So, there’s this scene from the HBO show True Detective that came up today while I was talking to a friend. This might not make sense to everyone who hasn’t watched this show. And its quite a show — not everyone’s cup of tea. It is violent, focuses on the concept of “true evil,” and deals with mature themes beyond an ordinary show. So it’s fine if you aren’t into that.
But still, this scene captures something astoundingly beautiful — it is certainly worth 2 minutes to see. The background is hard to cover in a brief space, but basically Woody Harrelson’s character is an ordinary guy who is a detective in Louisiana. He is partnered with a very eccentric detective who pursues a case that takes a lifetime to solve wrapped up in a murder that is grisly and points to terrible things going back decades.
In the course of the show, though, Harrelson’s character — through his own imperfect character and because of the true wickedness that fills his days — destroys his own life. So the show begins with him building a family with a loving wife and two daughters, and by the end he is estranged from nearly everyone, sitting along in an apartment eating dinner from the microwave. He lives into the wickedness that surrounds him, and it poisons his life.
But then, at the close of the show, Harrelson and his partner have finally solved the case and, in the process, have been just beaten half to death. So he’s in the hospital, finally at the end of this thing that has quietly dominated his life and poisoned all the good things in it. And it is then that his family — including a wife who has remarried and his daughters who hated him — return to see him. He’s so overwhelmed that he begins with awkward greetings, and tries to spin it that he’s okay and that he’s going to be okay. But then the weight of his family’s love and their presence to be there washes over him — Harrelson plays this perfectly as you see this person dissolve into what can only be described as grace. Grace poured over a life that was harmed just as much as his body was. It’s a beautiful scene, and one that sticks in my mind.