Last week’s episode revealed that Cohle and Marty are not the most reliable narrators and this week confirmed it. As we see what really happened at the supposed shootout of the Reggie Ledoux meth compound we discover that the two had to cook the crime scene, most wouldn’t have complained how it really played out, that doesn’t mean it is any less thrilling. They built our expectations for a crazy shootout that would take out Ledoux, but the slow creep into the compound was as compelling as any shootout they could have invented. Marty putting a bullet in the head of a handcuffed Ledoux is no surprise once it is revealed they had a pair of young kids locked up in the compound, but the way Cohle and Marty work together to get their story straight might be the most surprising turn of events. This incident clearly brought the two closer together and you can really feel their bond as Marty is disgusted by the accusations against Cohle later in the episode. The scene worked wonderfully on both dramatic and character levels and the scene was a worthy follow up to last week’s episode ender.
From here, the episode, rather quickly, jumps forward in time as Marty reflects on his mistakes with his family and things get alright for a while. I love how they use Martin’s analysis of his missing the good parts to excuse them from showing it, but the bits they do show do a fine job of moving us forward when not a whole lot was apparently happening. We get the jist of what sort of head space they are in when the ‘Yellow King’ gets mentioned again as we stop with Cohle as he dives back into the Lange case.
The way they play the modern day reveal of Gilbough and Papania putting their Cohle is the killer cards on the table against him actively, and independently, researching the case is a fine stroke of film making. The viewer doesn’t get distracted by this red herring the detectives are chasing and instead focus on the case which gets the most play it has had all season as the plot thickens. The first half of the season did a great job of introducing the world and the characters and I am intrigued by these final couple of episodes as the fill in the gaps and wrap up what is really going on with the ‘Yellow King’
The final couple scenes with Cohle were particularly great as we got to see some of his trademark assisting skills when it came to getting confessions all while moving the plot forward and expanding the scope and stakes of what the ‘Yellow King’ really means. Are the police involved? How many girls have been killed if Ledoux wasn’t their man? We start to see why Cohle might have gotten the way he is in the modern story line and how his obsession around this case is taking him to his breaking point. Cohle investigating the abandoned school is also especially creepy and the way Fukunaga cuts between this while building the tension around Marty being convinced by Gilbough and Papania of their theory about Cohle in the present was a fantastic way to wrap up the episode.
There wasn’t an insane tracking shot to end the episode this week, but True Detective did a fantastic job of transitioning the show into its phase 2 without losing what worked so well before it. Sure I would have liked to have seen more with Maggie or Cohle’s dating life, yes character took a back seat to plot, but a potentially messy time jump went about as smoothly as possible. Only three episodes left and I have no idea where we are going to end up, I just can’t stand we have so little time left with these guys.