Nic Pizzolatto is doing publicity this week for HBO’s runaway hit, True Detective, and overall gist from what he’s suggesting is that we probably shouldn’t try and read too much into the symbols, allusions, and references. He says that, by the end of next week’s episode, we’ll know if Marty or Rust is one of the killers, and that we should expect a “naturalistic” ending. In other words, don’t expect any huge twists or supernatural elements: The ending will flow naturally from the story he’s laid out.
That’s not to say that the literary references aren’t important to context, and that they don’t add layers (and an extraordinary amount of fun) into the show, but it’s not likely that we’re going to figure out the end based on The King in Yellow (I think we’re more likely to figure it out by tracking the real-life Jeff Davis 8 murders).
That said, people are picking up books and reading because of True Detective and that’s huge.
Speaking of references, in episode three, when Reggie Ledoux was spotted wearing a gas mask and a jock strap, many of us concluded it was a reference to Cthulhu. That wasn’t the intent. In an interview with EW, Pizzolatto explains his actual inspiration for that scene:
I can tell you where that came from. That was written very specifically, that he has that kind of gas mask on, and he’s walking around with a jock strap and tattoos on. The jock strap and the tattoos, I couldn’t think of anything more frightening than that coming at me through the woods. But the gas mask, I remember being inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s portraits of hell and a monstrous, fallen world and photographs of masks that plague doctors used to wear. Long needle noses. And some of those World War One gas masks. The point is that they’re very unearthly. It makes human beings look more insect like. Those pointy masks are just really, really freaky. So I wanted a gas mask the recalled the proboscis of a mosquito.
Here’s an example of one of Hieronymous Bosch’s portraits.
Here, meanwhile, is a picture of a doctor with a plague mask.
Yep. That’s creepy. Super creepy.