“Sometimes Duty Is The Death Of Love. You Are The Shield That Guards The Realm Of Men….”
When it comes to the art of storytelling, one thing is for certain that whenever there is a beginning, there is always inevitably an end point, and whether that be forged by the written hand on paper or directed upon the big or small screen as a visual companion, certain works are always going to be judged by how exactly their own select story plays out. When it comes to television, you do not have to look very far away from Game of Thrones in order to see how certain conclusions immediately evoke discussion from audiences, with the likes of The Sopranos and The Wire, shows both helmed by HBO and regarded as the best of contemporary visual drama, each proclaimed as masterpieces in their own right but when highlighting both their final chapters, immediately causes particular viewers to engulf in a raging fit of dissatisfaction after years of building relationships with the show’s characters and ultimately handed a conclusion they personally might not agree with. Step in “The Iron Throne”, the long awaited final episode of Game of Thrones, and once again we are dealt a bookended chapter which for some may be the perfect swansong for a show we all knew would end this year and for others, is the ultimate sacrilege as it fails to pull out the hat every single piece of fan service ever seen on social media or news article in a manner which would have spanned at least another eight seasons. For me personally, Season Eight of Game of Thrones was no means perfect, with an obvious sense of drop and run from the showrunners resulting in a rather eclectic pacing and particular endgame decisions which don’t entirely make complete sense, but with enough technical craft and an emotional farewell to cap off the greatest show of recent years, “The Iron Throne” was in some ways the only way such a gargantuan show could finally come to an end.
Let’s face it, the shocktastic twist of Daenerys going full Al Pacino circa The Godfather was something of which that was always going to occur, with small moments of madness creeping up in the seasons which came before resulting in a extending sense of detachment the more time I spent in the dragon Queen’s company, and whilst the moment itself could have been handled slightly more delicately, Season Eight’s “Baelor” or “The Rains of Castamere” moment was still a good old fashioned Game of Thrones narrative turn, resulting in an even bigger turn when Jon’s decision to murder the once innocent victim sending streams of fans into fits on enraged madness, well at least on Twitter and IMDB. As for me, sure it kind of made sense, with Dany’s death in a roundabout sort of way actually managing to create in full Aladdin style, a whole new world, albeit at the expense of her as Queen as she was whisked away by the world’s last remaining dragon who decided to not only burn the titular Iron Throne down completely but fly off to a location unknown in order to seemingly live out the rest of his days pecking at his dead mother. Ironically, the most depressing moment of the finale was witnessing Jon pay for his betrayal by being sent back to Night’s Watch, a somewhat now defunct organisation considering the now removed threat of the Night King, in a fashion which made the show at least come completely full circle, and with the remaining Stark’s getting the happiness they deserve and King’s Landing left in the hands of more reliable characters, Game of Thrones surprisingly ended on a heartwarming and upbeat note, and whilst the execution was by no means perfect or completely satisfying enough to proclaim it as anywhere near masterful, “The Iron Throne” was still an excellent way to tie up a show which ultimately suffered from how big it became, and whilst many will whimper at the bold narrative choices and throw their once loved DVD collections in the bin as they proclaim to never watch the show ever again, maybe it’s time to take a breather and reminisce at a show which we will never see the likes of ever again. It’s been an emotional journey Game of Thrones, thank you for everything.
Overall Episode Score: 8/10
Overall Season Score: 8.5/10
“Far More People Love You In Westeros Than Love Me. I Don’t Have Love Here. I Only Have Fear…”
With the penultimate episode of previous seasons of Game of Thrones infamously being the designated chapter for when stuff truly goes down, one could argue that the blockbuster, non-stop action which has been constant throughout Season Eight thus far doesn’t really offer the same sort of salivating desire fans previously would expect, with the show’s final curtain being laced with death and destruction from the offset with no real time for contemplation or mulled thought. With the attack on Cersei and King’s Landing an inevitability as soon as Daenerys and her forces landed on such a side of the Seven Kingdoms, “The Bells” brought to life one of the most explosive and murderous rampages seen on the show’s entire run, an eighty minute cinematic spectacle which completely abandoned the early philosophy of the show’s run by harbouring the death of leading characters as a slight, off-hand side note, but made up for such weaknesses with a sure handed technical savviness and narrative choices which although have sure been divisive amongst both fans and critics alike, served an absolute purpose which for me personally, made complete narrative sense. At the end of the day, Game of Thrones is simply a television show with boobs, dragons and zombies which just happens to have millions upon millions of die hard fanatics, and whilst many may see the events of “The Bells” as simply a step too far in the wrong direction, I thought the second to last episode of the show was pretty damn fine indeed.
Whilst it would almost take the length of a dissertation to wade through each individual character arc which ended in deathly fashion this week, the opening act in which the conniving treachery of Varys finally came to a fiery end was something of which was always going to come to fruition, and whilst in hindsight, the bald headed eunuch may indeed have been correct about the stability of his once lauded after Dragon Queen, now really wasn’t the time to start a royal coup in any shape or form. With everyone now seemingly well aware of Jon’s true heritage and Tyrion once again betraying his Queen as he solemnly and rather beautifully aids Jamie’s escape in order for him to see Cersei one last time, the combination of hardship and distrust which has built up in Daenerys for so long finally blows over by the time we finally arrive at King’s Landing, where even with her most loyal aids pleading with her to embrace mercy at a time of great peril, the Dragon Queen finally becomes the Mad Queen with one swift dragon-fuelled rain of fire which turns King’s Landing quickly into ash.Was such a rash course of events something out of the blue I hear you ask? For me, absolutely not, with Daenerys showing signs of hardship, cruelty and at times, an unhinged desire for power no matter the cost, with her temperament, personality and whole character so clearly destined for such atrocities for quite a significant while now. As we all say farewell to some significant players from the show, no matter what you may think of “The Bells” on a narrative front, the technical side of the episode was absolutely stunning, with the effects, the deft, one-shot camera movements and the sound all combining in a masterful synch to create an episode which is as memorable as it is thoroughly divisive.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“You Are My Queen, Nothing Will Change That. And They Are My Family. We Can Live Together…”
Yep, that’s right, get over it. No matter how many times I read a somewhat negative perspective on last week’s spectacular ninety minute battle, the fact still remains that now winter has come and gone, such a resolution was always going to satisfy particular viewers whilst actively enraging the rest who wanted this theory to come true to and this person to do that, and whilst Game of Thrones Season Eight undeniably seems to be suffering from The Last Jedi syndrome of not giving in to the wishes of the disillusioned hardcore who are determined to see their beloved show end exactly the way they want, the closer we get to the final endgame of the narrative, the more I am actively enjoying it. Beginning with a fiery farewell to the fallen, the mourning survivors are given absolutely no time to rest, or in one of the more infamous goofs of the show so far, enjoy a tasty Starbucks (registered trademark) and whilst the wine, the jokes and the erm, unexpected romance and marriage proposals threatened to push the show into soap territory, “The Last of the Starks” managed to jumble together some of the most interesting and tense-lade set pieces of the series so far. With the show in its’ early years criss-crossing a dramatic blend of The West Wing meets Lord of the Rings, the fourth chapter in this divisive concluding season actively felt more “classic” Game of Thrones, utilising genuine surprises and interesting developments to make an eighty minute runtime once again absolutely fly by.
