We’ve established that time is a flat circle to our King in Yellow, so it is safe to say that he always knew the ending to Sunday night’s episode of True Detective. Us, on the other hand, things weren’t always as clear to us, but episode eight brought the slow-burn style of build to boiling over finally and we found our answers. Well, not all of the answers, because that is the kind of show that True Detective is. True Detective was never a supernatural tale, it was never a tale about closure or even a case, True Detective was a story about Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, two detectives who became obsessed with a case and where it led both of them.
There was a thrilling conclusion to the serial murders, we found our King in Yellow, we were led into the depths of Carcosa, lined with black stars and silent screams. It was horrifying, it was everything that we thought it would be, which, in a way, is rather amazing. All I could think of while watching Marty and Rust descend upon the dilapidated homestead was that it reminded me of the house from The Devil’s Rejects. in fact, there were quite a few parallels with the madness and whatnot, but the difference here is that it felt more real, less over-the-top. These horrors could happen. Errol, our King in Yellow, wasn’t a dullard that everyone thought him to be, instead he was clearly bright, but never received the proper guidance. Instead he mashed together ideals from literature and films into an unnurtured mind and became a madman.
Perhaps the only thing more scary than someone who is incredibly dull is something who is incredibly intelligent but was never guided into the light. Light becomes and overlaying theme for this final episode of True Detective, as Rust is led into a labyrinth of what could have been an old plantation or pirate hideout right off of the coast that the earth had begun to reclaim. Light peeked through anywhere that it could, but all that it shed light upon were the horrors that had happened inside of Errol’s “Carcosa.” Marty is able to make the call and call in our dashing modern day detectives to make the rescue, but by then Rust lays with a gaping wound on his forearm and a knife deep into his chest, Marty with a hatchet buried into his chest, Errol with a bullet in his brain.
What should be striking is that True Detective doesn’t end with our flawed heroes once again catching the bad guy, but with both men in the hospital. The scene that not only stole the episode, but possibly the entire season, was Marty wheeling Rust away from the hospital door so that Rust could smoke a cigarette and tell about how he gave up on life, how he was ready to embrace the darkness. Rust was ready to be with his daughter again, he said that he could feel her love again, that he was ready to be no more just for a chance of seeing her again. That, of course, explains why a man like Rust who knew better removed the knife from his chest, knowing that he’d bleed out. Of course, his plan was foiled by a concerned and only kind of banged up Marty who kept him alive long enough to get the medical attention that he needed.
As they both spoke, for perhaps the first time of their relationship, Marty had to comfort Rust, try to divert his attention to something he remembered from a conversation about Rust staring up at the stars. A tear-filled Rust explained the conflict of light vs. dark, only for Marty to play the pessimist now, noting that by looking up at the night sky that dark was winning, only for Rust to explain that there used to only be dark, but now there were stars and light was finally winning. It was an abrupt about-face for Rust that showed that he had finally begun to heal after all of those years, that he finally trusted someone with his life in Marty and that the Tuttle family might not have gotten caught, but they did get their man, it was time to move on and live again.
No, there was nothing supernatural, there wasn’t really anything more to the King in Yellow stuff. Neither Rust or Marty were a crazed murderer. True Detective was, instead, a story about two men who happened to have a job that led them down a very dark, lonely path, but they found each other and through this friendship, they found a reason for each of their lives. It was slow, it was deliberate, it was intense and it was brilliant.