True Detective "After You've Gone" Review: Time Is a Straight Line
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 TV.com 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 Match.com. 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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