Where the first episode of the season introduced us to the world of True Detective, the second opens up the backstory for Rust and Marty as we dive into their vices during this case and in present day. Rust’s background before moving to Louisiana still haunts him from time to time as he has drug flashbacks that bend his reality. Rust says he can tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t, but I can’t imagine this isn’t going to pop up at an inopportune time later in the series. The visualization of his “visions” is handled with trippy effectiveness and I love that the show grounded it in reality, so that there was a fine line, at times, that what he is seeing might not be a vision.
Rust’s family history gets filled in quite a bit as well, his daughter was killed by a passing car while playing in the street, his marriage crumbling under the loss, but Rust seems to be leaving just enough holes that we don’t feel like we got the whole truth. Rust’s present day appearance makes us believe that he would self destruct and dive headfirst into undercover vice work (I would love to see those stories realized for season 2), but I have a sneaking suspicion that he might be more responsible for his daughter’s death than he is letting on. Rust has lived a rough life and isn’t afraid to get into it and this is bound to come in handy as they dive deeper and deeper into this occult church.
Marty’s vices are his proclivity for other women and his rationalization as to why betraying his wife and family is OK. It’s so sad to see modern day Marty tell the investigating cops that it was “necessity” that he go out and sleep around behind his wife’s back, or else all that tension and stress would destroy his marriage. His hypocrisy doesn’t even take 12 years to bare its face either, as Marty and Maggie’s home life is anything but rosy at the moment. The whole cheating cop that is still a defender of women is a little old hat for a cop show, but Harrelson plays the trope about as great as one could hope for here. He does this not just because he has daughters or a sad back story with women, but because part of him, probably, believes that if he defends women he can disrespect his wife and they will balance out. Between Rust’s violent history with drug dealers and Marty’s penchant to defend women, I can’t wait to see what these two actors do once they are put in a situation where they can let their inner demons fly.
On the story side of things, the duo feels pressure from above, with the threat to take the case from them without a suspect, but they are certainly getting closer. The scene at the backwoods bunny ranch is a big get for tracking down Dora Lange’s final whereabouts and the experience helped peel back Marty’s female protector layer just a bit more with his interactions with an underage pros. Dora’s diary also keeps alive the weird sidebar about the missing Fontenot girl and her stories of monsters in the woods, which does not bode well for a vision seeing Rust. The lead on the burnt out church is also bound to pay off big time going forward and I cannot wait to see what weirdness this religion has in store for us when it is hopefully revealed sooner rather than later.
Another strong episode of True Detective confirms the style and pacing of the show and I couldn’t be happier about that. Great character development, mixed with a little bit of mystery every week is the kind of crime story I can get into and True Detective seems bound to deliver that in spades. The show is great at telling us enough to keep us intrigued, leaving out certain bits, but never feeling like it is just holding back information for the hell of it. The holes we have in the story are all supported by the characters’ inability to be open and I look forward to diving deeper into these guys’ minds.