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Watching 'True Detective': Has Series Mythology Ruined Us for Straight-Forward Storytelling?

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | February 24, 2014 | Comments ()


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Since the start of True Detective, a few short weeks ago (doesn’t it seem like we’ve been watching for ages?), I’ve noticed an interesting transformation taking place—especially in our Facebook discussion group. Nearly everybody’s first reaction to the series was to rave over its phenomenal lead actors, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and creator, Nic Pizzolatto’s writing. Being the inquisitive digger and child of Twin Peaks and Lost I am, even while I enjoyed the acting and writing, I felt compelled to look for more. Surely the show couldn’t be as simple as a straightforward story about two cops hunting down a killer; how many times has that been done? As fulfilling as I find McConaughey doing Rust Cohle’s philosophical monologues, I’d be a tad disappointed if he and Marty find the killer, and this was merely an interesting window into a partnership.

Was it just me, or has the evolution of television series conditioned us to expect—to need—more? In the Facebook group, the first hints of our hunger for something deeper were evidenced by people scanning the opening titles for clues; everyone wanted to be the first to figure out who the killer might be. We discussed the source of Rust’s nihilism—was it caused by losing his daughter or the stuff he’d seen as an undercover cop; was there something even darker we didn’t know? (Had he accidentally killed her himself?) Around the third episode, “The Locked Room,” a few of us began to wonder if Rust might somehow be involved in the killings, whether as a copycat to an original murder, or as the one true killer. Several people were watching each episode at least twice, to catch every little detail given, and after “Who Goes There,” the Carcosa and The King in Yellow discussions began. I floated a theory that “The Locked Room’s” long shot had a couple of questionable moments (Rust easily knocking out two attackers with little effort, and maintaining control over Ginger despite letting go of him several times), and the idea that Rust going straight from a four-month psychiatric hospital stint to Homicide didn’t make sense. Maybe that tracking shot scene wasn’t entirely real? Coupled with the fact that Detectives Gilbough and Papania tell Marty there was no record of Rust’s father’s leukemia or death, clearly lies were being told. The Fight Club theory made the rounds, and then a conversation about whether or not any sort of twist would be welcome or a cheat ensued.

Could we sit back and enjoy the show strictly for what it was, or did we need layers and hidden clues to some sort of unexpected mystery?

As I mentioned, I’d been a fan of Twin Peaks, which aside from a murder mystery, featured insane amounts of minutiae, fantasy sequences, a show within the show, and multiple identities—as might be expected from David Lynch. But then came more mainstream-ish shows like The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, the mother of them all, Lost (and later Fringe). But Lost is the likeliest culprit for series that sent us off the deep end, hunting for what double meaning might be behind every image we saw, or word a character said. For myself, each episode meant hour upon hour of reading recaps (especially Dan’s) and hundreds of comments, sharing theories, and looking over photos and screencaps to discern every instance of the numbers or a Dharma this or that. Regardless of our individual (dis)satisfaction with the series ultimate ending, I can’t deny how much I enjoyed trying to work out what every little thing might mean, and the interaction of throwing out (sometimes ridiculous) theories to discuss the episodes ad nauseam. I was clearly not alone in my obsession, as the comments on one recap would often carry on until the next episode was covered.

When the series ended, it left people looking for a similar experience (which of course meant the networks all tried to follow suit with shows like The Event, Flash Forward, V, Day One and Terra Nova). Now, we have outright madness in the form of American Horror Story; nearly nothing is what it seems, and we like it that way. And even with incredibly popular series like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Hannibal—which are based on books and a comic series—we’re not getting direct adaptations. These shows takes considerable license with the source material and play with our expectations. Each are fantastical, dare I say trippy, fantasies that provide great joy through their unpredictable twists. Game of Thrones, in particular, has several upcoming events (no spoilers in the comments, please!) that book readers are surely curious to see how they’ll be addressed. The thing I’m certain we won’t see is simply a clear or straight forward retelling. It’s not what we expect or want; not perhaps, what we’ve been conditioned to need.

In the space between True Detective’s “The Locked Room” and “The Secret Fate of All Life,” I noticed an easy drift from those folks who’d said they’d be happy to watch the cops-chase-killer story play out as an untwisted, relatively uncomplicated tale. Now, those same people are actively seeking out and participating in the theorizing once dominated by only a few; some have gone back and watched episodes three or more times, replaying scenes to see if Rust and Marty are being interviewed in the same room, discussing whether there’s meaning to Marty ignoring his daughters’ doll set-up, and arguing the merits of one detective or the other being the murderer. We’ve combed over the literary references, posted every article, photo or song lyric we can find, talked about rings, flat circles and stars, and pondered the possible “higher up” connections of Marty’s father-in-law, the preacher. We’ve completed the circle—eaten our own tail—wondering if it all means nothing.

