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True Detective S01E03: "The Locked Room"


I'm a bit conflicted about "The Locked Room" in terms of how to rank it among True Detective's first three episodes. And I think that's because the series is undergoing a transformation. On one hand, "The Locked Room" gave us plenty of great Cohle and Hart back-and-forth and continued True Detective's examination of these two broken men and how their philosophies on life bang and clash off each other. But their banter and actions (oh Hart, you bastard) only reinforced what I think we already knew about the pair, as opposed to offering new information, as was the case in "The Long Bright Dark" and "Seeing Things."

Instead, "The Locked Room" made more linear headway on the murder case rather than filling in the blanks of the stories told in both 1995 and 2012. It was the most straightforward that True Detective has been, as Cohle pushed for the idea that Louisiana had a serial killer on its hands while Hart refused to let a hunch dictate the direction of their investigation. That's still fascinating stuff, but it made me reevaluate my approach to watching True Detective. Cohle previously talked about the importance of every little detail in an investigation, because even the most innocuous tidbit can be the "AHA!" moment later. And as the focus switched from Hart and Cohle to the case (in my eyes), I wondered how much I've already missed along, and which important pieces I should be paying attention to. 


That makes True Detective an intense series to follow, even when things might not appear to be relevant. And I'm the poor sap who has to write about it and put himself out there, only to be inevitably wrong. This show is much smarter than I am, so reviewing True Detective might be an act of futility on my part. But man is it fun to watch. The show handles its case work in such a way that it feels real, like, ahem, true detective work, with all the boring parts of the job given as much time, if not more, as the breakthroughs. I LOVE that about this show. Your standard network detective spends most of his time dusting for prints, chasing suspects on foot, and convincing that one lying witness to start telling the truth. True Detective is full of brutal, grinding grunt work, and it asks us to treat watching it in the same way. I understand that it might not be for everyone, but to those willing to commit, it's revelatory television.

So, was the scene with the Friends of Christ Revival Church really relevant to the case, or did it just add some shading to the corners of the big picture? Were the men pulled into interrogation viable suspects, or were they just there to help us realize how little Hart and Cohle know about whoever it is they're chasing? The time that Cohle spent in the library to kill a few hours of insomnia was desperate digging, just like his canvassing of truck stops to get info on Dora Lange. But it proved invaluable. And while all the bits of information that Cohle dug up offered proof that the man they're looking for is a serial killer, this approach of working backwards to link years-old murder cases to Dora Lange is so insane that only the most obsessed or patient investigators could piece everything together into one puzzle. Now they're chasing Dora Lange's killer, Marie Fontenot's killer, and Reanne Olivier's (spelling?) killer, and connecting different details to get an idea of a person who may or may not exist. We're just three episodes in, and watching these guys work has given me plenty of evidence to prove that I never, ever want to be a detective. Part of the job is throwing dynamite into the water to see if anything floats to the surface, and Cohle is the kind of fisherman who could sit there all day until he'd exhausted the world's supply of TNT. Me, I'll just saddle up to the sushi bar and pay for it.


All that grinding only props up the exhilaration that happens when a real breakthrough occurs, and Hart and Cohle finally have a suspect: Reginald Ledoux, Reanne's old boyfriend who also dabbled in LSD and meth and shared a cell with Dora Lange's ex, Charlie. Wham bam, the little details—not one, but a whole sweeping pile of them—clicked together and it was off to the races. It's surprising that it wasn't until the end of Episode 3 that True Detective finally got exciting in the simplest sense of the word, but it's not surprising that the series absolutely nailed it. An APB went out for Reginald, Hart gunned the car and swerved through traffic with his back end sliding out, the music amped up, and 2012 Cohle proudly said, "And finally, we arrive at Reginald Ledoux," letting the "-oux" slide off his tongue like the last drop of a Lone Star. It was thrilling stuff, in part because it moved at 100 miles an hour compared to everything we'd seen so far, and in part because it was the culmination of all the hard work we've seen them trudge through. 

