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True Detective S01E04: "Who Goes There?"

Wow. Sometimes the universe has a plan for you that initially looks foul before turning into something so fortuitous that you wouldn't want it any other way. For whatever reason, there was a mix-up at the old HBO screener factory, and I never got an advanced screener of "Who Goes There?" That means I'm writing this True Detective review on a Monday morning instead of fighting the onset of the work week by staying in bed, my regimented schedule has been completely blown up, and my Pulitzer-Prize winning feature "10 Supporting Characters I Want to Snuggle with for Valentine's Day" will have to wait until tomorrow. But a big thank you to the winter storms or DVD duplication process errors that put me in this situation, because I got to see those final six minutes of "Who Goes There" in stunning high definition instead of the horrible less-than-DVD quality of an unfinished screener that still needed color corrections, about one million more pixels per square inch, and audio that didn't sound like it was recorded underwater. 

Those six minutes–a ridiculously complicated one-shot one-take of Cohle's entry into and escape from a botched stash-house heist in the projects–were among the most amazing six minutes of television I have ever seen. I'm still buzzed from watching it.

We could go on for hours and hours about that final scene, but let's not forget that there was more to the episode. "Who Goes There?" was all about getting into it, not just getting your hands dirty but becoming the dirt under your fingernails. Most of the episode was more of the thankless detective grunt work that goes into following one shaky lead to the next, but these two desperate cops were no longer sifting through the slop for anything as they did in the first three episodes. There's a man out there who is killing women and they think that man is Reginald Ledoux, the mysterious lurching nightmare from the riveting end of last week's episode. They weren't putting a picture of this monster together anymore, they had the picture and were asking "Have you seen this man?" to anyone who would listen. And because Hart and Cohle have been so good about finding people since the series began, the tension of knowing they could find him at any moment–coupled with that insane image of Ledoux from last week–heightened EVERYTHING until it exploded in the final minutes.

As Ledoux's scent got stronger and stronger and the case more consuming, Hart and Cohle both saw their lives snatched away. For Hart, it was the dissolution of his marriage after his indiscretions were exposed. Sorry Hart, but you deserved every bit of the pain. For Cohle, it was back to his old life as a deep undercover narco cop after having what passed for a normail routine. True Detective has hammered home the inverse relationship between cracking a case and being a human being, and its heftiest strike came tonight when Hart came home to a pair of packed suitcases and a GTFO note from Maggie and then told Lisa he would "skullfuck" her, and Cohle was willingly shooting up cayenne and ink to simulate track marks and bouncing from strip club to underground rave to biker party to go all in on the hunt for Ledoux. Hart, the hypocrite, saw the world catch up with him and the creeping case clutch his ankles with a vice-like grip. Cohle, the Nihilist, gleefully jumped into the chasm knowing that it was all going to end soon so he might as well be in charge of how he goes.

And in these times, when a normal life was erased by a job that exposes the worst in people, they were the closest to each other that they've ever been. The fact that Hart had to go live with Cohle–and just think about that for a second, Hart and Cohle as roommates–also shows how powerful a black hole Cohle can be, how Hart is being sucked into Cohle's existence, and how every other influence in Hart's life is discarding him there. True Detective is masterfully showing off the symbiotic AND parasitic relationship that festers from a partnership between two cops in an immersive hunt for a psycho.

But Hart still has a long way to go before he truly sees Cohle's world. Even as Cohle dragged Hart through the muck of this case–and let's be clear here, Cohle is several steps ahead of Hart in this case and pulling him by the hair towards new depths–he never shoved Hart's face into the reality of what he does when he's ready to commit. That's why these final six minutes of Cohle on a stash-house heist to prove his credibility with a biker that had a lead into Ledoux were even more engrossing. We heard about the horrors of Cohle's previous life as an undercover cop in the drug trade for four years (FOUR YEARS!) and how that fucked him up and brought him closer to Nietzsche, but like Hart, we hadn't seen it. We've only seen the chewed-up body it spat out. So Fukunaga showed us a glimpse of that life in this incredible six-minute single-continuous-shot of Hell on Earth. 

