In the series premiere of HBO’s latest crime drama, True Detective, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are brought in to “go over” their investigation of the 1995 murder of Dora Kelly Lange. However, the pair become leery when the questions start to focus more on their former partners rather than the case itself.

True Detective is told through Hart and Cohle’s versions of the investigation, and the story goes back and forth between the 1995 investigation and the 2012 re-investigation. The two are part of the Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigation Division.

We learn throughout the episode, titled “The Long Bright Dark,” that Cohle is the dark, brooding pessimist of the pair, while Hart seems to have it all figured out. However, I’m pretty sure we’re going to find out that everything just isn’t that cut and dry. 

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Let’s Get to Work

Hart seems to be the one with more to tell about his partner as he describes Cohle as not much of a talker, but very smart. While at the crime scene where Lange’s body is found naked, bound and posed in a kneeling position with antlers on her head and symbols on her body, Cohle immediately gets to work with his notepad, which earns him the nickname “Tax Man,” and starts hypothesizing about the possible killer. He’s convinced Lange is not the first to be killed by the suspect, as the details at the scene and on the body are too specific. Hart doesn’t want him to get ahead of himself and jump to conclusions.

A Silent Reflection

As the episode plays out, you can see Hart’s frustration with his partner of only three months at the time. While trying to bond with Cohle, Hart soon regrets his questions when Cohle starts talking metaphorically about life. But despite his feelings about Cohle, Hart invites him to dinner at his wife Maggie’s (Michelle Monaghan) request. At dinner, which Cohle shows up to drunk, Maggie gets him to open up about his personal life, something that Hart seems annoyed at.

Despite their differences, the pair keep investigating different leads on the Lange case. While interviewing a pastor at a local church, they learn that the sort of bird’s nests shaped as teepees are sometimes called devil’s nests by those who practice Santeria. During another interview with a neighbor, they learn about a case of a missing 10-year-old girl named Marie. Going on that lead, they interview the girl’s aunt and uncle and an investigation of a barn on the property finds a bird’s nest similar to what was found at the Lange murder scene.

What’s This Really About?

Back to 2012, Hart explains that his relationship with Cohle went south in 2002 and he hasn’t spoken to him since. He also wonders why their relationship is being called into question, when he was brought in to discuss the Lange case. Meanwhile, Cohle, who has requested that beer be brought in during his interview, also starts to question the department’s motives. While the two detectives questioning the pair explain that files for the case were destroyed by Hurricane Rita, Cohle asks them if it has to do with a body that was recently found hanging from a bridge near Lake Charles.

What is Hart’s relationship like with his wife Maggie? Will his drinking and around-the-clock working take a toll on his family? Why is Cohle so down on life? Perhaps the death of his daughter will come into play and explain why he is such a pessimist. I’m hoping all these questions will be answered in the next seven episodes.

The series will use an anthology format, as next season will be a different case and storyline.

True Detective airs on Sundays at 9pm on HBO.

(Image courtesy of HBO)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV