Recently had the opportunity to binge watch True Detective. It took me back to the late seventies, when I embarked on my first road trip south of DC to experience the mystery called Mardi Gras in the equally exotic locale of New Orleans, spurred on by the B&W photos of Toby Old. I would emerge from a day and a half long bus trip (a small lump on the side of my head from falling asleep and repeatedly bumping my head against the bus window), take photos from noon till six, and then repeat the process back to NY. Young, dumb, full of cum...
The bayou landscape I first gazed upon from the Greyhound bus was as eerie a landscape as I had ever set eyes upon. Not your average, everyday, run of the mill, generic Americana; a presence unto itself- one gets that straight off. Something that could be intensely beautiful, and equally as foreboding. And that was just my initial reaction from the main road, my mind hazily wandering onto what possibly laid beyond in the side roads that meandered off.
I was reminded of that while watching True Detective, a series concerning two partners, each as unlike the other as can be; one possessed in his utter determination and intuition, the other workmanlike, coasting lazily to some futile facsimile of domestic American normalcy. Turns out they're hunting a serial killer, something I was quite interested in around the time I made my aforementioned bus trip- something I had well grown bored to tears with by the time Silence of The Lambs premiered.
Fortunately, the series does not burden and subject us to the usual myriad of the killer's idiosyncratic tendencies and lifestyle. We don't see him plotting and fantasizing, capturing and torturing. We are thankfully spared that long over used and abused scenario. The main character and threat here is the bayou itself. The hold it casts upon its inhabitants, it's a life force that can turn either way. You can feel its overbearing presence in the heavy predominance of long shots, the weight and stillness of the humidity, the wide open spaces that short cut to dead ends.
These detectives are caught within their own dark predicaments, in a land that can only exacerbate them, as they obsessively search for that which will offer but little release.