I mean, guys, this was incredible. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in television. I think the Lost pilot had a sequence like this, but this was on another level. Alfonso Cuaron, master of the long single shot and director of Children of Men and Gravity (and NBC's upcoming Believe), was probably like, "Dammmmmmmn!" And it wasn't just the technical achievement of camera position, herding extras, and action choreography, it was the video-game immersion into Cohle's world and the visceral reality of what he did for four years that struck so hard. As soon as the heist went bad, and we all knew it would go bad, Cohle switched gears into survivor mode, dragging Ginger the biker through sheets of chaos as he ran this labyrinth of drug dealers, biker-gang members, and police to get the job done. Yet we could see the split-second calculations in Cohle's eyes that only added to Cohle's legend. He saved a kid's life by telling him to hide in a bath tub, he immediately went lone wolf once the bullets started flying because that was his best chance at snagging Ginger, and his stop-and-start hideouts in the middle of swarms of gangbangers saved both his and Ginger's life multiple times (Cohle's pause behind the wall after the camera swung through the room with the G's loading up a semiautomatic arsenal was genius on Fukunaga's part–that was the most tense part of the entire sequence if we're pointing one moment out). And after Cohle threw Ginger into Hart's getaway car and the two speed off with their man–maybe not how they intended to get him–the camera showed us a war zone below. The final brushstroke on a masterpiece.

We've seen True Detective master the art of discourse and dark characterization, but the question going into "Who Goes There?" was how the show would handle action. I think we know the answer now. The best show of 2014 continues to get better.


CASE NOTES

– I only have one question about how that whole heist went down. If Ginger didn't entirely trust Cohle/Crash with a business deal, was taking Cohle on a heist where Ginger's life would be on the line the right way to make sure Cohle was legit? Shouldn't it have been the other way around? Money first, then his life? I guess Ginger was that desperate for one more man on his mission.

– McConaughey for all the awards this year, please.

– Reggie Ledoux is 6'7" according to his file. Now he's even scarier!

– As great as the final scene was, we still have "the shootout in the woods" that has been referred to coming. I'm guessing it's between Hart, Cohle, and Ledoux, right?

– I love how Cohle wants nothing to do with Hart's imploding marriage. As Hart is about to pour out his soul in a moment of vulnerability, Cohle matter-of-factly said, "This is none of my business. I don't want to hear it." Foot down. No mushy stuff, Hart. 

– The cartel's way of dealing with people they don't like sounded like fun! First, they cut your face off. Then they hold a mirror to your face so you can see your faceless face. Then they cut off your penis and testicles. Then they shove your dick and balls down your throat, past where your lips used to be, while you watch. "So as far as high stakes goes, a bullet to the head, it ain't that." 

– I might have to ask my lovely editor if I can do reviews without screeners from now on. There's just way too much of a difference.


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/9/2015

Season 2 : Episode 8

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AMAZING!!!!!, what a show and what an episode!, this show is pure art , very high praise!
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Tim I agree with you those last six minutes just took my breath away, filmed as a one-shot one take makes it unbelievable
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Jedna z koleżanek poleciła mi domenę internetową buty. Wkroczyłam, odnalazłam tanie szpilki i po kilku dniach byłam najszczęśliwsza na świecie
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Best Episode so far , the Bike siege at the house one shot was as dramatic as the Red Wedding scene in GOT . Also Hart demons came back to haunt him big time and Cohle kept him on the case best thing for both . I did like the way Cohle putting people in the Bath tub House to House , but I knew everything was going to go tits up when the bikers were high going into that situation. I can see the Captain will be pissed once he finds out that Cohle is trying to go in another direction instead of the crimes against Christianity.
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Wow! Are you F'n kidding me?! This episode was definitely a 10.
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Standing Ovation for the six minutes of madness
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anyone else feel there's relevance to putting Hart in his "trophy" room when he's on the phone (with Lisa) losing his mind as his world implodes... he treats women, and his life in general, like things to be hung up, put on a shelf, admired at a distance, something to brag about... all set up to be the way he expects his life should be set up for him (he says when he fought with Maggie in the kitchen)
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I only have two words; Amazing acting O_O
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I know Im a week late with this but HOLEY F*CK! That was awesome. The war scene, I am almost lost for words with it. It was fantastic. Its not often that we are going see friggin tv like this.
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It was 'The rains of Castamere ' of 2014 ( In terms of ending , suspense and intense but thanks God , without any causalities :P)
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more like FAKE DETECTIVE.