For what it’s worth, my feeling is that Marty killing Ledoux was no snap reaction; it was him getting rid of an easy scapegoat. I definitely think he’s involved in the murders (for what it’s also worth, almost all my Lost theories were wrong). I now feel pretty confident in declaring that no more than one person in our Facebook group (possibly not even him) would be satisfied if we got to the end of this thing, it turned out Ledoux was the killer, and that was that. If there’s no real meaning to the literary references other than a writer’s shout out, or particular clues that made us question everything we thought about Marty and Rust lead nowhere, I’m not so sure we’ll all still feel satisfied. In the end, I think we’ve been conditioned to expect a rush of blood to the head. We need a little something that sends a spark to that synapse—you know the one—that leaves us looking a bit like Rust when he’s blown his own mind.

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Cindy Davis, (Twitter)







Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • bbc

    best show on tv...has to be more with the father-in-law/grandfather...Marty's daughter and or wife molested by him.

  • Crabpaws

    For what it's worth, Nic Pizzolatto told the NY Times everything you see is what happened, as opposed to what characters say. That's the anchor of the show, and I for one am relieved that it's not going to sail off into Lost territory.

    There are no references to Lovecraft in the script, only to The King in Yellow. Pizzolatto refers to other authors in the weird fiction genre in a Wall St Journal interview here http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy... , but there is no particular emphasis on Lovecraft. All of that stuff has been fan fantasy.

    The publicity organization behind True Detective has been working the Web, are well aware of the commentary, and have been fanning the flames and inflaming the fans as much as possible with various leaks and tweets. (Some bloggers who wrote about the show's first episode received complimentary devil catchers from the publicity folks.) The latest volley guarantees a high viewership during the Academy Awards, which can always lose an hour anyway.

  • MissElvira

    Watching this and the anime Psycho-Pass, there are a lot of similarities in themes, looking into the abyss and the abyss looking back. Even Cohle's laconic philosophical musings sound like a stock anime cop. Has anyone else noticed this? I love it!

  • kirbyjay

    I love the show, except...
    Matthew McC is gonna get lung cancer the way he smokes those butts. I'm finding it very annoying along with his metaphysical rants and Woody Harrelson's pursed lips. Chewing the scenery? I think so.

  • DarthCorleone

    It's certainly clear now that it's not just Ledoux, but I do hope that all the conspiracy hatchers aren't disappointed, because I think too much is being read into this story and its details. Some of the theories are far too out there, as nothing less than the destruction of Louisiana by Cthulhu might be satisfactory enough at this point.

    It has almost reached a point where I don't want to read some of the theories, because I feel like they're skewing my perspective. When I'm enjoying a story, I do generally prefer not trying to "figure it out" on the first pass and leaving the marveling at the narrative methodology for later viewings or readings. Episode six reinforced my view (and hope) that more than anything this story is exactly as you first describe it above: a fairly straightforward detective yarn with excellent characters and excellent dialogue, albeit one with some panache in its literary allusions and philosophical monologues.

    That said, I was briefly leaning toward Hart's involvement in the coverup a week ago, but now I'm on the other side of the fence. He's not clever enough, and he's far too id-driven.

  • nobcarajo100

    Wait, do people actually believe that Marty or Rust are involved in the killings? Pizzolatto is way too good of a writer for such a dumb Shyamalan-tier twist to take place in this show.

  • e jerry powell

    After four of the five "Damages" seasons, I have no valid opinion here. I like the twisty. And the scenery-chewing.

  • John G.

    Judging from everything Nic Pizzolatto has said in interviews, his goal is to make a story that you can enjoy on multiple levels or just one. The best of all possible endings to this show (meaning this season) would be a combination.

    It should not directly confirm any metaphysical realities, nor directly deny them. The perspectives of the characters will remain their perspectives. Whether there was ever any real voodoo involved will be left up to us as the audience. Unlike Lost, which took place on a magical island, so it had nothing to reign it in, True Detective has boundaries that it cannot cross or it loses it's essential nature.

    Pizzolatto has said that everything you need to know about the case is available in episode 1, if you pay attention. To me, that leads me to believe that this will be a straightforward case, but there will still be underlying elements to shock and amaze our minds.

  • Evan

    I agree with him on this. For instance - I think rust came here with the sole purpose to solve the YK serial killings. When Marty visits his apartment for the first time - he has MANY books on serial killers and this is at the start of the case. He was an under cover dope cop before that. No reason he should have books that specific to the case that early one.

  • Of course, we also have to make the presumption that Pizzolatto is more forthcoming than other showrunners who've flat out denied things that turned out to be true.

