'True Detective' Recap: 'The Secret Fate of All Life'

By Paige Paswaters,

This week on True Detective, the viewers finally find out why Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are being questioned 17 years after they found a serial killer and closed the case on Dora Lange’s murder.

We were left speechless at the end of the last episode, after one of the most eventful scenes on television took place. It was certainly the highest peak of the season thus far. But episode 5 has just as much excitement to offer. The first scene of “The Secret Fate of Life” shows us “Crash,” aka Rust (Matthew McConaughey), and his ex-gang pal Ginger absolutely spent, looking miserable, at an empty bar. It was a rough night. But, just as Ginger promised, he arranged Rust a meeting at the bar with Ledoux’s cook partner, Duwall, in exchange for his rather risky work the night prior. Although Duwall denies Rust of the (fake) proposed drug deal, the meeting still gave them what they wanted. Rust and Marty are able to follow Duwall all the way to Mr. Ledoux’s factory, in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, Ginger is wrapped up and left in a ditch while the boys investigate the surrounding area of Ledoux’s cookhouse, and I do not feel bad for the guy.

Luckily, Rust has a background in hunting and trapping and this hidden skill helps the detectives make their way through the brush, past the booby traps, and straight to Ledoux.

Up until now we have no idea why Rust and Marty are being questioned 17 years after closing the Dora Lange case. But, as we watch the guys move in on Ledoux’s place, the show moves us back and forth between the reality of the situation and the tale that was told to everyone else, which is quite contradictory. One: they claimed that once they reached the perimeter of the house, Ledoux and his partner saw them and started firing rounds. But, on the contrary, we see Rust and Marty move in to the vicinity with no troubles at all. Two: Rust tells everyone that while he was being held down, Marty sneaked up and around Ledoux and shot him in the head. Then, Ledoux’s partner made a run for it and was blown up by his own homemade security system. Then, after they confirmed the deaths, they found two children locked up in a shed.

Well, half of that is true. Marty did kill Ledoux, but it was not in self-defense. Instead, it was stemmed out of straight anger after finding the two barricaded children – one of them dead – in the shed. At this point in the episode, it seems like it all makes sense now. I was thinking, “No wonder they are tracing the investigation. Our heroes are in fact murderers!” But, Rust and Marty are praised for their bravery rather than punished for their actions. As far as everyone knows, our dirty, lying, undercover cops found the guy responsible for Dora Lange’s murder and unintentionally gave him what he deserved.

After the case closes, we are fast-forwarded a few years to 2002 and see that Marty is still with Maggie and Rust with his girl, Laurie. Marty’s family problems have shifted from his affair with Lisa to him now dealing with his teenage, rebel, daughter. Meanwhile, Rust is on a new case, where we see him questioning and manipulating the truth out of a man who committed a double murder. The odd and twisted part to this scene is that the man who just admitted to killing a pharmacist mentions the Yellow King – who is the Yellow King?! In the hope of striking a deal to save him from a life in prison, he starts rambling about knowing Rust’s past, and he claims that they never actually found the man responsible. This would mean it wasn’t Ledoux who killed Dora Lange. The plot thickens!

Rust wants to know more of what this guy knows, but when he returns the next day Rust finds that the man has committed suicide in his jail cell soon after making a phone call with his “lawyer.” Rust traces the call back to a pay phone, wondering what the conversation could have consisted of and what drove him to commit suicide.

All of the sudden, the story halts when Marty stops his interview and demands an explanation for all of the heat they are putting on Rust. All of the tiptoeing finally ends and we find out they are very suspicious of where Rust has been all of these years. He has been seen in strange places and because of the murders that are resurfacing, they are highly suspecting Rust is the one capable and responsible for everything since the get-go. When Rust hears this, he looks somewhat disgusted. He challenges them, “Look, if you all want to arrest me, go ahead. You wanna follow me? C’mon. You wanna see something? Get a warrant.”

Observation: During Rust’s interview, he keeps making tiny stick figures out of his beer cans. I don’t know if this is related to anything, but it could be another piece to the puzzle. It could mean something – the number of people he creates or the way he arranges them – or maybe I am thinking too far.

Comments: The crazy thing is, even though I am dissecting each episode by watching and re-watching, I don’t have the slightest clue as to what is going on! How could it be Rust? I see the logic there, but at the same time I cannot bring myself to accusing him. It can’t be. Even Marty tells them, “You’re wrong. Nobody could change that much. You are dead wrong.” My prediction is that Rust is still silently investigating, and I think his secret storage unit is filled with all of those twig structures that kept popping up during the original investigation.

Photo: image.net

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