The final moment of Episode 1: Cohle taunts his interrogators by wondering how the killer is still at large if he killed him back in the 1990s. He concludes, "Start asking the right fucking questions," and then takes an enigmatic draw on his cigarette as the smoky riffs of The Black Angels "Young Man Dead" swell.
In Episode 2, Cohle casually beating up two recalcitrant mechanics to get some information out of them. He smashes one in the face with a toolbox and gets the other in a chokehold in the span of a couple seconds.
When Hart gets physical with him in the locker room, Cohle very casually wraps his hands around Hart's, just as casually suggests he could break them, then starts to squeeze...
At the end of Episode 2, Hart and Cohle find themselves in a partially burnt-down church in the middle of nowhere, their trail seemingly gone cold. Then Cohle calls to Hart, sweeps some overgrowth aside and reveals crude artwork of a naked woman with a pair of antlers on the church wall.
In episode 4, Cohle goes undercover with a previous contact from a biker gang in order to ferret out the location of Lange's potential murderer. Despite the entire situation going south, Cohle manages to navigate through a neighborhood riot, goes ninja on a couple of attackers, and still gets the guy out alive, having perfectly timed Hart's arrival in a getaway car. And he did all this while coked out of his mind.
It's also a Moment of Awesome for the director, actors, cameramen and the rest of the crew, for making an incredibly tense action sequence with a small army of extras all in a single continuous take of 6 minutes. This accomplishment has been compared to the similar achievement of Children of Men. The filming involved rigorous practice and coordination, as well as using a crane to lift the cameraman over a fence so he could smoothly film Cohle.
The revelation in Episode 5 that Cohle's entire purpose for being interviewed in 2012 was to see what the detectives had on the case. His disappointment at the results does not diminish his manipulativeness in the slightest. It's so impressive, you might not have even noticed it.
Hart's execution of Ledoux following the discovery of his Torture Cellar. Made even better by Rust's response: initial shock followed by this exchange after he sees the torture cellar:
Marty: What do we do, Rust?
Rust: Oh, fuck him. Good to see you commit to something.
Cohle's brutal advice to the Marshland Medea, who he just manipulated into confessing to her murders of several children. He delivers it in a chilling, yet very sincere tone.
Cohle: "The newspapers are going to be tough on you. And prison is very, very hard on people who hurt kids. If you get the opportunity, you should kill yourself."
It's not really all that showcased within the episode, but Rust breaking into all of the Tuttle houses to get evidence can certainly qualify as this.
As expected of a finale, there were several awesome moments in episode 8.
Cohle and Hart effortlessly intimidate their old sheriff colleague, by first threatening to send a tape of a child murder to news outlets and stating they found it in his possession, then by having Cohle's employer fire a few rounds into his car with a sniper rifle.
Cohle's hallucination of a cosmic void at the altar of Carcosa, the strongest hint the show has given of a Lovecraftian mythos.
Cohle proves once again his badass credentials in the final fight. First he headbutts Errol Childress four times while being held off the ground, impaled on the end of Errol's knife. Then when Errol is about to finish off Hart with a hatchet, Cohle picks his gun back up and blows a chunk of Errol's head off.
A few meta-examples from the finale: first of all, the production and cinematography of the 'Carcosa' set was at once chilling and hauntingly atmospheric. And that last scene with Rust and Marty really show off the acting skills of both Harrelson and McConaughey (particularly the latter). A very fine way to end the story of these two characters.
Ani justifying her packing several knives on her body: she couldn't do her job knowing that any criminal she encounters could overpower her. So any man who fights her will "bleed out in a minute".
Semyon throwing down with Santos, dodging most of his punches before finishing him off with a headbutt and ripping his grille out.
Chessani is a piece of shit with no redeeming qualities, but he gets points for taking absolutely none of Frank's muscling.
Velcoro not only keeping up with Ani during a foot chase despite his broken ribs, but having enough strength afterwards to pull her out of the way of a truck.
Episode 4's brutal and gritty shootout.
Woodrugh's calm and collected reaction after it.
Woodrugh's Big Damn Heroes moment, saving an unarmed Ani from an AK-wielding gang member.
Velcoro utilizes the fact that he's ungodly angry, no longer part of the force and has been given carte blanche by the state attorney in the re-opened Caspere investigation to pay the good doctor Pitlor a visit - with a club. And a healthy dose of Shut Up, Hannibal! and Talk to the Fist.
Ani finally getting to put her Knife Nut skills to good use, killing two guys to rescue the woman she's been looking for from an orgy, and while completely high.
The entire sequence at the orgy/mansion is a CMOA. While Ani, high as a kite and going through a bit of PTSD, locates and rescues her missing person Vera and kills the guys, Velcoro and Woodrugh sneak their way into the place, dispatching top security, gathering major evidence, and escaping. The final shot, as their car speeds down the road and The Black Angels' "Black Grease" kicks in, is a major victory for the detectives.
Paul in "Black Maps and Motel Rooms." Unarmed, in an underground Los Angeles tunnel, and surrounded by four mercenaries and Holloway, manages to abduct and beat the latter, then methodically pick off the mercenaries. When he runs out of ammo halfway through, he grabs Miguel, uses him as a human shield, retrieves his gun, and takes out the last merc in a blink of an eye. God warrior indeed.
And his defiance when shot in the back by Burris, crawling towards his gun so he can have a chance at revenge on the bastard.
Paul: "No, no, fuck you. Fuck you."
Frank crudely torturing Blake, and getting revenge for how he's been used. He smashes him in the face with a whiskey glass, then grinds the man's wound against the wall. He then strangles him for information, before shooting Blake when the latter is bargaining for his life.
Frank: "Look me in the eyes. I wanna watch your lights go out."
Jordan shows barely any reaction to the body, and merely asks Frank what she can do to help.
Frank scorching the earth upon learning about the Russians' plans to take over his business, burning down all his properties and casually executing one of their men in the process.
And also his rather epic list of weapons he wants.
Frank and Ray taking out Osip, Mc Candless, and at least a dozen guards. The two storm in with tear gas, smoke grenades, and assault riffles, employ More Dakka, and don't take a scratch. Frank even gets to follow up on his earlier Badass Boast to Osip with a badass Pre-Mortem One-Liner. And then they steal millions of dollars.
Ray's last stand. He's panicked, distracted, and woefully unprepared for a fight, but leads four mercenaries and Burris into a heavily wooded area. Woodrugh took on similar numbers and won, but that was with even armaments and surprise. Ray's up against four guys with better training and better weapons. He still manages to avoid being shot for some time, and even take out two of the mercenaries.
Woodard taking out the bigoted rednecks as a one-man army.
For just one moment, Hays knows everything. He sees Julie, and when he drinks the glass of water his expression sharpens: he remembers exactly who she is, and he's confirmed she's alive and happy. He forgets soon after, but he cracked everything.