True Detectives was perhaps the best psychologically nuanced TV show ever. The interplay between the two detectives and their views of the world, coupled with subtle suggestions via kids, dolls, women, family and situations was fascinating from the start. But, add this one to the list of great series with disappointing endings, such as Seinfeld, St. Elsewhere and The Sopranos. Just like the final episode of the X-Files, True Detective's finale needed to answer questions that had been set up throughout the series, but fell woefully short.
What happened to Tuttle? Who were the men assisting the yellow king in the snuff video? Why was the circle emblem in the Hart home? What was behind all of Audrey's sexual acting out? Who formed the task force and why? And most importantly, who were the rich powerful men alluded to? It was a brilliant and sensational series, but unfortunately, so much was left unanswered that it was just ……unsatisfying.
Ultimately, the series was more about the thorny and complicated partnership between Hart and Cohle than the search for the Yellow King. They were at their best when working together, even though it took a terrible toll on their lives. The old but persistent question from Twin Peaks, "Who killed Laura Palmer?" has been replaced by True Detective's "Who killed Dora Lange?" We’ve known for two weeks it was Errol William Childress, aka ‘lawnmower man’, but who else was involved, both in the murders and in the cover up?
As a cliffhanger for next season, this would have been world class. But as the final episode of this season's True Detective unfolded, the outcome succumbed to the incredible pressure of not enough time to tie up all the loose ends. It reminds me of the original ‘Apocalypse Now’ on pace to be the best movie of a generation until funding ran out and the ending was hastily slapped together.
The only thing resolved besides who was the Yellow King, was that the two men, so different throughout, ended up as true friends. They shared a near death experience, realizing that perhaps friendship with each other may be all they have.
Cohle, devastated by the death of his 3 year old daughter and a broken man, felt her love when dying and now has hope in what was before a hopeless world. And Hart for the first time puts someone ahead of himself, patiently listening to Cohle as he describes his experience. They have both grown exponentially at this late stage of their lives, overcoming the nightmares and becoming better men in the process.
Near the end, Hart is noisily slurping a beverage in Cohle's hospital room, awakening him. When Cohle asked if he was watching him sleep, Hart replies "Geez, what's your fucking problem?"
Here we go again. Things may have changed, yet some things remain the same. Yet, this time there's a big difference: Attitude and a newfound respect for the other. They're bonding for the first time both as partners and as men. Hart takes the trouble to wrap a pack of cigarettes as a gift. And Cohle teases back, asking "Are we getting engaged?"
Cohle now has hope, Hart has atoned for the killing of Reggie LeDoux and we sense they have both found peace. Yes, they found justice, but not absolute justice.
Cohle sums it up by saying, “We didn’t get them all”, to which Hart responds "We ain't gonna get them all. That ain't the kind of world it is”.
If you were looking for closure, perhaps that sums it up. There often is no closure, not in real life and many questions will never be answered, left floating in the wind forever. That’s the final message of True Detective. Very true, very real and very unsatisfying.
To read more True Detective analyses, check out:
The Psychology Of Hart And Cohle
True Detective: A Psychological Analysis
The Psychology Of Hart And Cohle, Part III
Is Hart The Yellow King?
Is Maggie's Father The Yellow King?
Maggie's Deal With The "Devil"