Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

By Sara Smith, The Kansas City Star

(If you haven’t watched all of “True Detective” through last week’s episode, be warned of spoilers ahead.)

Thanks to “True Detective,” people are quoting Matthew McConaughey again. Because, as he will demonstrate with a mangled beer can, “time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.”

“True Detective,” the runaway HBO hit about two Louisiana cops chasing an elusive evil for two decades, wraps up its first season on Sunday. Rustin Cohle (McConaughey) and his old partner Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) are all set to nail down at least one part of whatever awfulness is coming.

The show, set to end its story after eight hourlong segments, has been analyzed at “Breaking Bad” levels of delightful, annoying geekdom, making it the latest frustrating, intricate TV drama turned social experiment.

Sunday nights have a lot of shows like that, because Monday mornings go down easier with a round of “Did you watch? Are you caught up?” My work friends, bless their hearts, maintain a spoiler-free zone — within reason. Don’t be saving the “Game of Thrones” finale for four days, that’s just rude.

“True Detective” deserves most of the effusive praise it’s getting, managing to be dark, sexy, terrifying and sad, sometimes all at once. Rust’s flat, detached manner of talking about his baby daughter’s death cuts deep.

“The hubris it must take to yank a soul out of nonexistence, into this meat,” he muses. “And to force a life into this thresher. Yeah, so my daughter, she — uh, she spared me the sin of being a father.”

Shows like “True Detective” swarm your Facebook feed, and given the chance to actually catch up, eventually you join the other drones reconvening at the hive (Twitter, et al.) to toil with singular intent (parsing Townes Van Zandt lyrics).

If only Reddit had been around for “Twin Peaks.” Fans had to find each other at parties by dropping obscure references to chewing gum and midgets. Rows of VCR titles were prominently displayed in dorm rooms. It was a simpler time.

In one David Lynch-esque moment of “True Detective,” birds flock into a replica of a victim’s spiral-shaped tattoo in a nearby field. Symbolism can be its own reward, especially in a story being told by guys who hallucinate and drink until dawn.