If you’re a fan of True Detective, then you’ll surely recognize the name Pattinson. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the actor brothers William and Luke starred in the acclaimed 2016 drama as Frank and Phil Hartman. The show is based on the San Francisco private investigator series created by Lawrence Block in 1949. In the 2016 spinoff, S.A., the brothers play different characters named John and Frank Sutter. While the first season was set in the 1950s, the second season focused on the San Francisco private detective office during the early 1980s. Over the years, many fans have wondered what would have happened if the show had continued.
The mystery surrounding the Hartman and Sutter cases has never been solved. But HollywoodLife.com has gone behind the scenes to bring you a memorable moments from the show.
1. The Evolution Of The Private Eye Business
One of the earliest True Detective fans may have been surprised by the way the show’s protagonist, Phil Hartman, evolved over the years. In the original series, Hartman was a gruff, no-nonsense detective who was often at odds with the political machine in town. He and his wife, Kate, often clashed with Ray and Trudy McConnell, the wealthy senior couple who owned the crime office. The film adaptation of the show begins in a similar fashion, with Hartman confronting the wealthy McConnells about a missing persons case.
But as the movie progressed, Hartman grew increasingly concerned for the well-being of his young children. In the end, he abandoned his hard-edged detective work and took a more hands-on approach to parenting. You may recognize the famous catchphrase that he shouted out to the camera as he walked away from the McConnells’ house: “I’m a concerned parent, not a fucking detective!”
Many fans have pointed out that the evolution of Hartman and the show’s other male protagonist, the late Det. Frank Hartman, was a result of writer/director Adam Wingard’s personal experience as a parent. In an interview with The New York Times, Wingard revealed that his children’s nanny accused him of being “too soft” on criminal activity. “I started making them watch [Det.] Hartman and me as opposing forces,” said Wingard. “I wanted my kids to understand that sometimes you have to play the devil and that justice isn’t always served.”
2. The Evolution Of The Woman’s Role In Investigations
Another aspect of True Detective that has intrigued fans is the way the show portrayed the role of women in investigations. When Kate Hartman first arrived at her husband’s side as a partner in the private eye office, she was often excluded from the more experienced detectives’ conversations. But over time, her knowledge, intuition, and empathy allowed her to shine in her own right. Indeed, in the second season, her character’s name was changed to Karen Sutter. And in many ways, Sutter is the show’s true female protagonist. She and her husband, John, have more in common with each other than their differences.
Both Sutter and Kate Hartman are determined, courageous, and independent. In many ways, Kate and Karen are the traditional female role models that young girls can look up to. The subtle differences between them are also important: Kate is an established professional, while Karen is just starting out. And Kate is often the one who makes the tough decisions, even if they’re not always easy. As Karen puts it: “Decisions are made. Sometimes they’re made without talking about them first. Sometimes they’re made with a lot of talking. Decisions are made. But that doesn’t mean they have to be easy.”
These are the women that True Detective celebrates, while simultaneously challenging them to be better. And, as the show demonstrates over and over again, even the most unlikely pair can work together for the greater good.
3. The First Investigation
When the first season of True Detective aired nearly 10 years ago, many fans were skeptical that it could live up to Block’s legendary status. But the first episode not only proved them wrong, it also introduced the show’s iconic opening titles with a bang: an explosion cuts to black as a graphic of a pair of eyes pops up on the soundtrack, followed by the show’s iconic whistle.
The show then cuts to a shot of Det. Frank Hartman sitting at a table in a seedy bar, seemingly alone, before a gunshot rings out. The graphic of a pair of eyes fills the screen, as ominous piano music swells.
The bartender rushes in with a phone to his ear as he calls for police assistance. “I think someone just got shot,” he says into the phone. The camera then focuses on a bloody knife on the floor, as another patron walks in, unnoticed. One of the patrons, a man in a suit, sits down at the bar and orders a drink. Another man, an older one with a gray mustache, walks up to the bar, unaware that someone just got stabbed. He looks at the knife on the floor and says: “Well, we don’t serve children in here.” The man at the bar nods in response and asks for a bourbon.
The camera shows the man in the suit reaching into his pocket for a wallet, as the bartender turns to look at the man with the gun. “It’s probably just a stray,” the man in the suit says, as he pulls out his wallet and hands the bartender a ten-dollar bill.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” the voice-over begins as a distorted and sped-up voice speaks in a deep baritone. Over the years, this has become one of the most recognizable opening phrases in pop culture.
4. The Birth Of The Child Murderer
The opening scene of the fourth episode plays out in a similar fashion to the opening of the first episode, albeit on a much larger scale. It begins with a graphic of a pair of crossed swords on black, with the show’s iconic “Chasing Death” font splashed across the screen.
But in this case, the graphic is superimposed over a close-up of a woman’s face, as she gives birth to the child of a psychopath. The camera lingers on the baby for a moment before zooming out to reveal that the woman is surrounded by a group of people, including an attorney and her husband. The woman is impregnated by a 28-year-old named Phil, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl and serving time for the crime.
In the subsequent scenes, we follow Phil’s steps as he prepares to be released from prison. He goes on a crime spree, kidnapping an 11-year-old girl and strangling her with a pair of pliers, before being hunted down by an elite group of police officers and convicted felons. The woman in the graphic, Donna Abney, later dies in a fiery car crash after being cornered by police, who were armed with machine guns.
“What makes this scene so powerful is that it shows you a glimpse into the mind of a child murderer,” writes the website GeeksAreGirls.com. “He has no qualms about what he’s doing, this man is a monster.”
5. The Collector
In the fifth episode, we’re treated to another chilling opening sequence. The camera pans across a desert landscape, as slow, ominous music plays in the background. We then see the silhouettes of human figures lurking in the shadows, before a child’s hand snatches a shiny object off of a pedestal.
The camera remains focused on the hand for a moment before cutting to a shot of the boy, David, picking up the object and examining it closely. He’s about to put it back when the camera cuts to the silhouette of a man in a suit standing behind him, reaching for the object. But before the man can get his hands on it, the boy pushes him away and throws the object in the dirt.
This is where the scene gets shocking. As the camera zooms in on the boy’s face, we see that it’s missing an eye. The man in the suit is wearing a mask, but it’s clearly visible that he has no eyes.
The scene cuts to black and then back to the regular television screen, as the child whispers “I love you, Daddy” into the camera.