True Detective -or De Amicitia

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True Detective -or De Amicitia

You don't pick your parents, and you don't pick your partner (Marty)
One usually tends to overlook the many matching points between the two most
vigorous types of detective fiction, the classical detective novel or
whodunit and the noire or hardboiled tradition. I want to discuss one of
these matching points. Both of these subgenres normally have a common topic
in terms of the relationships of its basic characters, and between these
and the rest of society: detective fiction, we can say, is based on the
friendship between two different men, men of unequal capacity; in the case
of the whodunit stories–by Poe, Doyle, Chesterton, Stout–, it is especially
unevenness of intelligence–the adventurer Holmes overcomes Watson, Dupin,
the anonymous narrator of his cases, Nero Wolf, Archie Goodwin Rex, etc.–.
In the noire tradition, it happens to be inequality of physical and dynamic
prowess and skills and practical wisdom: ability to fight or shoot,
underworld knowledge, contacts with police or informers. In "The False
Burton Combs"–considered the first narrative of the tough guys's
tradition–, we find this friendship between disparate individuals in
embryonic (but duplicated) form: it is present in the relationship between
the false and true Burton Combs, and between the hero and John B. Combs. In
The Maltese Falcon, we find it between the detective partners, Sam Spade
and Miles Archer: Archer is so unskilled and clumsy that he dies in the ten
first pages of the novel, falling into a simple trap like a fool. Spade has
been cheating on Archer with his wife, Iva, but after Archer's death, Spade
keeps full fidelity to his partner in the field of detection and, also, in
the field of love. In The Big Sleep, this friendship takes place between
Marlowe and General Sternwood: they chat and sweat and drink cognac
together–actually only Marlowe drinks cognac; General Sternwood cannot
drink because of his health, but he gets pleasure from watching Marlowe
drink–in a greenhouse of a terribly oppressive climate and filled with
orchids. In Farewell, My Lovely, the pair is the one of Marlowe and Moose
Malloy, a kind of gorilla who entrusts Marlow compulsively to search his ex
girlfriend. In all these cases, we have two men with a common interest:
detection, finding a person, solving a problem, breaking a case, etc. This
is probably the key element of True Detective: the strength of friendship
and loyalty between two unequal men who have a common interest related to
truth and justice. These men put aside those differences and cooperate to
achieve their goal or perform a task that someone should take charge. In
True Detective, the most obvious differences are presented with utter
clearness from the first episode: Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) is a family
guy and father and a Christian, but also a hypocritical man, who cheats on
his wife, prefers not to look back, and is fairly well suited to his police
work and, in general, to the society of Louisiana. On the other hand,
Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) is a newcomer from Texas, who has a
sullen character and atheist and nihilist thoughts. He is lonely and dark,
a human being broken by the death of his daughter.
In many of these fictions, the birth of friendship is less chosen than the
product of a practical contingency: Holmes and Watson, for example, move
together in to a common apartment to save costs, as Dupin and the narrator
of his tales. This element is closely linked to that original disparity. In
True Detective, the disparity is more obvious, because it is the one which
characterizes many of the couples of the usual cop shows; however, the show
itself underlines this disparity of the police partners from the beginning:
it is highlighted in the first sentence of the first chapter of the first
season, specifically in the question which starts the police interrogation,
after the beep of the recorder: What´d you think, you paired up with him?
–a voice-over asks Hart, and the question itself connotes the homoerotic
relationship that characterizes the detective genre.

Believe me, past a certain age, a man without a family can be a bad thing
Within the detective fiction genre, the emotional and intellectual bonds
between men conspire against family and domestic life. It should be
remembered that Holmes and Watson, Dupin and the anonymous narrator of his
exploits, develop an entirely male and solitary home life, and that one of
the fundamental characteristics of the configuration of the detective
figures is the absolute rejection of love relationships (with women). This
element can be seen as a continuation of the bonds and confederacies of
male scientists in nineteenth-century literature, who also conspire against
the family and have a great dose of misogyny. In The Sandman and
Frankenstein, science's excesses destroy the possibility of the
heterosexual loving union, as Sam Spade destroys the loving union between
Iva and Archer.
Rust Cohle's entry to Marty´s home suggests the completion of the
destruction of the family that is going to be carried out throughout the
season. When Marty invited Rust to dinner at his house for the first time,
Rust arrives drunk and with a bouquet of flowers, an element that foretells
the seduction of Maggie (Michelle Monaghan), the wife of his companion. As
Rust rings the bell, Marty goes out to receive him and his daughters
accompany him. When Marty sees his partner, he makes an instinctive
movement of protection to cover them, as if Cohle were a threat for his
daughters. The misogyny of men, that characterizes this fiction genre, is
also exacerbated from the beginning by the type of crime they are working
on: serial killings of women that are arranged by the killer(s) so that
they appear as slaughtered animals with horns and fire-heated marks in
their skin which normally identify ownership of livestock. In the best
tradition of the genre, everything in this show points to the denigration
of family and domestic life, and, consequently, to the traditional emblem
of these: the woman.
Cohle's life and his home are per se a rejection to family life, there is
nothing there that promotes homey shared activities, since the link between
men takes place in the space of work, and work should become the whole
existence. In The Sandman the space of the laboratory produces the
explosion of the house; Cohle, otherwise, has transformed his home into a
sort of office, and there is clear continuity with his activities here and
the tasks at the police department. Of the stack of books he has at home,
we only can read a single title, Sex Crimes, i.e., one that establishes a
direct link with his work and the common task he shares with his partner.
In that sense, Cohle can be compared with lawyer Coppelius, the sandman,
who comes at night to Nathanael's home and drags the father towards the
science works that end up destroying the house and the family. In the final
chapter of the season, Cohle and Marty have already left everything behind
them, except the common work they have to perform, and, we could say, they
move together. They move first to an office, where they work mainly during
the night; and after killing Errol Childress (Glenn Fleshler), they share
the residence of the hospital, and, finally, they leave the place together
in Marty´s car and go to... who knows where.
Although Cohle is still in a wheelchair, cannot walk and was not discharged
yet from hospital, they leave together. After that:
1) Marty makes a present to Cohle, on which the last asks jokingly if it is
to celebrate their engagement, and
2) Marty says to Cohle that he does not have to worry about where to live
when leaving the hospital, because he already got him a place.
The heroes walk together and leave behind the hospital, where they were
living jointly since they left the office. The final image of the season is
the one of our heroes walking embraced towards Marty's car, an image that
is much the same as the first image of the season, two men walking embraced
in the dark night (as Dupin and the narrator walk arm in arm at night
through the streets of Paris).

