Although the achievements of director Cary Joji Fukunaga in the first season of True Detective have never been widely disputed, the disastrous second season, produced without Fukunaga at the helm, made his contribution all the more apparent. The astonishing six-minute tracking shot midway through season one was an obvious high point, but Fukunaga embedded visual information throughout the season which brought the setting and characters to life. Beyond the convoluted plot, season two missed these sorts of details, leaving a bland detective show without enough aesthetic idiosyncrasies to make it compelling.
With just two episodes left in the first season, “Haunted Houses” is the most straightforward instalment in the series so far. This sixth episode is the one that felt the most like a cop show, complete with with a nard-nosed police sergeant drilling his two detectives and demanding that Cohle hand over his gun and badge, and a hot tempered officer (Marty) beating two prisoners who were caught sleeping with his daughter. We find out exactly why Hart and Cohle had a falling out in 2002, and exactly why Marty’s marriage finally fell apart. “Haunted Houses” is the weakest of the bunch but don’t’ worry, next week is a vast improvement.