If you have not watched True Detective yet, be forewarned that this post is full of spoilery analysis.
Possibly you’ve noticed, but a lot of people on the internet are obsessing over True Detective. A great many of them seem to be either unemployed or underemployed, because they’re hanging out all day every day on Reddit or the True Detective Facebook page, offering frankly incredible levels of detail in their analyses of the show. The amount of intricacy involved in their interpretive work would impress some biblical scholars, I think. There are a fair amount of places where it feels like people are departing significantly from the text to get to their theories, so to speak.
As someone who’s been watching the show more for the languid beauty of it and the greatness of Matthew McConaughey’s acting, I confess that reading all this stuff over the last two days has been a revelation. First of all, I discovered that people really… see a whole lot of layers here that I don’t. I think of this as a good document of the journey of two troubled detectives through a years-long movie case, but the internet audience’s reaction seems to be conditioned by years of puzzle shows like Lost to expect an ulterior motive behind every plot development. And boy oh boy, are they experts at dreaming those ulterior motives up.
Here’s a survey and my own take on these theories, starting with the most implausible:
1. A large majority of people think there is definitionally going to be a “false detective.” There is a significant portion of the population who read the title True Detective as one half of a binary. In other words: they think this show is going to present us with a “false detective.” Reading the show this way is not totally implausible given the way early episodes tried to set us up to see Cohle (McConaughey) as a villain returned from the dead and Hart (Harrelson) as the dupe who didn’t realize he was working beside a dangerous killer. That’s certainly what the 2012 investigators who are interrogating Cohle and Hart seem to think.
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