Nic Pizzolatto, 2014
I added this to my "TV to catch up on someday, maybe" list a couple of years ago, when all of a sudden it popped up in every "Trending" box on the Internet — the finale in particular seemed to be the media event of the season. The title makes it clear that this is a crime/mystery story, and it soon reveals itself to have a twist of horror as well, with devil-worshipping serial killers and whatnot. Not really my thing, though it was sufficiently well done that I did watch it all the way through. After I was done, I looked at some reviews to find out why it had been so acclaimed, and discovered that, in fact, it hadn't — the reviews were generally positive but far from ecstatic. The reason for all the buzz, according to commentators at the time, was not the show's quality per se, but rather that for weeks viewers had been breathlessly gathering up little clues and spinning their own theories. The intense detective is actually the killer! The schlubby detective is actually the killer! The owner of the banh mi shack where the detectives once grabbed a quick bite to eat is actually the killer! The schlubby detective's daughter is going to die! The schlubby detective's daughter isn't actually his daughter! Etc., etc. And I suppose it stands to reason that this would happen on what is explicitly a mystery show. But then there's this. A number of sites have long published two reviews of Game of Thrones each week — one for people who haven't read the books on which the TV series is based, and one for those who have. I haven't read the books, so until recently I only read the "newbie" reviews. But now that the show has caught up to the books, I figured it could no longer hurt to look at the "expert" reviews as well — nothing left to spoil, right? And what I discovered was that to a great extent, those reviews were concerned with discussing how the latest episode confirms or undermines the dozens or even hundreds of fan theories that have sprung up over what's going to happen. These two characters are going to fight to the death! This seemingly dead character is going to be revived! These two child characters are going to get married when they grow up! The theories are so widespread that they even have cutesy names, like "Clegane Bowl" and "Lady Stoneheart", that you can mention and apparently everyone (except me) will know what you're talking about. And it got me wondering… am I the only one who doesn't do this?
Most of the time I was in college I didn't have a TV, but I did have a VCR, and I had a weird monitor my dad had picked up in Europe that could display the VCR output. So my roommate and I held movie nights in our room on a fairly regular basis. (The people who came over invariably exclaimed about how utterly weird it was to be watching a movie on a computer screen.) I soon noticed that when watching movies, my roommate was constantly trying to predict the upcoming plot twists. "Oh, that must be the killer." "Watch — she actually owns the company." "I bet those two are secretly sleeping together." And while I can't say that I never ever make any predictions about any story ever, it does seem like I am in the bottom percentiles where this kind of behavior is concerned. I am generally perfectly content to sit back and let the events of the story unfold without guessing what they're going to be. My headcanon is unloaded.