And the capper was director Cary Fukunaga's slow rise over thick Louisiana grass to a dilapidated shack, interrupted by images of dead women and Cohle's bizarre monologue about dreaming of being a person, and, "Like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it." And then we moved back over that grass to see who I assume was Reginald Ledoux, a man in tighty-whities and a gas mask (!!!) wielding a machete and ambling though the backwoods like a hybrid Bigfoot-elephant beast. And then, as the picture transitioned from monster to credits, the grating pulse of electronic synths set alarms off in our head. Holy shit! These final minutes were perfect. They pushed us to the precipice to look down upon our fate, and left us hanging to think about it until next week. Hart mentioned a shootout, and last week there was talk about a "big throwdown in the woods." It's coming, and it could be the moment that transforms True Detective even further. This show is consuming me.



CASE NOTES

– Cohle's crafty aluminum can man art: a product of fidgety fingers, or evidence that he's setting up his tale to the 2012 detectives the exact way he wants to? He finished his project exactly as talk turned to their man.

– As soon as they had a trail on Reginald Ledoux, Hart and Cohle finally shared a moment. I think it's the first time they've been excited together. Heck, Hart even smiled at Cohle.

– Cohle's final monologue about all those dead girls ("They welcomed it," "This is what I mean when I talk about time, and death, and futility," "You look at their eyes, even in a picture, doesn't matter if they're dead or alive, you can still read them") is all the same stuff a weirdo serial killer would say, isn't it? But there's no way he's the killer, as much as the show wants to hint at it. Hart either. I think the show just wants us to know that there's a fine line between those who kill indiscriminately and those who actually do it. Man, this show is pitch black. 

– I didn't glean much from the relationship drama in this episode. Hart's business with Maggie, Hart's anger with Lisa, Cohle's date with Maggie's friend, Hart's daughter's porno drawings... maybe another viewing will turn something up.

– Good luck to any woman who's gets set up on a date with Cohle. You'll need it. 

– And c'mon, Hart. Your physical violence against Lisa's new flings is just ruining it for everyone else. You're already married to Maggie, you have enough hottie at home—don't be so selfish. 

– I could honestly watch a full hour of Cohle talking about religion. "If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother that person is a piece of shit."

– I have the fortune of screening True Detective episodes early, but the curse is that they're low-quality DVD copies. Not even regular DVD quality; more like ripped-from-VHS-to-DVD quality. So on Friday night, I re-watched the series' first episode in HD, with proper surround sound, and it made a huge difference. This show is something else.

– Re-watching the first episode also helped me pick up on a lot of things I missed the first time around, and I'll probably be watching each episode two or three times: one on the screener for review, and another to bask in its HD beauty the way it was meant to be seen.


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/9/2015

Season 2 : Episode 8

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I am currently watching this show for the first time in a marathon style (because there is very little on this week) and I think I am experiencing the highs and lows all at once (I watched the first three last night, but I think I am going to stick to two a night, because I was dragging through the third one and if not for the electro beat at the end, I might not have been paying attention).

But so far my general thoughts, so when it became apparent to Hart that the new detectives (are we going to learn their names ever?) have Cohle as a suspect, I found it curious how he went into some sort of spin mode. Like it was suddenly more often that he was doing the "he's a great detective" thing.

I must confess, while I am not as pessimistic as Cohle, my view of religion is not too far off. But, yet, I would have been tempted to join with Hart, but not so much you sound panicked but more, you are arguing awfully hard for people to believe in your point of view. You know kind of the snarky view most agnostics have of athiests - you're pretty certain, huh?

I seriously have been having a time following the elaborate family connections between the little girl (I think that fisherman guy might have been my favorite dude) and Ray there. I mean, I followed the connection between him and Dora's ex.

I am weirdly less concerned about Hart's little girl's porno drawings compared to her construction of a crime scene with dolls for her little sister. I am guessing Hart brings files home occasionally.

