True Detective 1 x 04 – Who Goes There

True Detective aired its 4th Episode on Sunday, the 9th. They called it Who Goes There, which I can’t really connect to any thing except for a sliding window in the door of a Members Only club inside of a biker bar in East Texas. You know, you knock, they open this little window to see who you are as in … who goes there. But that’s getting a wee bit ahead of the story.

Charley Lang tells them about Reggie - He said there was so much good killing down there

Charley Lang tells them about Reggie –
‘He said there was so much good killing down there …’

Marty and Rust go up to the penitentiary to talk to Charlie Lang, who we learned was the cellmate of one Reggie Ledoux. Lang is full of spit and vinegar but he does manage to tell the detectives, that Reggie did know Lang’s ex-wife. The one Rust discovered as a possible victim of the killer they were chasing since week one.

For Marty it was about sex and possessiveness. For it was about respect.

For Marty it was about sex and possessiveness. For her it was about respect.

Marty is sliding downhill fast. He has a row with the girl he was doing on the side, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Marty’s wife packs up and leaves him. So Marty is fueled on rage, anxiety, stress, and depression, and that’s besides the cheap whiskey he’s tossing down.

Sparklers at the disco

Sparklers at the disco

But not so fucked up that he can’t get a lead on Reggie, who is now cooking meth for the Iron Crusaders, a biker gang in Texas. That would be the aforementioned East Texas. And it just so happens that Rust knows them from his days working as a narc in the very same East Texas. Marty asks a key question –

Are you up for this?

Are you up for this?

Rust’s answer is telling. If you read between the lines, Rust is going to be putting himself in harm’s way. These bikers aren’t to be taken lightly. They’ve a nasty habit of punishing those who cross them in a particular way. He describes it to Marty. They tape you into this chair that’s bolted to the floor in such a way that the most you can do is blink. From there it gets worse much worse. I’ll not repeat what they do – but if you’ve seen the episode then you can re-imagine it without my help. So it is not surprising when we hear Rust’s answer to Marty’s question:

Not exactly

Not exactly

Well readers ,that calls for a Road Trip in police lingo.

Rust has a plan. He knows a biker dude in the Iron Crusaders and they can get to this fellow by offering a trade, kind of a coke for meth deal. Once Rust gets close, they should be able to smell Reggie’s cooking lab. Marty understands the plan and asks where you going to get the coke? Readers – can you spell Police Locked Evidence & Property Room?

The biker dude

The biker dude

So off they go. This won’t be a walk in park for Rust who will do the inside work with the bikers. Marty will be on the periphery waiting for a call on the unlisted, disposable phone that Rust gives him.

I won’t go any farther with this  set up.  As the first three episodes were mostly family stuff and detective work, this time, Nic Pizzolatto, the writer, uncorks the action bottle. We will not be seeing the cerebral Rust Cohle this week. What we get is the exact opposite. Rust shows a side of him that we hadn’t seen before. He cuts corners, breaks the law in a myriad of ways, and is downright scary.

While we don’t have Reggie Ledoux in our sights yet (they had to save something) we do get a big hint about why Rust and Cohle had a falling out. Likely it has to do with what Cohle said about Marty’s wife, and the fact that Marty and his Missus are living under different roofs. Rust said that Marty and Maggie would likely get back together in a couple of months. Marty pressed Rust for an honest answer. Rust repeated what he said, but whether it was an honest answer – we can’t say.

The show is picking up speed. Cohle is not at all weird.

If I do this tonight....

If I do this tonight….

He’s one hell of an undercover.

...I gotta know that after, you'll help me out

…I gotta know that after, you’ll help me out

On the other hand Marty is falling apart – at least the 1995 Marty is falling apart. The 2012 Marty is upright and seemingly has it together. The turn to action the week was quite welcome even if the robbery they pull was a hit hard to follow. It was also evident that Cohle was a bit over the top in the action sequence which contrasted quite well against the first encounter with the biker dude in the bar.

Marty is still in denial about his role as a husband, father and provider. He tells Maggie that she’s not going to fuck up his family. Maggie has already turned the page – at least for now as far as we know.

From the dialogue with the 2012 cops,

we can see, that in their eyes, Cohle’s stock has gone down a bit. We already know simply from the looks of him. But the way each of them describes what happened in the past, over time, Cohle is not looking so good.

