‘True Detective’ Discussion: The ‘Stash House In Coon Country’

On January 22nd, True Detective showrunner tweeted the following: “Ep 1-3 = Act One. Ep 4-6 = Act Two. Ep 7 & 8 = Act Three.” If last night’s heart-in-throat episode is any indication, Act Two is going to be one hell of a ride, so buckle up. I now see why HBO opted not to air this episode last week on Super Bowl Sunday — it was just too damn good to air on a night where viewers would have been distracted by something else. America needed to be all in for this one.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are a few notes I made during last night’s True Detective about characters, scenes, etc. I found interesting for one reason or another.

– We’re four episodes in and hearing the True Detective opening theme song already evokes a Pavlovian response from me. It’s one that’s a mixture of excitement and dread.

– The visit to the prison by Hart and Cohle to see Dora Lange’s incarcerated ex-husband seems to confirm that Reggie Ledoux’s the likely killer. He describes the 6’7” (“tall man”) Ledoux as a master meth chemist with a spiral “brand” on his back who spends time cavorting with rich devil worshippers in the woods where women and children are sacrificed. Yeah, I’d say that they found their guy.

– I know there’s no way this was going to happen, but how great would it be if been if Reggie Ledoux’s mask came off and it was revealed that he was being played by Bryan Cranston.

– “Must be tough. Living with someone spouting insane shit in your ear all day long.” — Marty Hart.

– Last night’s episode featured an impressive array of music. Bo Didley, the Melvins, Lucinda Williams, Primus and Wu-Tang, just to name a few of the artists whose music was in the show. I’ve been listening to the Lucinda Williams song — “Are You Alright?” — that played over Cohle’s raiding of the evidence room over and over all morning.

– “They really should have a better system for this.” — Rust Cohle after exiting the police evidence room with a bunch of cocaine stuffed in his pants.

– I had a feeling Alexandria Daddario’s character was gonna go all “call the wife and tell her everything” on Hart. To his credit, Cohle appears to have Hart’s back on this, though he may be motivated more by his desire for the two of them to solve the case than he is by doing a good deed. But hey, whatever. I still think Cohle’s going to bone her later on down the line, btw.

– I’m not sure how Cohle’s description of how a Mexican drug cartel would torture a man to death rather than putting a bullet in his head didn’t give me nightmares last night, but the week is still early.

– I was fairly certain that the bartender in the strip club Hart visits to try to track down Tyrone Weems was True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto wearing a t-shirt that reads “Kiss Me I’m An A$shole.” A quick check of IMDB this morning did confirm he had an acting credit in last night’s show.

– In an interview with the Daily Beast last week that I highly recommend you all read, Pizzolatto said that he spent years bartending in Austin, so the role was obviously ideal for him.

– “You are like the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch.” — Marty Hart.

– Mad props to Cohle for maintaining his cover when a high-as-f*ck biker gang skinhead named “Ginger” grabbed him by the cock and balls. I would have surely withered under such intense, homoerotic pressure.

– Also, mad props to Cohle for maintaining his cover while high as a kite on whatever Ginger had him snort, not to mention whatever else he may have snorted along the way. You just knew things were going to get complicated with that bunch. Goddamn Ginger couldn’t just lead Hart and Cohle straight to Ledoux — there had to be a botched robbery of a “stash house in coon country” to muddy things up a bit.

– The chase scene at the end was so gripping that I didn’t notice that it was a single, six-minute long tracking shot until a few people I follow on Twitter pointed it out. I just sat there on my sofa riveted, jaw in my lap, at what was unfolding on the TV screen in front of me. If director Cary Fukunaga hadn’t already put his artistic stamp on this show, he certainly did so last night with that brilliantly choreographed sequence, and he talked to MTV about how it was pulled off.

Reading Nic Pizzolatto’s script for “Who Goes There,” Fukunaga knew almost immediately that the heist was the scene to make his oner. All he had to do was convince the entire crew that it wasn’t impossible to pull off.

To cover as much ground as he wanted to in the sequence, Fukunaga needed to shoot in an actual housing project, and that was the first complication in planning the oner. It took weeks to even get permission to film on-location, but once he received it, Fukunaga went straight into mapping the shot and finding “the most interesting path, but also the most logical path” for Cohle to escape with Ginger. That interesting and logical path eventually takes Cohle and Ginger over a chain-link fence, a maneuver that proved to be the most complicated of the intricate sequence.

Watching just the fences portion of the oner back, the camera floats over the high barrier in a movement that almost looks effortless. Getting the shot, however, was anything but. Because the location was an actual housing project, the “True Detective” crew wasn’t allowed to take down any portion of the fence, so they had to improvise. “At one point, we were going to build a ramp, and the operator was going to walk up it,” Fukunaga said. “But that wasn’t very safe.” The solution ended up involving placing the Steadicam operator on an elevated jib, or a weighted crane, which carried him over the fence and back down to earth.

– I have a feeling that in next week’s episode we’ll see Woody Harrelson’s Marty Hart take the crazy reigns from Cohle and go medieval on Ginger in an attempt to squeeze Ledoux’s whereabouts from him. Obviously, they can’t haul him in to the station — they’re going to have to keep him somewhere off the grid — and with the investigation now going fully off the rails I can’t see it not going even more off the rails. Maybe Cohle talking about the Mexican drug cartel’s methods will plant a seed in Hart’s twisted mind, and lord knows he needs someone to take his frustrations out on.

– I’m beginning to wonder if the main thing the two 2012 detectives are trying to get the bottom of is what happened during Cohle’s time off to visit his fake dying father. There’s obviously a black hole there that never made it into the Lange investigation’s official paperwork, stuff that’s been obviously covered up all these years by Hart and Cohle.

– On another note, cops in the southwest Louisiana town of Jennings may be murdering area prostitutes. This Medium piece on the murders reads like some sort of real life True Detective sh*t.

– Finally, here’s a little Valentine from me to all of you…

Your own thoughts, feelings, impressions, etc. are welcome in the comments.