Interview With Nic Pizzolatto Looking Back At Season 1 of True Detective, Hinting About Season 2

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HitFix Excerpt. Follow the link for the full interview

Sepinwall – Finally, you wrote this entire thing in a vacuum, as someone relatively new to television, not knowing how it was received. And the show comes on, and people go nuts about it, they are penning raves, coming up with elaborate theories about the Yellow King and Lovecraft and everything else. How did it feel to see your creation being received in all of these ways? 

Pizzolatto – I felt like, look, it’s all good, and I really mean that. To me, that is what it means to connect and resonate with people. It means that they are going to project onto the work. There’s never been anything I didn’t love that I didn’t connect with on a personal level because to some degree, I projected upon it. That said, I think I’ve made clear that my only interest in the Chambers stuff (Robert W. Chambers wrote “The King in Yellow”) is as a story that has a place in American myth. And it’s a story about a story that drives people into madness. That was mainly it. Beyond that, I’m interested in the atmosphere of cosmic horror, but that’s about all I have to say about weird fiction. I did feel the perception was tilted more towards weird fiction than perhaps it should have been. For instance, if someone needs a book to read along with season 1 of “True Detective,” I would recommend the King James Old Testament. I wouldn’t tell anyone to go buy Robert Chambers. It’s not that great a book. Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner I think are in there far more than Chambers or Lovecraft. But again, I guess I hope that these 8 chapters, once the totality of it is evident, it might provoke a re-evaluation. But if it doesn’t, I’m very happy with the reaction we’ve had. It couldn’t have been better better. I’m just surprised by it. I remember talking to you three months ago and having to convince you: “This just sounds like every other show,” “I know, I know.” And now my wife read a comment the other day that said I live out in the desert, and I run some kind of cult. (laughs) I don’t know what I can say about that. I think this show answers everything it told you to ask. The questions it didn’t tell you to ask are questions best left to one’s self.

Anyone who’s been following along with my blogs and True Detective podcasts knows how I wasn’t one of these fanboys ready to declare it the best television of all time. And of course, you say one negative thing on a topic and that automatically makes you a hater and means I despise the show. Which is obviously not the case. I made peace with this show during episodes 6 and 7 when I realized what this “series” really was: an 8 hour suspense/thriller movie. If I had been watching this show all along with the same expectations I have when I’m watching a movie, I probably would have never said a bad word about it. As a stand alone motion picture its an incredible tale about 2 cops chasing a serial killer in a cult. As a TV show, where we’re used to seasons upon seasons of material and development and surprises and shifts in the narrative and all that other shit, it leaves a lot to be desired. This ultimately ends up being the story of 2 detectives with distinct personalities and philosophies and how their lives and personas changed over the course of their investigation of a murder. Nothing more nothing less, really. Very different from other shows in the sense that the acting was incredible, the visuals were incredible, and the level of sophistication in the dialogue was much, much higher than most anything else you’ve ever watched. Very similar to other shows in that it ended up just being 2 cops chasing down a bad guy.

So like I said I made peace and changed my expectations going into the final episode, so I really liked it. I thought last night’s finale was incredibly gripping, very suspenseful, and downright scary at times. Thought there was some great back and forth between Marty and Rust, which, when you really think about it, is what truly separates this show from others. I was OK with them not addressing the rest of the suspected members of the Yellow King cult, primarily because like I said I changed my expectations. Like Marty said “We ain’t gonna catch em all.” I thought McConaughey’s speech at the end about his daughters was a fantastic scene and tremendous acting. I didn’t really care for a Rust Ramble at the very end wrapping it up, although I guess thats pretty fitting. I straight up hated the final line about the light winning. Thought that was very corny. Rust now showing signs of optimism as the two cops who survive the most improbable injuries limp off together smiling was pretty lame. But only lame as far as TV finales go. As an 8 hour movie ending, it doesn’t bother me one bit.

As far as Nic Pizzolatto and this interview goes – there’s some pretty interesting stuff coming right from the horse’s mouth. Season 2 sounds like it kinda sucks but then again 9 weeks ago I dont think I would have ever thought Woody and McConaughey chasing a murderer would have been as powerful as it was so we’ll just have to wait and see. Women and the US Transportation system is not really gonna hook me in right now though. As far as the way he’s looking back at season 1, and ultimately what irks me about him, is that he sounds hypocritical when talking about the fans’ reactions as compared to what the show really is. I completely understand the notion that internet fans made up theories and narratives and story lines and are now mad they weren’t resolved and thats not fair to the creator. But then you listen to him describe Erol’s voice changes:

“There was this idea that when he talks in his real voice, it’s very slurred because of the scarring. My background for him was that he learned how to enunciate properly through watching all these old VCR movies. And that brings us back to the idea of storytelling, right? At one minute he can affect this Andy Griffith good ol’ boy voice, the next he can sound like James Mason, and when he wants to use his real voice, he sounds like something wounded and damaged. And then when Cohle is in Carcosa, he sounds like something entirely different”

and he’s got his own ridiculous backstory about why that was going to happen. I mean that quote right there is something straight out of one of those reddit forums making predictions. If thats they way he’s written and presented the story, with a crazy unspoken backdrop in his mind, then of course the most diehard viewers are going to be creating their own as they watch along too. The rest of the interview, as well, talking about how the Dora Lange murder was just a vehicle to tell the story and the rest of the rhetoric about Cohle and Rust – its clearly a show where you’re supposed to dig deeper and look further than beyond the surface. So people did that, and in the end when a lot of the plot ended up just being a “what you see is what you get” thing, of course those people are gonna be disappointed. Always impossible to please everyone with high profile finales, but I also think this guy kinda set himself up when he made 8 episodes chock full of very specific, deliberate, elaborate quotes, shots, and hints and didn’t address half of them. Looking at this interview where he said he doesn’t even care about serial killers, its clear the plot surrounding the “bad guys” was never even important to him. Has always been, and always was, just about Rust and Cohle. Which – again – is fine. I just think that means there’s a lot left to be desired. A portion that was not satisfying because the writer admittedly wasn’t focused on it. Ultimately its a good finale and a great mini series. If there had been more time to perhaps go down those roads with more twists and turns (FYI, for all the TV hipsters out there talking about “abused audiences, a “twist” is not a bad thing when done right) if could have been a better TV show.

A lot more to come on Barstool DVR later this week