‘True Detective’ season finale: What just happened?


The first season of HBO’s “True Detective” wrapped up Sunday night. (Credit: HBO)

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LOS ANGELES — There is no mystery to the popularity of the HBO series “True Detective.”

Solid writing, excellent acting by stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and the greatest of all TV currency these days: positive social buzz.

The first season of the series ended Sunday night and was apparently so popular that it crashed the HBO to Go app during the time it was on (full disclosure: HBO is owned by CNN’s parent company). For those fortunate enough to watch the episode, there was plenty of debate as to whether it was a satisfying ending to a thrilling eight episodes.

EW writer Darren Franich noted that “It was a lot to take in — an hour that veered more towards philosophy than final-act thrills (although it had plenty of that, as well).” That publication’s TV critic, Jeff Jensen, wrote, “Culminating a remarkable first season in fine, moving form, ‘True Detective’s’ finale, titled ‘Form and Void,’ took us to the heart of darkness at the vortex center of its weird fiction — as well as the final stage of its meta-commentary on the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, for better and worse.”

Time’s James Poniewozik found some flaws in the ending even as he said, “True Detective was an artfully written, remarkably acted, stunningly visualized portrait of Marty and Rust trying to find the path in an overgrown world of decay.”

” ‘True Detective’ was the closest thing American TV has done in a while to the British model of drama, a story told in one season, from the keyboard of a single writer (and the lens of one director),” Poniewozik wrote. “There was nobody to dilute the creator’s perspective, or to call b.s. on it. A more collaborative show, in the typical American model, might have fixed many of its problems.”

The Atlantic took the approach of having a “round table” of writers discuss the season finale. Spencer Kornhaber, Christopher Orr and Amy Sullivan each weighed in with their thoughts on the show’s wrapup. Sullivan said she “vowed to watch the finale as a fan, not as someone trying to figure it all out.”

“But even as a fan, I still found these dangling threads and implausibilities frustrating because the show practically begged us to get into the weeds, to wade into swampy waters,” Sullivan wrote. “That’s okay if it winds up giving viewers some extra insight. But it’s another thing entirely if the show is just messing with us.”

The show attracted plenty of famous fans also.

Mario Lopez tweeted, “I can now say that True Detective had the best first season of any show I’ve ever seen…” And according to his Twitter account, actor Colin Hanks was scrambling to find somewhere to watch the show in Canada and finally lucked out. “Major thanks to @sarajeanhughes and @josiahhughes for opening up their home to me so I could watch the True Detective finale,” he tweeted.

What did you think of the finale?

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