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HBO’S True Detective: January Episode Synopses

By on December 23, 2013
Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in True Detective. Image © HBO

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in True Detective. Image © HBO

Via HBO, we’ve got a collection of episode synopses for those curious about Jan. 12th’s new drama series True Detective.

shot on location in Louisiana and  starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the series follows two detectives assigned to solve the mystery of a bizarre murder with a distinct occult flavor.

The series, comprising eight episodes, alternates between 1995, 2002 and 2012  as a new investigation into similar murders prompts both detectives to recall the past.

Catch HBO’s official loglines for the show below, along with short synopses on the first three episodes “The Long Bright Dark,” “Seeing Things” and “The Locked Room.”

1995: Detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle, partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division, are assigned to a macabre murder by a killer with disturbing occult leanings. As they attempt to uncover the secrets of this bizarre crime, their own lives collide and intertwine in unexpected, sometimes catastrophic ways.

2012: When a similar case leads to an investigation of the original ’95 murder by two new detectives, Martin and Rust separately tell the story of both the investigation and their lives, including why Cohle left CID in 2002.

Shot on location in Louisiana, the drama series TRUE DETECTIVE begins its eight-episode season SUNDAY, JAN. 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. Matthew McConaughey (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” Golden Globe nominee for “Dallas Buyers Club”) stars as Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson (“Out of the Furnace,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) stars as Martin Hart in the show, which also stars Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”) as Hart’s wife, Maggie, who struggles to keep her family together as the men in her life spiral into cycles of obsession and violence.

Alternating between 1995, 2002 and 2012, all eight episodes were written by series creator and novelist Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre”), who executive produce along with Scott Stephens, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Steve Golin.

At first glance, Martin Hart and Rust Cohle couldn’t be more different. Hart, a native Louisianan, is an outgoing family man with two kids, whose marriage is buckling under the stress of the job. Cohle, a former undercover narcotics detective from Texas, embraces isolation, articulating a pessimistic, even bleak, world view. But they share an obsession with justice and a facility for violence that will inflict irreparable damage on both men.

Also featured in TRUE DETECTIVE are Kevin Dunn (HBO’s “Luck”) as Major Quesada, Hart and Cohle’s boss; Tory Kittles (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Michael Potts (HBO’s “The Wire”) as detectives Papania and Gilbough, in charge of the 2012 investigation; Elizabeth Reaser (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) as Laurie; Shea Whigham (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) as revivalist Joel Theriot; Clarke Peters (HBO’s “Treme”) as a rural minister; Jay O. Sanders (“Person of Interest”) as Billy Lee Tuttle; and Lili Simmons (CINEMAX’s “Banshee”) as Beth, a prostitute.

January’s episodes:

Episode #1: “The Long Bright Dark”

Debut: SUNDAY, JAN. 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates: Jan. 12 (11:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), 13 (12:15 a.m.), 14 (9:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 15 (10:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 16 (midnight), 17 (9:00 p.m.), 18 (1:00 a.m.) and 24 (8:00 p.m.), and Feb. 4 (11:00 p.m.), 7 (7:00 p.m.) and 8 (10:15 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Jan. 13 (9:00 p.m.), 17 (1:15 a.m.) and 19 (3:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m.), and Feb. 1 (5:00 p.m.) and 9 (4:00 p.m.)

Former Louisiana State CID partners Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle give separate statements to a pair of investigators about the murder of a prostitute, Dora Lange, 17 years earlier. As they look back, details of the crime, replete with occult overtones, are accompanied by insights into the detectives’ volatile partnership and personal lives.

Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.


Episode #2: “Seeing Things”

Debut: SUNDAY, JAN. 19 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates: Jan. 19 (11:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), 20 (12:15 a.m.), 21 (8:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 22 (10:00 p.m.), 23 (midnight), 24 (9:00 p.m.), 25 (9:45 p.m.) and 31 (8:00 p.m.), and Feb. 4 (midnight), 7 (8:00 p.m.) and 8 (11:15 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Jan. 20 (9:00 p.m.), 24 (1:15 a.m.) and 26 (12:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m.), and Feb. 1 (6:00 p.m.) and 9 (5:00 p.m.)

Under pressure to land a suspect in the Lange murder, Quesada warns Hart and Cohle that they might be replaced by three detectives from a new task force. The pair lobbies for extra time to follow up on a lead that takes them from a rural cathouse to an incinerated church. With his marriage to Maggie already strained by work, Hart finds respite away from home.

Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.


Episode #3: “The Locked Room”

Debut: SUNDAY, JAN. 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates: Jan. 26 (11:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), 27 (11:45 p.m.), 28 (9:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 29 (10:00 p.m.), 30 (11:45 p.m.) and 31 (9:00 p.m.), and Feb. 1 (9:00 p.m.), 5 (10:00 p.m.), 6 (midnight), 7 (9:00 p.m.), 8 (12:15 a.m.) and 14 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Jan. 27 (9:00 p.m.) and 31 (1:40 a.m.), and Feb. 1 (7:00 p.m.), 2 (12:30 a.m.), 3 (9:00 p.m.) and 9 (6:00 p.m.)

A hidden image at the burned-out church leads Cohle and Hart to Joel Theriot, a tent-revival minister whose parishioners finger a scarred “tall man” seen with Dora Lange. Brought in for interrogation, a sex offender matching the description is quickly dismissed by Cohle, despite offering a confession. Hart gets sidetracked after Maggie sets Cohle up with a friend at a C&W bar. Looking to establish a pattern of murder, Cohle pores over old case files, finding a connection with a woman assumed to have drowned years earlier.

Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.