A little detail somewhere way down the line makes you say, "Ohh! breaks the
case" (Rust)
A final element linked to this friendship between two men of different
capacities is the pedagogical Eros. The one more capable, in something or
all, instructs the partner, and this practice strengthens–if it does not
entirely constitute–the union. In the classical detective novel this
element is linked to the deduction and the vision dexterity, the ability to
perceive traces where most men cannot. That is why the magnifying glass and
the deerstalker characterize Sherlock Holmes. From the beginning, we can
find these two elements in Rust, who has grown in Alaska as an expert
pathfinder and, also, records all the details in his large black faux-
leather bound ledger -hence the nickname he gets at the police department,
The Taxman. Marty is rather a regular cop, in contrast to the bright Cohle.
Throughout the TV serial and in the midst of endless disputes, Rust
encourages Marty to think: "think, think," is one of the recurrent phrases
of their conversations. In the seventeen years that have passed since the
crime in 1995, Rust has been investigating and systematizing information,
with diagrams of events and participants, etc. And he finally urges Marty
to pursue the unfinished task. He makes this request–he says–because Marty
has contacts in the police, and because the two of them have a job to be
done, a debt. Thus, the arrogant Cohle places himself partly on the site of
the armchair detective, who needs, as Nero Wolf, a supplement in the field
of action –in the case of Nero Wolf he depends on the very active Archie
Goodwin. But Marty is the one who finally solves the case: he has learned
the lessons of Rust in the field of vision and deduction and breaks the
case. He recalls the detail of the green ears of the monster whose face
looks like a plate of spaghetti, the green-eared spaghetti monster.
Considering this new datum, our detectives locate the house whose wings
have been painted green in 1995 and also find the murderer. This item
recovers another element of the emergence of detective fiction in the
nineteenth century, when the ties to the gothic and fantasy literature were
perhaps more visible (although True Detective updates many of these links:
satanic rituals, the monster figure, the perverse family ties, etc. and has
been rightly framed within the southern gothic). Both the house and the
monster have green ears. In the end of the season, the heroes chase the
murderer into a kind of fortress, which is related to a family and to the
sign that the murderer leaves on his victims. As in The Fall of the House
of Usher, where the house resembles in its form a head–and whose windows
are repeatedly compared with eyes–, we find here the analogy between the
head and the house, as an emblem of domestic life. The disturbed head in
this case corresponds to the deficient functionality of the monster´s
domestic life, and his house, as we see it in the last chapter, reflects
the disturbance almost more forcefully than his crimes. That which
surrounds this house is, as anticipated, a kind of old fort or fortress
that resembles a labyrinth and has now been hidden by the dense vegetation:
Carcosa. In this case, the Evil is, at the same time, a building structure
and a way of living together and family organization, and the murderer is
literally the continuation of his family, because he has decided to do to
every child of man and woman what his father did to him.
In this last chapter we see that the darkness of the Tuttle and the
Childress families–which owns, parodically, a house repair company called
Childress and Son–is not exceptional. In the final chase, Cohle imagines a
sort of vortex with spiral form, similar to the black symbol used by family
Tuttle and his followers. This spiral, which Rust in the final conversation
with Marty interprets as a second layer of darkness (under the superficial
darkness), is identified by him as being his family, his father and his
dead daughter. This darkness encourages Rust to join it, to dissolve
himself into it and to let himself go into death; and precisely in this
moment, he is injured by Errol, with a wound that almost leads him to
death, if it was not for Marty and the rest of the police body, that brings
the light into the darkness –a police flare illuminates the pit where our
heroes are trapped.
After Cohle's learning process about darkness and family, which is a kind
of revelation but is also directly linked to his ongoing relationship with
Marty, an optimistic perspective in Cohle´s Weltanschauung appears. This
new optimism puts an end to the season. In the final conversation, the
perspectives of both friends seem to have interchanged. After the
"encounter" with his family, Cohle accepts that a transcendent entity may
exist, and therefore is closer to the Marty´s religious ideas. Marty, in
turn, now has a quite pessimistic perspective, very similar to Rust´s ideas
at the beginning of the show. In the final scene of the season, Rust looks
to the stars, in response to an insistent requirement of Marty, and they
have the following conversation:

Rust: I've been up in that room looking out those windows every night
here and just thinking… It's just one story. The oldest.
Marty: What's that?
Rust: Light versus dark.
Marty: Well, I know we ain't in Alaska, but appears to me that the
dark has a lot more territory.
Rust: You know, you're looking at it wrong, the sky thing.
Marty: How is that?
Rust: Well, once, there was only dark. If you ask me, the light's

Once, there was only family.
But, if you ask me, friendship´s winning.
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