E07: "After You've Gone"

I hope you didn't come here looking for details on Toby Boulaire or Robert Dumaine or Jimmy Ledoux or some of the other awesome Cajun names I misspelled that sprung up in "After You've Gone," because frankly, I'm a little bogged down by the details that True Detective is throwing our way as the case and season come to a close. "After You've Gone" was a dense episode of details–or maybe it wasn't dense and showed off the rigamarole of hoop jumping that a true detective must deal with–that changed the way we think about True Detective once again. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it changed it in a way I liked as much as the rest of the series.

Time in True Detective is (mostly) no longer a flat circle repeating itself now that Hart and Cohle are done telling Detectives Gilbough and Papania what happened in the years 1995 and 2002, and also now that 2012 is no longer an end point, but a starting point to this final act. Whereas the first six episodes focused mostly on the past, "After You've Gone" was more concerned with the now as Cohle and Hart continued what they left unfinished years ago. It turned True Detective into more of a straightforward cold-case cop show rather than the time-jumping, mind-crunching, truth-bending razzle dazzle that peaked and knocked the wind out of me in "The Secret Fate of All Life." 

From the beginning, I've always been more interested in the characters of Hart and Cohle and the structure of True Detective, with the actual Whodunnit of the case a distant third. That's probably why I liked the last episode, the relationship-heavy and case-light "Haunted Houses," more than others did, and probably why I liked "After You've Gone" less. And let me be clear here, I'm comparing True Detective–a front-runner for Best Show of the Year at Tim's Awards that I hold annually with my collection of dolls–to itself, so a not-as-good episode of True Detective is still an enthralling hour. 

But hey, we're closer than ever to catching that rascally murderer, right?! Fat Hart and Ponytail Cohle swept their differences aside after 10 years apart and got right back to crackin' cases without the impedance of annoying things like badges and legalities. Their reunion was also a bit more anticlimactic than I thought it would be. Though it had been 10 years, it was just a few minutes of screentime since they were beating the snot out of each other in that parking lot last week. From our perspective, I expected a bit more resistance from Hart, but all Cohle had to tell him was that he had a debt. True Detective had always found cool ways to show us flashbacks and how they affected the present for a fun way to unspool its narrative, but I guess that fight and their falling out is a real thing of the past, because these two got along swimmingly in "After You've Gone."

Turns out Cohle had been living in that mysterious storage shed (classic Cohle move) for a while now and doing some cat burglarizing of Tuttle's empire. And in a safe he found a video of some freaks in animals masks performing some unspeakable (and unseen) atrocities to a young Marie Fontenot, one of the many missing girls Hart and Cohle have been investigating. Was it just abuse? Was it ritual sacrifice? We only had Hart's reaction and the worst of our imagination to go on, but it all meant the same thing: BIlly Lee Tuttle was heavily involved in the murders of these girls. And from the looks of it, he was just part of a creepy cult of old, white rich men who have been getting away with horrors like this for a long time. I don't think this was too far off from most of our thinking about who was behind the murders, but we still have a finale to go, and anything can happen in a show like this.

More investigating got them more details on the Tuttle empire–the illegitimate grandchildren, the coverups in investigations, and more wide-eyed Carcosa mumbo-jumbo–and this man with the scarred face, our mysterious Spaghetti Monster. And just to F with us, in the final scene Gilbough and Papania were looking for one of Tuttle's old churches and asked direction from a man riding a mower (the same guy Cohle talked to in 1995 outside the school?), who I suspect was the illegitimate grandson of Sam Tuttle, Billy Lee's father, from the Childress side of the family. And that man's face was definitely scarred (though to what extent was tough due to the poor quality of the screener I watched; I'll have to watch the broadcast version to be sure). 

"After You've Gone" was the most straightforward episode of the season, missing most of the chronological trickery that brought the series to another level in the previous six episodes. And for a penultimate episode of a season, I was expecting some more of that magic. But it was still loaded with True Detective's excellent Southern Gothic neo-noir detective work, incredible performances from its leads, Nic Pizzolatto's crackling dialogue, and director Cary Fukunaga's sharp eye.


– Watching Hart talk to Maggie in 2012 apparently was just as uncomfortable for us as it was for him. He couldn't even look at her while he was talking. Also, UGH, he never sees his daughters? What terrible fallout for that broken marriage.