On the other hand maybe that’s just a visual trick played on us by writer Pizzolatto and the director Cary Fukunaga. Which is helped immensely by Matthew McConaughey’s down but not quite out Bayou slouch, rumpled look as well as the smoking and guzzling in 2012 vs the neat as a pin Martin Hart that Woody Harrelson gives us.  The two of them could be looking at some hardware the next time the Emmy’s convene.

Surely we can all agree that this was the strongest episode so far; am I right? Until next week. 

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7 thoughts on “True Detective 1 x 04 – Who Goes There

  1. Best episode of this series by far, which is really saying something. It was already working wonders for me early on, but once that tracking-shot came into play, I just knew I was watching perfection occur right in front of my eyes. Good review Mike.

  2. Fantastic episode, you’re right. I will say it felt good to read the events, re-living them. One thing, though, Cohle says the biker gang would just shoot him in the head, the ones who would tape a victim to a chair and pull their face off and whatnot were cartel members. That’s why he says “the stake’s aren’t that high, they’d just shoot me in the head.” then he explains what the cartel – who often have a penchant for the dramatic as it is – would do to a victim and he continues “as far as stakes go, it ain’t that high” – I’m paraphrasing here – I will agree with the man that a bullet to the head is better than having your face pull off while you’re looking at yourself in the mirror.
    Did you notice that the 2012 Detectives seem to be becoming increasingly suspicious of Cohle? In the Episode 5 sneak peek, they mention that his father was never diagnosed with leukemia. I’m looking forward to Sunday.

    • Thanks for the comment and the follow.

      My bad – yes that was the cartel not the bikers. Good catch.
      Yes, I did notice that the 2012 tecs were growing increasingly suspicious of Cohle. I believe I stated that in the form of Cohle’s stock was going down in their eyes.

      You know, with this particular series, I try my best to avoid the next episode teaser that they show. However at the end of this episode, I was kind of caught up in what I had just seen, so I didn’t change channels so I did see it. My thinking is that if I am really invested in the show – whether I am writing about it or not, I like to go in cold.

  3. I like McConaughey’s acting and Pizzolatto’s dialogue, but I’m disappointed in Harrelson’s performance. I recently saw Frank Langella on Charlie Rose. His definition of a good performance is 1) Know the words. 2) Know what the words mean, and 3) Mean the words when you say them. Harrelson knows the words and what they mean, but I don’t believe he mean what he says.

    I also had a problem suspending my disbelief while watching this episode. Why wear police uniforms but otherwise sport hell’s angels hair styles and zz top facial hair? Who would think they’re cops? How about the ninety second rendezvous with a partner who lost track of where you went with those biker club guys. And I suspect it’s a lot harder to take down a guy swinging a baseball bat than Cohle’s demonstration. Can he really push a guy up and over a seven foot wire fence?
    Incredible action. Really incredible.

    • Thanks for the comments – Your interpretations of whether Marty (Harrelson) believes what he’s saying are based on 4 episodes or just this one?
      I’m not saying you are incorrect. I am saying that he’s just found out that his wife has left him, and he is visibly upset. If 5 people agree with you and five people don’t, then we still don’t have anything but opinions.

      Many people have said they were blown away by the long tracking shot when the bikers plus Rust raided the house to pull off a robbery, and they loved it. I wasn’t blown away and I didn’t love it. I found it confusing in parts. Maybe it was that Rust accomplished so much and I found that difficult to accept. I think I used the terms over-the-top.

      With or without credibility – the escalation from being a cerebral show to a show with violence was a meaningful change of direction. At least in this episode we had to adjust how we viewed these detectives. And speaking of that – you say that you didn’t find Harrelson’s Martin Hart believable. Did you agree with the 2012 detectives who seemed to be taking a harder stance about McConaughey’s Rust Cohle. It seems they are doubting his integrity. Isn’t that a bit murky

      However we dissect this episode, I still am calling it the best episode so far.

      But whether this episode contained too much that wasn’t believable is just too subjective.

  4. My point was that Harrelson’s acting looks weak compared to McConaughey’s. McConaughey is in a different league, so much that he now inadvertently makes costars look inadequate. Matthew deserves to win some awards for upping his game so dramatically in the past few years. I’d hate to star opposite him right now.

    • Okay – that is something that while being valid is as much about acting as is about the script.

      McConaughey is not only performing better, he is choosing better roles. He’s turned away from the romantic leads that he used to do in favor of darker and grittier roles.

      I recall him cast with J-Lo in The Wedding Planner. You know light, fluffy stuff. He was good in that. And he was once a cover guy for People Magazine – in their World’s Sexiest Man series.

      He’s changed gears, looks, and direction and aren’t we all better for him having done this.

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