‘True Detective’ Season Finale: “Between the Lines.” Why You Shouldn’t Have Been Disappointed With Its Ending

With the fantastically epic conclusion of HBO’s smash hit “True Detective,” the majority of viewers manned their social media battle stations to share how they felt.  While an overwhelmingly majority were “satisfied” with its close, many remarked that they were disappointed by a lackluster, and almost anti-climactic, ending.

Sure, the show’s creator, Nic Pizzaolatto, could have left us with a cliffhanger ending; maybe the elusive Sen. Tuttle standing in a darkened corner outside the hospital, the death either Cohle or Hart, or maybe even a harbinger of a potential next season.  However, I feel, that any of those scenarios would severely undercut the massive final impact of the show.

The truth is, the show’s ending was perfect.  Here’s why.

A means to an end.

When Hart and Cohle finally pinpoint and reach the exact location of Errol’s hidden fortress of Carcosa, we are presented with a climactic scene of “cat and mouse” through a dark and cryptic catacomb, filled with mummified sacrifices and various Yellow King imagery.  As soon as they arrive, Rust’s synesthesia kicks in, and when he was lying in a pool of his own blood (with Errol’s knife buried inside him), we vividly see it again.

My theory is, at first, he wanted to die.  Think about it – rule number one of being stabbed like he was, is not to remove the knife, unless you want to bleed out.  Surely someone as smart as Cohle would know that.  Perhaps, witnessing the Lovecraft imagery of time and space, while helplessly gazing through the murder hole of the mysterious church, and the feelings he felt, where enough reasons for Rust to choose to let go.

When he awakes, he explains to Marty how “he shouldn’t be there,” and for the first time, receives a moment of clarity – an overwhelming presence of human emotion, not found before in this traditionally nihilistic character who is as Darwinian and cynical as they come.  He states that he felt his father and daughter’s presence, and the feeling overwhelmed him, thus, leading this stoic characters in tears for the first time.  The fact that Pizzaolatto didn’t just let him die in a typical “martyrdom TV-drama fashion,” and instead, elected let Rust’s character fully develop back into an emotional sentient being in the end, is something that we don’t see much in television dramas these days – especially detective shows.

Look to the stars.

Perhaps the most meaningful moment came when Marty and Rust had that final symbolic conversation outside of the hospital and under the stars of a clear Louisiana sky.  I feel it was symbolic in a way that the darkened night sky represented all evil, and when Marty – in an attempt to uplift Rust – declared “We got our guy,” it truly backed up his following statement of: “It looks like the light is winning.”

It essentially symbolized that each star in the sky represented an instance where judgment was served, and even though Sen. Tuttle was able to distance himself from his own wrong doings, Marty and Rust essentially poked a bright hole of truth in the “sprawl” of evil stretched out in darkness across the sky.  A genuine allegory that many who were disappointed must have missed, or perhaps, underappreciated.

Looking Forward

Whether “True Detective” will return or not, at this time, remains unknown.  The show could go forward with a plot aimed at going after the bigger fish like Sen. Tuttle, but one fact remains: Detective Hart and Detective Cohle will not be involved.  Their side of the story is done, and to force them back into the fold would demeaning, unnecessary, and certainly not Pizzaolatto’s style.

Perhaps the show can combine two more colossal “A-listers” if a next season arises.  Either way, I would be content if it doesn’t come back; we Americans tend to stretch out our shows as long as we can, and it would be nice to be given the British module of a “limited-episode” season, which would forever immortalize the show in a state infallibility.


What did you think of the finale episode of “True Detective?”  Let me know in the comments below.

Tags: HBO Matthew McConaughey Season Finale Symbolic True Detective Woody Allen

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