True Detective Review: “After You’ve Gone” (Season 1, Episode 7)

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When we first met Hart and Cohle, they were mismatched. One was driven by a relentless pursuit of the truth, the other avoiding his responsibilities and creating lies to cover up his hypocrisies. However, in episode seven, in these small moments, they are tired, tortured men with a shared humanity. Both men have lost any grip on a human connection. They are cold and hopeless wanders, perfect noir characters that can never be satisfied with the cold lifelessness of their environment.

There is a reason why Fukunaga has filmed Louisiana with such murky colours, focusing on beautiful grounds tampered with by the whims of nature (Hurricane Andrew). Hart and Cohle are living in a land that looks like a mix between Hell and the Garden of Eden, a world where beauty can no longer exist because something despicable is growing underneath it all and staining the land. Alas, the last shot of “After You’ve Gone” makes perfect sense, as a man with a badly scarred face continues to mow a beautiful lawn – likely covering up his tracks and hiding the decrepit soil that he allegedly planted. We will find out in seven days whether or not these roots of suffering – Hart’s, Cohle’s or the metaphorical ones this potential villain may have covered up – can come to the surface.

Lurid and leering, few things on television have moved or looked quite like True Detective. At the same time, few shows have deconstructed the mythos of American masculinity or prompted viewers to track down a cultural artefact – here, the short story collection called The King in Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers, which some commentators insist is key to understanding the deeper themes and haunting imagery that pervades Pizzolatto’s series. “Life’s been a circle of violence and degradation for as long as I can remember,” Cohle explains in this week’s episode. “I’m ready to tie it off.” These two men are still looking for truth and meaning in their existence. By the end of True Detective‘s finale, hopefully they will find the former. I doubt they will uncover the latter.