So that’s all he wrote. True Detective is over and I’m sort of surprised by the number of people angry that things weren’t spelled out. Nah, not really. As a writer, this is part of my experience and kind of why I tapped out of the wild conspiracy theories when Nic Pizzalatto said, “Y’all are overthinking this.”
He said it a lot more politic than that, but I can only imagine the mingling of excitement and terror it would be to see your project pored over with such meticulous detail. I had a few really radical theories myself, but I didn’t want to burden the story with what I wanted it to be and let it be what it was.
It’s not how I would’ve gone with it, but I did love it for what it was.
There are a lot of people feeling like Chekhov’s gun was set on the mantle but no one was shot in the third act. I disagree. I think some of what people saw as a set up weren’t necessarily being read as they were intended. This is not necessarily the fault of the writer or the viewer, particularly when one’s relationship with the text is going to be personal by nature.
While I was open to the idea of Audrey potentially being molested by her grandfather and that being the reason for the Barbie rape doll set and the sexually explicit drawings, having engaged in both activities at her age and not needing molestation to do so, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. I also went through a goth period and engaged in sex acts that may have been considered risky, or at least risque. Again, none of these things are the gold standard of child rape. Sure, they could be, but as it turned out, Marty was apparently just that toxic for the girls. Yeah, I know she was on medication, but so are most of us. Maybe she was depressed because her daddy called her a whore and slapped her–at least THAT I saw and for sure know happened.
As for the King in Yellow, I feel like looking at it on a timeline makes things make more sense. The housekeeper definitely knew what Carcosa was, and so she had been at least initiated into the cult in some way. Sam Tuttle, once he’d put it in a woman didn’t want her anymore. Also, we know he owned a lot of land and was apparently wealthy.
We also know that Errol was at Sam Tuttle’s house enough that the housekeeper noticed him. Also we know that the Ledoux brothers were known cousins of Childresses. And we know that Sam Tuttle impregnated a lot of women, meaning that there were a lot of half-cousins, etc.
This means that the whole Yellow King plus Carcosa mythos definitely happened at a time where Reggie would have seen rich men enjoying some good killing, even if that wasn’t what was happening at present. Not sure how long Reggie was in jail for, perhaps over that time Sam Tuttle died and the game changed. What we do know is that Reggie was later an acolyte of Errol.
This is where things are a little fuzzy as far as the tape is concerned because as we are to understand, there were five men on the tape. Men we know were involved in the cult are dead: Reggie, DeWall, and Errol. That leaves two (assuming that there were only five involved at the time.)
But there are definitely more than two men who would’ve had knowledge of the cult: Sam Childress, Errol’s father who according to the housekeeper gave him those scars and was bound on the bed, Sheriff Ted Childress who apparently covered up for Errol’s kidnapping of children in the area but who had died, the pharmacy shooter who killed himself after saying he knew who the Yellow King was, potentially Austin Farrar who was an administrator of Tuttle Ministry’s schools who was let go for embezzling and I think died in an accident due to his drinking, and Reverend Tuttle had the tape at least, though why he had it wasn’t made clear, but he didn’t burn it.
Now Theriot said he brought up pictures of naked children to Austin Farrar which is where we got that name and that’s who Rust followed up on when he “braced” Reverend Tuttle. That’s where I think he may have been involved because he’d brushed it off. Now theoretically Reverend Tuttle could’ve taken that tape as evidence or blackmail, or maybe he was being blackmailed by Farrar and it was gotten for him. This is where the narrative isn’t clear.
Also it’s not entirely clear what Reverend Tuttle’s aim was by having the task force. Was he trying to shut down the redneck continuation of his father’s cult? Was he going to try to bury it? I’m not sure that he could’ve stayed completely clear of the cult with Sam Tuttle as his dad, but he’d clearly adopted the sort of cult you could take into the daylight. I like to think that maybe he wasn’t completely untouched by what he was preaching and maybe he wanted to stop the violence against women and children, but if that had been true, then probably he wouldn’t have had the tape and probably he would’ve gotten to the bottom of things.
Senator Edwin Tuttle makes no personal appearances, but it is important to realize that when we talk about chain of command, he was Governor in the 90s and would’ve been the only one who could’ve arrested Sheriff Ted Childress, and if Edwin is covering for his backwoods branch of the family, as seems likely, he wasn’t going to arrest him. So Rust probably shouldn’t beat himself up too much over that.
I also suspect that Edwin had his cousin Reverend Tuttle killed when the tape was discovered. Given how quick he got the FBI to back him up that he was of no relation to Errol, he’s clearly connected and on to bigger and better things. If The Yellow King is a true position, Edwin’s the heir apparent, though whether he’s actually involved in perversity beyond politics, the story doesn’t supply.
What we do know for sure is that Errol was at least attempting to ascend. To what, it’s hard to say. He didn’t seem to claim to be the Yellow King, though he made a figure of what perhaps he imagined The Yellow King would be. It’s also interesting that he called Rust, “Little Priest” and said that he had blessed DeWall and Reggie. Obviously no one was entirely clear on what happened out in the woods but Rust and Marty, but Reggie said he’d seen Rust in his dreams. DeWall had said there was a shadow that touched Rust. There’s definitely something about Rust, though I’m not sure if it would’ve been different if Marty had chased Errol into Carcosa. But it does track back to Reggie telling Rust, “You’ll do this again.” Not sure if that was metaphysical wisdom or his knowledge that Errol was still out there. But he did seem to embrace death, so not sure if that is ascension to the cult.
One thing I’ve been puzzling over since the beginning was the lapse in time between the big, showy sacrifices. There are the child murders and there was at least one adult female skeleton in Carcosa. (on a side note, there are babies… and a birthing basin, so I guess he and his half-sister were making baby flowers? ugh) Errol says he does to children as was done to him, so, you know, his dad’s dead and I’m finding it hard to muster up sympathy, but there is no defined set of rules as to how this works. That said, Errol is crazy, so maybe there isn’t one. But there were 7-8 years between the female sacrifices.
All we really know that much about is Dora Lange’s. She seemed to volunteer as tribute. She said she was going to be a nun. Now, clearly Errol knew how to get rid of bodies. He had a lot of land to bury them in. But these special ladies he gave crowns and set up specially. Perhaps he was blessing them with death for their ascension? They are certainly treated with more care and dignity than children that are cast away. It’s possible he really is hoping to be caught, but those murders are different.
The mimicry of voices made me think he was trying on different identities. He’s had to be a bit of a chameleon, enough of one that Rust looked right through him. He definitely presented to police as simpleton, cheery painter guy to the teacher, but obviously there’s a fiendish intelligence there. Also, he and his half-sister seemed rather like children left to fend for themselves. Mimicking the television is a childish game.
Not that much of this matters after he’s dead, and I suppose that’s the point of not answering these questions. The motive is really only that important when you’re trying to figure out who’s next and once Errol is dead, no one’s next, at least not from Errol. Everyone else who may be culpable in the cover up is done covered up and are nigh unreachable.
That fact is maybe what will help Rust and Marty move forward with their lives. At the very least, there won’t be more victims. Rust choking up thinking about his daughter’s love was so moving. While the TAKE OFF YOUR MASK that Errol yelled at Rust was a call back to the play The King in Yellow, up until now, we’ve never seen behind Rust’s mask. The shadow he had been carrying so long was perhaps that he’d let down his daughter and his father. Death probably wasn’t an ascension for Errol, but being near it seemed to help Rust ascend back to humanity.
For me, that’s a solid ending, a good one that solves the basic problem we started with. Can’t wait for next season!