Of the more interesting narrative threads, the war is over but another one has just begun, and whilst it seemed for a time that the Northerners and the Dragon Queen would indeed be successful at playing some low-key form of happy families, her precious dragons and depleted armies seemed to mean absolutely sod all to the ever-annoying Sansa, who in her power playing game of frowning her way through the remaining episodes seemed to either have missed out on her daily dose of antidepressants or has been directed to come across as the most unlikeable Stark ever to have lived. With Jon’s heritage exposed quicker than a celebrity nude in the Twitter generation, what an absolutely dire mistake it seemed to be to make even one person aware of his true bloodline, with not only the whole of the North seemingly made aware within the space of one episode, but Tyrion and Varys too, with the latter once again chopping and changing allegiances quicker than Littlefinger in the hope that after all this time, Jon may actually be a more efficient ruler. Speaking of chopping, alongside the return of the cocky, murderous Bronn which brought the episodes most interesting set piece, let us all take a minute and wave a fond farewell to Nathalie Emmanuel, whose understated and charming performance as Missandei ended in proper Game of Thrones fashion with a battle-ready final line and of course, one less head, and whilst the show has lost one of the more innocent and harmless central characters, her death signifies a turn in the tide with there now no room for bartering, no cares for surrenders and as we all pretty much expected, war, lots of war.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“It’s The Most Heroic Thing We Can Do Now. It’s Time To Look Truth In The Face…”
Ah, here we are at last. With just under two house of interesting, melancholic and foreboding buildup to kick off the show’s final season, Game of Thrones took the plunge into epicness this week as we were finally treated to the long awaited battle between the living and the dead, between the survivors of wars aplenty and those already fallen, between the Night King and Lord Snow, all against the backdrop of the chilly and incredibly dark siege of Winterfell. With two preceding chapters which in early hindsight can already be classed as bottle episodes, “The Long Night” took no time in boasting the financial support HBO has poured into its’ flagship show’s final farewell, with an eighty minute episode which managed to transcend the realm of television and bring spectacle to the small screen in ways that left both my jaw dropped and my head fuzzy as I sat through an extended battle sequence that was indeed filled with glorious technical achievements and beautiful designs, but one which too seemed to fall slightly short of being a full blown masterpiece. With pretty much the entirety of the show building up to such a grandiose set piece, “The Long Night” was always going to be an episode which would certainly be divisive in a way which the most popular franchises and stories always are, and whilst certain narrative decisions did indeed seem particularly jarring and anti-climactic, there is no doubting the sheer effort and sense of scale which the episode evoked, one which although failed on first watch to hit the lofty heights of “The Battle of the Bastards”, is still up there with the more impressive episodes of the series thus far.
With an opening one-shot camera movement which follows different characters as they prepare for the oncoming battle, the technical proficiency of the episode is clear from the offset, and whilst particular, non high definition televisions may have to be offset for brightness control due to the almost David Fincher influence level of darkness, the brooding, nightmarish cinematography does ultimately fit the tone of the episode rather well, suitably matching the almost survival horror aesthetic of the episode which at times, does feel like Game of Thrones meets World War Z. With Avengers: Endgame proving how on the big screen, years of backstory can indeed equal worthy payoff, the similar superhero style team-up of leading characters is a rather epic sight to behold as you witness numerous characters the show has taken its’ time to mould and care for be faced with the biggest threat yet. With the promise of death, lots of death, one of the main detractors of the episode is that whilst particular important characters do ultimately meet a sticky end, not one really felt incredibly impactful or indeed surprising, with the likes of Jorah and Theon in particular seemingly falling to their death for no other reason than to complete their own particular arc of redemption, and in a similar vein to “The Watchers on the Wall”, “The Long Night” felt like an episode which although everyone knew was coming, still didn’t exactly hit the emotional heights the storytelling on the show is renowned for. Whilst “The Long Night” does have minor flaws, for an eighty minute spectacle, I was completely hooked, with my eyes never leaving the screen as I observed gorgeous dragon battles, the dead falling from the sky like leaves and come the end of it, a certain female winning the day for the good guys, a positive outcome which on a show like Game of Thrones, is actually quite rare to see.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“I Promised To Fight For The Living, I Intend To Keep That Promise…
With the season premiere out the way and the subsequent week resulting in having to handle the burden of listening to your work colleagues and friends witter on about “how boring the opening episode was”, such concerns should immediately be wiped away with one stroke of your sword-wielding hand, with long-term fans of the show being well aware that Game of Thrones is not the type of programme which tends to dive in head first into spectacle without important characterisation and depth coming rightly just before. As with this season’s opening hour, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” once again felt comfortable in saving the death and destruction for week three and beyond, a second contemplative episode out of two which successfully blended interesting and emotionally fulfilling character reunions and interactions whilst setting the stage up nicely for a hotly anticipated battle sequence which has pretty much been teased ever since the show’s inception. With Jamie returning to Winterfell for the first time since the show’s opening hour almost exactly eight years ago, the judgemental glances of pretty much everyone this side of the Northern line in Westeros seemed to emphasise the central predominant theme in this season so far; forgiveness for the sake of the greater good, and whilst it would have been more than satisfactory to see offspring of the Stark clan successfully claim their revenge by murdering the golden-haired Kingslayer back in the early days of the show, Jamie’s own journey and development throughout the show has undoubtedly been the most surprising, with the cocky Lannister shifting from being the most hated character on the show to one of the most revered and let’s face it, utterly charming.
