After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the second season of True Detective kicked off on HBO last night. So I thought it would be a good time to revisit the phenomenal first season and share some of what I consider to be true standout moments from the show, moments that helped raise it above just about everything else on TV back in 2014. I managed to narrow it to five and track them down on YouTube …
1. Rust’s explanation of the “Secret Fate of All Life” (Ep. 5, “The Secret Fate of All Life”)
This is my absolute favorite moment in the entire season, yet it’s for reasons that I don’t fully understand myself. The music in this scene is a key factor, accentuating the sad, hopeless belief that Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) describes and has ultimately resigned himself to. It’s a subtle, almost unnoticeable moment that encapsulates the entire show in one quiet, understated delivery of dialogue that submerges you in the despair of this poor, tortured soul, putting you right there alongside him.
2. Rust’s acid flashback (Ep. 2, “Seeing Things”)
The moment that throws any certainties you had about Rust being any sort of reliable source of truthful information right out the window. It’s one of several hallucinatory scenes throughout the course of the season, but it’s in this initial reveal that you realize that maybe, just maybe, you should take what we’re being told by Rust with a grain of salt.
3. “I took some convincing.” (Ep. 7, “After You’ve Gone”)
You can show someone an appalling act of violence or you can let them imagine it for themselves, which is what True Detctive’s creators opted to do when revealing the unfortunate, tragic fate of Marie Fontenot, a child fallen victim to the individuals responsible for the ritualistic murders our two heroes are desperately trying to solve. The little bit that we do see is bad enough, but Marty’s horrified reaction to the video Rust screens for him of her murder tells us all we need to know and lets us to fill in the blanks for ourselves.
4. Marty on the good years (Ep. 5, “The Secret Fate of All Life”)
Another melancholy moment in the show where an aged Marty reflects for a brief moment, broken up about the way his life has turned out, especially in regards to the dissolution of his family unit, for which he has no one to blame but himself. Woody Harrelson really sells it here, giving a sense of profundity to the realization that life passed him by and he didn’t even notice it when it did.
5. Rust gets suspended (Ep. 6, “Haunted Houses”)
This final selected scene is notable for several reasons, not the least of which being Paul Ben-Victor’s incensed Major Salter calling Marty a human tampon and being the second superior officer to tell Rust to shut the fuck up. Actually, the human tampon line is specifically the reason why I put this scene on the list. It just makes me laugh to no end.
Will the second season end up with moments this damn good over the course of its season? We can only hope.