TV Recap: True Detective, ‘The Secret Fate of All Life’

Spoilers Ahead


The Scene of the Crime (Episode Summary): Hart and Cohle tail Reggie LeDoux’s cooking partner to the meth compound. The two detectives forego back-up and decide to take the two meth cookers on themselves. After a violent altercation, which they greatly exaggerate to their superiors, the two detectives become heroes for solving the case. Flash forward to 2002 and during an interrogation, an inmate, in a moment of desperation, tells Cohle the killer is still out there and then utters two words that sends Cohle off the deep end, “Yellow King.” Cohle tries to re-open the case despite Hart’s objections.

The Lead Investigator (Favorite Performance): For the first time this season, Harrelson and McConaughey were equally as awesome to the same degree. The show finally gave the two equal ground to play off of — both are involved in the meth lab shooting, both are seen over the years trying to mend themselves, both are involved with the “Yellow King” incident and then both are presented with the evidence pointing towards Cohle actually being the mastermind of all the murders. Both were given ample screen time to kill it, to really sink their teeth into the material they’re given. Usually it’s McConaughey who gets the best stuff to work with, but Harrelson received the top notch material too. Like we said last week, this episode would never be able to match last week when it came to action, but it’s the acting that makes this show great week in and week out. And tonight, McConaughey and Harrelson proved that point.

They Could’ve Spared Us These Gory Details (Worst Part of the Episode): This is me being a broken record, but Hart’s family struggle just isn’t doing it for me. When he regresses back to douche bag alpha male mode and slaps his teenager daughter for talking back to him (after he picked her up from jail after being arrested for having a three-way with two older men) is just a bit whatever. Yes, it fills in the drama and backstory of Hart, but this storyline doesn’t really add much to the show. Maybe in the end it’ll pay off.

The Devil in the Details (The Little Thing You Loved): Loved the fact that the show gave Detectives Gilbough(Michael Potts) and Papania (Tory Kittles) a moment in the sun. So far they’ve offered very little outside throwing out a few questions for Cohle and Hart to answer. In this episode the two got to take the gloves off and show that they weren’t just bystanders in this series — they’re sharp, savvy investigators who have an agenda. That agenda is to find out if Rust Cohle is actually the mastermind behind of all these murders. The scenario they put out there is actually quite sound and now plunges Hart and the audience into a sea of doubt about Cohle. Brilliant move by the writers.

The Debriefing (Thoughts on the Episode): “The Secret Fate of All Life” is the turn into the home stretch for True Detective. We had our big action-fueled mid-season climax last week which lead to our first major storyline resolution tonight — the mystery of what happened “all these years ago.” Now, we begin to walk the path to find out why Hart and Cohle’s relationship imploded and why Cohle fell off the grid. Then we have the whole “what if” scenario that’s thrown into the mix — is Cohle really the killer? Now, we can assume he’s not because we see everything he does, even when Hart isn’t around, yet, are we seeing the truth? It’s an interesting wrinkle that the series didn’t necessarily need but this doubt really makes things even more interesting. Also, the “big blow up” between the two detectives has me wondering — did Cohle sleep with Hart’s wife? We see her in the trailer for the next episode…one has to wonder. Tonight’s episode was a terrifically acted and written episode that’s highlighted by a really masterfully crafted beginning that feeds off the adrenaline and intensity of last week’s episode.

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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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