HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Secret Fate of All Life”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto
* For a review of the previous episode, “Who Goes There” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Haunted Houses” – click here
1995: Detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) now have one of the Iron Crusaders, Ginger (Joseph Sikora), in their grasp. This is a way in to figure out where Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford) is holed up, cooking meth. Cohle has Ginger arrange a meeting with DeWall Ledoux, cousin and cook partner to Reggie. They get together at a bar, but DeWall doesn’t even like the look of Rust: “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It‘s corrosive, like acid. You got demons, little man. And I don‘t like your face, it makes me wanna do things to it.” He refuses. However, you know that ain’t going to stop someone like him, or Marty. They tail DeWall.
2012: Detectives Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Terry Kittles) are edging towards something, but are reluctant to give in and let Rust take a look at the files on their recent murder, the one suggesting a serial killer is still roaming the state.
Back to ’95.
Out in the the bayous of Louisiana, the two detectives discover a compound where DeWall and Reggie cook their meth, hide out from the world. Rust’s early life with a survivalist father comes in handy, as the place is heavily booby trapped to the outside world. There are also strange wooden structures, little trinkets strung up and left about the land. Very spooky stuff.
In 2012, Gilbough and Papania question what exactly happened at the compound. Obviously, nothing panned out as planned. And we see the conflicting stories of what happened. Rust and Marty give the two detectives a story they’ve held to for nearly two decades. That is, what really happened is explained away through a supposed gunfight that went down. So what actually went down?
During the off-the-books ’95 investigation, Hart and Cohle capture Reggie, as the larger DeWall tries escaping. Reggie talks about how “time is a flat circle” and speaks of “black stars” – these are becoming part of the lexicon of True Detective‘s first season. Things get especially tense once Marty finds two kidnapped, likely abused children inside cowering in the dark. He comes back out to where Rust is reluctantly listening to the madness of Reggie, and then Marty blows the guy’s face off. Oh, and DeWall, he steps on one of the homemade booby traps, blowing himself to bits.
After everything, the tried and true detectives do their best to fire off AK-47 rounds, to set the place up looking like a real gunfight erupted between them and the suspects. Tricky stuff. Although they earn themselves promotions (well, Mary did), commendations, and all that jazz. Just another bit of guilt to weigh them down.
Reggie: “You‘re in Carcosa now. With me. He sees you.”
Around 2002 the Hart family is back together, mostly, as Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) takes Marty back. For now. Their daughter’s causing lots of trouble now being found having sex with a couple older boys in a car. Marty isn’t above handling that in his old ways, either. He does the whole family disservice by calling his own daughter “Captain of the varsity slut team” – as if he’s the one to talk.
As for Rust, he’s back in the dating game seeing a woman named Laurie (Elizabeth Reaser) and trying to live a half normal life. He finds himself back in the interrogation rooms, the box man working his magic. Only he comes up against a man hoping to make a deal. He mentions the Dora Lange case, that the murderer is still out there. The serial killer still kills. Then he drops the name “Yellow King” and that puts all sorts of fire in Rust’s belly. Before anything can come of it the guy winds up killing himself in jail. Or, that’s the story, and the PD is sticking to it. Rust tracks down a call from a payphone that went to the dead prisoner before his death. Nobody else except Cohle believes there’s more to it.
Again, notice in 2012 that Rust lines up his five little beer can men, much like those five men surrounding little Dora in the picture at her mother’s place. This reoccurring image of five comes up time and time again.
What we come to understand in 2012 is that Dts. Gilbough and Papania suspect Cohle has been leading Hart since their original investigation, that he’s been orchestrating the murders. The Rev. Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders) apparently died right after Rust showed up back in Louisiana. Despite whatever tore them apart, Marty isn’t happy to hear these guys are taking a run at Cohle. As for Rust, after he’s accused by the detectives he walks out.
During ’95, Cohle found himself at Light of the Way, one of the rundown schools, trying to piece together bits and pieces. Anything at all. He comes across more of the strange stick figures lying around, the makeshift ornaments. The symbolic nature of the serial killer only gets deeper with each new chapter.
Another great, whopper of an episode. The end is fantastic. But just the entire thing was excellent, exciting, mysterious. Lots more to come. Next up is “Haunted Houses” and that holds more secrets and lies and wildness to indulge.