True Detective

Twists and tricks, or lack thereof: Gone Home's most surprising element by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Last week, I discussed the final episode of True Detective, specifically the fact that creator Nic Pizzolatto hadn’t made a show that was trying to outsmart the viewer. From start to finish, True Detective follows a logical progression and who followed it from week to week would get to the end and never feel like they had been tricked. And in that way, Gone Home feels like the True Detective of video games. It’s not trying to trick anybody. It’s just a simple story about why a girl who goes home and finds that her family has disappeared and/or left her alone. The narrative path that leads the player from beginning to end is much more linear than I expected (though not in a bad way), and the ultimate answer to the driving question (where is her sister, Samantha?) can be answered within half an hour of booting the game up, even though it takes four or five times as long to actually see it through.

And in a way, I found that somewhat disappointing. As the actual reveal appears, the game fades to black, and I was shocked that it was over. It seemed so sudden, but the reason it seemed sudden was because I had been expecting it the whole time. For the narrative that’s being told, it was the only way to end. It’s not like the family was going to come home and suddenly it’s something else. It’s a game about solitude and loneliness. (That being said, Gone Home is canon with the Bioshock franchise, and if Booker DeWitt time-warped and destroyed the house or something, that would have been kind of amazing.)

But still.

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True Detective’s finale: when symbols are just symbols by Alec Kubas-Meyer

The True Detective finale rendered me speechless, but not for the reason I expected. I expected the internet’s theories of horrific depravity to come true and the final hour to be one final spiral down into a pit of hopelessness. I wasn’t sure it was the last thing I wanted to see before I fell asleep, but I needed to know what happened to Rust and Marty.

And then… it wasn’t that. The opening minutes were uncomfortable (and stylistically odd, since I believe that was the longest period of time the show had gone without either of its protagonists being onscreen), and the big climactic chase was tense, but when everything came down to it, the episode isn’t about the darkness. The final line makes that pretty explicit, as Rust, the guy who has thus far spoken exclusively in long-winded metaphors filled with doom and gloom, thinks that maybe the glass is half full. Or at least not quite so empty.

That’s interesting.

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