my issues with e4...

1) how the hell does mcconaughey get to the hospital so fast when woody is arguing with his wife. in, what you would think amounts to no more than 5-10 mins real time, he gets from his apt to the hospital floor which woody's wife works on. does he really live THAT close to the hospital?

and who the hell called him?

2) how does woody get to the designated corner at the end SOOOO quickly? he's from louisiana, this takes place in texas. this also takes place in 1995, before mapquest, gps, etc. i don't see how he finds it in less than two minutes, unless i'm supposed to believe he was parked down the street (from the projects) all along

3) the getaway in the projects could have been great... EXCEPT the parts where all of these people looking to exact some hood justice somehow miss or seem to ignore the two suspicious looking white guys running through their neighborhood.

a perfect fuccin show through three episodes and they RUINED it with this bullshiet.
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Good questions, I'll play Devil's advocate and I'll make a weak attempt at defending some of it;

1) I'd say as an insomniac Cohle was probably floating around town anyway and then probably looking for Hart since he mentioned the bikie gang Cohle had an "in" with as a lead, he new Hart's wife worked at the hospital (Hart ain't a complicated guy to comprehend) and Cohle's agenda has always been to catch the killer, ya can even sense him trying to rush Hart past his personal shit in the bar scene and get on with it, he'll even sell Hart that his family will be back together to manipulate him so he can get to Ledoux.

2.) Hart while at the bikie bar does see Hart go off in the boat with Ginger and the rest, using a map he might make an rough guess to an area they might be headed to, off the grid from the authorities and away from your more domestic domiciles, then after the fraccas heard on the police radio he makes immediately for the vicinity of "the projects", follows the many cop cars already headed there and hopefully uses a map to quickly locate a general compass direction of where the street Rust mentioned is and then determines if one were escaping from ground zero of the stash house what path they might take and then buckets around until he gets a visual on Rust and Ginger.

3.) Yeah they probably should a really had their ears pinned back, that was a much too fortuitous escape, even fighting two guys and then catching up with Ginger again who seemed determined to get killed, I guess crazier lucky escapes have happened in war with professional soldiers on the hunt, I just suspended disbelief, assumedCohle's experience, training and familiarity with similar environments for 4 years gave him the edge he needed to make it out with his target.
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Finally they cut down to the chase. No more bOOOring chit chat and more of what we want: ACTION, SUSPENSE and keeping the investigation going.
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This show is perfect, amazing, outstanding already and it keeps getting better and better.
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I have always believed that great dramas should have a feeling of weight on your body. The best example before this was "Ozymandias" on Breaking Bad, but this episode and the show in general are just heavy. I don't even care about Hart and Cohle, they are dark disturbed men, but you can't deny that these performances are amazing. Woody Harrleson's career has been on the rise since Zombieland but this is just amazing work on all levels. This is why network television has no chance in the Emmys for Drama.

Also how many f-bombs were said in the stash house?
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I'm curious how old you are? The comment about Zombieland is cracking me up.


