More than 3 million people were curious to find out who the killer was on "True Detective". The first season finale of the anthology crime drama series drew an average of 3.5 million viewers, up over 50% from the premiere which posted 2.3 million viewers. Across three telecasts on Sunday, March 9, the episode lured a total of 4.9 million viewers.
According to HBO, the show averaged 11 million total viewers over the season across all airings plus DVR and On Demand. It marks the most-watched freshman for the premium cable channel series since "Six Feet Under" premiere in 2001 (11.4 million).
Due to high demand for the season finale, HBO GO crashed for a few hours. On Monday morning, HBO released a statement to explain the problem, "Due to overwhelming interest in the season finale of True Detective, HBO GO was hit with an excessive amount of traffic soon after 9:00 PM ET last night. The issue has since been rectified and the service is now back to normal."
In the season finale, Matthew McConaughey's Rust and Woody Harrelson's Hart caught the killer and they both survived after a showdown with the bad guy, Errol. Asked why he gave a happy ending for the show, series creator Nic Pizzolatto explained to Entertainment Weekly, "A few reasons. We're never going to spend time with these guys again. And killing characters on television has become an easy short cut to cathartic emotion."
He went on elaborating, "So I thought killing the guys, or having something more mysterious happen to them ... would have been the same thing if the show had gone full-bore into the supernatural... To me, the challenge was to not only let these guys live, but show true character change through this journey. That passing through the eye of the needle in the heart of darkness has actually done something to them."
"The challenge was to create an emotionally resonant ending that made the journey worthwhile," he continued. "And it felt to me like my proper relationship to the characters should end with me allowing them to walk away into some kind of immortal life outside of this show... We don't know what kind of life they'll have. But I think we can be sure that each man is more willing to acknowledge the presence of grace... They are not healed, but now, for the first time, you can imagine a future where they are healed. And before that was never a possibility for Cohle and hardly a possibility for Hart. But now it's a real earned possibility."
To HitFix, Pizzolatto said, "This is a story that began with its ending in mind, that Cohle would be articulating, without sentimentality or illusion, an actual kind of optimism. That line, you ask me, the light's winning, that was one of the key pieces of dialogue that existed at the very beginning of the series' conception."
HBO has not officially announced a second season for the anthology series, but Pizzolatto has begun working on the story. "I am still fleshing it out," he shared. "The basic idea: Hard women, bad men, and the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system. I was well on my way in the writing but there's been a lot noise and work around the end of the first season that got in the way."