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True Detective S01E02: "Seeing Things"


"Some things just got your name on it, like a bullet. Or a nail in the road." That's how Rust Cohle thinks of the universe. Things have it out for him. Things are coming to get him. He was meant to collide with certain things that are out there, waiting for him. And in Rust's terms, True Detective might have my name written on it. The HBO drama's second episode penetrated my mental state quite literally: The night I watched "Seeing Things," I dreamt I was part of the show. I kid you not, I was out in the country with these guys, solving murders. I'd call that invasion of my subconscious a compliment for a series that's only two hours old. We're in no danger of hyperbole when it comes to praising True Detective, whether we're awake or not. This show is flat-out amazing.

"Seeing Things" improved on the first episode simply because we, as viewers, were in a better state to appreciate it (though I wouldn't argue that every piece of the show improved incrementally). Having already watched the excellent first episode and collected and reassembled the fragments of our skulls that covered our living rooms, the experience of "Seeing Things" felt more worn-in as we started really getting to know Cohle and Martin Hart, for better or for worse. 

See, these two guys are dirtbags from opposite ends of the dirtbag spectrum, and the joy I get from watching True Detective comes from witnessing them interact with both each other and the world around them. Early in "Seeing Things," we witnessed typical morning for both of them while voiceover described the routine of the job: Cohle wakes up to nothing but a crucifix hanging on his colorless wall and a cigarette, with a look of emptiness on his face, almost as if he's shocked he lived to see another morning. When he opens his eyes, he's not looking forward to a pancake breakfast, he looks like he can't wait to go to sleep again in hopes he won't wake up. But every morning, he does. And that eats away at him. At least he knows it. 


In contrast, Hart is kissed by the sunshine and his daughters to welcome the day. Father and husband of the year, right?! But what makes Hart's life more depressing than Cohle's is the fact that he can't see that he's living a lie. "I wonder if you even know you're lying," his wife Maggie said o him in a particularly brutal and captivating scene. Clearly, he doesn't. I can't help but hang onto what Hart said in the first episode: "Past a certain age, a man without a family can be a bad thing." And to him, his family is just a possession. We suspected he was cheating on his wife in the first episode, and boy were we right. On the surface, this man praises the value of family—and then he shits on it when no one's looking. And he has all kinds of excuses to justify it. He blames the job; you don't want to bring back the stuff from the job to the family, he argues, so you have to let it out somewhere else. He thinks it's okay if he crosses lines, but believes those lines should be sky-high walls for everyone else. His inability to see who he is the saddest thing about True Detective, so much so that we have to investigate the Satanic murder of vulnerable girls to cheer ourselves up. I'm guessing I'm in the minority when I say I find Hart to be the more interesting character of True Detective's main duo; he's an absolute train wreck. 

But to look at them only as individuals is to underappreciate the mastery of the series. I can't recall a show with dual leads who had this type of dynamic. Usually it's a weirdo and a straight man solving crimes, with the weirdo being the main draw and most of the interpersonal drama coming from the regular guy putting up with the weirdo's quirks and coming around to appreciate those quirks after they help solve a case. But what the heck is going on here? These are two bad men working in close quarters, and neither one of them serves as an entry point to the casual viewer. True Detective isn't trying to win us over by having us identify with either of them, yet both characters are so well-written that the process of making them relatable so they'll feel more real doesn't apply. Cohle wears his darkness like a medal; he's not trying to hide a damn thing. And Hart covers his with a smile and a sense of superiority. Both men are consumed and broken by their job. It's the combination of the two that makes True Detective mesmerizing. 

but I suppose we should discuss the murder case, even though it's secondary to the rest of the series. Finding Dora Lang's killer is still a long ways off. Clues are hard to come by, leads even harder. This isn't a typical detective show that keeps moving from Point A to Point B to Point C and so on until one of those points leads to a suspect. This is tedious, dirt-under-the-fingernails, mind-numbing work. Interviews with Dora's former co-workers didn't turn up suspects, they shone a light on Dora's state of mind and helped to paint a picture of the man who killed her. That's a heck of a lot more interesting to me than the rote TV detective methodology of catching red herrings and digging through emails or social-networking profiles. In the present day, it's clear that the detectives working the new case have a hunch that Cohle could be involved in these new murders. But if you ask me, it's Hart who's the more likely suspect. I do not—not even for a second—trust that guy.

This isn't going to be the easiest show to review on a weekly basis, especially if the murder case continues to take a backseat to the stellar characterization. But that's okay with me, because Hart and Cohle are such amazing centerpieces that feel like I can talk about them for days. 



