The episode starts with Rustin in modern time, a little more drunk and philosophical. They start by talking about the devil traps.
Meanwhile back in the 90s, the detectives inform Dorrie’s mother that she had passed and talked about her father who died in a car accident. Apparently she told her mother than she’d been going to church but didn’t seem to know what church. It gets them on the conversation about mothers. Marty’s mom was a real “Donna Reed” type. Rustin didn’t know if his mother was alive.
Next up was talking to friend of the victim who apparently also heard about a church but she thought her friend seemed loopy and high and very thin. There she gave a lead about a “shelter” where Dorrie was staying.
Interestingly, while Marty enjoyed his family on weekends and as days passed, we see Rustin has only a small, round peephole of a mirror in which to look at himself. Back in the car, Rustin explains why he felt the need to get drunk before he went over to Marty’s for dinner. We get more insight into what happened to his child who “passed.” Her name was Sophia. She was two when she was run over in their front yard. There are some theories that maybe he ran her over, that would certainly make his reflection hard to look at.
We learn Rustin had several deep undercover assignments, including narcotics with violent outbursts. “The job didn’t make me this way, I was good at this job because I am this way.” He came close to marrying again, but something fell apart and now, as a burn out, he is comfortable with who he is.
Marty, it turns out, rationalizes his cheating as blowing off steam because he doesn’t want to bring his dark self to his family. He is having an affair with a much younger woman who works at the courthouse who doesn’t appear to mind taking charge. While he doesn’t seem to want to build a life with her, Marty does seem possessive of her, warning her not to go out at night because of this, “Satanic killer.” But she wants more of a life than sex on the side.
Working in HIDTA 4 years undercover is what Rustin attributes his neural damage to, so he’s never entirely sure if he’s hallucinating or not. Apparently, those files are still sealed, but later, Rustin shares because he cares. Or doesn’t care. Or is trying not to care one way or the other, but clearly he can’t help himself.
In the 90s, Rustin visits with the sex worker he’d arranged to buy barbiturates from. He asks her about where Dorrie may have been working. There’s a “bunny ranch” in the middle of nowhere–was that the shelter Dorrie’s friend was talking about?
The next morning, Rustin is pleased to tell Marty about it, but is judgy about Marty returning to work in the same suit smelling of pussy. Defensive, Marty physically attacks Rustin. Calmly, Rustin slips his hands around Marty’s in such a way that he could break his wrists with a few pounds of pressure. Marty is forced to relent and goes to shower while Rustin checks his pulse.
They drove out, trying to figure out where this bunny ranch may be and stopped off at a metal working shop to ask if those guys knew where it was. They claimed they didn’t. While Marty went back to the car, Rustin, emaciated, brainy Rustin, managed to take two brawny guys down enough for them to give up the bunny ranch, which led them to truly the middle of nowhere along a lonely highway with only the smallest ornament indicating where to turn.
The property was big with several trailers and girls barefoot and in sundresses. They talk to the madam and explained they were there to investigate Dorrie’s murder. A very young girl who was apparently friends with Dorrie volunteered to talk. She reinforced that Dorrie was going to a church, leaving her things for what the girl assumed was a better life. She turns the bag over to Rustin.
In it was Dorrie’s diary about king’s children being marked, “Became his angels” She followed the “Yellow king” and “In Carcosa.” Rustin wondered if maybe Dorrie was being dosed. In the diary they found a yellow flier for a tent revival church.
Rustin went from robbery to narco and apparently while on the job killed a man for injecting a newborn with crystal meth. Instead of sending him to jail, they sent him even deeper undercover where he killed three more members of a cartel after which they dumped him in a psych ward in Lubbock, Texas. When he recovered, he cashed in favors from along the way and that’s how he ended up in Louisiana where he apparently could still sometimes be trippin’ balls via flashbacks.
Marty, frustrated by family day at his wife’s parents house, demands to head back to work. His wife is pretty annoyed by her parents as well, but there’s obviously tension. Marty is a good old boy in a lot of ways but he’s a basically good man, recognizing an underaged sex worker and trying to help her out. He believes the world is basically good. Rustin sees the world in some ways as it actually is, doesn’t judge, mostly because he can’t.
At home, Marty’s marriage is in real trouble. He’s withdrawn and she notices, but instead of moving forward, he tries to blame her. He realizes his insistence that the world as “basically good” and his belief that he’s shielding his family from anything is an illusion when he sees his girls have set up a fun-time Barbie gang rape with several Kens and a naked Barbie.
In the present, Rustin tries to rationalize and relive his daughter’s death. They said she felt no pain and he tries to believe that it was for the best because she was spared growing up, spared the pain and died happy, riding her bike. That she spared him the pain of watching her discover the world.
