TV Review: True Detective 103 – The Locked Room

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True Detective puts religion, masculinity and a possible suspect in its cross-hairs while finding a wicked sense of humor along the way.

The show’s first couple of episodes had bits of humor sprinkled throughout, but Rust and Martin found a stride where they were putting heads in a perfect balance, all leading up to that amazing rush of a moment when all the pieces came together before one hell of a cliffhanger. Whether it’s the two getting into about the necessity of religion, Rust’s relationship with Maggie or cutting another man’s lawn, the episode was full of some great comedic moments. Rust also gets a bunch of excellent one liners throughout the episode, undoubtedly making this the funniest murder mystery I have ever seen. The show’s ability to slip in great bits of humor in the background only strengths the proceedings, elevating it to the best hour long currently on TV.

The opening act of the episode picked up where last week’s episode left off, at the burned down Friends of Christ church, and quickly catch up to the mobile congregation now operating out of a tent. What I was not prepared for was, even though it made a lot of sense as soon as it started happening, was Rust given an amazing, scathing and accurate monologue that just decimates religion and everything it says about the people that buy into it. Some might call the assessment cruel, but I feel like heĀ was more than fair. Nic Pizzolatto seems to use Rust as his sounding for his view on the world and none of his rants have been so sharp or pointed as this one.

So the social commentary was strong, but what did the church turn up in terms of the case? Well, outside a fantastically creepy turn by Shea Whigham as the church preacher and an indecently exposing to children (and subsequently castrated in prison) mentally handicapped person, a possible suspect emerges after interviewing a couple of the women who knew Dora Lange. That lead runs into a dead end, but it keeps Rust driven and digging through boxes and boxes of DB’s looking for a link. When that diligence comes together after unearthing a dead body with a similar symbol on the girls back the episode leaves us with the promise of a shootout and one crazy looking monster.

Martin is dealing with a lot this week on the home front and it gave Woody Harrelson some great material to work with. Martin is such a compelling and conflicted character that you can’t help but feel a little sorry for even though he is a son of a bitch. There is no making excuses for him cheating on his wife, but watching him bare his soul the best he can, even if he left out the sleeping around part, was hard to watch. Equally hard to watch is Maggie struggle with saving her marriage. Michelle Monaghan gets the most to do yet in this episode and watching her all but get her husband to admit to the affair she knows he is having and then sleeping with him because she misses his touch and feels sorry for him is just some great, complex character development.

Also, we need Maggie to set up Rust on more dates so we can watch him dance forever. The scene at the bar was a highlight all around with so much going on and so many character angles to keep track of. Martin’s mistress, Maggie’s watching eyes, Rust is being Rust, so much to enjoy. And all of the fallout was just as good. Whether Martin was pounding on his girlfriend’s door or Rust is letting Maggie know that setting him up is probably a lost cause, every scene just builds and builds the characters.

True Detective just gets better with every passing week and we finally seem to be getting somewhere big in this upcoming episode. Nic Pizzolatto has some amazing balance of character, plot and mood going on with his show and Cary Fukunaga is bringing it to the screen beautifully; this episode was the most gorgeous yet. I don’t think you can find a better hour long on TV at the moment.