CASE NOTES

– Once again, Cary Fukunaga blew me away with his direction. True Detective is a thing of beauty. The music is top-notch. And Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson—McConaughey in particular—are astounding. This series has so many strengths that all the individual facets, from the direction to the music to the acting to the writing, can be overwhelming when they're combined in one package.

– Cohle's backstory is SCARY. He was deep, deep undercover in the drug trade, and he still has hallucinations as a result of the experience. I'm not sure what to make of these visions. Are supposed to further discredit him? Will they play a substantial role in the series? I don't know. But mother of God they look amazing. And when he said, "Back then, the visions, most of the time I was convinced I had lost it. There were other times I thought I was mainlining the secret truth of the universe," I wasn't quite sure what to think.

– Cohle still shows no signs of slowing down in getting on Hart's nerves, and I love it. Whether he's telling Hart to wash off the odor of his sexcapades or accusing him of purchasing an underage hooker, every barb Cohle throws at Hart is hilarious. And Hart doesn't take them lightly: "Is shitting on any moment of decency part of your job description?"

– Fellas! Hart's mistress: YOW-ZA.

– Do you think Hart and Cohle like each other? Or is there enough professional respect between them that they can ignore their differences?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/9/2015

Season 2 : Episode 8

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Another great episode I was'nt suprised by hart secret mistress he a hypricote and the madame at the trailer figured that out. I think this show borrows a bit of the themes from lynch films visuals , twisty story lines. I do think that the two leads don't win any grammy or emmys its way wrong.
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Watching this show made me realize how mediocre FX's "The Bridge" was. Only question - who will take the emmy, huh? Surprisingly I'm sticking with Matthew, but both lead actors are phenomenal
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For some reason I got Alex Daddario mixed up with Lily Simmons, n thought 'Marty' was giving it to young Rebecca. That got me hoping that either Kai Proctor or Sheriff Hood would gonna drop by Texas n show Marty the attendant dangers of being a rock spider. It looks as though Rust Cohle is gonna have to do that.
I suspect the looming tragedy is gonna involve Marty's family & that Rust n Maggie get pretty close, when the awful impending horror eventuates, Rust will hold himself responsible for that as well as the death of his own daughter.
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Fellas! Hart's mistress: YOW-ZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who knew Alexandra Daddario from Percy Jackson movies had it like that! Sorry I'm normally not this outrageous but she's is qeogeous

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So thats where I've seen her from...now I feel dirty
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Difference between cable TV show (HBO and the likes) and network TV shows: cable shows (HBO) - completely nude females (butts, pubes, boobs exposed) and fully clothed males. Network shows - half naked females (no pubes, butts) and fully clothed males.
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I am not liking this as much as everyone else. The 2 leads are great and perhaps some scenes are well shot but its nothing revolutionary yet.

Though the show is not so much about the case but it is still a detective murder show so the case got to be just as smart too. I do hope it will be in the end.

The show is painfully slow not to say I do not like shows with slower pace. At this point I prefer Rectify and The fall much better and both of them are slow show.

Compare to my other favorites shows on TV now, this does not rank too high but it does get my attention since The Good Wife is on hiatus and so is The Walking Dead. Master of sex ended and thus it is good timing the show is on now.
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Series is good so far. But again with gratuitous nudity? Why is this Hart's mistress nude scene so necessary? She could have stayed in shorts as Harrelson character did. I felt kinda uncomfortable watching young promising actress (Ive known Alexandra Daddario from Parenthood and other stuff) who had to go full frontal becoz it is HBO. And HBO should have a lot of naked ladies' vaginas and butts and titties but fully clothed men. In Game of Thrones only one male actor exposed his junk and butt. But almost every actresses on GoT had to show their naked bodies, butts, titts. This asymmetric aproach sucks. Very unfair to actresses. Why is HBO so afraid of showing Harelson junk or butt? Coz it'll scare away conservative homophobic viewers? If Daddario's character had to undress then why Harelson's character stayed in pants? Should he remove his jeans to fuck? I imagine how HBO producers or writers are explaining to young actress that her full-on nudity is necessary to her character. How? What a bullshit. They should just have said to her - we need ratings, babe, so you need to undress. Young unexperienced actress won't argue coz she don't want to lose a job. Creepy and asymmetric, HBO.
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Sometimes a bloke leaving his gear on is a statement - sorta revealing the contempt he has for his female sexual 'partner'. That was the vibe I got from that scene, but I do agree that TV shows need to be more even in their nude scenes.
I know very little about US censorship, apart from that it exists while everyone pretends it doesn't & the 1st amendment is still rock solid.
After years watching the weird way US movies & TV depict sex & violence it is plain that there are quotas on particular acts, restricting how many times a show can do certain things each season.
I strongly suspect that the corrupt cabal of holy rollers & Hollywood lawyers who get to decide what is 'suitable', place tighter restrictions on showing male genitals than those they have placed on graphic depictions of female genitalia.

