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Mainlining the Secrets of the Universe, True Detective “Seeing Things” 

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

I don’t mean to give Woody Harrelson‘s Marty Hart short shrift here – because he’s great – but this show is really all about Matthew McConaughey‘s Rust Cohle for me. He is just such an interesting, twisted, damaged guy. In “Seeing Things,” we learn that his daughter Sophia was two when she was killed and that his marriage ended about a year after that. Survivor’s guilt. 

Rust didn’t handle losing his daughter very well, but in some ways he thinks it’s a blessing that his child went out like that. She was a happy kid, riding her tricycle in the driveway and she didn’t feel any pain. Rust’s pain manifested itself on the job. He got a transfer from robbery to narco and spent four years deep undercover. He was a floater that got loaned out to any department that needed him, but it wasn’t by choice. He was made an example of because he killed some guys on the job. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital, Rust was given the chance to retire on a psych pension but he said no. He wanted to be transferred to homicide where he thought he might do some good.

As Marty tells detectives Gilbough and Papina, Rust has an eye for weakness. Rust knows Marty’s having an affair and he knows how to get the information he wants from the people he questions – sometimes it’s with the carrot and sometimes it’s with the stick. Either way, Rust knows he can do whatever he wants with impunity, or at least that’s what he tells people.

Rust has visions – or had them before he got clean. He always knew what was real and what was fake and mostly thought he was losing it. The hallucinations were a result of the drugs he abused when he was a narc and the drugs he continued to abuse while he worked homicide. He doesn’t have them anymore; getting clean for a few years got rid of them.

When Rust sees the symbol on Dora’s back manifest itself in a flock of birds, he knows they’ve found the church they’ve been looking for. It’s been incinerated, but on one of the walls they find a crude drawing of a woman with an antler crown. Even though the task force wants to take this case away from them, Rust and Marty still want to work it. Quesada is trying to get them some leeway, but no one seems to want Rust on this case. No one wants to hear much of what he has to say either.

Detectives Gilbough and Papina remain very interested in the way Rust worked this case as well as if he ever mentioned his parents to Marty. Marty’s not stupid. He knows they have an angle. We still don’t know why they’re so curious about Cohle. It’s interesting that there’s a lot they don’t know about him, information that Rust seems pretty happy to volunteer. Hopefully his willingness to share won’t come back to haunt him.

True Detective airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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