  • Nadiney

    Even as I read this I'm trying to figure out the meaning behind *somethingsomethingsomthing* in the latest episode.

    I also think, of the whole thing;...yeah, maybe it has. Maybe it has. Some shows do it on purpose. Life on Mars, the UK version (never bothered with the US remake) was quite a mapped show and the writers have talked about their intentional clues and tips, about using songs or visual clues to allow the audience to form an idea about what was happening to Sam.

    And obviously Lost. And Heroes to a good degree was about the clues and possible double meanings to things said and showed on screen.

    I really do think this show is of that ilk, I think there are clues and and a mystery to unpick beyond just watching the devastating effect of a bad case on a pair of damaged cops.

    But I also think not every show is as in depth. As mentioned ...elsewhere...I genuinely enjoy picking a part lots of shows but I am also very aware that quite often a show is nothing like as deep as I'm giving it credit for. Still, I think for me it's part of how I enjoy the show, to view the characters as whole entire people, even if the show hasn't gotten around to writing them that way.

    Carol on the Walking Dead is one. I give her way more motivations to try and understand her actions than the show has ever stated, but I...I want to understand people and actions, so I try to take what the show has given me and expand it.

    It may not surprise people to know I've had a go at fanfiction. Sometimesstilldo.

  • I have to admit, as much as I love everything about this show, I've been a little annoyed with Pazzolotto's sideline commentary. I can't recall his exact words (and damned if I'm willing to look it up right now), but he keeps saying things that imply that he's annoyed with all the theorizing, that people should just let the story be simple and straightforward.

    But the story isn't simple and straightforward. Until he tells us who the killer is, a HUGE part of this show is a complete mystery. He literally ended one episode with the heavy implication that Cohle might be the killer and he wants people to not think about whether or not this is the case?

    I, for one, don't think that any of this theorizing gets in the way of whatever else he's trying to accomplish. It certainly isn't blinding me to the fantastic acting, characters and writing. In fact, going back over the episodes and listening to things a second time is probably giving me a greater appreciation for all those things.

    Cindy asked: "Could we sit back and enjoy the show strictly for what it was, or did we need layers and hidden clues to some sort of unexpected mystery?"

    The show is a mystery. I don't care how many times the writer reminds us that it's supposed to be a straight-forward manhunt story or character examination. It's also a goddamn mystery. We don't know who done the murders, so we're allowed to wonder. Could anyone honestly watch an episode of this show and say "Those characters are so interesting I don't even give a shit that one of them might be the murderer?"

    Maybe I'm getting all worked up for nothing, but my answer is no. Series mythology has not ruined us for straightforward storytelling.

    Is this even straightforward storytelling? Like I said, Pizzopiccallo seems to be going out of his way to make this shit as cryptic as possible.

  • Another point I feel a need to make is that the writers, at some point, have to take responsibility when we run off with mythology. By now, they know if they throw in literary references, symbology, etc., people will pick up on it and go looking for the meaning behind it. A writer can't just sit back and say, "Oh, I just threw that in there for no particular reason, and expect people to toss it off...especially after what happened with Lost.

  • DarthCorleone

    I'll give you that the expectation for meaning and significance is one the writer can anticipate, but that doesn't mean that the writer is necessarily obliged to fulfill that expectation in the normal ways that we see in television storytelling these days. Literature and art have long traditions of allusions and such that don't hold these deeper mysteries that people are trying to find. For me the establishment of tone and the use of homage are at least a little more than "no particular reason," even though I understand why some may not hold them in any higher esteem. While I do value the idea of a "straightforward" narrative in True Detective, I also dig the fact that it might lean a little more toward the artistic and metaphorical, because there is relatively little of that in television these days, and it's something that can be rewarding on multiple viewings.

  • Not necessarily obliged to change anything, but he can't legitimately complain that people are reading into the clues, references and such. It's got to be expected, especially when something in particular is brought up several times, no? It's not like just flashing a book cover or someone reciting a passage once. When there are repeat mentions, the viewer is going to attach significance.

  • emmalita

    Dammit Cindy!!! Now I'm rewatching ep 5 and I'm starting to think Marty might be involved. He doesn't want to go in without back up and he shoots Ledoux. Of course, he's also a buy the book guy (except for when he isn't), so I might still be right.

  • emmalita

    I completely agree. I think the Breaking Bad writers had a more legitimate complaint, because they had never created a complicated mythology. Once Pizzolatto linked his work to the Cthulhu mythology, speculation was going to run rampant.