I keep having to remind myself they are in 1995 and there aren't any cell phones or anything. I graduated high school that year and some kids had car phones, but my first cell phone was silly looking in 1999 (though I swear sometimes I think my current smart phone is bigger).
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I love this show. I'm sick with loving it. I feel engulfed by it. The cinematography is brutally beautiful. Mac Matty is superb: I just can't peel my eyes off him. I like the dark inevitability of Cohle and Maggie getting together. I also loved the ending. I can't wait to watch the next one, but have to wait to watch it when my partner 'feels like it' (cue sound from Buffy end credits). :(
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You are good to your partner I don't think I'd be able to wait. :-)
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This show is..... wow!!!! Depressing , bleak, intense.
and I thought Hannibal and The killing were dark. Phew!
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Loving this show for it's daring to challenge all manner of belief systems through, in the main, Cohle.. And to paraphrase one writer, "...to force humanity to stare back upon itself and puke in it's face..." He's like some untouchable spook and the other cops know it and fear him and his intelligence all the more for it.
Hart remains much more the 'conventional' flawed cop and human being but, and it's a biggy, a trustworthy sidekick whatever.
I'm guessing 'tighty-whitey' is either going to be one of the "...have you ever been in a gunfight..." gunned down 'victims' or a drawn out red herring. The serial killer appears to be adept at destroying not only women but churches also, and, leaving only that behind what's intended to be seen.
So far, as much as I like Hannibal, the acting, writing and sheer levels of audio visuals have this show way above anything Hannibal or Lucy in her sky with diamonds could dream up.

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I'm astounded and just plain flattened by the quality of the writing in this show -- I guess that's what happens when you stick to one guy. This show should have some serious rewatch value. I don't know that I find the case itself very gripping yet because we're not deep enough into it to really know the stakes, but I appreciate the realistic pace. I find the home/personal relationship stuff to be the most intriguing.

Also, I keep hearing people yammer about the cinematography, but I think Rectify has ruined slow-burning drama for me as far as being jaw-droppingly gorgeous. By comparison, this looks like a home movie.
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omg! this show is beyond awesome! i love the dynamic between hart and cohle
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I am so upset as Hart jeaulousie. He is such a jerk! I thought Cohle has problems, but Hart is much worse.
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I feel ripped off... All that empty boring rambling throughout the episode and near the ending, the cliffhanger: the possible killer. I'd like the relationship parts and the case parts to be distributed more evenly in the episodes. Also, that coming back and forth in time really breaks the pace of the episode for me.
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Really like this show, excellent acting, but I think it's going to take another viewing to pick up what are a lot of missed pieces. Certainly not a show you can do other things while watching. I'm totally fine with the "slow pace" it really does give a much better sense to all the hard work and grinding that goes in to finding pieces to the puzzle.
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Well can somebody please explain to me how the detectives figured the Marie Fontenot missing to be linked to this case. I am still not able to understand the Marie Fontenot case. I thought it was just a missing girl report. I will appreciate please if anyone can message me and explain it to me.
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I agree that there could have been a better follow up with this. I don't understand why they don't try to locate the girl's father and mother to confirm. I mean the mother's boyfriend at the time and the girl's father should be considered possible suspects considering they found the twigs in the playhouse. Someone would have to be close to the family to know about the playhouse.
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When they visited Marie's uncle, Cohle found the same satanic twig things in a shed at the back of the house. The police work on her case was very sloppy and no one knows where the girl is
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so she could be dead, not just missing. The twigs are the link though.
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So we are yet to find out if the death (assuming) of the little girl could be linked to Reggie LeDeoux. That he is the serial killer who has killed Dora Lange, The old sunk girl and Marie as well.
Great that makes sense. Thank you:)
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Can't wait for the next episode. The story and the view of Cohle towards life are amazing.
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I really dislike Hart and feel almost no empathy for him, especially because in 2012 it seems he is repeatedly trying to paint Cohle in a negative light and throw suspicion on him. It's weird how calculated Hart is when he's like "no, no I know what you're thinking Rust is a giant weirdo/creep but he's smart and here's another story in which I was totally cool but Rust was being his usual suspicious and creepy self"

I need to re-watch this episode but I wonder if this is leading into at some point Cohle and Hart teaming up again in present day to catch the killer. Cohle seems to be implying that they caught the wrong guy in 1995 and it's not a copy cat.
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I think this is the first tv show (maybe cinematic presentation, I don't know I have not seen them all) that really starts to bridge the gap between the screen and page. I rewind this show constantly when I think "Hey" something important just happened the same way I reread a passage.

