TV Review: True Detective: Episode 4: Who Goes There (SPOILERS)
Episode Synopsis: Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) continue their search for Dora Lange’s ex-boyfriend Reggie Ledoux, currently the prime suspect in her slaying. Meanwhile, Hart’s wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) makes an important decision regarding her marriage with Hart.
REVIEW: Through my weekly TRUE DETECTIVE reviews, I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact that I’m quite taken with this show. Only half-way through its first season, TRUE DETECTIVE already feels like the logical successor to THE WIRE and BREAKING BAD as an example of truly next-level television. That the show is being done in an anthology format (meaning the story and cast changes each season) makes Hart & Cohle’s story feel like an epic eight hour movie, with the fact that one director (Cary Fukunaga) is helming the entire run giving this a stylistic continuity few shows can equal. Take for example HOUSE OF CARDS. No doubt, that’s also a great show (should I review?) but compare the first two episodes of season one, which were directed by David Fincher, to the rest of the season. All the episodes were good (even great) but it’s obvious more time and money were poured into the Fincher episodes. The Scorsese pilot for BOARDWALK EMPIRE and Gavin O’Connor’s amazing pilot for THE AMERICANS are two other examples. Week to week, TRUE DETECTIVE’s quality remains consistent.
Up to now, TRUE DETECTIVE has been a slow burn, but episode three ended with a huge cliffhanger, and in a perverse twist we had to wait two whole weeks before getting to see a resolution (thanks to the Super Bowl). Defying expectations, episode four does not start with a huge confrontation with Reggie Ledoux, who we last saw wearing a gas mask and wielding a machete. The detectives haven’t been able to track him down yet, but they learn that he’s a big time meth cook, which allows Cohle to come up with an absolutely insane plan to nab him.
Going back to his days as an undercover narc, Cohle takes a leave of absence from the force, and pilfers a large amount of cocaine from the evidence locker, which he plans to offer in exchange in a meth deal that he hopes will get him closer to Ledoux. Of yeah, and he snorts a lot of it too. Like a lot . Anyone who thought Cohle’s undercover narc stories were cool will love this episode, with him going right back into that lifestyle, mixing with old associates and allowing himself to get talked into a crazy heist that ends with him being chased by machine-gun wielding gang-bangers.
This a particularly strong episode for McConaughey. Again, I have to say his career reinvention has been outstanding, and TRUE DETECTIVE just may be his best role to date. Clearly, he’ll win an Emmy next year for his incredible work, and he’s so cool as Cohle that it’s a shame he won’t continue on as the character past season one. He’s so complex that only four episodes in, he’s already the most interesting character on TV.
Compared to McConaughey, this is a relatively quiet episode for Harrelson, although in a big twist, Hart’s wife Maggie winds up leaving him after his mistress (a returning Alexandra Daddario) exposes their affair. Hart’s becoming more and more unhinged as the season goes on, and his tendency to use his badge to bully people into submission will likely play a big part as to why, in the modern day scenes, he’s no longer a cop. Michael Potts and Tory Kittles as Gilbough and Papania still don’t have much screen time, and the present day sequences are used sparingly this week, although the 1995 stuff is so compelling you won’t care.
Like episode three, this week’s episode ends on another major cliff-hanger, following a large-scale action sequence that pushes the boundaries of any set piece I’ve ever seen done on TV, complete with a six minute tracking shot that puts most features to shame. All in all, episode four is outstanding, and the best episode to date, which is saying something considering how good TRUE DETECTIVE has been so far. This is such a GREAT show.
Next week's preview...