Since True Detective has an anthology format, next season will be a new story with new characters in a different setting. While Pizzolatto has suggested he would like some of the actors to return as different characters, there's a lot of speculation the two lead detectives next year will be women.
Last night's episode of True Detective felt very different in tone than from the first six hours of the show, but it also seemed to answer the motive behind the murders and revealed a key figure in them. More after the jump.
"You shouldn't have that." —MartyEverything that follows is going to be a discussion of what's happened from the beginning to last night's show (episode 7). So if you're not caught up, and don't want to be spoiled, this would be the place to stop reading.
"Nobody should have this." —Rust
The other thing about it is the episode focuses much more on the nuts and bolts of the murder investigation than the grand metaphysical ponderings and character dysfunction that dominated the first six hours.
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
- The "Sprawl" of the Tuttle Family: Cohle seems to have pegged down the big picture of what was happening, but not the particulars of exactly who was involved. The Tuttle family (which seems like a mix of aspects from Lousiana figures like Jimmy Swaggart, former Governor Edwin Edwards, and the Long family) is intimately connected with the murders and kidnappings. Women and children, who've been murdered or have gone missing under similar circumstances to Dora Lange's, were from within a 10 mile radius of the Tuttle's schools. And it seems as if the Tuttles have used their political power to sweep things under the rug. The cult's ritualism of the molestation and murders is based around Courir de Mardi Gras. Cohle is finally able to convince Marty that what he's saying is true when he reveals a videotape he stole from Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle's home. It shows masked figures either raping and/or murdering a young girl. The girl in the video is identified by Cohle as Marie Fontenot. She was the girl whose death was originally ruled an accident and that Cohle found similar circumstances to Dora Lange's murder after digging through multiple missing person reports labled "report made in error." It's her death that brought Rust and Marty to the Tuttle's Light of the Way Academy and connected them to Reggie Ledoux.
"You know Carcosa? ... Him who eats time. Him robes, it's a wind of invisible voices. Rejoice. Death is not the end. Rejoice. Death is not the end. You know Carcosa? You rejoice. Carcosa." —Miss Delores
- Driven To Madness: Marty's reaction to the videotape made me think of all "The King in Yellow" references. The videotape of the cult's abuse of Marie Fontenot is probably the show's real-world equivalent to the function "The King in Yellow" plays in Robert W. Chambers short story collection. In Chambers' book, the short stories are connected by a play called "The King in Yellow," and Carcosa is an ancient, mysterious, and cursed city. Anyone who reads the play is either driven mad or has a dark fate awaiting them.
- Does This Remind You Of Anything?: Last week, I mentioned the suspicion, based on her behavior and actions, that Marty's daughter Audrey has been sexually abused by someone. Back in episode two, there's a scene where Marty walks in on his two daughters playing with their dolls. The closeup of the dolls in that episode (pictured above) is somewhat similar to what was happening to Marie Fontenot on the videotape. In fact, before Rust identified the girl as Fontenot, for a moment I thought Marty's reaction meant the little, blonde girl on the tape was Audrey.
"I was going to play baseball, ride bulls. You know you end up becoming something you never intended. I guess you never really know why." —Marty
"My life has been a circle of violence and degradation for as long as I can remember. I'm ready to tie it off." —Rust
- Fatalism: In both their words and actions, Rust and Marty seem to feel this is not only the end of their time on the case, but the end of their relationship with the world. Marty's conversation with Maggie has the feeling of someone saying goodbye for the last time, and wants to make what amends he can before it's over. That's the way Maggie takes it too, since she seeks out Rust to find out what is going on. And Rust says he needs to finish this to "move on." TV critic Maureen Ryan had an article where she compares the show to Blade Runner. Ryan argues the main theme of True Detective is that it's a story about a "fallen world" devoid of God, where "sin has entered the garden" and despoiled it, and there's nothing left with any meaning. This is a show that exists in a universe where babies are fried alive inside of microwaves. And strangely enough, after everything that's happened, Marty and Rust have ended up with roughly the same mindset of not wanting to be part of that kind of place anymore.
- Broken Men with Broken Lives: One aspect I really loved about this episode is seeing the changes in Marty and Rust's lives. Both are reaping the consequences of their actions, and still live under the shadow of this case. That shadow and the "debt" it created is the only really meaningful thing these guys have left. The decay of their lives made me think of Rust's description of the decaying town in the pilot episode (i.e. "somebody's memory ... and the memory's fading"). We learn that Rust was working on fishing boats in Alaska during the missing time the Louisiana detectives were suspicious of in the previous episodes. Rust's life now consists of being a severe "functional" alcoholic bartender that's obsessed with finally solving this case. But it's interesting that Rust has become more personable, and actually wants know how Marty is doing now. And how he's doing is not so good. Marty has an empty office, and a home life that consists of eating frozen dinners on a tray and searching Match.com for dates.
From Jeff Jensen's interview of Nic Pizzolatto at Entertainment Weekly:
EW: In episode 7, the judgment of Marty for his failings is expressed via the revelation that Maggie and his daughters flourished after cutting Marty out of their lives.
Pizzolatto: Clearly they did. We had a scene where you glimpsed Maggie’s new husband but it was cut. They’re all much healthier. That’s what Hart is thanking her for in 7. Thank YOU for doing everything.
