True Detective – 1×05: the “mistake” that changed everything

When it comes to anthological TV series, the Nic Pizzolatto series from HBO is one of the first to come to mind. In particular, the first season has garnered much acclaim from audiences and critics, with intense storytelling, sublime dialogues and the masterful interpretation of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as the two protagonists Rustin Cohle and Martin Hart. The fifth episode of the first season of True Detective is titled “The Secret Destiny of Every Life” and leads us into a labyrinth of mysteries, casts the seed of doubt in us, while attracting us with profound reflections on the meaning of life, so much so that we almost seem to feel it slipping away between our fingers.

We have fears, and it’s not just for the macabre settings that Pizzolatto has accustomed us to in True Detective

True Detective
True Detective (640 x 360)

We are suddenly afraid of living badly or not living at all. While Rust plays with his cans of beer, and Marty talks about those happy years of the past, we find ourselves thinking about ourselves. What are the best years of our life? Are we living them? Have we experienced them already? The future is so damn scary.

Crime weaves together the past, the present, and all that has slipped away in between. Like the sprigs of wood that embellish the mystery, so the conundrums of a complex relationship are revealed before our eyes, while Rust and Marty once again tell the fairy tales they have memorized. It’s all a metaphor. The narrative voices of the protagonists make us retrace a lie while the images show us reality. The real dynamic overlaps with a story told, tested, in which perhaps they have come to believe too. A bit like the narrative voices of the appearance that we superimpose on our lives when we don’t like their bad habits. We tell our story until it seems plausible or likely. Illusion.

Compared to the previous episodes of True Detective we seem to know the two protagonists for the first time, or not to know them at all

stranger things
True Detective (640 x 360)

It is said that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can generate a hurricane on the other side of the world, the same way in True Detective we see how small and big mistakes can take their toll when we least expect it, too when we don’t even remember that distraction anymore.

Because distraction itself is as much a mistake as haste. In themselves, human emotions are also a subspecies of system error, a flaw that leads us to be impulsive, stupid, terribly human as we are. True Detective is a cynical and dirty analysis of this conceptand so is the fifth episode of the TV series.

At the end of the episode we wonder who Rust Cohle is, we almost want to see him as a villain even if deep down we don’t believe it either. Yet he is nothing but the villain of himself: disheveled, in disarray, the victim of past traumas that make the flow of life a new wrinkle on his frowning brow. Hunting is the only thing that keeps him going, between the taste of hops and yet another cigarette. He gets inside people, goes beyond what is seen on the surface and thinks like them. There are no tricks in his interrogations, because he has nullified his ego to the point of being able to interpret whoever he wants. It’s a wrapper, which rests against the waist with the same blatant carelessness with which the ash balances itself on the edge of a slow-burning cigarette, between puffs.

On the other side we have Marty, with his usual tie hanging around his neck, and the belief that he can always get away with it. He teeters on an unsteady claim to perfection, while everything he imagines shatters under his hands. He would like to manage the reins of a model family, but he has never had the reins. He forgot them on the street some time ago, and he never got them back. So time slips, the clock keeps ticking and the daughters grow up. While distracted he eats his dinner and time slyly laughs, like a diary left at the bottom of a drawer, and a discourse from the past aborted in an unsaid.

The direction once again hits the target in True Detective

true detective
True Detective (640 x 360)

While we are tossed between present, future, real and distorted, colors transport us to a desaturated and gloomy world. Again we are afraid. Dialogues are like sharp blades. We have to strain our ears to understand every facet of them, and a second later we would already like to go back to listen to them again and again to enjoy this writing masterpiece.

If we have learned that distraction is a sin, this also applies to our “work” as spectators. True Detectiveespecially the fifth episode of the first season, makes us understand that we cannot afford to be distracted. We have to enjoy the slow trickle of speech, let the narrative absorb us into that ghostly loop that is history. We empty ourselves like Rust, we undress and become the shell for the story itself. We can’t make mistakes in this concentric advance, after all we have the whole existence watching us from the other side, seeing us as the perfect circle of a beer can squashed between the sweaty palms of a tobacco-flavored hand.

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