Could we have enjoyed this show prior to the DVR/Online age? I doubt it.
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Absolutely, each episode is about an hour but in the end I already watched like 1hour30
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Liked how Hart's mistress Lisa gave him a zero of care and dismiss this selfish prick's claims. Also Rust was sharp as knife when was talking about religion - one monkey look at the sun and then tell another monkey - HE said to me you must give me a share.

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that thing about monkeys was good. someone has to do the thinking.
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I love how self-involved and delusional that moment was when he brought up divorce. Yeah, this 20-something girl really wants to marry an almost 40-yr old with two kids and an ex-wife.
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last shot was brilliant and haunting. enter Walter Whites of the South.
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And Albuquerque was North?
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I'll tell you what, if you require reassurance because you have self esteem issues probably best not to consult Detective Buzz Kill. Matthew's character has all the life-affriming charm of a hell- fire puritan but without the religion...Give me an amen
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Will True Detective be entered into the miniseries categories at awards shows like AHS? If so, this whole show is massive Emmy bait...
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I just love the cinematography on this show. Every shot is hauntingly beautiful.
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kinda reminds me of scenes from 'the green mile'.
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Tim: "They pushed us to the precipice to look down upon our fate, and left us hanging to think about it until next week."

Anyone else experiencing a weird time effect that makes the week between shows seem longer than usual?
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could be the fact that there's hardly anything on worth watching right now.

archer, justified, and american horror story makes 4.
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It's these new 48-hour days that just make it appear so.
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I like how they make the cynical nihilist a good guy and the family man a cheating bastard.
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This may be one of the finest shows ever to air on television. Will have to withhold judgement, but the first three hours have been mesmerizing, to say the least.
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This show is just mesmerizing, everything from the intro song to the performances is just hauntingly beautiful. And Rust Cohle is probably one of the best characters I've seen in TV in a long time. Certainly he is the best murder police in the history of TV.
Awesome show!!!
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I thought that preacher is the serial killer...
  • one thing, he is charming (a lot of followers),
  • he tried to lead Rust to another lead, and
  • he has "Elvis" look;
    I do remember when they were talking to that guy in prison, he said that she meet a "king". Maybe she called king because of that...

but anyway I loved both of the detectives characters... and their relationship is funny and unique

I hope that Rust won't fall in love with his partner's wife although he is a jerk with her
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Have you guys checked out HBO's website http://www.darknessbecomesyou.com/ There's commentary on the episodes, recaps, and other interesting stuff.
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I feel like I need to watch this episode again. I'm sure I've missed something. I love to hear Rust talk about everything. I know he's getting to the detectives interviewing him! Every time he cut the top off a beer can I cringed. Like nails on a chalkboard.

This is probably the best detective show (I don't even know what to call it) I've ever seen. I never expected I would like it so much. I can't wait for the next episode, but every episode brings us closer to the end.
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Not sure how many people missed it but right at the bottom of the screen right side of the final shot of the man in the mask is one of the stick creations blurry but visable.
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It certainly looks like it!
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I don't know how it is possible but the dialogue this week was even better than the last week.For example:
"What do you think the average IQ of this group is, huh?"
"I think it's safe to say that nobody here is gonna be splitting the atom Marty"
"People... I have seen the finale of thousands of lives man. Young, old, each one was so sure of their realness. That their sensory experience constituted a unique individual. Purpose, meaning. So certain that they were more than a biological puppet. Truth wills out, everybody sees once the strings are cut off all down"
"What's it say about life hm? You gotta get together, tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe, just to get through the goddamn day? Nah. What's that say about your reality Marty?"



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This is just a piece of BRILLIANT television. Absolutely...effing...beautiful.
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I really like Rust, he is my kind of guy. His outlook on life is great:

"If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of shit." Priceless!

Marty: "You think man can love two women at once? I mean, be in love with them?"
Rust: "I don't think man can love, at least the way he means. The inadequacies of reality always set in."

