After five episode of True Detective that seemed laser-focused, episode six of True Detective seemed a bit muddier, a bit more focused on the personal relationship between Marty and Rust than previous episodes. A large focus was also on each man’s views on sexual relationships, hell, if not relationships in general. There is a lot of talk right now about this being the “worst” episode of the series thus far, but I find that talk to be dismissive and comes after two phenomenal episodes that saw a lot happen for the story. Things would become muddy if the plot was abandoned for a non-stop thrill ride, which is never what True Detective was about.
Episode six, “Haunted Houses,” gave us some more of the much-needed backstory to catch us up to where we need to be in the story in order to take things home. When we left off, we found out how Rust and Marty caught the bad guys and how life for the heroes was after the case was closed. It was exciting, it was a faster pace than we were used to with True Detective and it also showed us that Reggie Ledoux and DeWall were not the end of the story by a long shot. In one of the more interesting turns, we saw how Marty’s daughter had taken her interest in sex to the next, strange level, which only makes Marty and his indiscretions seem even worse in retrospect.
“Haunted Houses” showed us how Rust continued to follow his leads in 2002 until he was suspended following a visit to Tuttle, then subsequently quits after a public fist fight with Marty in the parking lot. We know that Rust is onto something and as pissed off as Marty is at Rust throughout, we get the impression that he trusts Rust and his instincts, even if Rust has begun to grow colder and more distant again over the years.
Both characters show their own brand of regressions, Marty turning back towards infidelity when he meets up with the girl that he gave money and advice to out on the “Redneck Bunny Ranch” back in 1995 and Rust turns back to the bottle after his suspension. Maggie finds out about Marty’s new love interest and decides instead of finding a civilized way to end it, to get revenge by taking advantage of a very upset and confused Rust by acting upon their sexual tension that had been building up for all of those years.
You won’t find a lot of Yellow Crowns in this episode (was that one on Tuttle’s desk?), but you’ll find a little devil statue on a nightstand as Marty cheats on Maggie, making good on that “down payment” that Rust pointed out all of those years before. You see, time is a flat circle in Carcosa. For sure this episode was unable to top the intensity or brilliance of the previous two, but it set the tone for the final two episodes by getting us where we needed to be to bring this all to a conclusion; with Marty and Rust meeting up in 2012 to talk, with Marty making sure that his gun is loaded before following Rust.
The only clues that we have now is that Tuttle was hiding something and that the talk of a giant man with facial scars came up again. A part of me is wondering if someone just went mad along the way and will blame the Yellow King and Carcosa for all of this, imagining some or all of the murders, or if we’ll get a straightforward ending to the series. I think that there will be an ending, not a cop out, but that there will be clues for those that are willing to look for them to point to someone having read Act II of the King in Yellow. If Reggie Ledoux was Cthulhu, though, what does that make the giant?
In the end it might not matter because killers are killers, but the men who track down those killers are often left unexplored or misunderstood. At this point it’s pretty hard to misunderstand Rust and Marty, isn’t it?