True Detective - Bad Men

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

Recently I've written about "The Beast Within" from the SyFy show, "Helix" and before that, "Inner Demons" from the previous episode of True Detective.  The dark side of humanity is the underlying theme to all these shows and it's an age old concept that's been explored on stage, in the pages of books and on the silver screen.

That of the mindless primitive, the beast, the denizen of the "Locked Room."

True Detective continues its decent into the maelstrom of the human mind and with it the dance that goes along the razor's edge between criminality and humanity.

 Naturally, the opiate of this internal struggle, religion, leads off this most recent entry.  

Also, naturally, Detective Rust Cohle holds an opinion on religion and the people who practice it.  He dryly observes an old time religion tent meeting by noting the people that habituate it, "won't be splitting the atom" any time soon and goes on to say about religion's role in our existence, "What does it say about life that (religion) violates every law of reality just to get (us) through the day."

Woody Harrelson's Detective, Martin Hart, eventually counters that man needs boundaries.  These boundaries form a natural firewall that keep the beast within locked up.  These boundaries that Hart speaks of are tenuous at best and when broken down, such as seeing your lover dancing with another man, the beast is unleashed and acts out it's worst impulses.  Luckily for Hart those impulses didn't go quite over the edge.

It was funny to watch Rust Cohle at the same dance.  He obviously knew what he was doing on the dance floor and it was much to the delight of the young woman that partnered with him.  Yet despite his artistry he seemed oddly distant and eerily robotic.  He would stare off into the distance and pace himself through the motions instead of engaging in the practice of dance that is often a precursor to the act of love or lovemaking.

Cohle's boundaries and his disdain for the "biological puppets" of humanity have left him on the outside looking in.  So we have to ask ourselves, which boundary is worst to violate?  The one that Hart crosses in his jealous rage or the one that leaves you incapable of human interaction that Cohle resides outside of?

So why all this discussion about boundaries and beasts?

The question has been asked once and believe it was by Cohle, if the murders were solved and their man caught.  Who committed the most recent murder and basically was it Cohle or Hart?

This particular episode offers more insight into the inner workings of each man and while we thrill at the chase of the now named suspect, Reggie LeDoux, we can also marvel at the complexity of Cohle and Hart and whether the locked room of the human mind was opened in one of them and how this will eventually dovetail with solving the crime by the end of the series.

For Cohle's profile, we know his a bit of a sociopath, he's deeply cynical and distrustful.  He tells Hart at one point in this episode, "People incapable of guilt usually have a good time."  Translated, if you can't keep your inner beast locked up inside your morally governed locked room, then trouble awaits.

Cohle also suffers from insomnia and Hart has accused him of being myopic.  This is good if you are in pursuit of a serial killer but it gets bad if you are constantly staring into the eyes of the dead.

If are to believe Cohle is capable of the same crimes he is investigating  then it is revealing that he perceives a look of relief in the eyes of the victims just before they die and captured in their photographs.  Would he commit such a crime if he thought it brought relief to the victim?


In going through the reams of information of previous murders Cohle discovers something "archetypal" which for a detective is excellent work but for a killer it sets the base line from which you execute your subsequent crimes.  Cohle shares this with Hart and it represents a big break in the case.  But does this familiarity with criminal archetypes represent good police work or the foundation for crimes to be committed by Cohle in the future?

As for Hart we've seen the pious man reach his breaking point fuel by booze and the sight of his lover with another man.  He forces his way into Lisa's apartment and nearly throttles her date to death.  Fortunately for the date he only had to answer a simple question in order to earn his release.

Lisa is Hart's kept woman.  And to some degree, so is his wife, Maggie.  He demands much of both but gives little in return.  He uses Lisa for his sexual release and when Maggie confronts him once again with whatever secret he is keeping, he breaks down and confesses he is "fucked up.'

This leads to a love making session which is exactly what Maggie shouldn't have done for him.  Hart gets what he wants, to distract Maggie from her suspicions and to use her as a sexual tool.  If you think women are getting short shrift in this series you are wrong.  At least to some degree.  Men are the much weaker and debased gender here.

