Halfway through, HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE is the best thing going

For over a year, we have heard how good, how powerful HBO’s upcoming crime drama was. TRUE DETECTIVE was supposed to be moodly, haunting and filled with the kind of performances that make careers.

The series had two notable stars in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and focused on a serial killer, something that always captivates America.

So the simple question was: Could TRUE DETECTIVE really be that good?

One word: YES.

TD tells the story of Louisiana homicide detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson), both in 2012 and 1995, and their investigation of a ritualistic killing. While Hart is what one might expect, a pleasant family man that enjoys a few drinks and laughs, after work, with the boys. Cohle is an loner whose dark, philosophical nature leaves his fellow officers at arms length.

While we are watching their investigation, we also see each of them talking to a pair of current homicide cops that, for reasons we eventually learn, are looking into the case from 1995. In many cases, the dual narrative leads to viewers becoming impatient with one, while eager for more of the other. But Pizzolatto has written a screenplay that offers up to equally important, equally captivating storylines. One never overshadows the other. The show gets the blend just right.

By the end of the second episode, it is clear that the current cops suspect that Martin and Cohle screwed up. Cohle, an alcoholic shell of a man, is shrewd enough to figure this out. In as much as they are reading him, he is doing the same to them. A recent killing is eerily similar to the one in 1995.

true-detective-who-goes-thereSo as we watch Martin and Rush become more driven to catch the killer, we can’t help but wonder if their actions, their sacrifices…were they misguided? They are cutting corners and deceiving the powers that be as they close in on the man they are sure did the deed. In the end, how far did they cross the line? If they got the wrong man, what will the repercussions of their decisions, over the course of their investigation, be?

We are now heading into the second half of the season (4 episodes down, 4 to go). With a suspect they are sure about, the two are running their own operation, one that has Cohle undercover with meth-cooking bikers. By the end of episode 4, all hell breaks loose.

Nic Pizzolatto (writer) and Cary Fukunaga (director) have crafted a pair of fascinating characters and put them in a beautiful, and quite striking, world. It steps away from what we expect a TV show to look like and offers up a more cinematic experience.

If you have not been watching, take the next several days to get up to speed with the best show in TV today.

Episode 5, The Secret Fate of all Life, airs Sunday on HBO.