Two polar opposite detectives took on a disturbing murder case in the premiere of HBO True Detective (Sunday, 9/8c) – and in its first hour, the series set up a filing cabinet full of satellite mysteries. Are you planning to stick around to see them solved?
The drama uses dual timelines, one in present day and another in 1995, to introduce us to Louisiana CID detectives Rust (Dallas Buyers’ Club‘s Matthew McConaughey) and Marty (The Hunger Games’ Woody Harrelson). 1995 Marty is a straitlaced, Christian family man with a wife (played by Michelle Monaghan, Gone Baby Gone) and two young daughters. 1995 Rust is a divorced loner whose marriage ended soon after his daughter died. In the future, the men are quite different – Rust, especially. But more on that in a moment.
In the ’90s, the partners are called to a murder scene, where they find a nude woman wearing a crown of antlers and thorns, Hannibal-style, and bent into a pose of supplication. Marty is disturbed by the tableau; Rust takes in all of the details with a careful, if dispassionate, eye. Though Marty mocks his partner for coming to the conclusion that the victim is a prostitute, Rust is later proven right: The woman in question’s name is Dora Lange, and no one can figure out why she was targeted.
As the episode unfolds, we get a greater sense that something’s really not OK with the nihilistic Rust circa the 1990s. He’s rangy and restless – he asks a prostitute for help securing drugs that will help him sleep – he has a tendency to drink to much and his nihilistic streak that “means I’m bad at parties,” he tells Marty. “Let me tell ya,” his partner responds in one of the dark episode’s few moments of levity, “you’re not great outside of parties, either.”
In the present, both men – interviewed separately – wonder why the police want them to talk about a case that’s nearly a decade old. Turns out, there’s been another murder similar to Dora’s.
“How could it be him if we already caught him in 95?” a long-haired, heavy drinking, smoking Rust wonders. “How indeed, detectives?”
The question is one of several that linger after the hour’s credits roll. What kind of falling out resulted in the distance between Rust and Marty? Why the sudden change in Rust’s look and demeanor? What happened to Rust’s little girl? And what does the disappearance of a local girl have to do with the ongoing murder investigation?
The characters are intriguing and the possibly Satanic crime creepy: Detective makes us want to tune in each week, if only to figure out what the heck is going on in Rust’s head.
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