True Noir

So this song has been spinning around in my head for much of the day today:

Which is kinda funny. Because, truly, I was “watching the detectives” yesterday. Canal Plus Spain organized a free all-day screening in a local Madrid theater of the full first season of True Detective. And I can’t believe I watched the whole thing! Along with a theater full of people. It was as if we were all on a special trip together, our own little road trip, or space ship. And we communed in our laughter, applause, surprise, and silence, as we watched Rust and Marty tousle, agonize, analyze and, above all, drink and smoke non-stop while they teased out the meaning and minds behind a macabre death.

I had been hearing about the series, and seen mention of it in the media, for months now. And, crime thriller fanatic that I am, my interest was piqued. When I saw a social media announcement by a colleague that Canal Plus and Cine Palafox had organized this viewing marathon, off I went to participate.

So, after an 8-hour immersion in the series, the Louisiana drawl, and the dark side of human behavior, here’s my take.

The series gives you exactly what you would expect it to. It is true noir– bathing in the archetypes and clichés of pulp or hardboiled fiction, as well as the ethical questioning, the darkness, of Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, and James Ellroy, among others. In that sense, the series is fully satisfying. However, it is also not surprising.

The interesting element is that extra fold added to the character of Rust. He portrays the traditional (archetypal) antihero, the self-destructive cynic and outsider. There’s just an added twist–he’s much more philosophical, more knowledgeable about the universe and human nature and their ways, than your average dick. There are actual moments, in the heart of the series, when he speaks of the flat circle of life, that the character truly digs in deep, reaching towards the profound questions of our existence and of space and time. Not just the stuff of pulp. But the stuff of human truth.

Would I watch another season? Certainly not in an eight-hour sitting! But, honestly, I don’t think so. My curiosity and fascination have been satisfied. And I don’t see where else the pair can go. The last scene in the last episode reeked a bit too much of Starsky and Hutch, and that gangling pair is not for me.