TRUE DETECTIVE Recap: “The Secret Fate of All Life”

     February 16, 2014


After last week’s intensive and mesmerizing episode (that unbroken shot … that unbroken shot!), True Detective kept firing on all cylinders in “The Secret Fate Of All Life,” revealing something most had already guessed, and something a little surprising.  The show also shifted gears temporally.  The setting is now 2002, and what happened between then and 2010 is the real mystery.  Hit the jump for why “there’s a shadow in you, son.”

true-detective-posterAs has been clear from the start, there’s something not quite right about Rust.  Is it special, or is it sinister?  Martin has always read his quirks as annoying, but also part of what makes him such an efficient cop.  The other two detectives who have been interviewing them (in the course of a day, so far), see things differently.  It was made plain at the close of “The Secret Fate Of All Life” that Rust is a prime suspect for the killings, a la Hannibal, or even a Leopold and Loeb.  Their theory is that Rust’s brilliance regarding these heinous crimes — the likes of which Martin has never seen before or since — is a result of his involvement.  But does that add up?

They also claim his stories don’t match up with reality, which we’ve seen some of the reasons for, and which Martin is tied up with as well.  Their stories began to diverge from the real truth last week, regarding the bikers and the raid, culminating with Martin killing Reggie LeDoux.  It all made complete sense — Rust, doggedly pursuing the case by any means necessary, went off the books to find the perpetrators, with Martin as a willing participant.  And why not when things were going along so well?  It’s easy to see why someone might suspect that Rust’s “luck” was due to something more than his skill, but to see it from Martin’s perspective tells a very different story.

The idea that Rust is responsible for the crimes doesn’t currently hold water, though there are plenty more episodes to play out.  That’s one of the amazing things about the pacing of True Detective right now — for the last few episodes, Reggie LeDoux has been held up as the man that had to be found to solve the case.  Finding him did save the life of one girl, at least.  But we’ve always known another crime was committed, and that at some point (which we now know to be between 2002 and 2010), some shit went down that leads those in the present day to consider Rust in having a hand in it.

true-detective-secret-fate-of-all-life-michael-pottsWhy not also shine a light on Martin though, while we’re at it (just for fun).  We know he has a propensity for violence, and a strong belief in how women should behave (would he punish women who didn’t behave to fit his code?).  He has connections, and kills Reggie before Rust can question him.  He added nothing to the case itself.  He also has a falling out at some point with Rust, the details of which aren’t yet known.  Did Rust simply get fed up with Martin being part of the establishment that is ultimately hiding the true perpetrator of these crimes?  Or did he need to extricate himself from it to go on a one-man decade-long recon mission?

The point is that the mystery is secondary to the immersive experience the show provides.  It only lets us see what we’re meant to, in a quasi-linear fashion.  So while we know more than the interviewing cops, we also don’t know as much (yet) as Rust and Martin do about the course of the real events.  But as for that ultimate mystery, there were a few more clues dropped this week.  It seems that the killings/sacrifices might be connected to some very wealthy people in the community (if they don’t participate, they at least know.  Remember the reverend/mayor guy from the start of the season?  He seems primed for involvement).  This has been explored in other stories before, and would make sense here.  Reggie might have helped procure or even just keep the victims, but it seems like their ultimate fate is decided by someone else, this “Yellow King.”

Anything is possible at this point, but it’s clear that True Detective, five episodes in to its eventual eight, still has plenty more mysteries to unravel.  Per usual, the show ended on a cliffhanger with Rust investigating the room in the school house they once visited, full of dusty totems and strange drawings, but it also teased much more.  The hypnotic tale continues to draw us in and excel on every creative level, while keeping the mystery fresh and twisted.

Episode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

true-detective-matthew-mcconaughey-woody-harrelson— Fantastic music when Rust was wild-eyed and carrying Ginger in the back of his truck.

— I’m worried for the fate of Martin’s kids.  Especially Audrey …

— Reggie was creepy as hell, but short-lived!  As was his partner, whose “homemade, cracker-ass security system did the rest.”

— “Black stars rise” – Reggie. (Pink stars are falling … – Under the Dome).

— Nice article on io9 this week about a story that might help us appreciate True Detective even more, as well as other series that borrow from this collection of 19th century stories.

— The secret fate of all life? “You’re trapped.” – Rust.

— “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive, like acid. You have a demon inside, and I don’t like your face. It makes me want to do things to it […] if I see you again, I’m putting you down. There’s a shadow in you, son.”  Damn.

— “Death created time to grow the things for it to kill” – more sunshine from Rust.

— “Do you know the good years when you’re in them, or do wait until you got ass cancer?” – Martin.

— “Captain of the varsity slut team!” – Martin to Audrey.

— “I tell it the same, because it only went down one way” – Martin.  And that is a lie.

— “If you want to follow me, come on.  If you want to see something … get a warrant.” – Rust.