And yes it probably is some form of homophobia, although let's not forget the puritan urge for men to control women's enjoyment still holds sway as well.
Decent women shouldn't want to see what a bloke who isn't their husband packs - plus of course the huge (pun intended) fear that movie stars are likely to be better hung than Joe Censor. "What would the little woman think then?"
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Yeah, it can be a point of him staying in pants. But after some cuts we came back to this couple and saw how Harrelson's character pulls his jeans. And he was in his white underwear already. So it was skipped. And then creepy Harelson's hands were at Daddario's naked ass. Im no prude and consider nudity as normal natural thing but asymmetry in this scene and many others in many cable shows got to me somehow. Also I like Daddario very much.
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Totally agreed Hart is the more interesting character and boy what a dirtbag. Case in point when he wanted to find out more about the "tips" the young prostitute was given.
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I thought the final shots of the ruined church were zingers. Great set design to transform a place of hope and security into one of desolation and threat. All very Edward Scissorhands and no worse for that!
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Great review.. :)
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Best new show of 2014 and perhaps even more. I wasn't expecting this. I am pleasently surprised.
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I think I actually liked this episode a little less than the premiere. About half of the episode actually kinda bored me, although Alexandra Daddario woke me up a bit in between. I know she's not an A-lister, but leave it to an HBO show with A-list actors to get an A-list body for nudity.

I seem to have done a 180 turn from my comment last week, when I said the two leads are enough for me to love this show. While still highly-appreciating the acting and characters from Woody and McHoneyHoney, not caring much for the case seems to be impacting my tastes already. I'm disappointed in myself, but that's nothing new. Hopefully I can shake that off and enjoy next week's episode better.
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Your expectations are too damn high, chill.
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He was just expressing his opinion, nothing bad about that.
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Uh, what expectations? And I thought I was chill.... :(
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Its far to early to tell, but two episodes in, it appears that with True Detective American crime television has finally grown up. It stays away from the chock values and shallow character portraits of previous attempts in the genre, it has writing that would make Cormac McCarthy proud, acting of Academy Award levels, and the cinematic values of a David Fincher feature.
I dont think I've been this impressed by a (non-UK) series this soon into its first season since Six Feet Under.
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True Detective truly does take place in a cruel place. I wouldn't want to live in a world where you would have to choose between Michelle Monaghan's character and Alexandra Dadarrio's. I wouldn't want to be in Hart's shoes!
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I can only agree, this show mesmerizes me. Harrelson and McConaughy are both outstanding and the format is like nothing I've seen before. I especially love how they manage to make Cohle look so messed up in the present time but you still see the same character in the 'flashbacks'.
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This show is excellent! Feels kind of like a British show adapted into a US version, but done right. (Uh-oh, hope that comment doesn't strike a nerve.) What I like is that every scene contains great dialogue. Even though many scenes do not actually move the story forward, but instead serve as an insight into the relationship between people or into a person's inner life, the lines are very well thought of. An episode lasts almost a full hour, but at no point does it feel long-winded. If this show does not collect a huge amount of industry prizes, something is seriously wrong.
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I agree, the dialogue is outstanding.
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Excellent - Woody and McConaughey are killin it. Best new show of the year so far. :) 9.5/10.
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This is such an amazing show!
Normally I need a likable protagonist to love a show, which this one is definitely lacking, but the leads are so interesting and watchable that it doesn't matter in the least.

Cohle is hardly cuddly, but I'd take his broken honesty over Hart's hypocrisy any day. His attitude to women is messed up, he just hides his flaws under a veneer of 'good guy' polish. The madam seemed to see right through him though.
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I'm curious why you think Cohle is a bad guy, to me he seems like someone bad things have happened to and isn't really fighting against those bad forces, just kinda taking them in and letting them become a part of him.

I also feel like McConaughey's character is meant to become more relatable as the series goes on and I completely agree with the creepy vibes from Hart. What was the deal with him just staring at the doll crime scene his kids created and not even reacting?