Whilst in previous seasons characters would have taken several episodes to kiss and make up after their past discrepancies, with Ser Jorah in particular probably wishing he had the writers this season to seek redemption just a tad quicker, the sight of both Dany and Sansa outlining the many different reasons why they found Ser Jamie utterly repulsive didn’t exactly last for too long, with Jon and Brienne in particular saving the day by reminding everyone that a much bigger threat awaits just around the corner. In narrative developments elsewhere, the steamiest moment of the episode strangely belonged to the usually cold-hearted, slight stature of Arya, whose relationship with Gendry went, let’s just say up a slight notch, whilst with Jon deciding to drop the black hole sized bombshell regarding his heritage on Daenerys just before potentially succumbing to the will of the Night King, such an exchange was greeted with an immediate look of confused disdain from the Dragon Queen, a particularly queer but sort-of-expected reaction from a character who after all these years of torment and war is brought back to a reality where she ultimately is not the destined leader of the Seven Kingdoms after all. With oodles of character interactions both knowing and interesting throughout the episode, Game of Thrones is the type of show which knows die hard fans will crumble at the sight of the slightest and most subtle character developments, with “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” a rather touching, sentimental, and at many particular points, rather hilarious hour of rewarding television aided predominantly by brilliantly written dialogue, and as we head into next week’s episode in which we see our beloved heroes seek success against the most unwinnable battle in the show’s history, the Lord of the Rings style overhead sing-song to the backdrop of oncoming death means that it’s time to buckle up and prepare yourself for what’s about to come next.
Overall Episode Score: 8/10
“I Warned You, Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders…”
Here we are at last. With the gap between Season Seven of Game of Thrones and the hotly anticipated concluding chapter seeming as elongated and extended as the Brexit negotiations, a joke I will continue to utilise without shame for the foreseeable future, HBO’s flagship fantasy drama finally returns this week as we start our descent into the beginning of the end. Eight years in the making, George R. R. Martin’s iconic and culturally majestic written word may have slightly changed during its’ transition from the page to the small screen as we hit the final season, but with anticipation verging on the edge of volcanic heading in, one of the more interesting aspects is how on earth a show with so many dedicated followers can possibly satisfy every single viewer before dropping the curtain down on what has been a contemporary social phenomenon. Opening with the straightforwardly named, “Winterfell”, Season Eight might only have six episodes to get the job done but it’s fair to say that it’s beginning hour will undoubtedly be the most low-key and reflective, a dramatic kickstarter which spends the majority of its’ runtime in the heart of the North as we are treated to character reunions, ominous foreboding and narrative reveals, and whilst many would have expected fireworks from the get-go, the decision to play the action cool for the time being results in a particularly excellent and emotional season opener which simply flies by.
Beginning with absolutely no sign of any series recap whatsoever, Game of Thrones is the type of show which expects its’ audience to know every single minute detail heading in, even after an extensive two year gap, but with slight changes to the opening titles including the infamous sight of the now defunct and very destroyed Northern wall, “Winterfell” begins in very icy conditions indeed, with the titular stronghold welcoming the return of Jon Snow, Queen Daenerys and of course, two humongous fire-breathing dragons. Whilst Jon and the majority of the audience understands the importance of such alliances heading into the inevitable battle against the Night King and the army of the dead, Thrones still finds time to imbed political and personal tensions within the narrative, with Sansa’s slightly immature behaviour towards the golden-haired Queen particularly jarring, and whilst the show would seem slightly lost without such stakes, it’s fair to say that Sansa’s concerns about supplies did seem a tad minute in comparison to you know, a zombified dragon and it’s seemingly invincible leader. With a slightly cheesy, Aladdin inspired dragon ride, Cersei still finding the time to guzzle down wine even when we are meant to believe she’s somehow pregnant, and a whole catalogue of camera pans when particular characters finally reunite after time apart, Game of Thrones returns with an opening hour which is indeed low on action, but when the dialogue is this rich, the effects this good and with only five episodes left to go, Season Eight reminds us that HBO’s leading ticket seller remains the best thing on television. By quite a far margin.
