“The opening episode sets the tone of the show, with us learning to get used to the story jumping back and forth in time…”
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, both sought-after film actors with Oscar nominations under their belts, have opted to pair up in this TV cop show. What makes this show different from most cop shows is the formating, with us seeing a murder happen 17-years ago; watching Detective Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Detective Martin Hart (Harrelson) go through the motions of catching the person responsible via the pair giving statements seen as flashbacks, then in present day, learn there’s an identical murder recently committed, causing serious doubt of the guilt of the accused from 17-years previously.
Questioning Cohle and Hart separately are Detectives Maynard Gilbough and Thomas Papania, who are trying to get a picture of Cohle and Hart, and learn all they can about what lead them to their suspect from back in 1995.
The opening episode sets the tone of the show, with us learning to get used to the story jumping back and forth in time, and watching these flawed characters trying to deal with life, particularly Rust Cohle. Hart is more of your typical TV show cop, with a couple of cute kids and a beautiful wife, Maggie (Michelle Monaghan), he’s cheating on. Cohle, on the other hand, is fighting a drug habit, no doubt a byproduct of his years working narcotics, and trying to stay away from booze. His own daughter died a few years back and now lives alone with books on seriel killers to keep him company, and, of course, the job.
A woman has been found naked, bound and repeatedly stabbed, wearing a hand-made head dress made out of small twigs and string. As well as signs of torture and loads of stab wounds on her belly, there’s a symbolic image tattooed on her back, all of which points to a ritualistic homicide, that Cohle is convinced has happened before and will again. We meet some interesting characters during their hunt for the killer, one of whom is Joel Theriot, played by Shea Whigham.
He’s been invited over to Hart’s house at Maggie’s insistence but Cohle arrives drunk and barely able to stand. Because of the back and forth nature of the non-linear storytelling, we don’t find out why he’s in that condition ’till much later, but the evening before the planned press-conference he receives a few names to follow up, and to allow Hart to concentrate on his paperwork Cohle heads out to a truck-stop which then leads him to a nearby bar.
He gets talking to a couple of hookers who offer a few names they think might help, but he’s been buying them drinks and finally caves in and joins them. He also gets one of the girls alone and asks if she can get him Quaaludes, telling her he can’t sleep. He gets totally smashed then turns up at Hart’s.
If you watch the TV show, The Killing, and feel it somewhat familiar, that’s probably because True Detective creator, Nic Pizzolatto, was involved in both shows. A lot of the characters that we meet turn out to be despicable, but they are well played with some fine performances, but Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson both do brilliantly with their characters, really giving it their all. This is an addictive show, worth going out of your way to see.
TV Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer