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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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1:12PM on 02/17/2014

Theory..

After compiling many ideas and looking back my theory is.. The Yellow King has something to do with Billy Tuttle.. he has family in high ranking positions which would make it easier for him to get the task force to "solve" a case which is why they were hard up to get the case.
When the girl mentions in the preview for next week she says "the man with the scars he made me watch". Which I believe she is referring to the landscaper that was working at the abandoned school that Cohle investigates
After compiling many ideas and looking back my theory is.. The Yellow King has something to do with Billy Tuttle.. he has family in high ranking positions which would make it easier for him to get the task force to "solve" a case which is why they were hard up to get the case.
When the girl mentions in the preview for next week she says "the man with the scars he made me watch". Which I believe she is referring to the landscaper that was working at the abandoned school that Cohle investigates at the end. If you remember when Cohle interviewed him he had a large scar on his face maybe he is covered in them. Also Dora Lange drew a picture of a man very similar to him, BUT with green ears that she said was chasing her. The green ears could denote ear muffs or ear plugs seeing as he is a landscaper and works around the loud machines. And he just so happens to work at the creepy school where Cohle found all that stuff.. not a coincidence.

Lastly with Hart and Cohle possibly being involved. The whole thing with Hart and the belt buckle and the other missing girl. I believe that was probably a case he workes that went unsolved and he and Cohle are realizing this is deeper and longer than they had thought. The ritual killings have probably spanned years before their case and obviously years after. Hart is just realizing and Cohle has caught on to a lot hence his further investigating into the case after he left the force and as to why he is digging deeper. Goes back to my theory of Tuttle because it is somebody who can cover up all the evidence and can get someone else on the case who isn't as forward thinking and critical as Cohle. Cohle isn't involved either but as I said he is still investigating so what he has in his storage locker is ten years worth of evidence that if the cops saw would immediately incriminate him for having it. I believe Cohle and Hart also stage their falling out so as to have everyone believethey are no longer speaking but in actuality Cohle is working one side with Hart still on the inside.
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2:15PM on 02/17/2014
Really solid theory.
Really solid theory.
12:25PM on 02/17/2014

It. Just. Keeps. Getting. Better. And. Better.

It's so funny to see some of my friends posting on Facebook "Walking Deaaaaad" and I'm just sitting here watching the best thing on television at the same time. I pity them.

-edit-
It does seem like a lot of people are expecting things to get Supernatural - to say the least. I'd be incredibly disappointed if it went that way. There's nothing wrong with a story revealing inhuman forces being behind everything (Lord knows I've written my fair share like that), but it just feels inherently
It's so funny to see some of my friends posting on Facebook "Walking Deaaaaad" and I'm just sitting here watching the best thing on television at the same time. I pity them.

-edit-
It does seem like a lot of people are expecting things to get Supernatural - to say the least. I'd be incredibly disappointed if it went that way. There's nothing wrong with a story revealing inhuman forces being behind everything (Lord knows I've written my fair share like that), but it just feels inherently wrong for True Detective to suddenly be about ghosts & goblins.

Can it get weirder? Oh fuck yes. The world is a fucked up place, does it really NEED to go beyond what's real? No. It's called TRUE Detective, and it would be such a betrayal of that title.

-edit edit -
I just noticed something, and I know I'm reading too much in to it. But Martin Hart & Rustin Cohle?

Heart & Soul?
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+2
9:51AM on 02/17/2014

This show........

Is on another level. It's becoming a mystery of 'Lost' proportions in my head but the quality gap couldn't be larger.
Is on another level. It's becoming a mystery of 'Lost' proportions in my head but the quality gap couldn't be larger.
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8:11AM on 02/17/2014

Best first five eps ever...

I have a feeling this show is going to go Sci Fi horror on us. Anyone ever notice how the E and T in 'True Detectives' are glowing? And how Cohle is suspicious of a "special task force" trying to kick them off the case until they wrongfully solved it. Not to mention the all this stuff about black stars and space time continuum's this episode. Just my crazy theory but I'm hoping the Yellow King is extra terrestrial...
I have a feeling this show is going to go Sci Fi horror on us. Anyone ever notice how the E and T in 'True Detectives' are glowing? And how Cohle is suspicious of a "special task force" trying to kick them off the case until they wrongfully solved it. Not to mention the all this stuff about black stars and space time continuum's this episode. Just my crazy theory but I'm hoping the Yellow King is extra terrestrial...
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12:28PM on 02/17/2014
I would be incredibly disappointed if that happened.
It'd be like with Twin Peaks.
I would be incredibly disappointed if that happened.
It'd be like with Twin Peaks.
6:16AM on 02/17/2014
Mind-blowing episode.
Mind-blowing episode.
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3:44AM on 02/17/2014
"The Yellow King".... You must have missed that.
"The Yellow King".... You must have missed that.
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10:11AM on 02/17/2014
Typo. Thanks for the heads-up.
Typo. Thanks for the heads-up.
3:39AM on 02/17/2014

so this

So this episode was just as good as some of the agents of shield episodes reviewed on thus site?
So this episode was just as good as some of the agents of shield episodes reviewed on thus site?
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12:52PM on 02/17/2014
Are you going to post this Agents of Shield bullshit in every article? It's getting really boring.
Are you going to post this Agents of Shield bullshit in every article? It's getting really boring.
1:19AM on 02/17/2014
Can't wait to see what the huge twist is going to be.
Can't wait to see what the huge twist is going to be.
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