– Marty Hart on Now that's a profile I'd like to see. "40+ male seeking woman 18-23 for handcuff fun." 

– Hart: "I don't think I've ever been clear, Rust. If you were drowning, I'd throw you a barbell."

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  • larrydavid Mar 10, 2014

    Having done a quick review of episode 2 again there is a scene that could be easily missed where Hart is walking to his daughters room and you can hear them (barely) talking about someone (I presume a child) not having a mommy and daddy with the rest (other children/parents?) being killed in a car accident.
    The scene then ends with Hart seeing the dolls posed (pictured) in a way not to dissimilar to the VHS footage Cohle showed to Hart of the girl being raped the previous episode.

  • Copioli Mar 10, 2014

    The microwave scene was so revolting...

  • couchsurfer Mar 09, 2014

    who would have thought our beloved Rust Cohle character would sincerely thank god in his oscar speech? You could immediately hear the applause fading as soon as he dropped the g-word and I guess people were kinda shocked (same here btw).
    I didn't take him for that kind of guy but then again he's a native texan and only playing a role in true detective (very convincingly so).
    I don't want to get into any religious debate - just saying that his choice of words came as a big surprise to me. Anyone else feeling the same way?

  • antineaperuch Mar 09, 2014

    Yep! Feeling the same way

  • peterspoor33 Mar 11, 2014

    Never saw the Oscars but it certainly strikes me as strange he said it, especially given the last movie I saw of his involved his character coercing Gina Gershon to suck on a Kentucky Fried drumstick he held at his crotch, that's Hollywood I guess, always surprising but never as much as the reality.

  • sangbaran Mar 07, 2014

    The bar has been set so high with every preceding episode that this episode felt a slight dampener , but again this episode was all about the investigation and about the "true" detectives.
    The final act will be epic!!!

  • JamesLynch7 Mar 06, 2014

    Loved the final scene, the scarred face guy on the mower spiralling in narrowing circles.

  • Atreukjm Mar 06, 2014

    I think we are dealing with 2 things here.

    1. We have a large paedophile network/cult that's been conducting ritualistic child abuse for decades. A large group with prominent members of society, like Tuttle, being part of it.

    2. We have a few former victims of the abuse who were so warped by the experience that they start doing it themselves, and one who takes it even further with ritualistic murders our serial-killer. Probably the lawnmower-man.

  • Mj_ps3 Mar 05, 2014

    Lawn mower guy didn't have scars.

  • antmorris3511 Mar 06, 2014

    look again. and i dont mean look at that little ass photo again. acne scars are clearly visible in hd.

  • Mj_ps3 Mar 06, 2014

    You're right, I just realised. He has acne scars which are visible only from the side, and are present only on the side of his face. Its not on his chin however, which is where I presume everyone is looking.

  • antmorris3511 Mar 06, 2014

    people are dismissing the 'chin' thing by pointing out the fact that witnesses were drugged. I think he may have been wearing a mask too. not sure about that, but the promo for the final episode looks pretty damn good.

  • The_Ravn Mar 05, 2014

    The lawn mower guy couldn't have been the guy they're after. He had no scars?

  • antmorris3511 Mar 06, 2014

    same actor: glen fleshler aka ''george remus'' of ''boardwalk empire.'' same character ''eroll'' in both episodes, bearded and shaven, w/acne scars intact.

  • ParticleNoun Mar 04, 2014

    This was a fantastic episode, and we are heading toward a great climax I think. One thing you don't mention here, but I see is mentioned in the comments below: The checkovs gun of Audrey. She was undoubtedly involved in the cult somehow, most likely forced to watch by her father in law whom I suspect was involved. My friend and I have become obsessive about this show, and as she is hypervigilant, we started a blog to catalog and discuss our findings: A Guy, A Girl and Cthulhu. Anyone obsessed with the level of detail in this show is encouraged to drop by.

  • left4dead Mar 04, 2014

    A bit of intertexuality at work,?
    The bent cop is currently sheriff of Iberia parish- Dave Robicheaux's stompin' ground in the James Lee Burke Louisiana novels.
    Now there's a character who needs done properly- and no, Alec Baldwin, you can just stay retired thanks..."Heaven's Prisoners"- bleurrgh

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