(Spoilers for True Detective Finale. Again, SPOILERS)
Certainly not a perfect ending. Not by a long shot.
First, that the actual killer was Erroll Childress was not, in itself, a bad thing. However, the show failed to properly situate Errol within the larger context of the series. As I see it, Erroll was a vestige of an old order, a cabal of psychopaths and megalomaniacs that have spun a tapestry of horror across the Louisiana bayou for decades. For whatever reason, that circle has collapsed. Those with some connection to the ritual murders of yesterday have, for reasons of political expedience, chosen to distance themselves. Erroll is what remains, carrying on the work. Unfortunately, that was not what we saw on screen. The connection between the murders and the socio-political upper-crust was, while not altogether forgotten, rather briskly dismissed.
Second, Cohle sold out. That’s the real betrayal. The somewhat hollow, listless -dare I say lazy – delivery of Erroll absent any larger scheme was forgivable. Cohle finding Jesus isn’t. His nihilistic fatalism was one of the most engaging aspects of the show – a protagonist gifted with the misanthropic yet erudite worldview of Cormac McCarthy’s Judge Holden. I didn’t believe for a second that Cohle would make that switch, even if he DID experience the warm, loving, tangible darkness that underpins reality. No matter how much he wanted to believe, he would have eventually recognized that it was the product of adrenaline and blood loss. A neurological mirage, nothing more.
That said, it is far from fair to be overly cynical. The ending was lacking and, in some respects, contrived. But overall, True Detective was fantastic. One of the best series I’ve ever seen – dark, atmospheric, thought-provoking. It painted complex portraits of troubled characters in a senseless, chaotic, and ruthless world. Fukunaga’s direction has been fantastic. Review the six-minute tracking short from episode 4 for a refresher. T Bone Burnett has done a typically outstanding job, using music to access an emotional palate that is alternately chilling, suspenseful, energetic, and soulful. That the only real shortcut Pizzollato took was the one on his way out is, I think, forgivable. It might just take a while.
In the spirit of remembering just how good this show could be:
Inspired by Annalee Newitz’s review: http://io9.com/what-the-hell-kind-of-ending-was-that-true-detective-1540629251