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I am speechless over this show. Well that's a lie, because I will type more. MM's work as of late has been unreal. He was the absolute highlight of Wolf of Wall Street and Mud and TBC... he is really shedding the beefcake thing and doing amazing work. I am so amazed. Woody - well I knew he was capable of this. I wish he would ease back on the jaw jut/toothless look when talking, but he is very good as well. And Michelle Monaghan is way too hot for him - not to mention his mistress. Good Dog dude - you must be hung like King Kong.

But to the point. This is a show about two amazing characters. Before and after. The murders are secondary and while I am curious, I just won't to see these guys keep struggling to solve it. And Tim - agree totally. The composed story he is telling after the fact is too composed. I think he is the guy in the end. But damn. I can't wait for these next weeks being proved wrong.

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Also, the clamped-shut mouth talk makes him hard to understand at times.
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On a completely unrelated note, is anyone else doing double takes when they see McConaughey, and thinking "Isn't that Detective Quinn, from Dexter?" Or maybe I'm just weird.
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Being weird, I've thought about this some more.
The resemblance is more than skin deep:

Cohle Quinn
Tall
Gaunt
Light brown hair
Similar bad haircut
Substance abuse
Transferred from Narcotics
Not always strictly legal methods
Ability to piss partners off
Might win an Emmy x

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Here's what I mean:


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Fine work sir! Fine work.

Still weird.
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You're weird, ;)
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But am I wrong? It usually happens on side view shots, like the one at the top of this page.
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No - they are both kind of gaunt. I see it. But I wanted to affirm you and your weirdness! ;)
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Thanks. Good to be recognized by my peers ;)
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This looks like it's going to be a masterpiece two hours on.I had to watch the pilot twice before I got all the complexity of the double flashback technique narrative. I think you are spot on in your excellent review and I actually also dreamt I was with them trying to solve the case, so you're not the only one there.
We know why the case was not solved and you mentioned it, they are not real partners while being excellent cops that should have solved it. That's the whole point of the interviews: a study in what individuals must not be paired as cops. I would not qualify them as "dirtbags", because they are clean as far as the legality of the job demands. While in most procedural series the existentially diminished cops somehow overcome their weaknesses and come together with their partners to solve the case, here we know right from the start that it won't. their "sins" are or were too strong to overcome and they failed to bond as partners. We already see Cohle working the case almost by himself. Hart is almost not contributing at all, at least so far.
There is a shamanistic atmosphere to the crime and Cohle's hallucinations fit in these and the whole thing reminded me of Graham inHannibal. Maybe it's the antlers. This is why the landscape is so central to the plot. The sheer desolation of the Church and the disgrace of The Ranch.We are in a corrupt country at many levels and in fact, the crime seems natural, while the presence of our cops seems surreal and out of place.

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I totally agree, Cohle seems consumed by the case but Hart just seems along for the ride. He takes his time to follow up leads, I thought it was weird he didn't want to go check out the church location right away when they were already in the area. You want to wait until after the weekend when you claim to be regularly working overnight on a case to your wife?
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While it's not yet 100% clear that they didn't solve the original case, and that the new one isn't a copycat, it's a pretty good possibility. I'm down with the rest of what you wrote, though, especially the last bit.
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My favorite scene by far is in the Major office when Cohle raises his hand to interject and the Major says “Youre even an asshole with your mouth shut”

What an amazing show. Enthralled by both Harrelson and McConeghey.
I am ready for a prequel show about Cohle undercover days
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It was actually "Well, you're a smartass with your mouth shut" unless I somehow watched a different version. I like your variation better.
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I will be disappointed if turns out that Cohle is the killer.
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I'd be surprised if either of them gets implicated in the original case. Cohle has been shown working the case pretty diligently, and Hart seems genuinely baffled by the mindset of the killer. The new case, though, is anyone's guess. I don't think Cohle cares enough at this point to bother with a copycat murder himself, but he seems to know something about it. As for Hart, he did mention the need to "let things out" to keep the pressures of the job from getting to him. Still, based on the quality of the writing so far, I'm expecting some other possibilities to emerge before they're done.
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Why do I get the feeling that getting to the bottom of Hart and Cohle's relationship, and the reason they went their separate ways later, will tie in to the case they worked back then, and the new one they are being questioned about now? This case helped shape who they both are now. Cohle knows something important, that he hasn't revealed to the investigators or us yet, and I'm betting so does Hart. Watching the details of both the case and their personal lives come to light is what makes this series fascinating.
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Great show so far. I'm so happy they've ditched the standard murder mystery format. This is so much more interesting. I would rather find out more about Cohle than who killed Dora!

