Though I’ve been burned by them on several occasions, I love a good theory post as much as anyone. It’s fun as hell to speculate, to try and get inside the minds of the showrunners, and figure out where they’re going before it’s revealed. The Internet is working overtime to do just that with True Detective, and in the process, have come up with some insane (and insanely amusing) theories about where the show is headed. They are all completely wrong (for the reasons specified below), but I love some of the theories the Internet has come up with.
1. One guy has suggested a little Fight Club trickery, stating that based on a statement Rust made about futility that he wrongly attributed to himself (when it was in fact Hart who spoke of futility), that both Rust and Hart must be the same person. Someone further bolstered this theory by pointing toward the pink tricycle that Martin ran over when he visited Lisa’s house, possibly a reference to the fact that Rust’s daughter was run over while riding her tricycle. This somehow suggests they are the same guy?
2. Another person has suggested that the flashback scene involving Hart’s daughter arranging dolls in an orgy/execution scene isn’t actually real, but a memory of Hart’s that he juxtaposed with a memory of an actual crime scene while recounting the story to the 2012 interviewing detectives. However, I don’t think that Nic Pizzolatto is going to throw in any trickery like that. I think the narrative in True Detective is fairly straightforward.
3. Another person suggested that, based on Rust’s ability to immediately find clues in several instances, and the fact that he had stated that he had seen a ghost, that Rust is actually a medium of some sort. But, no: The ghost is most likely another of Rust’s hallucinations, which often result from sleep deprivation, although the “ghost” does look like the missing girl, Marie Fontenot.
4. Someone else has suggested that Hart’s daughter, Aubrey, is the victim of the serial killer in 2012 but that, during the interview, Hart doesn’t know that yet (Hart’s interview took place five days after Rust’s). Someone else points to foreshadowing of that in a scene when Rust and Maggie are talking and the girls are watching a cartoon on television in which a wolf attacks a sheep. This is actually a fun theory, and I love the idea of that foreshadowing, but I doubt that it’s foreshadowing Aubrey’s death specifically.
5. This one is terrific: Apparently, Hart is an old English way of saying stag (or deer), and so maybe Hart is connected with the killer, who stages his victims with antlers. This particular image provides a small bit of validation. Are these Hart’s antlers?
Others have sought to bolster this theory by suggesting that Hart has been trying to hinder the investigation, and redirect Cohle away from Hart (seems unlikely, since it was Hart who fought to keep Cohle on the case in the first place).
6. This image — a drawing in Hart’s house that looks like the spirals on the victims — has been going around, too. OMG! Is one (or both) of Hart’s daughters the killer(s)!
Someone else is actually following this line of thinking, suggesting that the killer in 2012 is Audrey, who is a copycat killer reenacting the crimes his father helped to investigate.
7. One of many clues people have come up with to suggest that Rust may actually be involved with the murders (either the past ones, or the more recent ones) is that Hart’s interview in 2012 takes place five days after the interview with Cohle, and the detectives are asking Hart a lot of questions specifically about Cohle. Are they trying to confirm their own suspicions that Cohle is the killer? (Probably not)
8. An interesting related theory is that Cohle died in between Cohle’s interview and Hart’s, and Hart is potentially being investigated as a suspect, which might explain why Hart is both being defensive and speaking of Cohle in the past tense. “”Say what you will about the man, he was a good detective,” “I don’t hold grudges,” and “I wanted to stay on the case.”
This doesn’t really add up.
9. This one is just plain bizarre: Someone is suggesting that there is no killer. Not that they can’t find the killer, but that there simply isn’t one, that the victims are either doing it to themselves or voluntarily and wilfully submitting to their own deaths. WHAT? Why?
10. Oh, but here’s my personal favorite unintentional allusion, and jokey theory as to who the guy in the gas mask REALLY is (via):
Here is why they are all wrong. This is a spoiler, actually, based on information that’s already out there, but if you don’t want to be spoiled, read no further.
There is a behind-the-scenes video on the making of True Detective that was released before the first episode. At the time, there wasn’t much context to any of it, but now that we’ve seen three episodes from the series, a couple of things in the video rule out the theories above.
Primarily, Nic Pizzolatto’s statement that True Detective “takes the form of a manhunt, so it’s more of a thriller than any sort of whodunit.” In other words, the mystery surrounding who the killer is secondary to the main thrust of True Detective: The manhunt. That may suggest that the bulk of the remaining episodes will not be driven by the killer’s identity, but by the search for him. Moreover, the 2012 section of True Detective, Pizzolatto suggests, is about Cohle’s obsession with the possibility that there were more people involved in the original Dora Lange killing. McConaughey also says that his character is trying to learn more from the interviewing detectives in 2012 so he can get back on the case and solve it.
How do we know that the manhunt is not for Cohle or Hart? We don’t, but again, this is a character-driven drama that explores the lives of the detectives during a serial killer investigation, and not the other way around: An exploration a serial killer investigation. There’s another telling clue from the video, too, that suggests that, in 2012, Hart and Cohle may reunite to track down a killer:
That’s 2012 Cohle and Hart, who appear as though they’re working the case together. Why would they be working together again if Cohle, Hart, or Aubrey were the serial killer, or if Aubrey were dead?
Here’s the full behind-the-scenes video.