If you are like me then over the past few weeks you’ve become enamored with HBO’s new series, True Detective. True Detective is a deliberately-paced, brilliantly written and acted show that features a fantastic plot, superb characters and everything in between. If you have been curious about the show, there is a very good chance that you’ve heard of Robert W. Chambers’ book, “The King in Yellow” by now, a collection of short stories from 1895 that helps to explain a lot of the lore throughout True Detective.
What’s interesting is that the internet has become collectively obsessed with combing through True Detective for symbolism that pertains to The King in Yellow. The King in Yellow’s first four stories are bound together by the concept of a play of the same name, that if Act II is read it will drive the reader completely mad. We’ve seen theories that range from Marty being the Yellow King thanks to a hint from a poster that cuts off his hair at the crown-line, then at the bottom pastes in the crown of his head as if it were repeating, all the way to those guessing that True Detective will end like the short stories in The King in Yellow end, which is to say abrupt and usually some sort of dream born out of madness.
I’m not sure that I’ve been overly convinced by any of these theories, though, as most tend to ignore the tone and nature of the show itself for hopes that they will find answers within Chambers’ rather mediocre text from over one hundred years ago. Creator Nic Pizzolato even downplays the importance of The King in Yellow in interviews, noting that the collection was important for helping to build the Carcosa lore that began with a story by Ambrose Bierce and continued into H.P. Lovecraft’s work. It’s clear that some of the characters throughout True Detective have gone partially mad and became obsessed with Carcosa, black stars and Yellow Kings, but the evidence doesn’t seem all-too compelling that Rust Cohle is going to come to his senses at the end of the book and realize that he read Act II of The King in Yellow and killed a bunch of people. That’s not the kind of show that we are watching.
Well, this new video that popped up has a really interesting new take on The Yellow King lore in True Detective and might be the most compelling argument yet for what will happen in the final episode of True Detective. I urge you to watch it, but only if you are caught up with the series, otherwise you are spoiling it for yourself.