The series premiere of True Detective set up a very intriguing show, due several factors, including its switch between 2012 and 1995, its unique central characters, and the locale it was set in. The series is further set apart by the fact that all the first season episodes are written and directed by the same individuals, ensuring that their particular vision of the show does end up onscreen. With last week’s episode promising an offbeat series, this week delves further into what makes the two detectives at the centre of the story tick, in another compelling episode that furthers the possibility of a supernatural element to the tale.
The contrast between Marty and Rusty that emerges this episode paints a fascinating picture. It’s interesting to note that both detectives indulge in vices, as Rusty partakes in Quaaludes and downers while Marty has extramarital affairs. However, the way each person conducts themselves when going about these vices is very telling. Rusty makes no trouble for the prostitute bringing him the pills, giving her the money for them without hesitation. Marty, on the other hand, not only bristles at Lisa’s suggestion that she should seek out unmarried men willing to commit to her, he also fights with his wife despite being in the wrong. This sets up the two individuals in very fascinating lights, further enhanced by the fact that, in 2012, Rusty candidly admits to his vices, while Marty goes to great lengths to justify them. As the case of Dora Lang continues, it is bound to take a toll on both detectives, particularly as it gets more odd and pressure from other quarters continue. That is going to affect how often they indulge in their vices, and their respective attitudes are going to go a long way in determining how well they cope, both at work and in their private life, and how it all unfolds will be worth keeping an eye on.
The inner look at the police department this week’s episode provides is also compelling. Rusty surviving on only the goodwill of Marty and, by extension, Major Quesado, goes a long way towards explaining his clear disassociation with police work in his 2012 life. However, the political machinations that are setting up to take advantage of the nature of Dora Lang’s murder are understandably frustrating to someone like Rusty, whose history paints him as someone intent on solving the crime rather than ensuring everyone gets a piece of the pie. How he navigates the task force, as well as the other locals he meets going forward, promises to be intriguing. With Marty somewhat sympathetic to Rusty’s plight, but not entirely on friendly terms with his partner, it will also be worth watching to see how long Marty mediates the tension between Rusty and the precinct, as well as the task force. While Rusty is a good detective, as Marty himself points out, his status as a loner and outsider, as well as the friction he causes, will no doubt cast a cloud over his accomplishments, and it remains to be seen how much of an effect it has on his career in Louisiana, and whether or not it’s the sole contributing factor in his ejection from the police force.
Overall, however, this is another strong episode, and gives high hopes for the rest of the season. It’s interesting to note the difference in Rusty’s demeanour between the past and 2012, as despite his drastic downgrade in personal appearance, he is clearly more content now than he was in 1995, and it will be interesting to trace that change in him. McConaughey continues to do an excellent job with the role, conveying Rusty’s panic over the visions, and his measured, drug-influenced manner of speaking in a very authentic manner. The difference in how the current-day detectives are treating Marty and Rusty is also worth noting; while they seem more interested in Rusty and his involvement in the Dora Lang case, they are also less forthcoming with Marty about the details of the present-day case. This points to two possibilities, either the detectives consider Rusty a suspect, or they feel he is the better detective. If it is the latter, their intent behind bringing back Marty as well becomes the primary question. It will be interesting to see if Marty’s children make an appearance in 2012, and what their attitudes towards their parents are now. The antagonistic relationship between Marty and Maggie and Maggie’s parents is portrayed excellently, and how the show expands the world it is set in is going to be worth a watch as the season continues.
– Deepayan Sengupta