Overall Episode Score: 8/10
“I Wanted Privacy. My Hope Being That We Could Resolve This Situation. Just The Two Of Us…”
With the previous two episodes of True Detective successfully managing to bring the heat of the drama to almost unbelievably levels of white knuckle tension, one could be forgiven for heading into the hotly anticipated finale with a stubborn mindset that something majestic and groundbreaking was set to fall upon us. In the case of “Now Am Found” however, whilst Season Three’s extra long conclusion did manage to squeeze in an enormous amount of plot and narrative resolutions, the real overarching tone at the heart of the episode was a delicate balance between melancholy and optimism as the chapter widely seen as a much needed return to form finally closed its’ doors. With the penultimate episode leaving the audience with the sight of 1990’s Hays reluctantly head into the back seat of a vehicle belonging to the mysterious Hoyt, the introduction of Michael Rooker looking more Michael Rooker then Rooker himself as we witness his character swing on a bottle of bourbon whilst accompanying Hays to the outskirts of nowhere, resulted in a delicious back and forth battle of dialogue heavy wills as Hoyt suggested both took the time to confide in each other by swapping their more hidden and secretive confessions. With Hoyt being moved swiftly off-screen with just enough screen time to make a worthy impact, the horror inflicted sensibility of the series warmed up nicely as we finally saw old man Hays and West discover the remains of the Hoyt estate, and with a ripe genre soundtrack on full thrusters in the background as the purpose of the “pink room” was established, such a set piece sought to remind in an uncanny fashion a very similar set piece during the first season’s finale regarding the final confrontation with the Yellow King.
Whilst Hoyt was the obvious candidate to be Mr. Exposition in regards to the central mystery, this role instead went to the now identified Julius, the one-eyed black man from the caravan park and disruptor at Amelia’s book signing, who casually bloated out and finely tuned the cause of both the Purcell child’s death and the reason behind Julie’s long-standing disappearance. Whilst I’m all for plot resolutions, particularly when it comes to a series with so many questions, and I understand that not every show is going to be as damn confusing and mind-boggling as Twin Peaks, the five minute sequence in which every single element is rather nicely tied up did seem a tad flimsy, particularly when one of the strongest points of writing this season was the certain oppressive nature in which there always felt a underlying notion that not everything ever seemed particularly right. With other points clarified and others left seemingly abandoned, the finer narrative points of Series Three still left some questions remaining, but with a really well executed final set piece in which Hays’ continual memory problems really came around to haunt him, “Now Am Found” effectively made an immediate lasting impression, carrying out both the standout acting and interesting writings which have made True Detective‘s latest series a real treat to digest, dissect and review, and whilst many thought the series had died a disappointing death thanks to the divisive nature of the show’s second season, Pizzolatto has successfully managed to put the show back on its’ rightful course with eight hours or so of excellent, intriguing and compelling small screen drama.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
Overall Season Score: 8.6/10
TV Review: True Detective – Series Three Episodes Six and Seven “Hunters in the Dark” and “The Final Country
“Hell Of A Day When A Gunfight Is The Second Most Exciting Thing To Happen To You…”
With the effects of the Woodard shootout still lingering in the forefront of the 1980’s timeline this week, it very much seems that whilst the season’s definitive action set piece seemed at the time to be no more than just a glorified, if well executed, gun fight, in reality, the death of Woodard and the discovery of particular elements pertaining to the Purcell case seems to have been the kickstarter for a much deeper and dark hearted conspiracy, one which became more evident throughout the two unbelievably addictive hours of television in this ever-improving chapter of a True Detective. With HBO’s latest flagship show not only blossoming thanks to a much needed return to form, the decision to return to the almost psychological horror aspect of the show’s debut season really makes the drama tick as we attempt to string together the wailing dots in order to come to some sort of amicable resolution come the final episode. With episode six coming to terms with the definitive notion of Julie still being well and truly alive, the tables all turned towards Tom as the lead candidate for her brother’s murder, whilst the return of the now drug addicted Dan O’Brien and the first, more low-key interrogation of Officer James seemed to nod towards the opening of previously locked doors which pointed to a much ominous overarching explanation. With a full-on, nail biting sense of oppressiveness throughout, the tone of the episode felt comfortable in being able to resort back to the spine-tingling and wholly unnerving sensibility which the first season managed to get so spot on, and with creepy monologues from incidental characters both ambiguous and crucial to solving the many riddles at the heart of the central mystery, “Hunters in the Dark” also featured the discovery of the infamous “pink castle” and the creepiest conclusion to an episode this season by a considerable distance.
