TV Review: HBO’s ‘True Detective’ Lays Its First Season To Rest With “Form and Void

Review By Joe Thompson

After what amounted to an information dump in last week’s clunker of an episode, True Detective picks up its momentum again to finish strong. Dropping all pretense of the search for the killer, True Detective takes us straight to the lair of the monster that’s been operating underneath everyone’s noses. Some questionably easy detective work, especially after all the time that passed, leads Rust and Marty to Errol Tuttle’s front door, which plays out like an eerie cross between John Doe’s lair in Se7en and “Home,” the classic X-Files episode. The pair chase Errol Tuttle through the thick woods and into the catacombs of an overgrown fort that Errol’s fashioned into his own private version of Carcosa. The brutal and bloody altercation that follows is as tense and squirm inducing as the blade that cuts into Rust’s side.

True Detective dispenses with the hunt for the killer about halfway through “Form and Void,” and rides out its final half hour picking up the narrative pieces of Rust and Marty. Marty, who easily escaped the run in with Errol with less damage than Rust, may finally be on the road to a redemption of sorts. Maggie and the girls pay him a touching visit that shows Marty unable to muster up his mask of bravado and breaking down into tears in front of his family. That he stays behind to keep track of Rust shows us just how far his character has come. But True Detective has always been about Rust’s journey more than anything else. On the exterior, Rust is the same cranky, abrasive, antisocial deep thinker, but Marty isn’t as easily dissuaded anymore. And although we don’t get to see the evidence of a change in Rust’s actions, he shares his revelations and near death experience with Marty in an honest and heartfelt way that also ends in tears.

There are some who might feel that True Detective’s finale was a more anticlimactic affair by making so little of the killer we’ve been seeking for seven weeks, and Rust and Marty hunting for years. This would be missing the story that Pizzoletto has been telling us from day one. True Detective’s focus has never been on the revelation of the identity of the Yellow King. This is something that’s been more manufactured by fans steeped in this genre of storytelling. Rather, Pizzoletto gave us two tragically flawed characters, thrust into this world and changed by what they discover and this is exactly what sets True Detective above other crime shows that give us interchangeable mysteries solved by stale characters.

My one issue with “Form and Void” is the disregard given to the victims of Errol’s terrible actions. I wanted to feel more of a sense of closure for the lost, the victims, the Dora Lange’s of True Detective. This might sound as a bit contradictory from my views earlier, but there’s a big difference between honoring the body count of a show like True Detective and the risk of making the killer a rock star (see the final Hannibal film). There’s also no mention of Tuttle’s family suffering the greater consequences of Errol’s actions. Still, True Detective was an excellent breath of air for crime noir dramas and I’m holding out hope HBO renews it for another run.

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