True Detective Discussion: ‘A Man’s Game Charges A Man’s Price’

02.24.14 552 Comments

It happened again last night. Just like last week, I had a lot of trouble sleeping after watching a new episode of True Detective. I simply wasn’t able to turn my brain off through sleep. It kept doing it’s own thing, waking me up in the process every 30-45 minutes. I remember at one point waking up wondering why 2012 Cohle doesn’t have a dog and I just couldn’t let go of the thought (he lives on the bayou now, after all!). Finally at 3:45 AM I gave up a bit and watched some TV, which eventually led to me falling asleep. This show needs to end so my mind will let me sleep again. It’s kind of ridiculous.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are a few notes I made during last night’s True Detective about characters, scenes, etc. I found interesting for one reason or another.

– First off, let’s go big picture — here’s where I think the show is headed, based on what we saw last night in the episode and the preview of next week’s show. Many of you have suggested this in comments, and I have a few friends who’ve come up with similar theories, and it all boils down to this: there’s more than one murderer here. There’s a weird, religious cult thing going on and perhaps part of the cult’s initiation is murder. In other words, there are multiple Yellow Kings (probably five, one for each beer can man Cohle made during interrogation) and Cohle has possibly spent recent years investigating and assassinating them vigilante style, in a sort of Dexter-esque fashion. At the very least, I’d bet that he murdered Billy Lee Tuttle, as Gilbough and Papania suspect, for being the likely ringleader of the whole, sick thing. This sort of development — Cohle becoming a killer himself — also fits with the “Darkness Becomes You” and “Touch Darkness and Darkness Touches You Back” theme HBO has pushed in marketing materials for the show.

I’m not sure that was the case from 2002-2010, as it’d be hard for Cohle to go completely unnoticed in rural south Louisiana, but it likely has been the case since he came back in 2010. In the preview for next week’s episode, I’m 99.9% sure that that’s Cohle we get a fleeting glance of dressed as a ninja. And what do ninjas do? They kill.

Where was he from 2002-2010? Who knows, but I suspect it was far away from Louisiana, perhaps even out of the country. But something brought him back. Something triggered a guilty conscience over unfinished business so he returned to do the work himself because he knew firsthand that the local authorities were too corrupt and incompetent to bring these people to justice. Or, another way to look at it is that perhaps the darkness that he had once touched began to grow inside of him, taking over his soul.

Also shown in the preview of next week’s episode: the interior of what I’m guessing is the storage unit Cohle is leasing, a storage unit he appears to have turned into his own Yellow King case crime lab. We see he and Marty inside of it, partnering up again in 2012, perhaps to try to track down the one that got away — whoever perpetrated the Lake Charles murder. That brings up a question: why would Marty work with Rust again and perhaps help Rust cover up criminal activity after Rust banged his wife in ’02? Well, my guess is that time heals all wounds and Cohle did help Hart cover up the Ledoux murder, after all, not to mention that Hart probably feels obligated to put closure on all of this as well. So there’s that. In the preview we also see Marty viewing something that Cohle has that makes him freak the f*ck out. Some sort of Yellow Kings snuff film, perhaps?

Bottom line: I don’t think there’s anything metaphysical going on here with Hart and Cohle. I think what we see of them is what we’re getting. And True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto sort of confirmed that on Twitter last night after the show aired when he tweeted a link to a post Andrew did over the weekend suggesting that there is nothing hidden in True Detective‘s expertly crafted story.

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– “A man’s game charges a man’s price.” — Marty Hart, who has no problem with older dudes banging young girls, as long as those young girls aren’t his daughters.

– In the scene when Hart beats the crap out of the two boys his daughter threesome’d with, he refers to “the farm” and “Angola.” These are one and the same — Angola State Penitentiary, the maximum security state prison situated about an hour north of Baton Rouge, that has been nicknamed “The Farm” for its use of prison labor to harvest crops. There’s an award-winning documentary about life inside Angola you can watch online here. It made the news recently when it was revealed that an inmate there had been kept in solitary confinement for over 40 years.

– “In a former life I used to exhaust myself navigating crude men who thought they were clever, so ask your questions or I’m leaving.” — Maggie, who in 2012 is apparently married to a man with the last name “Sawyer.”

– I had a feeling we’d see the girl from the hooker camp — the “hillbilly Bunny Ranch,” as Cohle put it — again before the end of the season. She was just too pretty and Hart giving her money made me suspect that she’d resurface. She’s played by Lili Simmons, and you can learn more about her here in the post Dustin did last night on her.

– “All my life I wanted to be nearer to God, but the only nearness is silence.” — Preacher Theriot.

– Preacher Theriot is now a hard-drinking roadside antique store owner, naturally. He strikes me as a good but obviously flawed man, but not one capable of being involved in any sort of Tuttle organization murder conspiracy. So I think it’s safe to say we can scratch him off the suspects list, despite what some have thought.

– Speaking of a Tuttle organization murder conspiracy, I kind of love that the Louisiana school voucher program is at the heart of this evil plot. How long before conservative windbags start calling for a boycott of the show (and perhaps HBO)?

