Cube Critics

Cube Critics: ‘True Detective’ and ‘Slow Horses’

A side by side of two people
Jodie Foster in "True Detective" (left) and Gary Oldman in "Slow Horses."
True Detective Instagram | Apple TV

Cube Critic Alex V. Cipolle discusses the new season of “True Detective”; guest critic Regina Medina discusses “Slow Horses.”

The following is a transcription of the audio heard using the player above, lightly edited for clarity.

MPR News Senior Arts Reporter and Critic Alex V. Cipolle: You can basically smell him through the screen.

MPR News Correspondent Regina Medina: Yes.

Cipolle: Not the best hygiene.

Medina: No, he doesn't like to shower.

Cipolle: So, Regina, we both watched detective shows this week.

Medina: Yes. I love detective shows.

Cipolle: Me too. I watched the fourth season of “True Detective,” which just started on Sunday on HBO. And it is a return to form of season one. Nobody really talks about the other seasons, they’re not that good. Season one — amazing.

And it’s this kind-of like gritty noir detective series. This time instead of being based in the south, it’s based in Alaska. There’s also a new director, Issa López, and it’s a much more women-led cast as well, with Jodie Foster and kind-of newcomer Kali Reis, who is a professional boxer.

Medina: Ooh!

Cipolle: Very impressive. And so they play these detective partners, kind of at war with each other a little bit. Jodie Foster is kind of like an anti-woke cop. Kali Reis is a Native cop who brings some of those sensibilities and concerns to the role.

But as with the best “True Detective,” the main character is the place, right? So it is dark, cold Alaska —

Medina: Perfect.

Cipolle: — and how that seeps into people. So, the premise is kind of similar to John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” where a bunch of researchers are working at a research lab and something goes wrong.

And like with most “True Detective,” it’s where reality starts scraping at the supernatural. For Minnesota fans, there’s also a prominent display of a Viking sweatshirt, and the actor that plays Jodie Foster’s daughter is St. Paul actress Isabella Star LaBlanc.

Medina: Yay!

Cipolle: I highly recommend it. HBO, Sunday night.

Medina: I, this week saw — well I’ve seen it for a few weeks because it just ended — “Slow Horses.” It’s an Apple TV show, based on a series of spy novels by Mick Herron. It stars Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas, and I love it.

So, this is about a group of misfits — MI5 agents who work in a way from the MI5 headquarters, because the agency is trying to make them quit by [sending them to] a house that’s decrepit. And they basically process passports from the 1990s.

Cipolle: And they’ve sort of done something wrong in their jobs.

Media: Yeah.

Cipolle: They’re like, grounded.

Medina: Yeah, they have gambling habits and they got caught, or they left a very important confidential file on a train. You know, these people are not the best and the brightest.

So their boss is someone called Jackson Lamb, played by Oldman, who’s fantastic. He’s wonderfully insulting. He’s brutal to them. He urges them to quit. Yet he has flashes of, Hey, I care about these people.

And somehow, even though they're supposed to be away from the action, they’re in the middle of it in most episodes. So you can see it on Apple TV, seasons one, two and three.

I urge you all to watch it and you. And YOU, Alex V. Cipolle, to watch it again.