Back in the 90s, a Satanic Panic Squad (aka Task Force) is being set up to link all unusual murders and probably people. If you haven’t seen Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and you love this series, it may give you some perspective on where it looks like this is building to. Anyway, Rustin realizes rightly that this task force wants to take over their investigation and will probably jam someone up that has nothing to do with it. The captain sets them straight on the pressures and the expected timeline for them to come up with a suspect. They explain the lead on the church and Marty bargains for a couple more weeks for them to try and run the case down.
There is apparently an eventual big throw down in the woods.
Marty knows this is leading to something. These detectives are trying to close their case on someone and he is apparently getting an uneasy feeling about whom.
In pastworlds, the detectives are following up on their flier. There are no dates on the flier and barely a map. They drive out to where they think it should be but see nothing. In the distance is the shell of a burned down church. Rustin sees patterns in the flight of birds–a vision that he associates to being on the right path. He claims that after he was clean a couple of years, the visions stopped. He’s not clean so…what is he seeing now?
They venture into the church which has apparently been burned down a couple of years. It looks unrelated until they find graffiti on one of the few standing walls of a naked woman with antlers.
So, interesting things to note. Rustin is being interviewed in the basement, apparently. Or somewhere closed off. Is it a real interrogation room? Are they down there because Rustin asked for it because he didn’t want to be seen or did they not want people to see him? Is Marty being interviewed above ground because the new detectives want him to be seen?
And we now have a fair idea of where Rustin is coming from–apparently not the happiest childhood or maybe his mom gave up on him when he went OMGPSYCHOCRAZY killing people. Or… if he was the one who ran over his daughter. To me, this makes sense because of that weird mirror, though any one of those things could make oneself hard to look at. Arguably killing people in a cartel or who shoot up their babies with crystal aren’t exactly innocent, but he didn’t get to the place of doing that through a happy path.
Marty seems very everyman. He’s cheating on his wife but for what he believes are the noblest of reasons. This is, to me, pretty typical of how that sort of thing works. He wants to be a good man, noble, but in the end, he can’t help but be selfish and rationalize the objectively horrible. This leads me to believe that while he doesn’t want to go along to get along, he would. He has to. But he’s a good enough man that he’s pained by it.
It’s going to be an interesting ride. The preview…good lord it’s getting a little Hannibal again. Rustin may or may not know his own mind. Fantastical deaths and situations. Oh it’s going to get twisted but probably not satanic. Can’t wait!
2 thoughts on “True Detective 1/2 Feels: Seeing Things”
So you know I really deeply love this show. And you know how I feel about the nekkid and the Someone Please Help Rustin Cohle. In many ways, we see the show similarly, but there are some aspects that struck me differently, so I’ll talk about those.
I do think maybe he hit his own daughter and killed her accidentally. It would fit with the way his marriage fell apart and his need to emphasize how much better it is for her and how he feels absolved by that. Also, he trailed off and found himself unable simply to say the words after having made it sound like it would be no big deal to discuss. Again, it fits with how he emphasizes strongly that he knows who/what he is and has peace with it, after a fashion. Also, we know how he murdered a man for shooting up his infant daughter. He doesn’t just say child, he says daughter. He specifies. I think that also ties in with his feelings of needing to balance the scales for his dead child.
When they discuss mothers, Rustin’s distance from it makes me think perhaps he grew up in an abusive family. It’s certainly possible that she simply distanced herself from him following her granddaughter’s death, but I suspect he was damaged before that because he evinces so little of the emotion we see later when he discusses the events around Sophia’s death. Instead it seems a foregone conclusion that her being alive or dead is irrelevant as she has never had much place in his existence. It also, to me, seems to emphasize the issues he has with women. We see how he gravitated toward Marty’s wife after a rough start, the way he opens up when he sees her being a nurturing mother figure. And yet, he seems completely indifferent to the numerous prostitutes who find him interesting. I think he has big mother issues, and given that he was married three years and the child was two when she died, I suspect either he married because she was pregnant already or married her with the intention of beginning a family right away. There were mother issues at work there too.
Part of me wonders whether he married a woman he knew would be a mother very soon and then couldn’t handle having a family. Something went down to prevent them from having another child and clinging to one another after her death. Rust’s a brilliant, gorgeous man and I find it hard to believe the marriage just went up in smoke without a significant effort on his part to push her away–and he specifies he’s critical and difficult to live with. I half wonder whether when the child died, he saw his wife as having failed both he and his daughter. He might see a mother’s role as being to protect the child from the father, and I could easily imagine Rust’s father being abusive or a non-presence and his mother failing to protect him from that situation–showing indifference toward him which he now mirrors toward her.
Or not. I have a lot of feelings about this.