– The location of Fox and Hound where Marty drinks with Beth is in the Elmwood Shopping Center in Harahan, just outside of New Orleans. It’s where David D. from the Smoking Section, a New Orleans resident, watches pay-per-view fights, apparently.

– Contrary to what you’re probably thinking, Maggie didn’t leave Marty because he cheated on her. She left him because he bought generic tampons from Walgreen’s for her. C’MON, MARTY!

– Once again, Woody Harrelson gets a love scene with a stunningly beautiful younger woman. First Alexandra Daddario, then Michelle Monaghan and now Lili Simmons. Lucky bastard.

– Hart sure has a nose for finding, as Cohle would put it, “crazy pussy,” doesn’t he?

– Father John Misty is a favorite of ours around here and it’s his “Every Man Needs a Companion” that’s the song playing during the f*ck scene with Beth and Marty. I highly recommend his 2012 debut album and seeing him perform live.

– “The newspapers are gonna be tough on you, and prison is very, very hard on people who hurt kids. If you get the opportunity you should kill yourself.” — Rust Cohle to the “Marshland Madea.” I’ve replayed this scene many times and derived an irrational amount of joy from Cohle deceiving someone into trusting him only to viciously turn his back on her once he had what he needed.

– As Dustin noted at Pajiba, I’m wondering how scarred up the face of Errol, the lawnmower man from earlier episodes, is under that beard he had earlier after Kelly, the girl Cohle and Hart rescued from the Ledoux boys back in ’95, mentioned to Cohle that “the man with the scars was the worst.” According to the IMDB page of the actor who portrays him, he’s slated to reappear in coming episodes.

– Both of Hart’s women in this episode, Maggie and Beth, order dirty martinis from bars. It should be noted, however, that Maggie requested hers be “extra dirty,” perhaps foreshadowing the scandalousness that was to come.

– In case you were wondering, a “pirogue,” as mentioned by Terry Guidry, is essentially the Cajun version of a canoe. BTW, when i watched this particular scene the character struck me as really authentic. Having grown up on the bayou, Terry Guidry reminded me of a lot of men I knew, friends of my dad, fathers of my friends growing up, etc. His accent was also pretty on point, subtle and not overly pronounced. Turns out, the actor portraying Guidry is from Louisiana.

– I’d love to ask Nic Pizzolatto if Billie Lee Tuttle was inspired by Jimmy Swaggart. Swaggart, as you may recall, also operated his ministry out of Baton Rouge, where he founded a bible college, and had a fondness for hookers.

– “It’s hard to trust a man who can’t trust himself with a bottle.” — Billy Lee Tuttle in what I’m convinced was an intentional jab at Cohle. There’s no way that Tuttle hadn’t done his homework on Cohle and likely knew about his battles with the bottle.

– Tuttle, BTW, creeps me the f*ck out. Jay Sanders was perfectly cast to play that part. Even the way the doors to his office open creeps me out. There’s no way this man hasn’t been murdering women and children for decades.

– Annnnd it finally happened, just as I, and many of you, thought it would: Cohle and Maggie banged. She seduced Rust because she knew banging him would hurt Marty more than anything in the world. “This he won’t live with…this will hurt him,” she said soon after the deed was done. It was cold and it was calculating and it was so, so good. She wanted out of the marriage and she knew the only way out was to make Marty as repulsed by her as she was with him, and f*cking Cohle was the surefire way to do it. She even threw in “I haven’t been f*cked like that since before the girls” for extra measure during the confrontation with Marty later. Ice cold. And obviously effective.

– On another note regarding Maggie, it was nice to see her character finally get some layers, some depth.

– The bar where Maggie originally goes to hook up with a stranger is Bridge Lounge, my local a block over from my house. They make killer mojitos (the original owners were Cuban) and it’s a dog-friendly bar, so I often bring my golden retriever, Sazerac, along when I pop in, which is usually once a week, at least.

– I have to say that the fight between Cohle and Hart at the end seemed like a genuine brawl between two men who have been wanting to kick each others’ asses for a long time. That’s gonna leave a mark…

– I noticed that Cohle still hasn’t fixed his tail light — the one that got busted in the 2002 parking lot fight with Marty — in 2012, another indication to me that he may have been away from Louisiana from 2002-2010 and had left his truck behind somewhere.



– SPOILER ALERT! (via Steph Stradley)

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– If you missed it, you should read the interview we did with Charles Halford, the actor who played Reggie Ledoux, last week.

– After the True Detective pilot aired, I ordered Nic Pizzolatto’s novel, Galveston, on Amazon. It was out of stock at the time and finally arrived in the mail last Thursday. So far, I’m enjoying it immensely, and at one point it’s revealed that the main character makes beer can men from High Life cans. I found that to be a fun little bit of crossover coincidence.

– HBO airing Girls immediately after True Detective seems to me like a cruel joke on their part. Like, has anyone watched the two back-to-back without their head exploding? Because I think my head would explode.

– 2012 Cohle really should have a dog.

Your own thoughts and feelings are welcome in the comments.

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