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I am speechless! I cant even begin to explain the awesomeness of this episode and this show as a whole! this is just brilliant, definitely the best show I have ever watched.
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I have seen True Detective Episode 4 three times. Its final 6 minutes are as thrilling as anything I have ever seen on television. I expect my fourth viewing will allow me to see details I've missed due to my excessive heart rates with each viewing. Incredible television production.
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Okay, I haven't watched this show. But after watching that clip, I realise I need to rectify that as soon as possible. That was an incredible ratcheting of tension that pulled me to the edge of my seat.
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That final scene escalated quick!!!! almost gave me an heart attack
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This show in general is great but that last scene... completely amazing.
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Wow. Now that is television.
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Amazing episode, absolutely blew my mind! Definitely one of the best new shows of 2014. After Walking Dead's lackluster return I appreciate this episode and show all the more.
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Has anyone heard anything about a Season Two?
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HBO has not yet confirmed season 2, but it's an anthology series which will be 3 seasons in total if I remember correctly. Because of the critical acclaim and a high amount of viewers I'm pretty sure HBO will confirm the 2nd season soon.

But if you meant like plotwise, nothing has been said yet about the story of season 2. Nic -the creator of the show- has only given some possibilities (as far as I know).

Quote: "There could be a season that’s much more of a widespread conspiracy thriller, a season that’s a small‑town murder mystery, a season where nobody is murdered and it’s a master criminal versus a rogue detective or something. Even the title, True Detective, is meant to be, of course, purposefully somewhat generic – the word “true” can also mean honorable and authentic and things like that. So as long as there is some crime in there, I think the series format can approach it."
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Thanks Lars. I didn't know if TD was ever written to extend beyond its original 8 episodes. Your data clarified that. HBO would have to be crazy not to renew. Best TV since BB. And MM & WH delivering the best of their career (so far).
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This show kicks ass! I assumed they were going to start off with a confrontation of Ledoux with the gas mask on but that was only foreshadowing. Love how they're going back and filling in the pieces. Cohle will stop at nothing to get his man, that was a fantastic final scene, great acting and great drama. Love that US television is finally figuring out that shorter seasons and consistent writing are how to make great entertainment.
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Watched the ending twice and I'm so curious to know how they did the long shot all the way through including with them going over the fence.
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there is a great article posted about how they did that incredible long shot - in short the fence scene was performed using an elevated jib to carry the steadycam operator up and over the fence and back down to maintain the shot. here's a link to the article: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1722001/true-detective-long-take.jhtml
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Is anyone in love with the name Ledoux as much as I am? I could say it all day...
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US tv shows have for the past couple of years matured into "making movies that will be shown on a tv". Not just "tv movies". This specific show is a great movie packaged in a tv series format. Amazing stuff. Purely amazing. I really do not care about who did what and what will happen next. All I want is just to entertain myself for one hour in an stupendously excellent fashion.
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It's because US TV Shows FINALLY GET IT! The best shows now are on Cable and they're 13 eps or less a season. The best thing about True Detective (from what I understand) is this will be an 8 ep. season and future seasons will follow different characters/actors. Great way to keep it one vision with the same writer and A level acting talent in the show.
A lot of foreign shows had already used the shorter seasons, shorter run format and came up with (as you put it) Movies set on the small screen. It's refreshing to see.
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Trully, short seasons play a large part. However, I do not think it's the only reason. I remember an old CSI episode, where they put a camera on top of a plate in some restaurant, followed that plate all the way from the kitchen, to the customer and then back to the kitchen and then the carbage, where they find a murder victim and then the show starts :) I was flabbergasted. That was not regular tv camera work. That was something else :) Something better. I think, that as a whole, it is a process. We get movie actors, movie scripts, movie "cinematography". Small wonder that the tv.com critic for the show continuously comments on the vast difference between the "dvd" version of this show and the HD one :)
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This show has really surprised me. I really thought it's just going to be a case of two movie stars trying to own television - and while both Matt and Woody totally do own TV right now - the show is just great all round.
The writing is astonishing and this 6 minute single-shot sequence was the icing on the cake.
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That was Absolutely Bad A**!! Wow! Amazing all around. This show has major promise written all over it.
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After last week I was worried the shootout would be first on the agenda this week, I was very relieved, gotta love a well paced show.
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This shows keeps getting better. Best new show by far.
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It was way better the second time around, after reading your review. I didnt notice the one camera recording the first time.
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Fukunaga has really proven his director's chops with this series. Hopefully the final episodes will be as good as the first four.

