THE WORLD NEEDS BAD MEN. WE KEEP THE OTHER BAD MEN FROM THE DOOR.

– Rust Cohle


Context

These words were spoken by the character Rust Cohle (played by Matthew McConaughey) in the TV show True Detective.

While trying to solve a murder case, Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, two detectives working for the Louisiana State Homicide Unit, delved into fascinating subjects, ranging from religion, psychology, suicide, nature and more.

Rust delivers this powerful line in Episode 3: The Locked Room when he and Marty (his partner that in many ways is quite his opposite in terms of personality) are in the car with Rust behind the driving wheel.

The tone and depth set by this first season, especially from an philosophical point of view but also from an acting perspective, is unparalleled in comparison to the two subsequent ones.

Meaning

There are bad men out there, men who want to injure, wreck havoc, destroy and plunder, kill and torture despite the consequences. These men could be sociopaths or violent psychopaths to cold-blooded killers or extremists. By recognizing the fact that these individuals exist out there in our world, we desperately need other men to keep them in check. Whether these men that keep the other bad men are “good” or “bad” doesn’t really matter, if we are to understand Rust. What matters is that they keep those ‘other bad men’ that are prone to violence and destruction in check, or “from the door…”

Its reasonable to believe that most good guys aren’t always willing to take the necessary actions that lead to the “neutralization” of the bad men, and that’s where the bad men of the “better kind” come into the scene.

But who decides who’s bad and whose good? Who’s bad and who’s really bad? That is the difficult one. As they say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

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