TRUE DETECTIVE 1.03 ‘The Locked Room’
Episode Title: “The Locked Room”
Writer: Nic Pizzolatto
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Previously on “True Detective”:
Here’s something to consider as we head into this week’s review of “True Detective.” In the year 2012, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) has to know that Detectives Thomas Papania (Tory Kittles) and Maynard Gilbough (Michael Potts) are looking at him as a potential murder suspect for not only the copycat crime in 2012 but the original murders in 1995. And yet, Cohle has yet to call them out on it or challenge their assumption.
Although, if this is an interrogation with a dangerous murder suspect, it’s probably not a good idea to let Cohle get drunk while he’s creating beer can men with a knife.
As much as I’d like to say that Cohle isn’t a killer, we actually don’t know that much about him. I doubt that Cohle is a murderer of women, but it seems plausible that he’s put a few men in the ground beyond the one he mentioned in last week’s episode. If you don’t recall that one, Cohle said that he put a bullet in a man who injected a baby with drugs.
According to Cohle’s philosophy, mankind’s humanity is basically a dream trapped inside “The Locked Room” of our minds. And like a dream, there’s a monster at the end. “True Detective” lives up to that bit of foreshadowing by delivering a very chilling glimpse of the possible killer. But there may be more than one monster on this show, especially in the Hart family.
There are full spoilers ahead for “The Locked Room,” so if you missed last night’s “True Detective” then you should probably skip this review or else someone will be mowing your lawn for you.
Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) is our primary monster of the week. For all of his calm demeanor in the 2012 sequences, Hart is becoming unhinged in the 1995 flashbacks. Hart’s rage boils over when he catches Cohle spending time at Hart’s home with his wife, Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) and their two daughters.
As angry as he was there, Hart took it to another level when saw his mistress, Lisa Tragnetti (Alexandra Daddario) on a date with another man before going over to her house and brutally beating his rival even after Lisa breaks off her relationship with him. Hart even has the nerve to say that he isn’t a psycho immediately after letting go of Lisa’s date.
In a way, Hart seems threatened by Cohle. Not just physically, but also emotionally and philosophically. Hart clearly has no tolerance for Cohle’s bleak musings and his depressing worldview, but he’s getting better at verbally firing back. Yet when he finds Cohle at his home, all Hart can come up with is a complaint about Cohle mowing his lawn. What he’s really afraid of is that Cohle will mow his lawn, so to speak. It doesn’t matter that Hart’s relationship with Maggie is in a bad place or that Hart is stepping out on her. From Hart’s perspective, all of these things belong to him exclusively and his rage brings him to scary place when he feels that his territory has been encroached upon.
I’ll say this for Cohle, he’s getting better at reading his partner. Cohle doesn’t miss the barely hidden anger in Hart’s voice as he invites him to stay for dinner and Cohle wisely decides to leave. This goes back to the first episode when Hart had to insist that Cohle come to dinner and then tried to get him to go home when he showed up drunk. Yet Cohle wouldn’t leave because Maggie made him feel comfortable.
Oddly enough, Maggie seems to have more chemistry with Cohle than with her husband. It’s not sexual, at least not on Cohle’s part. But they clearly enjoy each other’s company and that’s something that Hart just can’t have. That’s probably why Hart and his wife set up Cohle with a woman named Jen (Bree Williamson) for a double date. If Hart could get Cohle into a relationship of his own then he wouldn’t have to worry about his partner’s intentions towards his wife. Problem solved.
Hart would probably rationalize it as doing Cohle a favor, since he openly muses that Cohle is living alone and jerking off to his crime books. Hart thinks that having a family makes him a superior man and he looks down on Cohle for not having one. But Hart proves his own hypocrisy when he can’t allow Lisa thechance to have a life outside of their illicit relationship. Hart wants to own her and keep the family that he’s already got.
With a flimsy excuse from Hart while he’s confronting Lisa and her date, Maggie calls Cohle to check on her husband’s alibi. And while Cohle doesn’t exactly lie to Maggie, he doesn’t tell her the truth either. Cohle may not know if Hart lied to his wife, but he did figure out that Hart had a mistress in last week’s episode. And he hasn’t outed his partner yet.
Of course, Hart has other problems on the homefront. His oldest daughter has been drawing some very sexual pictures and showing them to her classmates. This is after Hart walked into her room during last week’s episode and found the dolls arranged in a very rape-like scenario. Something is very wrong with Hart’s daughter and he has no idea what to do about it.
Shortly after assaulting Lisa’s date, Hart actually has some moments of self-reflection. Hart realizes that he’s a bad man, a bad husband and a bad father. But Cohle’s reply is that the world needs bad men to keep the other bad men from the door. That’s something he seems to live by.
While both Hart and Cohle are incredibly damaged individuals, they are actually really good at being cops. Cohle in particular demonstrates a talent for making suspects confess their crimes while using the same tactics that a preacher used earlier in the episode. Even in 2012, long after their partnership had dissolved, Hart still has professional respect for Cohle.
Eventually, Cohle’s long hours of combing through previous case files pays off with a lead that identifies a man named Reggie Ledoux. Reggie may actually be the killer in 1995, as we see him in a nightmarish vision holding a machete while wearing only his tighty whities and a bizarre gas mask. It’s a shot straight out of a slasher pic, but it’s actually scary in the context of this show.
For all of their character flaws, Hart and Cohle live in a world that is recognizable as our own. Reggie represents a threat that doesn’t belong down here among the rest of us. That last image of Reggie doing his best Big Foot impression was a chilling way to leave the show before a brief one week hiatus due to the Super Bowl next Sunday.
Three episodes in, “True Detective” has yet to let up on its intensity while diving deeper into Hart and Cohle. We still haven’t seen Cohle and Hart interact in 2012. With all of the history between them, that should be very interesting when “True Detective” finally gets around to it.
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