True Detective (Season 1, Episode 3 – The Locked Room)

We learn how fragile Marty’s grip on his own constructed reality is, as he remains wilfully blind to what is happening at home. They catch a break in the case, and might just be able to catch their killer.

In 1995 the discovery of the church leads them to a The Friends of Christ, a revival ministry. They catch up with them in a nearby town. Rust is naturally less than impressed by what he sees, making disparaging remarks about the intelligence of the congregation. Marty believes that religious keeps people decent and honest, but Rust points out that if fairy tales are all that keeps people decent they people aren’t good to begin with. In 2012 Rust states his belief that fulfilment and closure are myths, that nothing is ever over.

The pastor can’t give them much information on Dori but directs them to a girl who can. She describes to Marty seeing Dori with a tall man, with a strange face and shiny skin around his jaw. Perhaps like burn scars. The girl is unsure but Dori may have left with him. Background checks have only turned up one member of the congregation with a record, with charges for indecent exposure and sexual assault. Bert clearly has some kind of mental issues, as well as being left castrated after an attack in prison, which rules him out  suspect given that Dori had been raped. Having turned up nothing with the church, Rust wants to move on and track down this Tall Man, who Bert also recalled seeing. He is more convinced than ever that Dori wasn’t the first victim. Marty insists that they don’t have the hours to look through hundreds of old case files.

I keep things even. Separate. Like the way I can have this one beer without needing twenty

A rift is growing between Marty and Rust. Marty believes he is blessed with restraint: “I keep things even. Separate. Like the way I can have this one beer without needing twenty” and he tries not to be too hard on himself.  What he is is good at making excuses, to himself and to his wife. It’s just one beer; sex with another woman is to protect his marriage. He believes family is important to provide boundaries, yet he appears to do very little to truly stay within them, nor do they seems to be making anybody happy. He needs to be less selfish, and learn to be good to those around him. Things grow more tense has Marty returns home at the weekend to find Rust sitting in his kitchen, after returning the lawn mower.. and mowing his lawn. He does not like that fact that Rust cut his grass, and in another tense confrontation he tells him never to come around his house if he isn’t there. Rust asks just what he is worried about, but receives no answer. It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to work out this is about more than his “lawn.”

s1e3 marty
Marty is pretty precious about his “lawn.”

The family issues deepen as it is revealed that their daughter, Audrey, has done some disturbing drawings at school. Audrey says she drew them because the other girls dared her too and thought it was funny, they never received an answer about where she saw what she drew. Marty, apparently satisfied with her answers, dismissing it as attention seeking, as he hugs her sobbing, watched the football game over his wife’s shoulder. The drawings are of a naked male and female figure in sexual positions, if the crime scene with the dolls weren’t disturbing enough this drawings even more troubling issues.. This must be about more than just parental arguments and a desire for Daddy’s attention.

In 2012 Marty waxes about fatherhood, and how that means being responsibility for another life, but then he goes on to talk about a “futility in responsibility” which sounds like great advice from a man who likes to talk about the important of family as often as Marty does. He needs to learn to take some responsibility for himself before he can dream of being an effective father.  Later Maggie tells him that she is worried about how withdrawn Audrey is, and that she asks where he is all the time. Marty tries to brush her off again, and squirm out of a conversation he doesn’t want to have about their issues. He replies are almost wholly selfish, blaming life and the fact they don’t have sex all day like they did when they were teenagers. Eventually he gives her something, although I couldn’t help feeling that she knew exactly what was behind his pauses. He tells her that he isn’t dealing well with growing older and seeing forty speeding towards him. Maggie comforts him and then they make love. In 2012 Marty pauses, and looks at his hand which looks to me like it is missing a wedding ring.

Marty talks about Rust’s talent for interrogating suspects, as they made their way through a list of sex offenders or matched the Tall Man description. Rust in 2012 talks about how easy he always found it to get inside people’s head, and he always knew within ten minuets if a suspect was guilty or not. As he speaks he begins to cut up his empty beer cans.