  • manting

    The question I would pose is who or what is meant by the KiY? Is this simply a reference to Chambers story or something else? Are the writers referencing the Cthulhu mythos, which took some of the aspects of chambers story and enveloped them, or the later incarnation which appears in the Cthulhu mythos. It is my belief that the KiY is not a human. He is an incarnation of Hastur the Unspeakable. The secret sacrificial cult worships something, but what is it? The show has told us of "old stones in the woods," "rich and powerful men who are worshipers," and the story this week of the boy who was lost in the water and his pirogue was found all busted up, which to any fan of Cthulhu read as DEEP ONE attack. Also the worshipers dont do it out of a desire for eternal life, they worship to gain power and wealth. There are multiple examples of this throughout the Cthulhu mythos.

    There is also a common thread that runs throughout the Cthulhu mythos that a person unknowingly is of the blood line of the worshipers/deep ones even as they fight against them/investigate them. (The Shadow over Innsmouth is the best example of this). They are drawn to water and places near large bodies of water, usually warmer water and they dislike the cold. (Rust leaves Alaska for Texas which is on the Gulf and says he hated the cold) They have vivid reoccurring dreams that are about water and terrible nightmares and they suffer from insomnia, (Rust has several of these characteristics) My real question is does Rust know who he really is? Could he be of the same stock even as he tracks the cult? Could this be the reason for his rapid decline into alcoholism and his rapid aging? That he discovered that he is of these people?

  • Lee

    I would think you are correct that Cole despairs at the thought of being "of the same stock." However, I think he fells it in a much more general sense. He despairs being a man among man-beasts who treat women as objects to be owned, used and discarded. He despairs to be a cop among uncaring, unimaginative, lazy, company men. Cole despairs to be a thinking person among the willfully blind and gleefully subservient masses. He despairs living in this world he can not change.

  • manting

    yes but why his rapid aging and alcoholism? What horrible secret did he discover? I say he finds that the cult is indeed real, that they sacrifice women and children, and he is somehow related or tied to the cult.

  • Lee

    Maybe, we'll see how far the narrative progresses once Marty finds out what happened to his daughter all those years ago.

  • nosio

    I <3 the Facebook group, and I think it's tons of fun to speculate, but I also think a majority of the theories floating around are a bit over the top. Personally, I think that even without an insane twist/reveal at the end, the story - or rather, the method of storytelling - is incredibly satisfying in and of itself. I don't need Marty or Rust to be in on the murders, or harboring deep, dark secrets (I think both are plenty dark enough, from what we've seen of their personal lives). Both are unreliable narrators, but neither is fundamentally evil.

    I think that, similar to Breaking Bad's final season, this final act of the season is building toward an inevitable but logical conclusion. I don't think the plot itself (finding out the extent of the murder cover up) is going to be an explosive, mind-bending reveal, but when you pull back and examine the full picture, the intricacy of the storytelling and the character development are going to be the elements that really shine. My mind is already blown, is what I'm saying. I'm going back and re-watching the earlier episodes, but mostly because it's fun to deconstruct the story telling and see just how much of what's come to pass was foreshadowed weeks before.

  • Nisi

    I agree as well. In fact, I think I'll be disappointed if there's a huge twist... I am enjoying the characters and the crafting of the story. The murder is almost a macguffin - they are pursing it because it's their job, but the story is really about the people investigating it - and how their flaws distort their own narratives as well as the narrative of the investigation.

    The only other thing that would disappoint is if it's a copycat that lucked into a few details.

  • emmalita

    I agree. I don't think we're going to get anything unexpected at the end. But I also don't think we quite know what story we are being told right now.

  • Lee

    I think we are being told two stories but shown only one.

    All the "red herring" hints at Cole being the possible killer are for benefit of all the other characters in the story. I don't think the viewers are supposed to consider Cole or Hart as the possible killer at all.

    I get the feeling that if we're looking for a huge "gotcha!" reveal we may be disappointed.

  • Nisi

    I agree - it's almost like a lesson in Occam's razor - don't go bending yourself all around to come up with a twist when it's probably straightforward.

    Marty keeps mentioning the detective's curse and talking about forming a narrative too soon (when he question's Rust's prediction that Dora is a prostitute for one example) and then putting the facts together to support that narrative. This reminds me of something I saw in the documentary "The Unbelievers" about how religion takes facts and makes them fit their story... anyway - not trying to get philosophical... just that I think what is compelling about this story is coming from the characters and how they are behaving in this situation - not from the "big reveal" of the murderer.

  • Lee

    Yes, the explanation that assumes the least assumptions is probably correct.

    He does mention the curse plenty. Even after 17 years, he has difficulty intergrating the reality of his self-involved nature and the part he played in all that went wrong in his life. my favorite exchange between Marty and rust:

    Marty: Do you know the difference between you and me?
    Rust: Yup, denial.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Another thought, this type of straightforward storytelling could actually save us from horrible resolutions to plot-holes.