With such a dramatic discovery, it wasn’t exactly surprising to see that the first act of episode seven was to see the lengths certain power-hungry figures will go to in order to keep the now solidified conspiracy under wraps and as far away from both Hays and West as humanly possible, with the death of Tom and his convenient suicide note one of the less effective narrative twists so far due to an alarming sense of inevitability. As pointed out by Sarah Gadon’s Elisa, the nature of the conspiracy almost uncannily becomes quiet after a sudden act of violence and the discovery of a dead man, and with the elder Hays clearly misdirecting and misremembering her particular line of questioning, the “bad thing” involving Hays and West is finally revealed, with the accidental death and subsequent attempt at removing every trace of Officer James the enormous elephant in the room and potentially a deciding factor in Hay’s penchant for mental illness and memory confliction. Add into the mix the return of the one-eyed black man and joyous, if slightly off-hand, link to the Rust/Hart investigation from the first season, and the cards heading into the finale all begin to slightly stack up, concluding with a long-awaited meet-up with the ambiguous figure of Mr. Hoyt, whose telephone conversation could not hide the fact that the man on the other end of the line was Yondu himself, Michael Rooker. With the tension unbearable, the tone now full on Wicker Man style oppressive and questions still remaining, next week promises to be either an enormous and jaw-dropping hour of television or a complete cop-out. We shall see.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“Tell Him To Leave Me Alone. I Know What He Did. That Man Pretending To Be My Father…”
After commenting this time last week on a distinct lack of standout action set pieces within a series renowned for breaking the rules of what is allowed upon the small screen, this week’s episode of True Detective was undoubtedly the most proactive and efficient hour of storytelling since the opening episode, blending together a narratively crucial and well executed resolution to last week’s cliffhanger and playing its’ hand in terms of answers to the widening array of key questions much quicker than before. Concluding tantalisingly with the prospect of a full blown massacre last week, the attack on the Woodard household not only ended in exactly that, resulting in the death of not only his attackers, but police officers too, but also put to bed the question of the original conviction regarding the Purcell case, with key evidence including burnt clothing and one of the missing children’s backpack being conveniently found in the household of a now dead but understandably suspicious leading suspect. With the 80’s timeline of the narrative strictly limited to the Woodard set piece, the majority of the action this time around once again lands deep in the 90’s timeline, with the hunt for the missing Purcell girl well and truly afoot, resulting in the continuation of the clash of heads between Hays and West who seem to have their own individual notions of how most effectively to deal with the biggest puzzle piece so far. With Tom caught up to speed in the doings of his once presumed dead daughter, her potential involvement within a “family” of runaways and continued search for her missing brother results in a live witness appeal, a particularly interesting scene which brings to light the strong sense of bad blood from many regarding the original case, with the conviction of Woodard seeming considerably rushed and overly fraudulent.