Hart's kids with the Barbie dolls was really weird. What have they seen?
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Its amazing how almost no progress on a murder case can be so entertaining and captivating. But, without beeing a detective myself, I suspect this is much closer to the real thing than most stuff on TV. Apart maybe from the characters themselves ;)

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Wow what a character development in only two episodes.And i think that Hart is definitely worse person than Cohle.
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True. Because at least he knows he is cynical and pessimistic about the world and doesn't try to hide it. So in a way he is more honest with and about himself. And that makes him more predictable. Hart on the other hand is much more of a mystery to me.
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I'm glad your really enjoying it Tim, but I myself am only finding myself hooked by the cliff-hanger clues the writers have left at the end of the both episodes (the dream catcher in the first, and the painting of a naked woman with antlers in the church in this one). I guess it comes down to each individuals
preferences in storytelling and while I can appreciate complex and mesmerizing characters as you describe Cohle and Hart to be, I'd much prefer a compelling and fast-paced plot, so obviously this series is never going to truly hit home with me like it does with you.

You made a compelling point as to why Hart is a more interesting character than Cohle, and I commend you for that, but for me, he's just too unlikable, and I personally find Cohle a much more admirable character (and despite what you said I identify and relate with him). Your point about True Detective being a series that goes against the typical 'weirdo and a straight man solving crimes' befuddles me though, because, for me, this is what the series is. I know you highlighted Hart as the more interesting character, but his double-standards and the lies he tells himself a really only traits you'd get a glimpse of in an arrogant anti-hero, applied to 'the straight man'. I personally don't see anything revolutionary going on here. And while I said I identify and relate to Cohle (he basically says the things people are to afraid to say), is probably because he's the outsider, misfit, or 'weirdo'. So, yeah, I still think there's work to be done on the dynamic with the main duo, I personally don't think what we've witnessed so far between them is enough to carry the show.
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Who were Hart's girls talking to when he went to call them for dinner? And that toy scene was creepy.
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I know, right? What where they playing, 'Rape Barbie'!?
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I assumed they were recreating the murder scene with the male dolls as the police and the naked Barbie as the victim

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Well. that's not disturbing is it? I wonder of they have seen something.
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I'm worried about this show. It went from being the show I was most excited about to a show that seemed like it had been done better many times before all in the span of one episode. It may turn out to be the greatest show of the season, but for now I'm sorta irritated. McConaughey's character is interesting but when he's not on screen I'm bored. Harrelson's character is a self righteous guy and I find everything about him loathsome. I hope the next episode brings me back around because as of now I really don't care how this long movie plays out.
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Yeah the music was great this week, about 5 orders of magnitude better than last week. For me T-Bone Burnett doesn't have the consistency of Scorcese in finding an absolute burner every time for every moment. However M. Scorcese seems to be stuck in a boomer rut which means not very much you haven't heard before is gonna accompany any scene where he's picked the sounds.
Burnett pulls some great new tracks outta his ... hat.

The rest of it - great!
Cohle doesn't come across to me as a scumbag, more like a bloke who was a scumbag once, then he woke up, now he's too self aware to act out scumbag.
Yeah he beats down on good ol boys who won't point them in the direction of the local wife shop, but only cause he somehow knows the grubs are two of the knock parlour's regulars.

I didn't read it as a threat when Cohle said to Blondie "of course I'm dangerous, I'm police, I can do terrible things to people with impunity" that was a warning not so much about himself but more like she needed to be more aware about getting herself into potentially risky situations.

Maybe Marty is involved in the latest murder - if he is that will take the show from A+ to C- in my book cause cop dramas that use the old cliche of a cop hunting himself don't deserve a pass.
It is a cheap way of creating dramatic emphasis that is so over-used it has become hackneyed & is most frequently found on network cop shows that jumped the large piscine several seasons before.

If we are going to sit through 6 or 10 hours of amazing characterization just to learn that the homicide detective has turned thrill killer, I'm gonna wonder why the writers would want to throw away all that really hard, great work on such a facile shot.
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This show is a definite gem. Both McConaughey and Harrelson should be considered for Emmy's already I mean they are so convincing as leads and I really feel like I'm with them as well Tim. It's awesome just being able to see how these guys tick and then have the murder mystery in the background but as viewers we're more invested in who these guys are and the dynamic they have with each other.

Agreed Tim Hart's mistress is freaking bomb!!! Do we think his wife will be the vicious jealous type?! Can't wait for next week!
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Hart has enough respect for the job at first and (we get the impression) later for Cohle that he doesn't need to like him and Cohle has given up on liking anybody.
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I am pretty sure they don't like each other.
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