True Detective: Episode 1 x 05 – The Secret Fate of All Life

True Detective began its second half last Sunday night. To this viewer it seemed at once a departure and a beginning. The departure really began in the second half of Episode Four called Who Goes There, which I discussed here  when Rust departed from being a detective and went under cover with an East Texas biker gang called The Iron Crusaders was the most external part of the change or departure. He and Martin Hart had developed a lead on Reggie Ledoux, who was supposedly working as a Meth cook for this gang. So the departure was a left turn away from being both a character study (of Martin Hart and Rust Cohle) and a police procedural. The turn led to a lengthy action sequence (one long no-cut event) which gave us a first look at Rust in action.

The beginning that I referenced earlier is that we now know (and feel) that the two 2012 detectives are no longer questioning Hart and Cohle about how they ‘solved’ the case back then. Rather, it seems obvious that they feel that Rust could be a prime suspect in these newer murders as well as being the real culprit back in 1995.

While I can understand how these detectives are thinking, plus the fact that we now know that Rust and Cohle are lying their asses off about how that shootout went down. As Martin Hart says – you know why the story’s remained the same, seventeen years gone, because it went down just the one way.

Okay, our detectives executed Reggie Ledoux, and how that shooting got through an internal investigation, or the shooting board, seems a bit suspicious. I think it all ties back to the Yellow King and Carcosa references described by both Charley Lang and Guy Francis. Rich and powerful folks were involved in the rituals surrounding the Yellow King. Of course we’ve seen none of it, nor have we met anyone (with one exception) that would fit into the category of ‘big people’ or ‘important and rich people’.

But Detectives Gilbaugh and Papania have strong feelings that Cohle is involved. I don’t agree. And I don’t think that Martin Hart is involved either. Sure Hart executed Ledoux, and sure Cohle assisted and was a part of the coverup.

But let’s say that the real killer is high up enough that it was to his distinct advantage for the hearing board to not only buy Cohle and Hart’s story, but to reward them for their efforts. So for public consumption, the case is closed.

Only Cohle and Hart are both damaged. Cohle believes in the circularity of history, time, and life, and Hart believes in the futility of life, parenting, and so forth. Yes they’re damaged guys – but not sociopathic.

I’ve read elsewhere that good mystery writers always introduce the killer early in the story. Not always as the killer, but as an involved person even if it is just tangentially. The thinking being that springing a killer on us, be we readers or viewers, so very late in the series is not the way to go.

Okay we are five episodes in, and despite the fact that Reggie Ledoux has gone from being the prime suspect to being called the late Reggie Ledoux, we still don’t have a solid lead. As a trial balloon I’m going to float three characters in your direction. I’m not sold on any of the three – but it would be interesting to see what you folks think.

A) Billy Lee Tuttle played by Jay O. Sanders. We met Tuttle early on, as he was an advisor to the task force. He may even be called The Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle. But somewhere in my mind I have a gnawing thought that we have been told that he is dead.

B) Minister Joel Theriot played by Shea Wigham – we met him in The Locked Room Episode. Now I’m not sure about whether or not his traveling tent-show ministry was in the location of the murders at the time of the murders, or elsewhere, but I think – using the theory that we likely have already met the killer, makes me include him.

C) The Groundsman/Caretaker who Cohle met at the shut down Bible School or Christian Academy. Now when Cohle met this man, the story was that he was new on the job. Thinking back, Cohle pointedly did not enter the school at the time. Then we hear via the interrogation by the 2012 detectives that Cohle and/or Cohle’s vehicle were seen around that school. Okay think about this for a moment. If it was too costly to tear down the derelict and abandoned school – why was there a groundsman there mowing the lawn? Did Cohle get a look at the work order? Did Cohle cross-reference the maintenance contract?

We then get a view (in a flash back) of Cohle entering the school and discovering a number of those eerie twig constructs in the form of a church.

I’m liking the Groundsman. I’ve no proof or evidence. I’m just using the nature of mystery writing as the support for this theory as well as the fact that first time on-scene – Cohle was very perfunctory. How about you? What do you think? Can my theory be supported or am I way off base?  Comments will be appreciated.

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2 thoughts on “True Detective: Episode 1 x 05 – The Secret Fate of All Life

  1. With smart direction, writing and acting, this is my favorite show by a long shot, but I am beginning to feel I’m going to be sadly disappointed by the resolution, or lack thereof. There are so many investigative threads, so intricately raveled, that it looks like this Gordion knot won’t be untangled to my satisfaction.

    Why are we being shown scenes like Hart’s younger daughter’s crown getting stuck on a tree branch and his older daughter’s dissolute adolescent behavior pattern. Why did Hart break off Cohle’s interrogation of the lawnmower man and redirect him toward Ledoux, only to shoot the handcuffed suspect before he could be brought in for questioning. Why did both detectives lie about how the shootout went down in 1995? Why did they stop talking to each other in 2002?

    Who is “the yellow king” and why weren’t we given more evidence of how he might be tied to the murders? How did Cohle’s daughter die and why was his car spotted near the scene of the Lake Charles murders? Why the deer antlers and the devil’s nests? What’s in Cohle’s storage locker? Why did the Iron Crusaders don those police uniforms?

    The list of false leads, dead ends, metaphysical distractions, misdirected scenes and scenes meant to misdirect us, appears endless. Taken at face value, every muscle movement seems full of portent. But, it may all be an allusion pointing toward our gullability in the same way Cohle derides the audience in the revivalist tent. TV murders, after all, are as popular now as miracle tales were in olden times.

    If life is a circle and nothing is ever solved, where will this investigation end? Not in a good way, I suspect.

    • Great questions – for which I have no solid or definitive answers. With one exception. Hart’s ‘execution’ of Ledoux was illegal. Cohle is Hart’s partner and nearly instantly decided to help his partner by devising a cover story.

      we can only hope nic pizzolatto stops by to provide answers. Or that another reader steps to up offer his answers.

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