If you think back to the previous episode.  The madam at the bunny ranch saw right through Hart's sympathies.  She immediately saw him as false and dismissed his efforts to release Beth (Lili Simmons of Banshee) from her so called servitude at the brothel.  Harts good intentions were rejected as projection and pretension. 

Does Hart's low opinion of women translate into a future as a sexual predator?  Maybe, maybe not.  The seed of doubt have been planted.

In my previous post of True Detective I cited the failure of Martin Hart to shield his daughters from the evil that men do.  Somehow the more heinous acts he has to deal with have crept into his family life and were recreated in a creepy doll scene.  

In this episode the eldest of the two girls have been caught drawing crude and  "ugly" pictures of men and women having sex.  Inappropriate for her age and troubling for her parents.  As Maggie tried to relate the earnestness of this situation to Martin he had trouble pulling his eyes from the TV screen as he cradled the girl.  When he combed through the pictures later he seemed as confused as he did when he saw the doll scene.

Did he introduce this debauchery into his family?  Why does he let it fester?  Will this have any implication on the murder ten years hence when the girls are in their teens?  (That's one theory I won't get into quite yet.)

It would be a shame to see either Cohle or Hart commit the copy cat crime that happened in 2012.  Both are sympathetic figures that were obviously damaged by the the very dedication they show to their careers.

While Cohle is distant and odd he's obviously lonely and trapped in the depths of grief.  For his part, Hart knows all the rules and set up the proper life any man would strive for.  He just can't remain faithful to his own rules. 

By the end of this series we can only hope there isn't a monster at the end of their dreams.


  1. Boy this one was dark. I really hope neither Rust or Marty is the 2012 killer. They certainly are painting either as a possibility. 2012 Rust was extremely creepy especially talking about how the victims may have been relieved in the end. Dark stuff. What did you make of his carving the can into a man? A "tin man" (if he only had a Hart) with a star on his chest (like a sherrif). Is he hinting its Marty? Then there's Marty who likes to mow his own lawn, only the weeds sure are creeping in. His wife is suspicious, his children are losing their innocence and his lover is straying. He's losing control.

    Another fishing scene this week, as the boys were out looking for leads. Now they have one, can't wait to see where this goes.

    Oh, one bird sighting. There is a stained glass window hanging with a hummingbird in the Hart's kitchen.

    Would love to hear your theory on the Hart girls in 2012. Victims? or trying to get daddy's attention with a copy cat crime? Oh that would be truly dark indeed.

    No new episode this week, bummer. -Lynne

    1. Very dark indeed. I was filled with a deep sense of dread by the end of the episode. Talk of gunfights, that primal music that ran in the background as the machete holding underwear boy strode away from that shed was very spooky.

      I had discussed that can carving scene with my sister and her thoughts were similar to your own. I don't think he is pointing directly at Hart but perhaps in his general direction.

      So, yes, I'm implicating the Hart girls. Or at least one of them. The oldest one I'd say since she was the one that was responsible for the "ugly" drawings. Hart isn't wearing his wedding ring anymore so I'm thinking his ex-wife Maggie had the girls sent off to one of the Tuttle run Christian schools in order to give them more structure. From there the tentacles of Billy Lee Tuttle may have reached her and he began his plan for revenge.

      I read some great blog posts from the Wall Street Journal that call Tuttle the "smoking gun' of the series and this insight ties in well with my own Hart girl theory.

      Here's the link that you can copy and paste.

      A very good read.

      Bummer indeed, I'd rather immerse myself in the series with no breaks but I guess we had to endure a Brady-less Super Bowl instead.

      Thanks Lynne!

  2. Thanks for the link, I haven't read the reviews over there. Did you see Jeff Jensen over at EW is doing reviews as well? He tends to go full on down the rabbit hole of symbolism and free association.

    I'm wondering when things will start to focus on 2012 more. From the questioning Rust seems a suspect, however they aren't really approaching him directly as one. He's not "in the box". Perhaps they are hoping that with enough beers he'll slip up and implicate himself?
    Pitchers and Catchers in a couple of days! -Lynne

  3. Yes, I've followed Jensen down his rabbit holes before. It does get a bit dizzying. But at least he is passionate. Cohle is the best "box man" he should be able to tell when he is about to be cornered. Perhaps he will use that to his advantage.


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