True Detective: The Secret Fate of All Life Review: All this has happened before. All this will happen again
The Secret Fate of All Life could have been a season finale if the tale of True Detective was purely based in 1995 with Hart and Cohle capturing and killing their man, but things are far from over. The episode instead expanded the narrative, finally giving us a glimpse of 2002 and hinted at a much larger conspiracy. It also confirmed several things the show has been hinting at since the beginning;
+ Cohle is the main suspect in 2012 and the reason Detectives Papania and Gilbough are questioning Hart a few days after their interview with Cohle is because they want his take on his former partner and whether he is capable of being not just a murderer but a serial killer. They seem to think he is, Hart isn’t committed to it yet (and I think will now be playing his own game with them).
+ Both Cohle and Hart are definitely unreliable narrators, we saw this pretty clearly in Who Goes There when they both left out Cohle going undercover but this week’s episode the shoot out with Ledoux that has been alluded to throughout the series was revealed as a big old lie. As Hart and Cohle spin their version of the story the audience gets to see the truth – Hart messed up and executed Reggie Ledoux in a rather understandable fit of pure rage and despair and Cohle then helped cover it up and made it seem like it was the only option. This is vitally important because it not only showed the depth of their partnership but also their willingness to keep it a secret after all these years. Also just how much of what they have told the 2012 Detectives is the truth? Especially Rust who seems to be onto their game from the start.
+ The biggest confirmation this episode gave was that whilst Ledoux may be dead the Yellow King lurks and has evaded capture and justice for 17 years. There is something rotten in South Louisiana, something deeply disturbing that seems to be wrapped up in preachers, politicians and of course as it often is in cases like these powerful men destroying women.
Now I have been unsure about the possible guilt of Cohle and even Hart for a while. Initially it seemed that Cohle was the killer but that became too obvious and then I flirted with the idea that Hart with his issues with women and anger problems might be one. Whilst Papania and Gilbough seem convinced it us Cohle after The Secret Fate of All Life I am 95% certain he isn’t and Hart is also innocent – the time spent in 2002 is what confirms this for me.
In 2002 things are pretty great on the surface, Hart is a family man again, even Cohle has a long term girlfriend and a great record for getting suspects to confess. Of course the reality is Hart’s eldest daughter is a troubled teenager and he still has a disturbing contempt for women in general (that slap was brutal as was his slut shaming) and Cohle is about to spiral out of control thanks to new information which causes him to reopen the case.
It is the actions of Cohle in 2002 and the discoveries he makes that starts to slowly unravel the truth about what happened in 1995 and what is still happening 7 years on and then 17. Whilst we don’t know the full extent of it and whether Cohle’s theory that the 1995 task-force was involved is true it seems clear Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle is involved and that it is some messed up religious cult and what perhaps causes the falling out between Hart and Cohle in 2002 is that Hart just can’t get on board with this giant conspiracy.
What happens in the decade that follows isn’t yet known but my guess is Cohle quits the state police and starts his own off the book and off the grid investigation, which possibly leads him to killing Tuttle in 2010 (he does know a lot about drugs and the cause of death was something to do with his medication).
Now here is where I think Cohle may not be truly innocent, not just his possible involvement with Tuttle’s demise but with the death up in Lake Charles. I kind of wonder if he staged this death to lure both the present day detectives and the big bad(s) out of hiding, it would seem like a Cohle thing to do – take one life to bring down a greater evil. Still he could be completely clear of any deaths and just working the case without blood on his hands – this is what I love about the show I am forever changing my opinion on the stability and instability of Cohle (and to some extent Hart)
There is a darkness, one that could be widespread, one that may have touched Cohle and changed him completely or may have instead kick-started a quest for justice these past 10 years. There are many mysteries to be solved but can anyone stop a powerful force that has taken on an eerie almost supernatural presence?
+ Something terrible is going to happen to Audrey Hart isn’t it? If it didn’t already in 2002 I wonder if she ends up a victim of the Yellow King in 2012. Ditto with Lori, which of course would make Cohle more suspicious than he already is.
+ Just how widespread is the Yellow King crazy cult stuff if it is true? Could Papania and Gilbough really be involved? Were the cops in 2002 involved in the apparent suicide of Francis? Is the task-force theory true? If it all is part of a conspiracy you can understand why Cohle losses himself in the investigation and goes off by himself – he wouldn’t be able to trust anyone.
True Detective finds inspiration in the on going case of the Jennings 8. Eight young women murdered in Jefferson Davis Parish from 2005 through 2009. None of these murders have been solved and there is suspicion of police involvement. The character of Reggie Ledoux looks remarkably like Frankie Richard, a suspect in the Jennings 8 case. All the themes of TD find their parallels in this case: poverty, class disadvantage, the illegal economy of drugs and prostitution, corrupt public officials, an obsessional private investigator, theft of evidence, abuse of power and the list goes on.
What a brilliant choice of Louisiana as the setting for the human drama. Ravished by nature, raped by capitalism, it provides the perfect nexus of environmental destruction and death worshiping Christianity. True Detective is fundamentally subversive. Will the ending carry this through?