With discoveries of missing evidence, the complete lack of basic forensic awareness and the potential planting of key items at the original crime scene, 90’s Hays too begins to wonder whether the death and subsequent conviction of Woodard felt perhaps too timely and ideal for the true murderer who potentially may have had all the time in the world to dispose of crucial evidence, and with a strange, oddball question regarding the disappearance of a local detective at the time of the second investigation, does the confliction raging inside Hays point towards something much more disturbing than one might originally believe? With his absolute refusal to speak about the case outside of the confines of work, an awkward dinner conversation seemed to hark back to the first date between Hays and Amelia by showing how far and how disillusioned the couple have become due to just one case, and whilst it has always seemed that Amelia’s eagerness for the finer details regarding the Purcell investigation has always seemed to be her own way of dealing with the trauma, this week seemed to offer up a darker, seedier alternative regarding her true motives surround both Hays and the Purcell’s. With this seed firmly planted, the heartwarming reunion of the now aged pairing of Hays and West was hampered by Hays’ memory regarding the pair’s last meeting, and with the death of Amelia as far as I’m aware not exactly being cleared up completely, this week’s episode of True Detective thoroughly enjoyed being able to tease and play with an audience which was once again treated to a riveting and thoroughly entertaining hour of damn good television.
Overall Episode Score: 9/10
“Justice Is Not Ours To Deliver. Justice Is Not In Our Power, It Is In His…”
With the fourth episode of True Detective’s debut season reinventing how stylish and powerful particular levels of drama upon the small screen can ultimately become, with the famous and unbelievably tense one-shot biker gang escape laying the ground for familiar set pieces in the the likes of Game of Thrones and Daredevil, this week’s episode of HBO’s crime series understandably fails to feature anything as majestic or jaw-dropping, instead continuing to prolong a sense of quieting and growing desperation as the many strands of the central investigation continued to both confuse and intrigue. With most of the action switching between the 1980’s and 90’s this week, “The House and the Day” did manage to tick off a solid amount of unanswered questions presented in previous weeks, with the origin of the creepy, The Wicker Man inspired dolls being revealed alongside the background regarding the young Purcell’s rather spooky hand gestures when his body was found back in the opening episodes. With religion seemingly the go-to answer behind such mystery, the visit to the local church and priest of course had to involve a overarching off-kilter vibe, with the leading notion behind the main suspect relying on their attendance to the local parish not exactly seeming to bother such parish’s leader who felt more inclined to speak in riddles than genuine answers. Elsewhere, the visit to the local caravan park in order to identify the black male seen in the out-of-place sedan both reminded of the tension which True Detective is ultimately renowned for whilst bringing to the forefront more than ever before the notion of the underlying racial politics which Season Three has embraced, with both Hays and Roland understanding the nature of a society where cops are more likely to shoot a white man in a moment of tension rather than feel the heat of shooting their black brothers in arms in the same exact instance.
With an episode which was determined to build as much character development as humanly possible, the moments away from the central investigation involved a sombre, heartwarming first date between Hays and Amelia, the beginning of an unbreakable bond between Tom Purcell and Roland, with the latter attempting to save the former from his trainwreck emotional and mental state, and even a chance for Lucy to partially redeem herself during a total emotional release in front of Amelia before resorting to her true, monstrous nature by coldly screaming racist slander after being convinced of Amelia’s attempts to woo her into sharing secrets she is clearly unwilling to spill. With the beauty of the beginning steps of Hays and Amelia’s relationship being contrasted with the complex manner of their family life in the 90’s, Hay’s return to the Purcell investigation results in a complete change of personality, proving that the angst and depressive state he was in was undoubtedly due to a feeling of uselessness and inadequacy, and even with the added emotional response to Amelia’s focus on her book detailing the case which has transformed both his career and his life, the unbreakable bond between two people very much in love is one of the more upbeat notions of a series dripped in melancholy and regret. With old man Hays admitting that the Purcell case is the only thing keeping him fresh and alive, his attempts at locating both Roland and new facts about the case from Sarah Gadon’s crime reporter seem to emphasise the fact that no matter how far down Hays digs, the truth may still never come to light, and with so many answers still floating around in the world Pizzolatto has built this time around, Season Three’s conclusion may be the most compelling one yet.