Reflections After True Detective E1 and E2

True Detectives

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Evening, Shat Crew,

So, I wanted to pass along a few thoughts after watching episodes one and two of this season. I have so much to say, but I will try to keep it short, as I know you all are on a much tighter timeline with this series than with others.

That being said, I want to focus on a quick analysis of the poem read from in E1 and a fear I have about this season. I know, I know. Perhaps there is an eye roll here, as I always sent in literary analysis with Westworld, if you remember, but this is what I do, so forgive me for going here first. I do think it’s important, though, so bear with me.

So, the poem that Amelia reads from is written by Robert Penn Warren and entitled “Tell me a story.” Now, I think Pizzaloto may be hitting the nail a bit too on the head with this one. I actually audibly sighed in frustration as I began to recognize the prose because it’s so obvious, if you are familiar with the piece. Let’s talk about why. In the second stanza of the poem, Warren writes: “Tell me a story. In this century, and moment, of mania,Tell me a story. Make it a story of great distances, and starlight. The name of the story will be Time. But you must not pronounce its name. Tell me a story of deep delight.”

It is easy to see why this one is chosen when you think about Warren’s poem and it’s famous connection to New Criticism. Basically, New Criticism was a movement where proponents tried to change the way close reading was done. Instead of considering a piece of literature among the greater body of writing that is out there and its orientation within such a body; instead, close reading (or analysis) was now meant to be done in isolation, without regard for who the author was or who the subject was, and, in essence, the writing is meant to be read and understood on its own and on its own merit. What bigger message can Pizzolatto be sending those of us that almost left the series after S2 than to say, “Hey, be objective. Don’t read into this what you’ve seen before. Forget the fuck up that was S2 and see this one for what it is… something new. A non fuck-up.” The issue, though, is that so much of these first two episodes felt like S1. It is difficult to watch Ali’s Wayne and not think of McConaughey’s Rust. It is hard to watch Wayne’s partner (a terribly wigged Dorf), without recalling Harelson’s Hart. Will it be different? I hope so. I really do, but so far, it looks a lot and feels a lot like S1.

Now, to give Pizzolatto some credit, there is something in the first stanza of Warren’s poem that could speak to Ali’s character. Warren writes of time gone by and is reminiscent of a wanting and hoping for the past. In a way, Ali’s character Wayne is doing this. He is hoping for the past not just to see his wife, not just to be with her and to be young with his memories, but to have another chance, another opportunity to solve the crime with his full capacity. Still, I think it is more likely that Pizzolatto is being super meta here with regard to the audience, and it is pretty heavy handed, in my humble opinion.

That being said, it leads me to a fear about this season, which is the weight of the ones that have come before it. I feel like a lot of what has never gone right for Pizzolatto still isn’t fixed in these first two, most specifically the need to develop the really wooden and one-dimensional women on screen beyond how they react to the men. There is time, though, and I hold out hope.

My one request is that this season does not end with some pretty wrapped up bow. I think one of the reasons the excellent series, The Night Of, worked better than S2 and in some ways S1 of True Detective is that it is devastating in its ending, in its honesty. Since we are dealing with some heavy themes such as racism in the south this time around, I am hopeful for an ending that respects the heaviness of the material.

Only time will tell. I did enjoy this first outing, and Ali is just amazing, but I hope, moving forward, things are a little more subtle and the mystery is allowed to be what it is, a “who done it” that will have devastating and long lasting consequences for all involved.

You all are great, though, and I look forward to watching and analyzing alongside you this season.

And please forgive any grammatical errors contained within, as I wanted to just get this off without much editing time:).

– Ashley

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