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‘The Locked Room’ gives us one more piece to the puzzle of the 1995 Louisiana “antler murder case” (that is my name for it at least). The episode begins with Rust and Cole examining the mural they found in the burnt down church at the end of episode two – a figure that appears to be a woman, kneeling down with her hands clasped together, and antlers on her head. The mural looks disturbingly similar to the murder victim, Dora Lange, whose killer is still unknown.
Somehow our incompatible detectives wind up at the new church location. After their building burnt down, the church moved to an outdoor tent in the middle of nowhere. The preacher is intense, one of those scary “if you don’t repent now you are going to Hell” type of pastors. Rust refers to the sermon as a fairytale. He is a pessimist. He doesn’t believe in anything, especially religion.
But, the trip does get them some time to question the pastor and some of the church attendees, specifically a young gentleman who is mentally challenged. They suspect for a good whole minute that maybe he could have been the one responsible. However, that keen eye Rust has shot down the thought -- “It’s not him.” All the questioning and clues have led them to a new suspect, a tall man with a burn wound on his face.
Rust throws several passive-aggressive blows to Marty during their lunch break pit-stop, regarding his affair on his wife. I particularly love when Marty calls Rust out on being obsessive, and in response Rust stabs, "You're obsessive too, just not about the job." Additionally, he attacks with, "People incapable of guilt usually do have a good time." Marty finds Rust at his house on a later occasion. I don't know if this is Rust's way of provoking Marty or if he was just lonely, but Marty comes home to find the lawn mower out and the grass newly shaved. When he walks in, he sees Rust sitting there with Maggie drinking a glass of tea. Marty has no reason, in my opinion, to get defensive about who Maggie is hanging out with. If he is going to be with his mistress, Lisa, instead of at home with his wife, than he should keep his anger to himself and not take it out on Rust.
Later that night after Marty and Maggie consult their daughter about some provocative drawings she produced in class, they get into a verbal altercation about their relationship. Maggie threatens him by saying, “I’m close Marty. Do you hear me? I’m close.” She doesn’t understand quite what has changed between them, and she asks him why she feels so much space. Maggie knows that her husband has changed. She wonders what he has been doing but he lies to her by saying he has just been busy with work. She insults him, “You were so much smarter when I met you.” I can’t help but love her bluntness. But, I can’t bear to watch what happens next – they make love.
The next scene takes us to their interrogation of the man with facial scars. After some rather intense conversation between Rust and the suspect, it appears that the victim is admitting and wants to confess, though I am not sure of what. "The Locked Room" is referring to what is hidden in a human mind.
It’s not long before we are back in the love triangle of Marty, Maggie, and Lisa. Marty and Maggie find a girl for Rust, and they all head out to a country bar for a double date. Rust is his awkward, closed-off self, and Marty immediately tenses when he sees Lisa out on a date with a young, attractive, man. As soon as the date is over, Marty unleashes and speeds over to Lisa’s apartment like a lunatic and freaks out on her date. Just when you think he is going to send the guy to the hospital, he gets some sense knocked into him and leaves. Of course, Maggie is wondering if his work alibi is a lie or not, so she calls Rust who tells her he knows nothing and reassures her to some degree, by telling her that he will be home soon.
While Marty is caught up in his personal life, Rust uses his insomnia to search old murder files. He comes upon another woman, who was said to have drowned, but Rust suspects it was actually a murder. She was filled with meth and LSD, just as Dora Lange was when she passed. The pair finds the name of a new potential suspect or contributor to the women’s deaths. His name: Reggie Ledoux. They suspect he is the one cooking the drugs.
Meanwhile, in the present day, the interviewing process is ongoing. Marty is asked if Cohle ever pushed things to where he wanted them to go. To me, it sounds like the detectives who are re-tracing the investigation are almost trying to blame Rust for something. During Rust’s interview, he tells the men that he has never been in a room more than two minutes before he knew whether the guy did it or not. Then, at the end of the episode we hear Marty say, "You ever been in a gun fight? Then how the hell are you gonna know what I'm talkin' about?" This tells us something big is going to happen. After, Rust goes off on a tangent, and it makes me feel extremely uneasy how well he can read the expression of a dead human's face. He keeps referring to the "locked room," and he seals the episode by foreshadowing, "and like a lot of dreams, there's a monster at the end of it" -- intense!
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