What I liked about the final scene was how the volume of the bass line rose towards the end. I care very much about music is used in TV and film, and having its beat pulsating and raising the tension towards the end was magnificent. I immediately had to check out which the final song was that started playing during the final 30 seconds: Honeybee (Let's Fly to Mars) by Grinderman. I then listened to it when I read your review. The song made reading the text so intense!
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Cohle's "relationship" with Maggie is interesting as well. I loved how he just walked out on her when she compared him to Hart and other men. As if to say, "you don't even know what kind of man I use to be." I have a huge feeling Cohle was a THE best kind of man until his daughter died.
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That was cool. Not a word, not a F you, nothing, just up and left, got in his truck and took off. Powerful, made an impact on Maggie for sure.
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indeed - i love that scene
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"I have a huge feeling Cohle was a THE best kind of man until his daughter died."

Me too, and I kinda hope we'll find out a bit more about it!
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same here.
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Tim - yeah man - this show demands to be watched in HD. I'm sure all of us (well most of us) would support you waiting to watch it in HD even though that would mean later review times. Tell your editor this fan is cool with it! Great review btw - True Detective is quality tv at its best.
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Amazing kinetic direction, its a cliche I know, but true cinematic values are being expressed on TV shows.Who knew?
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I knew I really, really liked this show before, but now I know I love it. The last few minutes were mind-blowing! I never thought I'd be so terrified and mesmerized by Matthew McConaughy.. When Cohle told that sleazy Lange character he wasn't getting any Oscars with his acting, I thought "Well, you totally will". On that note: If you haven't already watched Dallas Buyers Club, I don't know what you've been doing with your time.
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Truly awesome show, it has proved once and for all that you don't need special effects ( and Im huge on Sci - Fi) to make a great show, both lead characters are "off the hook" great and the writing supurb!! best thing to happen to TV in a long time....
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FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUk, that was random tense final scene. Geezuz. Speechless.

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"As great as the final scene was, we still have "the shootout in the woods" that has been referred to coming. I'm guessing it's between Hart, Cohle, and Ledoux, right?"

I really hope so, Tim, and I'm so looking forward to it!!!

Also, I think this moment deserves a special mention:



Their expressions: perfection XD


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that was a *great* scene
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Yup :D Did you happen to notice the stool Rust was sitting on? It was a flash but it cracked me up XD

They put so much care into details, I love every second of this show!
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This show is incredible. The performances are incredible.
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Did anyone notice that the show's creator, Nic Pizzolatto makes a cameo as the bartender wearing the "Kiss me I'm an asshole" T-shirt?
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I probably just missed it, but did they explain why the guy Hart pressed the Biker Gang connection out of couldn't have just been pressed more to get Ledoux's location?
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He wasn't involved with the whole thing, he only knew of the connection to the biker gang...
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Best one shot scene I have ever scene.
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I'm still surprised I didn't have a heart attack.
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I would say the last 3 episode of this show was average at best but tonight episode was truly good. It makes me feel worthwhile watching the last 3. I guess the show is peaking at the right time.

No one mentioned this but Cohle was totally lying to Hart when he said Hart would get back with his wife in a few months time. He lied with such a straight face just to get Hart to focus on the job. He is really a true detective!

I hope the last 4 episode will have the same pacing as tonight.
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I know right..., he uses any resources to achieve his goal even Hart and family if he needs to, Cohle is on some kind of mission and taking his orders from who knows what scary part of his fractured mind.

