Monday, March 10, 2014

A nihilist discovers that love and light runs the universe

The TV series "True Detective" had its season finale last night. It has been a very fascinating series, highlighted by wonderful performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, written by Nic Pizzilatto.  It drew me along for the ride, but it was primarily the performance of McConaughey that kept me going.  In the end, I want to say thank you to the writer for the journey.
Read no further if you haven't seen the series, spoilers ahead.
McConaughey's character was a burnt out, alcoholic drug addicted philosophically inclined detective who was nihilistic and profoundly depressed.  He was also a very good detective.  Harrelson's character was much less self aware but also self destructive in his own ways who destroyed his marriage along the 17 year arc of the story.  He was also a very good detective.  The story was about these two solving the ritualistic murders of children performed by deranged satan worshipers in Louisiana.  
But, what counted to me was the arc of the McConaughey's character in the end.  He is almost killed by the psychopath.  When he recovers he tells his partner, Harrelson, about his near death experience, where he dropped down into the darkness until his definitions of himself dissolved and the only thing that was left was the experience of the love of his deceased daughter and there was no separation between them and everything.  He awoke back into this life and didn't know why he had come back.  
Harrelson's character tries to comfort him by reminding him that when he was younger, living in Alaska, he used to look up at stars at night and make up stories about them.  McConaughey's character said all the stories came down to one eternal story, light versus dark.  Harrelson's character looked up at the night sky and said there was a lot more dark than light.  
But then, we finally get to the heart of the story that Pizzolatto told: 
 But then he reconsiders—and this is Pizzolatto's only twist. In the last seconds of the season, the nihilism and misanthropy that have characterized Rust's worldview soften, however briefly, as he realizes that maybe he is here for a reason.
"You're looking at it wrong," Rust mutters. "The sky thing."
"How's that?" Marty replies.
"Well, once there was only dark," Rust says. "You ask me, the light's winning."
And the story comes to a completion wherein a nihilistic man who saw the world as hopelessly twisted and dark found that love and light were at the heart of the universe.  I thought it was a spectacular ending to a fascinating story.  I look forward to the next season and a new story with new actors.  This one will be hard to top.