    If they had been more straightforward with the end of series 2 Sherlock it would have taken away a lot of the mystery, but it would have been solid. It seems like writers paint themselves into corners trying to create this mystery but the have to do something stupid to get themselves out of the situation.

    If it does turn out to be a straightforward story I hope we get Moffat's thoughts on it.

  • John W

    Watching 'True Detective': Has Series Mythology Ruined Us for Straight-Forward Storytelling?

    For me, the answer is a little bit, yes, but True Detective has the added advantage of some great performances from everyone involved: Harrelson, McConaughey, and Monaghan.

  • idiosynchronic

    How the hell did you writ this without one instance of the word post-modern??

  • emmalita

    Because she is post-modern.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'm also bookmarking this page and making PDF copies so that after the season is over and you're all of the wrongs about Marty AND you ask me "When have you been right about anything?"

    I'll always have this to bring up.

    Cause you're wrong.

  • Wait, which of your theories is right this hour on the quarter hour?

  • lowercase_ryan

    Since I read LOVE's theory of the 5 horsemen or whatever, that has been my theory. I think I'm sticking with it.

    Marty is NOT one of the horsemen.

  • Marty is something bad. He's complicit somewhere down the line.

  • Hawkeye Fierce

    I'm surprised by this theory and it's popularity. I think the kind of passions Marty is victim to make him exactly the kind of personality that could never pull off meticulous murders, run a pedo ring, or hob nob in some power cabal in Louisiana.

    Nor do I think him stupid. But I do think him confused and venal. But he's no chump to Cohle's Einstein. Both them boys got problems.

    It's been a fun ride for me because I've been right in some predictions, but totally wrong about how those conclusions are reached.

    Any art, especially "popular entertainment," that can foster these kinds of discussions is amazing and should be celebrated. I don't diss on even the craziest theories, because people are engaging in critical thinking and evaluation. Halle-fucking-lujah.

    I am both relieved and crushed that this show is over so soon. Best tv I've watched since Deadwood. I should probably stop gushing now.

  • nosio

    Isn't it enough that he's a terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE - husband/partner with misogynistic attitudes towards female sexuality?

  • nosio

    Like, Marty's attitude toward EVERY woman on this show is appalling. And while he isn't very honest with himself in that regard, I think the show has been VERY honest in showing us that side of him.

    I don't think he's involved in anything worse than being an absolutely shithead in his personal life. That man is a trainwreck. I don't think he's self aware enough to cover up something truly sinister.

  • emmalita

    Exactly. He's smart, but lacks the self awareness and creativity to be involved. If he were the yellow king, he's wear yellow all the time.

  • Replying to anyone/everyone: So let's also think about Marty's reaction to those kids they found. He saw that, and immediately went out, sparing all thought of himself and his career, and shot Ledoux.

    Yes, he has a temper, but he's also rational about it to an extent. He didn't hit Maggie. He put away his gun before he went after Rust. He stopped himself before going to far with his mistress' lover. So he's not incapable of thought through his rage. But he goes right out and very deliberately kills Ledoux.

  • DarthCorleone

    The other reason I'm leaning against Hart's involvement is that - like Cohle - we saw him independently working and helping to solve the case in the fourth episode. I suppose that could be a case of his not having all the information that he was protecting, but he seemed honestly motivated to unravel what was going on at more than one point in the story.

  • If, for the sake of argument, he is somehow involved, Marty knows he has to at least appear to be helping Rust. He's said how smart Rust is so many times now, and I think Marty at least respects the man in that regard.

  • DarthCorleone

    Right - the distinction I'm making is how Hart would behave in his investigation when no one is watching, which is something we saw. I suppose that he would still have to do the actual work by himself, but it looked to me like he was working the case without knowledge of where it might lead.

  • True enough.

  • nosio

    I think Marty's reactions to both finding the kids and towards his family don't indicate anything other than this:

    Not only does Marty have a poorly-cloaked anger management problem, he also has a VERY paternalistic/family values/traditional world view. This mentality is compounded by the fact that he likes to think of himself as A Good Guy, which, in his mind, absolves him of 99% of the shitty things he does, as long as he doesn't think too hard about them (think back to earlier in the season, when the woman who runs the bunny ranch infuriates him by calling him out for his hypocritical views/actions). When others behave in ways that are at odds with his world view, he can't cope, and thus responds with varying degrees of fury. The more egregious the act, the more egregious is his immediate response:

    - Marty's daughter is caught in a car with two boys = He picks her up at the police station, saves the explosive confrontation for when they get home.

