I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself; we are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; a secretion of sensory experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.
-Rust Cohle

I’m not even a big fan of Matt McConaughey as an actor. In the past his performances have seemed to be overbearing, trite affairs. On the other hand, I’ve always been a big fan of the work of Woody Harrelson; and Harrelson, along with a glowing recommendation from a friend, got my ass hunkered down onto the couch to watch the first episode of True Detective.

Now 5 episodes in, I can safely say I’m hooked like a damn junkie. And it isn’t because of Woody Harrelson’s character Marty Hart or even the intriguing plot. No, it’s lines like the one above from my new favorite character on television, Rust Cohle, that have me so enamored. Rust’s beautiful misanthropic poetry in True Detective has made the show a part of my new Sunday routine.

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Back then, the visions… most of the time I was convinced that I’d lost it.
But there were other times I thought I was mainlining the secret truth of the universe.
-Rust Cohle

Rust isn’t just a nihilistic shot of depresso: he’s also an incredibly out-there individual. Before he started work as a homicide detective for the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) in Louisiana in 1995 he worked undercover in Texas. Cohle killed a meth user in Texas who had injected his infant with the drug. His superiors made him work undercover to avoid jail time. For four years he was an undercover drug officer, until he was sent to the funny farm after a shoot out. In said shoot out, Cohle was shot and also killed three cartel members. After his release from the loony bin Cohle requested to work as a homicide detective in Louisiana. Rust Chole was on a lot of drugs and it’s explained he still has cerebral issues as a result.

The show follows Rust and Hart as they attempt to solve the murder of a woman in Louisiana. There are plenty of cool elements infused in the show’s narrative, one of my favorites being the many references to the classic Robert W. Chambers series of horror stories, “The King in Yellow.”

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The show, at its roots, is about the difference between two very distinct detectives; two very different people, who are forced to be partners. It’s the classic good cop/bad cop story, and at first glance it would appear Hart is the good cop and Rust is the bad. However, as we get to know both Rust Cohle and Marty Hart we realize that they both have attributes that could be considered “bad,” and both have their own unique issues. While Cohle appears more ostensibly bad we slowly witness Hart’s own sinister side at home with his family. Which makes one wonder: who is the better detective? Is it Hart who follows the book (for the most part) and worries about keeping everything legal? Or is it Cohle, who is willing to break the law in order to get to the truth and, nail the murderer they’re after? Yet, even these simple questions get muddled in the very first episode, as Hart starts to become more like Cohle and strays from the established protocols.

So Death created time, to grow the things that it would kill…
-Rust Cohle

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Despite all of these intriguing questions, moral dilemmas and other enthralling aspects of the show it is the character of Rust who has me fiending; this bleak individual with a traumatic past speaks to me. Quite simply, he is the best character on television right now. He is infinitely mockable (see True Detective conversations for proof), yet the best characters always are. The best characters have a unique voice ripe for parody. (And we love emulating them because hell, who doesn’t want to pretend to be their favorite character in everyday situations?)

In Rust I trust, and I hope like Hell that this show has many seasons on the air.

True Detective airs Sunday nights on HBO. I’ll certainly be tuning in this Sunday. Even though life is meaningless and am I really tuning in, or is HBO tuning into me?

So yeah, my Rust Cohle fan fiction is coming along quiiiite nicely.

  • RamblingBeachCat

    I used to be on board with the Matthew McConaughey dislike train (wouldn’t say hate), but Lincoln Lawyer reminded me that he really can act. True Detective is yet more proof of how good he is, despite some very poor movies he participated in for some reason ($$$$).

    • David Brooke

      I second this. Lincoln Lawyer was exceptional.

  • MeanVareenOkerlund

    Nice comment I saw on Reddit:

    “Admittedly the dialogue,
    concepts and performance all together are incredible and definitely
    essential to the show and character.

    However, it just feels like there are a lot of viewers who enjoy the
    show simply because of these monologues and enjoy the monologues simply
    because they are so edgy and pessimistic and introduce them to abstract
    ideas that “blow their minds”.

    It almost reminds me of how The Newsroom hooked everyone
    into the show with the opening monologue about how terrible America is,
    and people commented saying is was one of the greatest moments in
    television history. The only difference being that True Detective knows how to sprinkle these ideas into the show on a much more subtle level.

    All that being said, I am really loving the show and the ideas it
    brings forth. I am very anxious to see how these ideas will tie into the
    finale.”

    • Eric

      Sounds like a typical Reddit comment actually. More impressive is the cinematography.

    • Sean

      I will admit that the monologues and dialogue are one of the better aspects of the show.

      However, this article was merely focusing on the character of Rust, and my love of his words. I chose not to write an article on the other merits of the show, and as such, I can see why it might appear I do not recognize, or acknowledge them.

      But the fact of the matter is, the six minute tracking shot, and the other incredible shots, the pacing, and the soundtrack are all integral to my love.
      It’s a shame I didn’t go into how great these are, but I wanted to have a hook for the article, and at the time, well, all I could think of was how great Rust is as a character.

      It is a nice comment, though. I have no issue with reasonable, well argued comments. I’m glad it wasn’t like most of the comments I read, which are basically name-calling and the text equivalent of shouting out of a speeding car at someone on the sidewalk.