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TV Review: True Detective: Episode 5: The Secret Fear of All Life (SPOILERS)

02.17.2014
Check back every week following Sunday night's airing of TRUE DETECTIVE for an episode rundown/ review. Here's this week's- but beware- SPOILERS ahead.

Episode Synopsis: Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Hart (Woody Harrelson) track down the elusive Reggie Ledoux, and a violent encounter ends with the Dora Lange murder solved, or so it seems. In the seven years that follow, the two detectives continue their successful partnership, until Cohle is tipped-off that the case may not be as closed as he thinks.

REVIEW: Following last week's game changer of an episode - which ended with a bravura six minute tracking shot that's among the most memorable sequences in TV history – the pace on this week's TRUE DETECTIVE settles down a bit, before ending on a note that leaves us desperate for next week's episode, with it taking a rather sinister turn in its denouement. The episode opens with the much-anticipated showdown with Reggie Ledoux, an encounter that the two detectives swear involved a massive-firefight and over-the-top heroics, but in reality was a straight up execution once Hart found two abducted and abused children in Ledoux's barn. It's interesting to see how both men, even eighteen years later, have their stories so perfectly in synch, and the bit when Ledoux's sidekick tries to flee Cohle – only to literally lose his head in an improvised minefield – is a winner.

From there, TRUE DETECTIVE jumps ahead seven full years. In the interim, Hart's reconciled with his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) but is having issues with his oldest daughter, who's now a rebellious teen. For his part, Cohle has settled down completely, even moving in with a doctor friend of Maggie's, only to have his world shattered when a suspect he's interrogating over a drug killing suggests that Reggie Ledoux was not Dora Lange's killer. All it takes is a mention of “The Yellow King” to send Cohle off the reservation, starting his own independent investigation that's bound to have dire consequences as the show goes on.

What's especially intriguing about this episode is how it's gradually revealed that Cohle is the prime suspect in the slaying Gilbough (Michael Potts) and Papania (Tory Kittles) are investigating in the present day section of the show, with them revealing some damning if circumstantial evidence to Hart. As per usual with the show, tons of little hints are dropped in the background suggesting that the case may not be as cut and dried as it seems. One that stands out has Hart looking thoughtfully at a Rodeo belt buckle he won in 1987, only to feature a missing woman poster from the same year a few scenes later, just before Cohle starts to piece together that Lange's slaying is just a part of a larger scale onslaught of ritual killings that have taken place over more than a decade. Could Hart be involved?

As usual, TRUE DETECTIVE is a show that demands a lot of its viewers, similar to THE WIRE, with tons of seemingly innocuous details paying off in spades moments (or even episodes) later. It continues to be a brilliant piece of work, but what's really cool is how the genre of the show seems to be shifting. It started off as a straight police procedural, but episode five starts to unveil something more horrific and even Lovecraftian, suggesting that by the time the show ends (after three more episodes) it might wind up being something radically different than what we assumed based on the first few episodes. I, for one, can't wait to see where director Cary Fukunaga is taking us, with his direction in this episode almost feeling Kubrick-ian at times. As always, TRUE DETECTIVE feels like revolutionary TV. The show consistently subverts audience expectations, taking us on an exceedingly dark ride that's going to be tough to shake once the season runs its course. It just keeps getting better and better, and while this may not be the kick in the pants last week's was, it's all leading up to something big, and this is a big piece of the puzzle.

Verdict: 9/10

And here's a preview of next week's episode!

Extra Tidbit: Here's a must-read article if you want an idea of where TRUE DETECTIVE might be going.
Source: JoBlo.com

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