HBO’s True Detective
Season 1, Episode 7: “After You’ve Gone”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Written by Nic Pizzolatto
* For a review of the previous episode, “Haunted Houses” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Form and Void” – click here
In 2012, Detectives Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are meeting up at a bar to talk. It’s been ages. Since their falling out over Rust having sex with Maggie (Michelle Monaghan).
Well the relationship is as contentious as ever. Marty is a little fatter than before, but has aged decently. Rust, on the other hand, looks like ten miles of bad dirt road. We do know that Rust’s been working fishing boats, tending bar, getting stoned, drunk. “A man remembers his debts,” Cohle tells Hart. He knows the Dora Lange killer, that Louisiana sprawling serial killer is still out there. Of course Marty’s reluctant to believe in anything Rust says. He buys into some of the stories Dts. Gilbough and Papania (Michael Potts/Tory Kittles) are reeling off. But his old partner, despite any of his craziness – and that’s nothing new – makes a good case. And eventually Marty breaks down.
They go out to Cohle’s storage shed. There’s nothing suggesting he’s a killer out there. Only the obvious artefacts of a man still consumed with a job undone. He is consistently, constantly plagued by the fact he and Marty couldn’t nail the real killer when they found Reggie Ledoux. Now, Marty sees that there’s something to Rust and his talk. It’s funny – up until he sees everything, Marty actually holds his gun and prepares for the worst. Right up to the last second. Inside the words YELLOW KING, SCARS, CARCOSA are spray painted on the wall. Pictures everywhere, sketches and photographs. Police reports, maps. The Tuttle schools marked off on one large map of Louisiana. Rust talks about when Light of the Way opened in ’88, accusations of child molestation. He tracked down a ladyboy named Johnny Joanie a.k.a Toby (Dave Davis) that had been there. He was abused. Johnny tells Rust about “animal faces” and a guy with “bad scars around his mouth” – more of the key words in the lexicon of the investigation. Cohle goes on talking more and more, which only draws Marty into the whole idea.
We begin connecting earlier images in past episodes to the serial killings, some of what Cohle has tracked down. Rust discovered Courir de Mardi Gras, a special type of the celebration involving odd symbolism, masks, et cetera. We’re starting to understand that this killer is steeped in Louisiana history. Whoever it is, he had a “real good time” particularly after Katrina when everything was in disarray.
The pièce de résistance? Rust was the one who broke into Bill Lee Tuttle’s (Jay O. Sanders) place those few years ago. What he found was shocking. First, a load of pictures – a girl blindfolded, antlers on her head. Then, even worse, a videotape. On it recorded is a hideous ritual. Men in masks, a girl with the antlers on her head crying. Then we only see her laid down, legs spread, before Marty’s face is all we see; his reaction speaks louder than anything on that tape ever could. He can’t even watch the rest, though Rust had to simply to see if anybody took of their mask; they didn’t. This one vicious moment is what truly grasps the family man Marty Hart. He’s now willing to fully believe in his former friend and partner.
What I dig most in this episode is seeing how far, or how low, these guys have come. Certainly Marty’s got his business, Hart Investigative Solutions. Although they aren’t exactly booming, as it seems. At home, he sits and eats alone, TV dinners and the like. And Rust, well, he’s mostly the same. Drinking, working in a little bar. Wasting away. In this scene we’re able to see how both of them, in their own ways, have been affected terribly by their inability to find Dora Lange’s killer, not capable of stopping all those killings that are clearly still going on. Even though Rust is the one whose life has been completely devoured, Marty’s not happy either. Just, as usual, incapable of admitting that to himself. What’s apparent is that both these men need to solve that case which evades them all these years. They further discuss what made them walk away from the job. Neither of them fully divulges, for the time being.
So Marty starts helping Cohle. He pretends to be writing a “true crime” book, weaselling a drop of information out of friends in the Police Department. Missing Persons stuff, and other things. Naturally since Katrina things are in a bit of a mess, but it’s all sitting there, waiting to be looked through. They find themselves searching out Ledoux relatives. One of them tells the detectives about a man with scars. It visibly shakes the guy. As a kid he met the guy and felt strangely about the way he looked at him. Creepy.
Rust: “Life‘s barely long enough to get good at one thing”
Marty: “If that long”
Rust: “Yeah, so be careful what you get good at.”
The detectives go to see a woman named Miss Delores (Carol Sutton) who once worked for the Tuttle family. With a few questions, Rust manages to coax a bit of information out of the frail, old woman. She talks about how Tuttle had kids that weren’t officially his, that he got bored of women easily. When the mention of scars comes up she reveals the boy was scarred by his father; he was part of the Childress family branch. Suddenly, Miss Delores gets quiet and doesn’t want to talk much. She then asks: “You know Carcosa?” Ah, the symbolism of the killer comes out more. “Death is not the end,” she almost warns Rust in cryptic fashion. Something has brought a plague on anyone connected to the Tuttles, as so easily can be seen through Delores. Crazy as she is, part of it makes sense.
In other news, former pain in the ass Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) might know something. He’s now a Sheriff, more pull and weight behind him. That starts getting the detectives thinking about chatting with Geraci. Off the books. With a car battery and jumper cables. So Marty gets out golfing with the guy, asking questions trying to smooth the info out normally. When he believes that Geraci’s lying, Rust and his jumper cables are at the ready.
Rust and Marty finally get to the truth about the latter walking away from the job, as well as the truth about why Cohle came back. In his last days, Marty saw a crime scene where a tweaker tried drying his baby off in a microwave. Fucking savage. So he left the job. And Rust, he’s driven by duty. He needs this to end, in order to be able “tie it off” and be done with all the violence of his life. They both need it. The boys get Geraci and begin their efforts to figure out what he knows.
At episode’s end, Detectives Gilbough and Papania talk to a gardener mowing a cemetery. He’s the one Rust talked to back in ’95 at Light of the Way. He has scars all along the bottom of his jaw, around the sides of his face. Also notice he’s mowing the lawn strangely in a circle, just like that spiral tattoo we see crop up so often. The secrets that hide in the bayous of Louisiana are many. This is one of them. That serial killer is lurking just underneath everyone’s noses.
An amazing penultimate Season 1 episode. The finale – “Form and Void” – is poised to give us a spectacular ending. Solid lead-up here. Looking forward to seeing the killer revealed more before we come to the inevitable showdown with the true detectives.