    - Marty's mistress breaks off their relationship and starts dating other men = Marty breaks down her door, forces his way into her apartment, acts like a human nightmare

    - Marty's wife tells him she slept with another man = Marty starts CHOKING HIS WIFE. Of course, he doesn't kill her, but this is NOT an example of the man showing restraint.

    - Marty discovers the abused children = Marty kills Reggie on sheer impulse.

    Child molestation being the farthest, most extreme violation of Marty's world view (way, way worse than the women in his life subverting the Madonna/whore dichotomy he subscribes to), it makes sense that he'd have no restraint whatsoever when it came to dealing with Ledoux after discovering those kids. This is a man who, at his MOST restrained, goes into a holding cell and beats the shit out of two crying teenagers for having sex with his daughter.

  • Lee

    So really, the one out of character moment of violence he shows is against his daughter. Until that slap, men had been the sole physical outlet for his calculated rage. Not women.

  • emmalita

    That is a good point.

    But I still don't think he's involved.

  • Nisi

    I just took that as something he did because he could do it - with impunity. Even without the cover up, shooting Ledoux would not distort Marty's image of himself as a "good man".

    He doesn't hit Maggie because there would be consequences that damage his image of himself as a good husband and father. He doesn't bring his gun to fight Rust because it would be an unfair advantage in a fight (taking away sympathy from him - the "wronged" party in his own mind) and because killing another cop would have bad consequences. I personally don't think that he was just getting rid of Ledoux because Ledoux was a convenient scapegoat.

  • Marty's image of himself wouldn't have mattered if Rust hadn't been such a quick thinker. He could have bought himself a lot of trouble.

    And that's right--consequences. Marty wasn't worried about them with Ledoux. Does that mean he knew even if Rust didn't help him out, some higher up would? I think Ledoux was purposeful.

  • Nisi

    I don't think Ledoux's shooting was purposeful beyond lashing out in anger - I think Marty is too wrapped up in creating an image of himself for himself. He's lost himself inside his own mask.

    If they hadn't set up the cover up, yes Marty would have been in a lot of trouble but many people would still be on his side for having killed a child abuser. Also, it conforms with his idea of being a hero.

  • Evan

    Lets not forget that Rust did the exact same thing with the person shooting up the little girl with meth that got himself in trouble back in Texas. Also, Marty beat the boys who double teamed his daughter - so we see he is a man who has his own sense of justice. This crime was just beyond his ability to control himself.

  • Nisi

    I agree.

  • Perhaps. As I've mentioned, my theorizing is usually wrong.

  • Nisi

    Well, it's a TV show so it's not like string theory or something... I actually think the whole reveal will end up being devastating for Marty.

    If the new victim *is* Marty's daughter... by the time he's being interviewed 5 days after Rust, wouldn't he and Maggie be a little on edge if not actually panicking about her? Are they really the kind of people who would just let her fall off their radar to the degree she'd be missing for almost (or maybe more) than a week and they won't even look preoccupied? That particular theory isn't washing with me.

  • Evan

    10 years have passed since we have last seen Audry. If you notice - in 2002 they are making an effort to show her getting more and more messed up - the last time we see her in the 2002 time line her eyes are so blacked out she is practically a raccoon and wearing black head to toe. It's also established she has no relationship nor desires one with Marty and he just lets it go and eats his dinner. She is an adult in 2012 and if we are to follow her trajectory - she very well could have left home as an adult and gone down a very dark path. We know Rust broke into Tuttle's houses - did he find digtal pictures of Marty's daughter involved in something? And the boys Marty beat - and let out of a long sentence for rape - this show has a karmic circle to it - don't count the out. Going up the chain- I think the Yellow King is a voyer - going back to the photos found by Theriot who "died". The Yellow King is too high profile to directly participate but certainly could be a watcher - and is wealthy and powerful enough to be insulated using proxies down the food chain- protected by a corrupt or inept police department - but still able to access visuals of the exact experience he needs. The first thing we see after the opening image of the show is a video camera going to REC. We can suppose he is also trying to figure out what Rust, marty and Maggie each know - the Yellow King is watching these tapes and assessing. Think about who they put on this case int he first place - Marty who is not solving this due to his lack of depth and a seeminly burned out looser in Rust - who they underestimated. Rust probably got on this case working for the outlaw motorcycle gang and hearing about this goings on in LA. He's been chasing that lead. Marty is about to catch up with him but we know Marty only believes what he sees and it takes a direct hit to where he lives to spur him into direct action unlike Rust who is a long distance runner. The last two eps will be Marty and Rust finally at the same intensity on the same page. If they stay true to character - Marty will be killed - shot three times - due to a situation he puts himself in due to his rage - and Rust will self-sacrifice to end it. Neither will walk away but somehow the cycle will start all over again....

