‘True Detective’ Season 1 Episode 4 Recap: “Who Goes There”

By February 10, 2014
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After watching last night’s episode of “True Detective,” I must raise my hands and exclaim that patience is indeed a virtue. You see, up until this point, the show has been slowly building up to something “deep and dark.” We’ve been handed our fair share of symbolism and foreshadowing, but in episode 4, entitled “Who Goes There,” things are finally amped up and a big layer to the proverbial onion that is “True Detective” gets peeled back.

Before I continue, if you are not caught up on the series, be warned there are SPOILERS ahead. And please feel free to check out our recap of episode three here.

It’s been two weeks since “The Locked Room” episode aired and we left off on a large lumbering man ambling across a field wearing only a gas mask and underwear. This is ex-convict Reggie Ledoux, and he’s the prime suspect on Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle’s radar for a handful of murders including the brutal killing of Dora Lange. The detectives took the bait in episode 3 and here in “Who Goes There,” they are straight up on the hunt!

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The episode opens as Hart and Cohle pay a visit to Dora Lange’s ex-husband Charlie, played by Brad Carter. In the case of their dealings with the man, the second time is definitely a charm. We find out Charlie used to hang with Reggie and the two were close enough pals that he shared “cheesecake photos” he took of Dora with him when he went to jail. Although he admits Ledoux was batsh*t nutballs, he was also way bigger in stature so Charlie put up with him. Unfortunately, Charlie has no information on where to find Reggie, but he points them to a dirtbag named Tyro Weems (Todd Giebenhain) and says he would know more.

Already drunk, Hart continues with the sauce and tracks down Mr. Weems at what looks like an underground rave of sorts out in the middle of nowhere (where all good raves were in 1997). At gunpoint, Tyro gives Martin the information that is needed to find Reggie. Ledoux is still cooking meth, but he only has one client: a ruthless biker gang known as Iron Crusaders. When Martin informs Rust about the lead, the already creepy disposition of Cohle changes and he wants to meet Hart right away.

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Earlier in the episode, Martin is hit with a gut punch of a wake up call as the gal Lisa (Alexandra Daddario) he’d been banging on the side decided to fight back after the drunkenly violent intrusive incident that happened in her apartment in episode 3. Hart runs into her at a trial appearance where she works as a court stenographer. She attempts a confrontation to gain any sort of apology from Martin, but fails at getting much out of him at all.

Things come to a head as she decides it’s better to go straight to their home and confront Maggie (Michelle Monoghan), revealing all the elicit details of their affair. This is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back: Maggie takes their daughters, leaving Martin with an empty house and what I’m assuming is her version of a “Dear John” letter. Martin Hart hits rock bottom. Full of desperation, false hope, and alcohol, Martin heads to the hospital where she works only to almost be thrown out. Rust comes to guide him out and Martin turns to his wife and says, “I love you hun, I’m not giving up.”

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Hart and Cohle regroup at the local bar and calmly tells Martin that he doesn’t give a sh*t about his personal problems. After multiple instances of Cohle inserting himself into Hart’s life, Martin calls him on it by saying favorite line from the episode,

Every time I think you hit the ceiling, you just keep raising the bar. You are like the Michael Jordan of being a sonofabitch.

As was mentioned in previous episodes, Cohle worked deep undercover in narcotics before being shot and then transferred. We find out here that his cover is still in tact and he had direct dealings with the Iron Crusaders. His concern regarding oversight in the force makes him decide it’s best to go off book. He lays out his plan to Martin which involved taking a leave to go visit his sick father; in reality his plan is to go undercover and regain the contacts in the gang that went cold a few years ago. While Hart is on the fence about Rust’s plans, the energy between the two men shifts. The baton gets passed. Cohle is now alive and focused, and Hart’s personal life is in tatters.

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The two continue working over Rust’s plan in his living room as they pass a bottle of Jameson back and forth. What separates the two men is a small arsenal encased in a red chest. Rust proceeds to make believable but fake track marks on his arm and then steals some top of the line cocaine from the department’s Evidence Locker to be used as a peace offering of sorts when meeting with the Iron Crusaders. His “in” at the meeting is a prospective deal he can facilitate with a Mexican drug cartel looking for a trade-off of their coke for the Crusaders’ meth.

Seventeen years later, Detectives Gilbough and Papania are very suspicious there was more going on than what Rust and Hart have let on, but they cannot prove otherwise. Almost two decades have gone by and the two are still sticking with “the sick leave story” and are holding close to the vest what really transpired.

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But thankfully, we get to see what really happened. In the zone, Rust hands Martin a portable phone to monitor and he then infiltrates the Iron Crusaders hangout. After reacquainting himself with some of his old “pals,” he pitches the Mexican deal and hands off the bag of stolen cocaine to Ginger (his contact) as a present stating there are bulldozers full of the stuff where he came from. Piquing his interest, the biker asks Cohle to assist in a job he has – going to rob a stash house. If he follows through on gunman duties, they will have a deal which would then lead Martin and Cohle to Reggie Ledoux.

This, my friends, is where things ramp up.

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Martin waits helpless in the wings and monitors the police dispatch while Rust is super high on what looks like a mixture of cocaine and meth. The Iron Crusaders’ plan is to disguise themselves as cops and just walk on up to the door and knock. Instead, chaos breaks loose in a hyper dreamlike sequence of a robbery gone south. This also begins a brilliant six-minute long sequence with no cutaways what-so-ever! The home invasion seems to last way longer than planned as Cohle keeps repeating under his breath:

30 seconds in, 30 seconds out.

Now let’s be clear here, they are robbing a stash house so you know the neighborhood is something akin to a hood you’d see in “The Wire.” The residents don’t take kindly to cops (fake or not), tensions begin to rise, and the inevitable firefight begins. The Iron Crusaders did not think this plan through and are stuck without a backup plan. And as things get chaotic and bloody, Rust goes into what I can only categorize as survival mode and begins to drag Ginger outside with his gun aimed directly at his head.

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Oh yeah, the camera has still not cut from these men. Rust drags the man to a house across the way where he calls Martin advising of his location and demanding a 90 second response time. His contact makes a drugged up run for it as Rust hangs up the phone. This leads us through blocks of chaos involving the cops and heavily armed thugs while Rust guides the biker to their end point destination.

Folks, these six minutes is what absolutely makes the entire episode the brilliant work of art that it is. Up until this point in the series, the writing and performances have carried the show. Now, director Cary Fukunaga has thrown down the gauntlet showing the world exactly what is up his sleeves. I also need to give props to cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (“Top of the Lake,” The Snowtown Murders). From episode one, the series has had a distinctively gaunt yet gorgeous feel, and last night’s episode adds another bit of texture to the tale they’re weaving (look at me, I’m a writer!). Add Nic Pizzolatto’s brilliant scripts into the mix and we’ve got a serious trifecta of awesome going on here!

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The scene crescendos into Rust throwing his biker contact into the back of Martin’s car before all three speed away. Friends, if this were a roller coaster ride, I’d say we have reached the top of the mountain and are now barreling down the steep drop heading for some crazy twists and loops. The fourth episode is done and we have reached “True Detective’s” halfway point. There’s no telling what will happen in next week’s episode but one thing is for sure, “Who Goes There” is the show’s best episode yet and the bar has definitely been raised!

What say you, my friends? Have any thoughts about last night’s episode? Want to gab about the state of the series so far? Well let me have it in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.