‘True Detective’ Discussion: ‘You’re In Carcosa Now’

It finally happened last night. Well, yesterday too to be precise. “It” being True Detective causing me to lose sleep. It started yesterday afternoon when I laid down to take a Sunday afternoon nap. I found myself waking up every five minutes thinking about the show and what might be to come when it aired later in the day. I’d go back to sleep and then the same thing would happen, over and over again for a good hour. It was very frustrating.

And then last night I woke up every hour on the :15 mark with a fresh dream of the show in my head. Not anything haunting, mind you. Just me trying to figure it all out while I slept. Apparently my brain wasn’t able to shut the “figure out True Detective” mechanism off via sleep. For these reasons I can now say that watching True Detective is a detriment to my overall well-being. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

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.

– Over the weekend someone sent me a link to an IO9 post that delved into the obscure literary work behind all the references in previous episodes to the “yellow king” and “black stars” and “carcosa”: Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a short story collection published in 1895. You may recall references to the Yellow King and Carcosa in Dora Lange’s notebook…

As Michael Hughes, the author of the IO9 piece, puts it, “Knowing this book is key to understanding the dark mystery at the heart of this series.” He adds that “The King in Yellow is a fictional play within a collection of short stories—a metafictional dramatic work that brings despair, depravity, and insanity to anyone who reads it or sees it performed.” Taking my recent trouble sleeping into consideration, maybe I need to stop watching True Detective now as my wee Cajun brain may not be capable of processing it. (No. Nope. Not gonna stop.)

That said, last night’s episode brought more overt references to Chambers’ work, including Reggie Ledoux telling Cohle, “I saw you in my dream. You’re a priest too. I know what happens next. You’re in Carcosa now.” It appears as though the show is diving headlong into the metaphysical. Sh*t is going to get very dark and very weird. Indeed, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto admits as much in a video posted to HBO’s website last night: “…Carcosa is the domain of the Yellow King. For viewers it should be taken as a signifier of the larger mythology unfolding around this case.”

I’m afraid we’re all in Carcosa now. If any of you are familiar with Chambers’ work and care to shed further light on the tie-ins here in the comments, please, by all means, do so.

– “This is a world where nothing is solved. Someone once told me that time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve every done or will do we’re going to do over and over again. And that little boy and that little girl are going to be in that room again, again and again and again. Forever…You are reborn, but into the same life that you were born into. How many times have we had this conversation detectives? Who knows…? You can’t remember your lives. You can’t change your lives. That is the terrible and secret fate of all life. You’re trapped in a nightmare you keep waking up into.” — Rust Cohle.

– Moving away from the metaphysical, several significant things happened last night that will shift the direction of the show: Reggie Ledoux was killed. Retro Cohle and Hart are now in 2002 instead of 1995. Marty and his wife have reconciled. Rust has a lady in his life. And finally, and probably most importantly, we learn that it was correct to assume that the two present day detectives believe Cohle played a part in the murders. And we also learned what many of us have suspected: that things in the woods did not actually go down the way Hart and Cohle say they went down.

– “I can see your soul looking at you through your eyes. It’s corrosive, like acid, you got a demon little mind. And I don’t like your face. It makes me wanna do things to it.” — Dewall Ledoux.

– For the second straight week, a character on an HBO show made reference to not liking another character’s face. Last week it happened on Girls.

– Oh man the look on Cohle’s face and in his eyes when that 2002 murder suspect mentions the Yellow King…

– Props to Marty for sporting a Pink Floyd t-shirt during the Ledoux compound raid.

– So what became of Ginger? When Cohle says that he dumped him in a ditch are we to think that he killed him first? Also, I found it to be a little bit of stretch that Ginger would sit down with Cohle and attempt to help him make inroads with Ledoux’s partner. I know Cohle is capable of casting spells on people but that struck me a little less than realistic.

– RIP Reggie Ledoux. You creeped out a nation for a good three weeks, you son-of-a-bitch. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get the image of you walking around with that gas mask and machete out of my head completely. Ledoux had multiple 666 tattoos, multiple swastika tats, and a hangman’s noose round his neck, among other things. All really nice creep touches.

– I have to admit, I got a little choked up during the “hero shot” of Marty and Rust carrying those kids out of that hell-hole.

– At one point Hart mentions that he joined Promise Keepers, which is essentially a redemption club for Christian men who have cheated on their wives. It was founded by former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. The group holds large rallies in arenas and football stadiums around the country, but primarily in the South.

– I’m sure I’m not the only one dying to know what Cohle did when he went off the grid from ’02 to ’10. I’m also dying to know what triggered him to do so. Did he quit the police force when he learned that powerful forces, forces beyond his control capable of crushing him, were behind the murders? Has he quietly been conducting his own investigations into the various cases and stockpiling evidence in a storage unit? Did he kill Rev. Tuttle in 2010, as the 2012 detectives suspect, because he was convinced that Tuttle was, in fact, the Yellow King?

– I’m almost completely convinced now that the charismatic tent preacher and the castrated man in his congregation are going to come back into play before this is all over.

– “I cleaned up, but maybe I didn’t change. Not like I needed to…Infidelity is one kind of sin, but my true failure was inattention.” — Marty Hart, who yeah maybe should have paid more attention to the pornographic pics his little girl was drawing before she grew up to become “captain of the varsity slut team.” Also, I’m becoming increasingly concerned that Audrey may be the victim in the 2012 murder in Lake Charles, but that Hart doesn’t know it yet.

– It’s apparent that the whole reason Cohle sat down with the detectives was to see what they had on a new killer, and when it was apparent they had nothing and were instead trying to nail him, he got pissed, walked out and called them “company men,” which in Cohle’s mind is probably the ultimate insult he could slap them with.

– In another video HBO put out last night, Pizzolatto points out something that previously didn’t occur to me in regards to Cohle requesting beer during his interrogation: drinking during his questioning makes everything he says inadmissible in court.

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