I said it last week, and I say it again: I love the dialogue in this show. Almost every scene contains gold nuggets of it.
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They said this show was a slow burner and it really is slow. Very slow.
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Yes, but in a good way. It demands your attention, it demands your intelligence and if you're not able to comprehend it, there are other shows out there.
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Its pretty easy to comprehend. It hasn't reached the point where its become bothersome. Not yet. We're only three episodes in.
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And sadly only 5 is left
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Love this show and although I love my football and will be enjoying the Superbowl why can't I have both HBO?!?1 :(
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Lucky for you, me and every other football fan loving True Detective, there will be a one week break because of the Super Bowl...which kinda sucks too, but at least we'll have both! :)
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This show is GOLD. I hope next season they'll have Christian bale / benedict cumberbatch / Morgan freeman / Colin farrel / Liam Neeson

But for now im gonna enjoy every remaining episode ! This one is definitely worth collecting the DVDs.
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...Why does Benadryl Cucumber need to be involved?
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That's what i was thinking...talk about the ugly duckling!
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Another excellent episode. Think HBO has a run away hit on their hands.
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Because when you cast Woody Harrelson and Matthew McCaunaghey, you absolutely don't expect the show to be a hit.
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Didn't mean it that way as more of this is going to be a sleeper hit cause a lot of people I've talked to haven't heard about the show.
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Jesus this show is just so good. I loved the first two episodes too, but the slow pace did lose my attention a couple times and i had to rewind a minute and catch what I missed. But by the end of this....yeah I'm hooked now.
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I'm with you, Tim. The show has been very near perfection thus far. It feels so fluid, with nothing out of place. It doesn't rely on cheap, revelatory discoveries, which makes the little things so important.

The dialogue between the two still gets me in a happy place. Cohle spouting about religion and the crevices of the human psyche is a beautiful thing.

I respected that Cohle danced with the girl. A normal show would have driven the nail of his introspection in by making him turn down a dance.
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Cohle dancing with his date - he was literally going through the motions. Did you notice his hands while they were slow dancing? The stance of his body? It was very awkward, but I agree that I respect he danced with her, comfort level be damned. But then Cohle says and does things that are uncomfortable in general because he believes it or believes it's his duty. Man, I love this show.
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This was the best one yet because it not only gave us the tent revival meeting so real you could practically smell the redman juice providing a perfect opportunity for another Cohle exposition on life the universe & everything - first to Marty then later on, to the contemporary investigators.
Then the investigation plowed ahead while it simultaneously filled in huge gaps in the Marty/Rust back-story.

Achieving both those ends without compromising the credibility of the drama or the coherence of the characters' complicated personalities as they acted out this story, makes this one of the best 40 minutes of TV drama I have ever watched.

Although Cohle is equally hard on himself I am surprised that a man of his sensibility would be so hard on Marty.
Rust has worked out the futility of it all & generally men who do that grow to accept that humans devise a personal reality full of contradiction & that such contradictions aren't proof of hypocrisy, they are just a coping mechanism which seeks to place an obviously false but rational structure on a world that is completely random & irrational.

I get that Rust is hard on himself.
Standard guilt from loss of child.

I don't get the judging of Marty and yeah Marty's judgemental attitude towards Rust is obnoxious but a person with Rust's worldview normally only holds themself accountable.
I had a gf once who maintained that 'being a policeperson' was a definable personality disorder; if that were correct perhaps it is this "policeman's disease" which seeks to attribute blame for the crime of being human.
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I can't believe there isn't a new episode next week because of the stupid Super Bowl. That's cruel and unusual punishment HBO!
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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! ;-(
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I have to wonder if there is really that much intersection between Superbowl audience and True Detective audience...
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I'm sure there is. Isn't the Superbowl hugely popular? It seems like something everyone watches except me. Ratings don't even matter that much for HBO because they don't make money from advertising. I'm sure ratings would be the same with DVR and repeat viewings.

Strangely HBO is still broadcasting Girls and Looking. So they don't think women and gay people watch the Superbowl? Shame on them for stereotyping ;p
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Indeed.
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