Oct 14, 2020
How ‘True Detective’ Will End
I alone know how “True Detective” will end. I’ve only seen a couple episodes, and I still know exactly how it will end.
SPOILER ALERT: THIS POST CONTAINS NO SPOILERS.
My Twitter feed, much like yours, is riddled with image macros where Matthew McConaughey has a goofy expression on his face and says some variant of “the human condition sure is a sick thing – we sure are a disease!” Jesus. In a few months, provided I’m still alive, I’ll inevitably have to see a “Family Guy” gag where Peter says “this is even more spiritually discomfiting than that time I did punch-up for William Faulkner” as whiskey bottles are hurled toward his head.
Even with all the southern-fried gothic, “True Detective” is actually a very straightforward show, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the myriad thinkpieces about it. It’s not your fault for expecting a complex twist or wildly innovative narrative ideas, of course. Your trust was betrayed forever by The Usual Suspects and M. Night Shyamalan. You have a fearful-avoidant attachment to serious television.
It’s all right. “True Detective” doesn’t need to be approached with 3000-word theories about how the scarred man is a child’s description of Cthulhu. This is just a detective show set in Louisiana. That’s all it is. The dialogue is sharp and McConaughey desperately wants people to know he can act, but the show itself is quite simple. It’s well made, but it’s old-fashioned. It’s not going to subvert anything.
So here’s how the show will end. I even wrote some placeholder dialogue, which I’m sure will eerily line up with that written by showrunner Nic Pizzolatto.
Now, this is a show that takes place over a very long period of time, but it can only end in one year: 2083. The Louisiana of the future is surprisingly familiar and ageless – rural America doesn’t age the same way cities do. But it has become alien in some unexpected ways: the horizon is littered with massive ziggurats. The whole planet is pockmarked with enormous craters. The ocean, once a place of respite, is now a sprawling wall of flame that makes the whole landscape take on a lurid orange hue. But time is a flat circle. Nothing changes that much. So the sky remains totally the same, except for the moon, which has been ripped in half.
It is important to remember that “True Detective” is not character-driven but archetype-driven. McConaughey is an evolution of the archetype of the chain-smoking grizzled detective. He’s not a person as such, and Pizzolatto never tries to make him one. The role of archetypes will inevitably be explained with an extended montage set to a Lucinda Williams song.
All that’s left is to tie a ribbon on everything and give the folks at home a satisfying resolution, as any great show must. McConaughey, plagued by a death wish, spends the entire show trying to find a satisfactory suicide mission, but he keeps surviving despite himself. There’s only one way out for him now.
Here’s to the golden age of television. I hope it never ends.