I'd like to start off by saying that I am of the opinion that people are never satisfied with a show's finale. With the exception of Breaking Bad, I can't think of any other show off the top off my head where everyone was happy with the way a show has ended. Not that it isn't usually justifiable, but people naturally hype up the end of a beloved story almost to the point that it's near impossible for the show to live up to the hype. Now enter [True Detective](series:755331), who's finale has two things going against it. One, is that being that the show has been announced as an anthology series, it only has one season to tell its story (and only eight episodes at that). And second is that every other episode of the season was so fantastic and filled with complex mystery and intrigue, that the finale would have to do a lot to compare to the rest of the series.
The first thing I should talk about is, of course, the killer. It was revealed at the end of the previous episode that the "Yellow King" was revealed to be Errol Childress, a handyman whom we saw earlier in the season, and a bastard child of one of the Tuttles. I thought the reveal of him was very well done, as I honestly didn't see it coming, and the decision to reveal him in the last episode rather than the finale was the perfect time to do it I thought. Errol himself only has a total of maybe 10 minutes of screen time in the episode, but I thought he was creepy enough to live up to who had been carrying out these satanic killings, and he proved very unsettling to watch (his sister-wife person didn't help very much). I've heard some people say that he was cliched, but I didn't think that was the case. Apart from the fact that creating a completely original killer is near impossible at this point in pop culture history, I can't think of any other killers since John Lithgow as Trinity that actually creeped me out while watching them.
Now, the two biggest complaints I've heard about the finale was that the confrontation with Errol was incredibly generic, and that the show wasted all the mythology and intrigue it built up throughout the show by only having Cohle and Marty discover Errol, and not all the others (namely the Tuttle's) that were involved in the cover-ups and the killings themselves. First off, I completely understand where people are coming from by saying the confrontation with Errol was generic, as it did follow the tropes of many film and TV ending “throw downs”. However, I don't think it's actually that important in the long run. I watch True Detective for the interplay between the characters of Cohle and Marty and that's what the show is about, so I found myself not even caring about the killer that much throughout the show. I feel like that is why there is about 20 minutes of just Cohle and Marty after the confrontation with Errol, to show that their relationship is what the show is about, or else I think the fight would have been closed to the end of the episode. I also thought that the build up to the confrontation was incredibly creepy and tense, so while the confrontation was generic, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
To address the second complaint people had, about the conspiracy and cover ups not being unearthed, I would almost agree with that point except Cohle and Marty address this fact at the end of episode, acknowledging that they didn't get everyone but they got their guy (and as the show is going to be an anthology, there is the possibility that new characters may mention or even investigate the Tuttle conspiracy). Not to mention the fact that the only Tuttle we ever met in the show is dead by this point in the show's timeline, so it's not even like we would've seen characters we know or have even heard of get whats coming to them.
What really surprised me about the ending was that it was actually somewhat happy. I fully expected at least one, if not both, of them to die when confronting the killer, but the show makes a decision that for once doesn't make me want to slit my wrists out of depression. This was another thing I heard people complain about, but I honestly like both of them surviving much better, as it lets us have some very powerful scenes between the two partners who have had very rocky relationship to say the least. The final scene with Cohle and Marty I thought was a fantastic resolution to their arcs, and Cohle's last line was the perfect note to end the season on; “In the beginning there was only darkness, if you ask me the light's winning” (this also being the only line said by Cohle that has the slightest hint of optimism in it).
Overall, [True Detective](series:755331)'s finale was not perfect, and was even a little generic and predictable. But it was still a well-written and very well-acted episode that I felt successfully capped off the story of Rusty Cohle, Marty Hart and The Yellow King. I look forward to the next season and am generally interested in what they do with the anthology format.