Not to mention that he can function on such a high level with a head full of chemicals (for example keeping his mexican cover story intact with Ginger at the same time his brain must be hitting the high notes) and negotiating his way through "Mogadishu" after it all goes black hawk down.

Trying to maintain that level of committment for 4 years... Mind = Blown!

Props to Hart for getting the biker lead as a way to work out his family angst, loving Cohle's Alaskan family history and climate preferences.

Cheers to crazy pussy!
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Great review, Tim. While waiting for your review I read another one somewhere else, and the guy was talking about how boring this show is. I don't understand how anyone can find this show boring.
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Yeah, I've also noticed that there are some people on-line that find this show boring. Honestly, I don't get it. The only thing I can say is that they really do not appreciate complex story telling, interesting characters and beautiful camera work. They are probably people who settle for regular cop shows on network TV, and then they can't wrap their heads around anything with more layers to it.

Over at Metacritic, there are a few people who have given this show a low score, and their main complaints can be summarized like this: (very) boring, female characters being treated poorly, and poorly written dialogue.
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There are a lot of less than intelligent people out there in TV land and I'm afraid it's over their heads.
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Are there really people who think those dialogues are poorly written?!

Jeez, I find it unbelievable, but I guess it's just my opnion. I would listen to Rust dialogues/monologues for hours!
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Seriously, it's like dialogue porn. Uh, or at least that's how it feels for me ;p Poorly written?! Boring? I don't understand those people.
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same here - his monologues rule! his view on life and the world can be quite depressing but it's more realistic and true than most people are willing to admit.
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I would say this show is more slowly paced than your run of the mill procedure, and that it fully understands how to play the long game, but to call it boring is really just a reflection of a viewer having a short attention span and not being able to appreciate storytelling on a grander scale than 43 minutes.
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bingo
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It must just be me, but I could hardly hear anything Cohle said last night.
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I watched epsisodes 1 and 2 at a friend's place, and we both had a hard time understanding what they were saying. Then I watched episode 3 at my own place, and it was much easier. The difference is that I have a good (but by no means extreme) sound system, and my friend just had his TV. People think you need a sound system for sound effects and music, but you really need it just to hear what people are saying.
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turn on your subtitles. also - addic7ed.com has subtitles for all the episodes. but yes it was you or your tv provider - i heard him just fine.
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It's harder to understand what they're saying here than in most other shows because of the dialects and the mumbling. But your suggestion will of course still solve the problem.
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I started the youtube clip included in the review (on my laptop, which has shit sound) and immediately ran into the mumbling issue. This is roughly what I heard when I listened to the first 3 seconds over and over.

...your shit,
...die and lose your shit,
...die and lose your shit,
You got...die and lose your shit,
You got...die and lose your shit,
You got...You can die and lose your shit,
You got...You can die and lose your shit,
You got...Tiger...You can die and lose your shit,
You got...Tiger...You can die and lose your shit,
You got two ways uh...Tiger...die and lose your shit,
You got two ways uh...Tiger...die and lose your shit,
You got two ways uh look at it Tiger. You can die and lose your shit.

I'm Swedish, so that may have something to do with it. My English is much better than you'd expect from a Swedish person, but still, it's not my native language.

I never struggle like this with, say Agents of SHIELD. The Wire on the other hand. There are scenes that I could never understand.
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:) Thanks tnetennba. I'm glad it sounded like mumbling to you, too. I'll turn on the subtitles as suggested.
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I fear it may just be you, because he had some really nice lines throughout the whole episode.
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I like how Cohle and Hart are starting to work good together and became roommates.
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Easily the best episode so far. The whole first 45 minutes were great, but the last 15 minutes just went to a whole new level. I haven't been on the edge of my seat like that since Breaking Bad ended. This really is the best show on TV right now.
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If you only saw 45 minutes, you missed the fantastic last minutes if the episode (as it was 58 minutes long).
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I should've left out the word "whole." I meant the first 45 minutes were great, but the last 15 were phenomenal.
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