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Even before last week kicked off 'Act Two,' audiences had already started debating whether or not Nic Pizzolatto's True Detective was the best (new) show of the year. Then the HBO drama dropped "Who Goes There," topping itself once again and pretty much putting that question to bed. It may only be February, yet it's all but guaranteed that the episode will make an appearance on many 'best of' lists thanks to the incredible six-minute continuous shot heard round the world at the end of the already impressive fourth installment.
Actually, forget all the other shows, how was True Detective possibly going to top that? And not just this week, whomever HBO brings in to replace director Cary Joji Fukunga for the (surely inevitable) second season will have some mighty big shoes to fill. It may seem too early to start speculating about Series 2 but after "The Secret Fate of All Life" was revealed last night, only three episodes of True Detective are left. (Thank God, Winter is Coming.)
"The Secret Fate of All Life" opened almost exactly where "Who Goes There" left off, with Rust using Ginger to track down the monster. Ginger sets up a meet with the Reggie Ledoux's co-cook but he doesn't like the look of Rust and waxes philosophical before threatening to kill our True Detective. Marty is waiting outside in his Pink Floyd t-shirt and follows the co-cook back to the shack we glimpsed several episodes ago when the firefight in the woods was first mentioned. The two man raid goes well until Marty has his own 'what's in the box?' moment and blows a handcuffed Ledoux away at point blank range. In the box, this time a shipping container, were a couple of kids, one already dead. They got their man. Right?
It's also important to note that we see the way the events actually went down versus the version told to Gilbough and Papania (yeah, the 2012 detectives also have names) because that means we're privy to the truth. Obviously, not all of the information is presented to us but at least we can be sure (I think) that Rust had nothing to do with the antlers except wanting to find those responsible and quell his own obsession with 'The King in Yellow.' And just as I suspected long ago, the framing story isn't about bringing in Marty and Rust to consult on a new discovery file but to investigate the latter's possible involvement. Besides a lesson in history and Nietzsche, Rust gives them little to work with and cuts the consultation short. He can't trust the company men. Not since 2002.
Things were going so well for the partners in the aftermath of the assault on the shack. Years passed and the case dissipated. Rust even had a serious girlfriend and Marty's marriage was healing. And then Rust, who had was known as a confession cop for hire, ran into a prisoner with knowledge of 'the black stars.' Turns out the killer is still loose and our True Detective isn't out of Carcosa just yet. In fact, he's only getting started. Read this article at io9 for a great breakdown on the literary reference and how it may have influenced the HBO series' narrative and themes. The prisoner soon turns into a literal dead end after a 'powerful' phone call but mention of the Robert W. Chambers' short story is enough to send Rust out lone wolfing. In fact, he's already well aware of the current case as well as a few others along the way. His suspicions lie with anti-cult crime task force from 1995.
While I also don't think he's the killer, for me, Marty is by far the more likely suspect. There are a bunch of (probably misleading but still ) nagging little clues like talk of a buck he bagged last time he was hunting. Bucks have antlers. But more disturbing are his relationships with the various women in his life. Marty reminds me of Russell Crowe's character in L.A. Confidential in that they are both over-protective and over-sensitive to any violence against the opposite sex yet capable of committing such acts themselves. Blowing Ledoux's brains out for his crimes against the kids and then slut-shaming and slapping his daughter.
Speaking of Audrey Hart, did anyone else find it odd that she performed the same sex act as the one she created while playing with her dolls as a child? I mean, we could chalk up her teenage exploits as just that, early sexual experimentation, however, the way that it's exactly playing out the narratives she created before she could probably even comprehend them leads me to believe that it has to be tied into the main story directly and not just to add thematic texture or build Marty's character. Did Audrey see something she wasn't supposed to see as a young girl? A group act suggested by those on the fringe of the powerful group performing these ritualistic killings? Did you also notice the little community Rust created with his cans? Maybe I'm seeing too much.
True Detective returns with Episode 6, "Haunted Houses," on Sunday, February 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO. Created (as well as written) by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the series stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, Tory Kittles, Alexandra Daddario, Elizabeth Reaser and Kevin Dunn.