Season 1, Episode 8: “Form and Void”
Just a few months ago, I wrapped up my reviews of the final episodes of Breaking Bad in utter joy over how the series wrapped up. To me, it was as perfect a season finale as I could have asked for. What seemed so cut-and-dry perfect television to me was not necessarily as praised by others. It’s this differencing of opinion that attracts me to analysis of pop culture and one of the main reasons I started this blog. I like to discuss movies and appreciate the conversation even more when not everyone experiences it all the same way. Which, in a way, is why I like that not everyone loved the ending to True Detective.
Personally, while I didn’t think it came close to some of the brilliance the show has already given us, they gave us one final hour of great television. I hesitate to say that it left me satisfied, if only because I’m not ready to let Hart and Cohle out of my life. I just met the two detectives and their story and search for Dora Lange’s murderer is some of the most captivating television that I’ve seen in a long while. In a golden age of television, this show stood on everyone’s shoulders, if only for a little more than two months.
Episode seven left us with one of the biggest reveals of the entire season: the identity of the scar-faced Spaghetti Monster. The reveal at the end of the last episode let this episode be free of the mystery element, at least for the viewer, as we peek into the life of Errol Childress, the lawnmower man that Cohle met all the way in episode one. Childress has a lot to envy if you’re a fan of squalor, Cary Grant and grimy, incesty sex. In an admittedly rushed set of circumstances, Cohle and Hart manage to put the pieces together. I say “rushed”, despite the fact that it took them seventeen years.
At the Childress House of Creepiness, the episode earns its keep, as Cohle and Hart’s descent into Carcosa is some of the most nerve-wracking moments in the show’s short run. As they bob and weave under brush and twigs in a scene reminiscent of the final scene in The Silence of the Lambs, the sense of dread is overwhelming as it seems they are both walking into something pretty terrible.
To skip ahead and thoroughly spoil everything, the two men finally get their man, if only after sustaining some life-threatening injuries. The final scenes give a hope to a light at the end of the tunnel, even for Cohle, who seems to have softened his nihilistic views after his near death experience. For Marty, it’s a realization of the damage he’s committed to his own life and the lives of the ones he’s loved.
I’ve read a lot of reviews that talk about how the ending is somewhat positive, and while I agree that it can be read that way, I have trouble labeling anything further than bittersweet. The Tuttles get off scot-free, denying any relation to Childress, and while Cohle is brought to tears over the fact that he was able to feel the love of his daughter while he was on his way to what he thought was final rest, he ultimately survives, which might call into question whether or not he really wanted to. Acting
While I would say that there are plenty of episodes better than this one within the eight, it’s an appropriate ending to a show that redefined how dark television could get. Superb writing and acting worthy of all the awards put this one into the stratosphere for me.