‘True Detective’ wraps: Let this be a lesson

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“Someone once told me that time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re going to do over and over and over again.” –Rust Cohle

It happened with “Lost.” It happened with “Breaking Bad.” And it happened again with “True Detective.”

Last night, the eight-episode run of the HBO’s thrilling “True Detective,” – starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for only this one season – came to an end after weeks of speculation, crackpot theories and the murky thing that seems to be so important these days, “social media buzz.”

Coming into the final hour, we all had ideas of what we were going to see. We’d certainly get our serial killer and we’d get some kind of conclusion. But would the killer also be the Yellow King? Would the sprawling conspiracy of child abduction, abuse and murder that Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Harrelson) had been tracking for seven episodes be fully explained? Would things break supernatural? Would Rust or Marty die? Was Marty’s father-in-law involved? Marty’s daughter? Rust’s daughter? Would a spaghetti monsters or Cthulhu swallow the planet whole?

There was so much hype and anticipation, whether all of these things happened or none of them, there was still likely to be disappointment. “Lost” came to a fairly straight-forward conclusion and its fans threw a fit. “Breaking Bad” closed in a natural fashion and many felt disappointed. “True Detective” ended and revealed to us that, all along, we had just been watching a cop show. A very strong, character-driven, experimental cop show with top notch talent all across the credits and an eight-week experience that not for a second do I regret being a part of.

There were times last night when I allowed myself, just for a second, to have that icky “That’s all?” feeling. But I swatted it away. “True Detective” was excellent and didn’t need mind-bending revelations. We got to know two fantastic and unforgettable characters, and a cop show can just be a cop show.

Viewers shouldn’t expect every penultimate episode or season finale of prestige television to blow our brains out. Yet every time a “Lost” or “Breaking Bad” or “True Detective” comes along, many seem to expect the impossible.

We should learn from this. There will be another “True Detective” — figuratively and literally, as there’s likely to be a second season with a new story and new cast.

But we won’t learn. Time is a flat circle.

–Shane Nyman, snyman@postcrescent.com or on Twitter @shanenyman

About Shane Nyman

Shane Nyman is a copy editor and writes on pop culture and entertainment for Post-Crescent Media in Appleton, Wis.
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