- The Spaghetti Monster with Green Ears: The reveal at the end of the episode tells us that the "tall man with scars" is the landscaper Cohle spoke to way back in episode three outside the Tuttle's Light of the Way Academy. If you go back and re-watch episode three, two things take Marty and Rust's attention away from him. One is that he's wearing a beard that covers up the scars. And the second is that Marty learns about the connection between Charlie Lange and Reggie Ledoux at the exact moment Cohle begins questioning him, and pulls Cohle away from the landscaper to pursue the lead on Ledoux. The landscaper, who's identified by HBO as being named "Errol Childress," is implied by the episode to be an illegitimate descendant of the Tuttles. According to the Tuttle's maid, Miss Delores, the family's patriarch, Sam Tuttle, did a good amount of sleeping around. The pieces of the story then fit together. All of the murder/kidnapping victims are centered around the Tuttle schools because Childress has been moving from school to school as part of his parish contract, no doubt set up by the Tuttles. The former cop in Marty and Rust's CID unit, Steve Geraci (i.e. the cop Rust slaps in the first episode), that knew info about the Fontenot case but didn't provide it in 1995, used to work as a deputy for the Sheriff of Iberia parish and is now the Sheriff himself in 2012. That former Sheriff's name is Ted Childress, which probably has some relation to Errol Childress and the Tuttles. One other little tidbit about the landscaper in the end scene. After he goes back to mowing the lawn (which, in itself, is a reference embedded in the show), Childress is mowing the lawn in the spiral pattern that the murder victims have on their bodies.
- The Cult of the Yellow King: Somehow I doubt the landscaper is "The Yellow King" behind it all, instead of just one of the members of this cult. That leads to a question of how large of a "sprawl" are we talking about with this? Is this just the doings of one screwed-up, powerful family? Or does it go beyond the Tuttles and their illegitimate relatives? One theory floating around the internet that would connect Marty and explain some of the things with Audrey is that the cult of the Yellow King goes beyond the Tuttles, and is made up of the rich and powerful in Louisiana. Marty's father-in-law seemed to be very well off and was spouting conservative "concern" about society that you would probably have heard at a sermon led by Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle. Also, there must be someone with power behind the cult, beyond meth cooks like Ledoux, landscapers like Childress, or even Reverend Tuttle, since Rust believes, that when he stole the tape of the ritual with Marie Fontenot, others killed Reverend Tuttle to retaliate/cover up their links to him.
- The Lawnmower Man and Have We Finally Ruled Out Marty and Rust?: Over at EW, Jeff Jensen posits a couple of theories, as well as a possible connection between True Detective and another work, specifically Stephen King's "The Lawnmower Man." Many of the comments online that I've seen still suspect Rust or Marty as being part of a big "twist" that will implicate them as being a part of things in the end. However, Pizzolatto has denied that the ending will be a trick, and says the show is not trying to "out-smart" the audience. He's also been pretty clear in saying that, while there are occult elements to the show, the story isn't going to turn supernatural. So anyone expecting a Lovecraftian version of Hastur to appear in the next episode, as the Yellow King behind it all, is in for disappointment.
Here’s a thought. What if Cohle’s grand conspiracy pitch — a unified field theory of all evil under the Louisiana sun — isn’t completely correct? The fantasy of a damaged man trying to bring meaning and form to his meaningless, shapeless life before checking out. His conspiracy theory is his religion. He needs all of it to be true. So deep is his void, that he needs something this grandiose to fill it. It can’t be just a few unconnected lone nuts doing psycho stuff. (And to be clear, psycho stuff was done!) No, everything must be connected. There must be intelligent design to “the sprawl”of this madness; there must be an organizing principle for everything; there must be logos. If there isn’t, then the catharsis of a final triumph — capturing/killing whoever remains to capture/kill — won’t be as satisfying, won’t give him a transcendent feeling of accomplishment, won’t fulfill the yearning of his chosen “immortality project,” the great heroic work that grants, in the here and now, a feeling of lasting significance. Basically, it all comes down to a denial of death. For all of his hard boiled nihilist rhetoric, Rust needs a fairy tale to get him through the day like the rest of us suckers.
- The Basis for the Story?: In the interview with Pizzolatto I linked to above, he mentions that in addition to the imagery and references to The King in Yellow from Chambers' novel, he mentions many other influences with some of them having been referenced in the program, including Friedrich Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, quantum cosmology and Brane Theory, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, and Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. Pizzolatto also mentions that True Detective's story is not too far off from real-life ritual abuse that's occurred in Louisiana recently.
From the New York Times (May 25th, 2005): Sex Charges Follow a Church's Collapse
The authorities - who got the first whiff of trouble six weeks ago when a woman, Nicole Bernard, 36, called the Sheriff's Office from Ohio to say she had fled the town to save her child from sexual abuse - are still trying to piece together what happened.
Nine people have been arrested in the past week. A dozen computers have been seized, at least some of which the police believe contain child pornography, as well as dozens of videotapes, hundreds of computer disks and eight large boxes of documents and photographs. Inside the shuttered church compound, in a "youth hall" behind the sanctuary, the police found the faint imprint of pentagrams on the floor that someone had apparently tried to scrub away. Some of those arrested, the police said, described rituals within those pentagrams involving cats' blood and people dressed in black robes.
The abuse victims ranged in age from 1 to 16, the police said. Several are in protective custody, and a search is under way for others, who may have moved or are known to the police only by first name or nickname. On Tuesday, the police were at the church grounds with dogs, though they would not say what they sought. Sheriff Daniel H. Edwards of Tangipahoa said that as many as 25 children - about evenly split between boys and girls - might have been involved in sex acts at the youth center, in cars and in the homes of at least two of those charged. The abuse seems to have begun in 1999, he said, and stopped occurring on the church grounds after 2003.