My grandson is here on leave, staying with us this week. We love watching TV together at the end of the day. And this time, he came with his lap top so that we could watch the first season of True Detective together. He’s been wanting me to see it for a long time, but it’s a lot more fun watching it when he’s here, because we’re those awful people who pause shows and yak about plot points and characters while we watch. We’d never do that at a movie theater. It annoys me when I pay to see a movie and people talk during it. But at home, hey, it’s a whole different story.
We haven’t finished the series yet, but we started it last night and even HH got so hooked on it that we binge watched four episodes in a row until we were too tired to watch anymore. The first thing I noticed was the show’s opening. The music and images reminded me of the opening for True Blood. Moody music. Moody images that flash on screen. You know, for sure, that you’re not going to watch a Hallmark movie. And I don’t mean that as a put-down of either. I happen to enjoy both.
The Long Bright Dark begins with the first body the detectives, Matthew McConaughey and Wood Harrelson, find. And of course, the victim is staged. Her naked body is kneeling and bent over with antlers tied to the top of her head and a “devil’s cage” made of twigs hanging over it. She has stab wounds on her abdomen. It looks like a ritualistic killing. And after examining it, McConaughey declares that she isn’t the killer’s first victim. There had to be more leading up to it. Woody Harrelson doesn’t believe him but soon learns that his new partner might be odd, but he’s brilliant…and obsessive.
The combination of the new detective–an outsider–and the detective at home in his station and his home town–is used often, because it works. It creates conflict between the protagonists to add to the conflict of the story’s plot. And The Long Bright Dark does a great job of both. Both characters are flawed but view life from really different angles. McConaughey doesn’t believe in anything–religion, institutions, relationships; whereas, Harrelson is a married man who believes in family values, even though he rationalizes what that means so that he can sleep with someone else. After all, gritty detective stories can’t have protagonists that are too happy, right?
Just like in the series True Blood, the story is set in Louisiana, and the poverty of many of the settings sets the tone for the serial killer who preys on women and children. There’s a gritty texture that runs through every episode. Our grandson keeps reassuring me that I’m going to like the ending of the show, and I hope he’s right, because it’s hard to tell how the protagonists are going to fare from one episode to the next. And that’s a pretty awesome achievement, in and of itself. The Long Bright Dark is done well.