  • Nisi

    I'm positive that the file of the Lake Charles victim is opened and the name is visible - Stephanie something... it could be a fake file, sure - but it was shown to Cohle. I'm certain because I paused on it... anyway, I believe Marty might not have a clue, but I think Maggie would - she seemed too attentive to just let her adult daughter fall off the map like that.

  • bbc

    something along these lines has to be it and I think Rust finds out the truth and it involves Marty and or his family.

  • Nisi

    If Marty's complicit, it's only with his detective's curse - not seeing what was right before his eyes...

  • Why did he have no reaction to that doll setup? I keep coming back to that. Just stared at it a few seconds, and walked out. It was disturbing. He's constantly discrediting Rust in front of the higher ups. I think he knows something, and I really didn't like him checking his gun at the end of Haunted Houses.

  • DarthCorleone

    Checking his gun jumped out at me too, although it occurred to me that he might be checking his gun because after what the detectives told him in the interrogation room, he doesn't entirely trust Cohle's innocence.

  • See now, I think Marty was almost standing up for Rust by the end of the interrogation. Brushing him off as suspect, at least.

    Of course he could just be making sure he's got defense in case something goes wrong, but I didn't get that kind of vibe from it--and I can't exactly say why.

  • DarthCorleone

    I agree with your read of the interrogation in that he didn't think Cohle's involved, but Hart really doesn't have a firm grasp on the big picture, and it could be a case of better safe than sorry. Or maybe he's checking his gun because he has a feeling Cohle might be about to drag him into trouble. That seems like a safe bet.

  • Nisi

    Well, as a kid I used to spend a lot of time sitting in a box. I'd take all my toys out of the cardboard box and sit in it... for hours. Never once did anyone in my family have anything to say about it. They noticed and the only thing it registered is that I was quirky. I also used tape to make scandalous outfits for my Barbie. Sometimes you don't want to see troubling things that are right under your nose. For the record, I just liked to sit in boxes - still, no one every questioned it. I don't know why I didn't get a talking to about Barbie's barely-there bikinis. I'll go one step further - no one wants to think that those sorts of bad things are happening to their children right under their noses.

    I think discrediting Rust in front of higher ups is simple - Marty thinks Rust is smarter than him so Marty does that to maintain his place in the good graces of the higher ups. Also, there's no point both of them being blackballed - Marty probably justifies this as his way to mediate for Rust. He could "talk to people".

    As for the gun, Rust fucked his wife. He might still be mad - in Marty's mind, Rust took away the things he thought were his. I mean, we know that it's Marty's own actions, but it's always more satisfying to blame someone else. It's not like Marty hasn't justified bad behaviour in the past.

  • lowercase_ryan

    because he's self-absorbed and lazy.

  • Simplistic, and I'm not buying it.

  • Wigamer

    I didn't at first either. On rewatch I noticed that when they had the conversation with the little girl over the drawings, Marty couldn't keep his attention off the basketball game or whatever. I think it's more about driving home the point of what a self-involved ass Marty is, rather than pointing at him being complicit in the murders.

  • I guess I'll have to watch that one a third time.

  • Hawkeye Fierce

    Ah, the cruelty of True Detective. :) It's a wonderful cross to bear.

    Speaking of crosses, one of the few predictions I'm comfortable calling at this point is that Rust is going to die or try to die in the solving of this case. Depending on how dark Nic P takes it, he will either be the sacrifice salvation, or have to watch/cause someone else to eat it in his place.

  • On this we can agree. I'm a little worried Marty kills him next episode.

  • becks2point0

    Cindy, I don't know if I'm remembering this correctly or not but I think that when Marty is walking up to the girls' room to get them that Audrey was saying "she's hurt. She was in an accident." or something similar. Marty may have been trying to decide if the scene he was looking at was cause for concern or whether it was simply a scene his daughter had set up to mimic an accident scene.

    It looks very significant to us but I think Marty would be better able to separate his family from any thoughts of this case since the two have no obvious connection for him whereas they're easily linked for us in the tiny scope of the True Detective world that we have.

  • Wigamer

    She was crying, and he was comforting her while looking over her head distractedly at the game. Maggie looked like she wanted to kill him.

  • lowercase_ryan

    See, this is where we differ. I'm fine looking for mystery where it exists. I don't find anything mysterious or confusing about his response. He can't relate to women at all, they confuse the shit out of him and to be honest, everything in their heads makes him uncomfortable. He literally knows nothing about women. So when he avoids a discussion that would in fact make him uncomfortable he runs away. I get that.

    Also what does he do when she gets picked up with the two guys in the car? Cusses at her, hits her, and runs away to deal with the problem from the male side because it's the part he understands.