Rust has agreed to let Maggie set him up with her friend, Jennifer. The four of them meet at a barn dance bar. He discusses his synesthesia, a condition that means he tastes colours (interesting with this whole yellow theme). One sense will trigger another. As he speaks Marty yawns and spots his mistress Lisa flirting with a date, under a yellow spotlight. He meets her at the bar, and he challenges her on what she’s doing. She tells him that she doesn’t want to be with him forever, and their relationship has run its course.  Later a drunk Marty crashes his car up Lisa’s drive way, crushing a little girls bike (what a great father), and bullies his way into her house. He is overly concerned with whether she sucked the guys dick, it is most important that he knows exactly what she has done with this guy (i.e. how much of her he has a lost), and once he gets his answer he calms down and leaves. “I’m not a psycho” he says.

Maggie calls Rust wanting to know if he feeling about Marty is true, and she knows the other cops will lie to her. Rust doesn’t say much, just that nobody would tell him anything because they hate him. She tells him to give Jen a chance, he tells her to go to bed and that Marty will be home.

s1e3 rust
Rust’s apartment now has some more decoration, just they’re crime scene photos.

The next day Rust, who has at least put the myopic obsessiveness that Marty accused him of and his insomniac to good use, has found a body that had been classified as drowning.  There are details matching Dora Lange. The drugs in the system, lacerations and the symbol on her body. They have two days left, and just enough time to chase the lead. On the drive Marty asks if a man can love two women. Rust says he doesn’t believe that man can really love because the inadequacies of reality will always set in. Marty then asks if he ever wonders if he is a bad man. Rust tells him the world needs bad men, to keep the other bad men from the door. Perhaps at the start of this series it seemed like Marty could be the good cop to Rust’s bad cap, but now I know that Marty is not a good man. He’s weak, petty, jealous and destructively insecure. Cohle might be arrogant, rude, and alcoholic nihilist, he might shut the world out.. but at least his damage seems relatively self-contained. He doesn’t lie to himself or the world about what he is. Harte is the more dangerous of the two.

The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door

On a very rickety looking wooden bridge, they meet the victim’s grandfather – who is a crab fisherman with yellow crab cages. He tells them that she ran off years ago with her boyfriend Reggie Ladoux, and gives them a box of her old stuff that he still has. As Rust talks to the groundskeeper at her old High School (The Light of the Way, it was funded by the Tuttle Foundation.. them again) which closed in 1992, Marty gets news over the radio about Reggie. He has rape complaints, and was arrested in a lab making LSD and Meth. His cell mate was also the ex-husband Charlie Lange. It all comes together so neatly that they race off to search for Reggie.

In 2012, Marty mentions a gun fight.. and Rust has fashioned his beer can into a small figure. The focus of his philosophic lecture this week are the illusions which we all live under; religion, love, the mythology of life. The stories we tell ourselves to get us through each day. He tells them that what happened back then isn’t going to do them any good now. He tells them that sometimes when he looks at crime scenes he can see the relief in the victims eyes, relief at the end of fear.. and realising that life was a “jerry-rig of presumption and dumb will.” We see who is presumably Reggie walking across the grass, tattooed dressed only in white briefs, carrying a machete and with a gas mask swinging on his face. Ominous music and Cohle’s voice over set up an inevitable sense of doom:

It was all a dream that you had inside a locked room, a dream about being a person. And like a lot of dreams, there’s a monster at the end of it

s1e3 monster
A monster.. wearing a mask.

At only three episodes in I doubt they’re getting to Reggie this quickly, or if they do.. he can’t be their man. We already know the police department and the Governor are pushing for a quick resolution to this case, and the evidence has Reggie slotting far too easily into the story. It has to be too good to be true. The final frames of  the mans lumbering frame with this strange swinging mask was incredibly chilling. I’m looking forward to whatever is to come.

Previous Episode: True Detective (Season 1 Episode 2 – Seeing Things)

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