One of the great pleasures of TV this year has been the HBO Series True Detective. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey were brilliant in this nine episode series. This story gave us two complex characters. Marty Hart and Rust Chole. It was hard to predict how this show would end. There were plenty of people offering their version of what might happen in the end.
What happened was a happy ending – which seems a surprise to most. Seems we’ve come to expect the dark ending. WE have become content with accepting that a ‘happy ending’ is cheesy. In this story the cynic throughout was McConahghey’s character Chole. When he and his partner Marty finally face the evil of the serial killer they have been pursuing for many years one almost is prepared for the inevitable sad end to one or both of these characters. But it was not to be. They both stare death in the face and survive and come closer to each other in so doing. Both are nearly killed by the killer that they had been pursuing but they come out the other side.
The most moving words for me were the last lines of the movie. Outside of the hospital Chole bears his soul to Marty and shares part of the pain that drives his cynicism. In an effort to console him Marty glances into the Louisiana sky, and declared, “I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me the dark has a lot more territory.” Chole decides he needs to get out of the hospital and stands supported by his partner Marty. They were making their exit from our screens for the last time when Rust revisits the conversation about the sky – and finishes the whole season of True Detective with these words…“You know, you’re looking at it wrong, that sky thing. Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light’s winning.”
WOW! “The Light’s winning!” In a world that has embraced the notion that the bad guys win, this ending was great. Not only did the good guys win – the good guys were complex enough that we could see that at times they were ‘bad guys’ too. In fact some speculated that the last episode would reveal Chole himself to be the killer. That complexity in these two characters is what makes us identify with them. These two men with their best of intentions often choose the darker side of life. Sort of like all of us. We all participate in Light and Darkness. We all have moments that are profoundly life-giving and where we know we are being all that we are called to be. At the same time we all engage in behavior that is destructive to self and others and here we could easily forget whose we are and who we are called to be. So when the complex and often cynical character reflects on his life and on the pain that he has experienced in it, no one would blame him for seeing this life as a veil of tears – but the great ending of this story is the declaration that darkness is not the final answer – ‘Light’s winning!”
As a Christian I loved the overtones of Lent and Easter in this for me. On our Lenten journey, the story of the Passion and Good Friday and the miracle of the Resurrection, serve to remind us that no matter how much it may look like ‘darkness has more territory,’ it is not so – ‘Light’s winning!’ I get excited this time of year because it is our annual reminder that ‘Light’s winning!’ I love the experiential way that our weekly Lenten liturgies followed by our Holy Week liturgies lead us into the darker corners of the human condition. We will gaze into the darkest skyscape on Good Friday when we will will no doubt subscribe to Marty’s declaration that ‘darkness has more territory.’ But we enter into that space with the full knowledge that Easter is around the corner. Each week now we get closer to being able to declare ‘Light’s winning!”
I do love it when I watch a tv program and I see goodness and light. There is a lot of darkness on TV nowadays — one might say it has more territory — nice to be reminded that ‘Light’s Winning!’