Marty’s clearly trying very hard to be a good man. Where Rust is very perceptive and observant, he shows no concern at all for the underage hooker despite spending more time with her than Marty does. Marty, on the other hand, is horrified and wants to help her. He sees the world as a place where the home is meant to be peaceful, a refuge, and his mother certainly made his home a refuge growing up. He projects this onto his own wife and his values onto everything into which he comes into contact. However, as we see from his conversation with his father in law, he’s more liberal than he might seem. He does, ultimately, show awareness that ultraconservatism is not the answer and that old men hold power only for a short time and use that short time in a futile attempt to hang onto their power.
I think this could play into his overall personality. He seems simultaneously a traditionalist and a pragmatist–he both venerates Christianity and traditional family and disregards the spirit and letter of both. Ultimately, he acts as suits him and pays lip service to the rest while finding it highly unsettling when anyone refuses to observe the standard social niceties.
Rust fascinates and repels him because he is beyond social niceties. There is no room in Rust for meaningless interpersonal frippery while Marty relies on it utterly, seeming to change and be a different flavor of Marty with each different social group. Rust is inflexible, always the same no matter who he speaks with. Marty in the first episode is trying to find an in, trying to get Rust’s wavelength so he can figure out which Marty to be for him. When he is continually rebuffed, he retreats into himself and we see a truer Marty than I think anyone else gets.
This plays into his deep unrest when Rust calls him out on cheating on his wife. Not only is Rust an unignorably attractive man and possibly superior officer, he’s taking the moral high ground which Marty desperately needs to hold. He’s a threat to Marty in ways Marty has not yet processed or acknowledged. And yet, Marty desperately wants to understand him. He continues to reach out–it’s Marty’s nature. Even as he menaces his partner, he’s pushing into his space, forcing intimacy, trying to get within the unbreachable boundary Rust hides behind. He’s been stripped so easily by Rust’s cleverness and yet he sees so little of Rust. Then, already vulnerable, he’s made more so when Rust takes the physical advantage from him as well.
I think the sexual tension in that moment stems from that. It’s not just slashgoggles that make me think “oh please! hatesex nao!” It’s that Marty’s drive is to penetrate Rust’s emotional armor and physically force him into submission even as Rust is stripping Marty bare psychologically and revealing parts of him to the day that he tries to leave behind in the nights. It’s a very psychosexual dynamic, fraught with dominance struggles and made carnal by Marty’s nature. He’s unable to connect without literally connecting. He’s tactile and volatile, driven by very animal, basic urges to give and take comfort, to establish social contracts via handshake or headlock or hugs.
So basically, I feel like Marty wants to be everything to everyone and Rust wants to be nothing and have no one. Marty is hypersocial, driven to touch and hold and know if not understand. Rust seems to care little for anything but understanding, even when he cannot know. The unknowable–that mystical ‘plugged-in’ sensation of mainlining the secret truths of the universe–draws him in a way that cold evidence does not. And yet, Marty is the ‘man of faith’ and Rust the atheist. Ultimately Rust wants escape. He wants something greater than this world, something metaphysical and elusive. Marty just wants simple pleasures and a simple life. That’s their contrast, their conflict, and their on-rushing falling out.
Anyway AHS is happening, and I’m distracted now, and I’m just gonna post cause fuck it. You know where to find me for more thinks.
I’m not dismissing the idea that Rust was abused, just saying that wasn’t necessarily the only possibility given the evidence. Just like marriages could break up for a variety of reasons, there are a lot of reasons why Rust isn’t talking to his mom and without more evidence, it’s hard to say. Maybe she just plain never wanted a child, or you could extrapolate where he’s thinking that his daughter saved him the pain of disappointment growing up, so if he’d died young he would’ve saved his mother the disappointment of seeing him become a murderer.
Surprisingly, I didn’t necessarily see that moment between Rust and Marty as sexual. There’s definitely a growing, if unintentional, intimacy there, but I think Marty’s taking a very surfacy view of his cheating on his wife. He doesn’t see it as cheating. He sees it as “blowing off steam” and Rust just busted him on it. It definitely interferes with how Marty sees himself. While Marty is fine with Rust being the smarter man, he does see him as cold. I agree that Marty does not like ceding the high ground to Rust morally. But also, Rust now knows Marty’s wife and could say something to her.
But I do like the idea of the copies of Marty–Marty is every Marty to whomever needs him at that time. His seeming resentment of Rust really does seem to come from the fact that without Rust’s expectation, Marty’s left having to be himself and thus having to face himself.
Rust being critical is what you see manifesting with Marty, I think. He sees Marty give the underaged sex worker cash and asks if it’s a down payment. Rust didn’t offer that girl help because that’s not what he was there for. If someone tasked him with keeping young girls from being sex workers, it would’ve been different. But as far as he’s concerned, that’s none of his business.
At that stage in Rusts’s story it seems like his truth is solving the issue at hand. Sex wouldn’t get him further along that line, so he’s not interested. He is trying to redeem himself through solving homicides. It’s all he has the emotional bandwidth to handle beyond what else is already going on in there.
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