True Detective : a question

You know what worries me about True Detective? That in the end, it’ll turn out the Yellow King is a giant spider. That, in the words of one description of the trials at Nuremberg, the evil will turn out to be banal. Boring. Run of the mill. A giant spider.

We watch and read horror and thrillers for a chance to see real evil. Most often, what we find is one of two things: something simply of the evil that men do or something simply stupid. Whether the writer didn’t have the vision or imagination to write the ending or they actually believed they were giving us something new, most horror stories end in disappointment or a repeat of what we’ve already seen. Not a glimpse, a peep, a peek at evil.

Most evil, as we know it, takes one of two forms, dependent on the size. One, the small evil, is the serial killer or, at worst, the child molester. Because the small evil is usually about one man’s twisted vision of sex. I’m not saying it’s not evil but rather, that it’s, not to overuse the word, banal. The second, the big evil, boils down to power. The warlords of the conflict in the Congo or Stalin or any of the various presidents of our own country. Sometimes this evil is done by a leader with his own hands. Most of the time, like with our leaders, it’s done from a distance. And much of the time, it’s state sanctioned. Slavery. Mass murder or collateral damage under the guise of war. In the end, it’s still banal and boring and it’s all been done before. No matter how inventive, how cruel or bloody or even how many, it’s all been done before.

Over and over, writers and filmmakers try to take us on a journey. They hint about, dance around, and as long as we don’t actually see, the evil our minds can create can create is a pretty scary thing, some kind of true evil. We don’t know what it looks like. That’s why we watch and read. Cause maybe there is something beyond our cruelty to each other. The Exorcist touched on it. That’s why it scared us, thrilled us. Even Jaws worked. One of those evils is just a fish eating and the other, a cultural evil. Only evil in the sense that it’s the opposite of what is supposed to be good. Not everyone in our world believes in a God, much less the God whose opposite is the Devil. For those other four of five folks out there, those stories would again be, well, I have used the word too much. But as soon as they show it, we all sigh. Cause we’ve seen it before.

The Yellow King stories, first presented near the end of the 19th century, formed the basis for other stories of evil by Poe (who based his imaginary Necronomicon on a similar book from the Yellow King stories) and others. It now is again resurrected for our Yellow King in True Detective.

So the Yellow King may not turn out to be a giant spider, which would be refreshing, in a way. The question is whether TD can give us a new evil or just something we’ve seen before. Something boring. Banal. And ultimately just another depressing story of what men will do to men. Two episodes to find out.


~ by Mad Prophet on February 28, 2014.

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