    Shit he even tries to open up to Rust on NUMEROUS occasions (even though Rust isn't having it) because he can't talk to women. At all, ever.

  • Wigamer

    Oh, the conversation at the bar when Marty whined about Cohle's lack of bedside manner while Cohle was trying to ramp him up to go after the motorcycle gang was one of the best moments of the show. Marty's such a giant baby.

  • lowercase_ryan

    He's a HUGE baby

  • Additionally, Marty and Maggie followed that up with the discussion about the school drawing. How could he be concerned about one thing and not the other? Sure, it was at Maggie's urging, but for Marty to ignore that, something is dead wrong.

  • emmalita

    Yes, something is wrong with Marty. Remember in ep. 3, he's talking to the detectives about how family gives you rules and structure, meanwhile we see him driving over a little girl's bike on his way to drunkenly beat up his girl friend's boyfriend? Marty is fucked up. He is self absorbed and does not want to see what is right in front of him. His wife and daughters are not real people to him. but that does not make him part of the conspiracy, that makes him part of the patriarchy.

  • Nisi

    He did ignore it - he couldn't understand how Audrey would know about it and he tossed the book aside - Maggie even called him on that. When they asked Audrey how she thought to draw those pictures she just said the other girls thought it was funny - they never pursued the angle - "but who brought up the naked people? What do you think they are doing?" They did ask her to explain that at all. Maggie is noticing something "she's withdrawn" but they probably aren't the abusers and they don't want to think something like that could be happening to their daughter right under their noses... no one does. Heck, that woman in Austria didn't realize her own daughter was living in their basement!

  • This has nothing to do with relating to women. His daughter set up a bunch of clothed dolls standing around a naked doll lying on the ground. That is great cause for parental concern, and I can't imagine any rational father just walking away and not saying or doing anything about it.

  • Hawkeye Fierce

    Episode Spoilers Ahoy

    I respectfully disagree. Depending on the generation and the social climate of a region, you can get wildly varying responses to anything even vaguely sexual.

    Some fathers are horribly conflicted because they feel that accepting their daughters as sexual beings somehow makes them complicit in sexualizing them. (I hope that made sense).

    As a hands-off parent and a man who clearly has problems defining/admitting to women's sexual agency, I can see a strong case for Marty actively avoiding any "weird girly stuff"---this is a man who is now fucking a girl he knew as an underage prost.

    Dude is mad conflicted. If he can't fuck it, he doesn't know what to do with it. Spending time in the South with a lot of different generations who have trouble with gender roles and masculinity, I can totally buy Marty as a regular dude with an effed up dick-brain.

  • emmalita

    I think your looking at the model of fatherhood in 2014. Marty is more like the fathers I grew up with who wouldn't deal with anything unless they had too.

  • lowercase_ryan

    parents ignore warning signs all the time because they don't want them to be true.

  • Okay, now you're just pulling trite cliches from your...cavity.

  • lowercase_ryan

    it's true though.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Again, he's a cop, not a father :p

  • Vivianne ValdeMar

    All the more reason to.

  • He is very cut off from his family, I'll give you that. But how do you reconcile him beating the crap out of those boys. Yes, the property thing is part of it, but then he'd surely have to wonder over why his daughter is posing utterly bizarre, sexual scenes--either with or in front of his younger daughter. Come on!

  • lowercase_ryan

    it was easier for him to beat them up than deal with his daughter.

  • Zzz...

  • lowercase_ryan

    again, you're looking for "OMG!!" when "hey, that's logical." will suffice

  • Hardly. I don't think he logically has such completely opposite reactions to situations involving his daughters. His face, when he saw the set-up, showed some bewilderment (IIRC).

  • emmalita

    His first description of himself is a regular guy with a big dick. that's how he thinks.

  • Uh, it's "big-ass dick"

  • emmalita

    You are correct. And now we know - Marty does like a big ass.

  • Harrelson using that EP credit to his advantage. Alexandria D'Addario, Michelle Monaghan, and Lily Simmons. That's the 27 Yankees of premium cable tail.

  • emmalita

    I think the key to that scene was when he yelled at Maggie that home was what ever he wanted it to be. He did not want to deal with the things in front of him at home.

  • As a parent, if I saw that I would be deeply concerned. There was nothing normal about the way those dolls were posed. Those girls would be headed right to a counselor with me in tow.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, you're a good parent. He's not. :- )

  • emmalita

    That's you. There are plenty of parents who wouldn't. I know a bunch of them.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I would argue that marty is a parent in name only.

  • lowercase_ryan

    He's a shithead, to be sure. And a killer.

    But knowingly complicit? mmmmm not so sure.

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