‘True Detective’ 1.05 Recap: “There’s a Shadow in You, Son”

Once again, there’s a lot going on in this week’s episode of ‘True Detective’ (entitled ‘The Secret Fate of All Life’) as detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle track down their prime suspect, and viewers find out more about what happened in the years between 1995 and 2012.

After narrowly escaping with their lives in last week’s episode, Cohle and Ginger (the biker he kidnapped) meet in a roadside bar with a man they know to be Reggie Ledoux’s partner. Cohle tries to pitch the man a drug deal, but the man doesn’t trust him and decides to leave, warning Cohle that if he crosses paths with him again, he’ll kill him. However, Martin is waiting outside in a vehicle to follow the man as he leaves, and the two detectives are led straight to the home of Ledoux (which we’ve glimpsed in a few shots during prior episodes).

Martin and Cohle approach Ledoux’s house, avoiding a number of booby trapped explosives along the way. When they get within sight of the home, they see the man they followed going into a large storage container in the yard (to mix the latest batch of meth). However, there’s no sight of Ledoux. Cohle tells Hart to go back and call in the location for police backup, but Martin refuses to leave Cohle there alone. So, the two men proceed and begin to search Ledoux’s house.

Take note of the events I just described above, because in their 2012 interviews, Martin and Rust give a totally different account of the events to their interrogating detectives. Rust says that they got in a shootout with Ledoux, and viewers soon learn why. Martin finds Reggie in the house and the two men lead him outside and handcuff him. While Rust watches Ledoux, Martin continues to search the premises and comes across something that causes him to immediately come back outside and shoot Ledoux in the head.

Now the two detectives have to cover their tracks. Rust chases the other man straight into one of his own booby traps, where he gets blown to bits. Rust then gets one of Ledoux’s machine guns and fires out a pattern of shots so that it will look like he and Martin were in a shootout with Ledoux. Martin reveals that what put him over the edge were two young children Ledoux was keeping prisoner there, one alive and one dead. Rust and Martin carry them out, and as far as the detectives know, the case is now closed. The murderers are dead.

At this point, viewers start to learn what happened with Martin and Rust in the years that followed the case. Martin and Maggie reconcile, and Rust starts dating a woman named Lori. But after a number of happy years with his family, things start to take a turn for the worse in the Hart household around 2002. While the younger daughter has turned out fine, Martin’s older daughter, Audrey, has been running around with the wrong people. When the police catch her in the back of a car having sex with two older boys (both of-age, meaning it’s statutory rape), Martin gets in an argument and slaps her in front of Maggie.

Meanwhile, Rust has become one of the most noteworthy detectives in Louisiana – so much so that other departments call him in to question suspects. He has the ability to get almost anyone to confess. During the interrogation of a suspected murderer, Rust gets another confession, but the man wants to cut a deal. When Rust suggests that he has nothing to offer, the man tells him that he never found the actual murderer of those young girls, and that more murders are still taking place. When the suspect mentions “the Yellow King” to him, Rust loses his cool. That bit of info was never publically released.

Back in 2012, the other two detectives finally reveal to Martin why they’ve been asking so many questions about Rust. They believe that he might actually be behind the murders. They lay out a theory about how Cohle seems to have manipulated every move of the investigation back in 1995. The theory gives Martin pause, but is he buying it? I’m sure not… I don’t think Rust (or Martin for that matter) has anything to do with this. They have their own demons.

This week’s episode concludes back in 2002, with Rust searching the now abandoned Christian school (part of Tuttle Ministries) that the two detectives visited when they first found out about Reggie Ledoux. While there, he finds a classroom full of “devil’s traps” that match those found at the original crime scene.

Finally, the title of this week’s episode refers to a theory Rust has about life, and one he details to his interviewers in 2012. Instead of a straight line, Cohle believes that time is a flat circle, and that once you die, you just repeat life over and over again. You don’t remember doing it and you can’t change anything, but it’s the way the universe – at least our universe, as Rust talks about others – works. I’m not sure how important Rust’s life view will play into the rest of the series, but this show continues to impress with its deep and fascinating theories about humanity.

As those who read this blog regularly know, last week’s episode was my least favorite so far (just a good one, instead of great like the other entries have been). This week, ‘True Detective’ files another one in the “great” category, with an episode that is certainly worth multiple viewings to pick up on all its nuances.


  1. Shannon, you didn’t mention the most important revelation this week – that Cohle is pulling one over on his 2012 interrogators and has been playing them the whole time. His drunken redneck routine is an act to find out what information they have on the case. Hart tells them, “You’re not getting a read on him. He’s getting a read on you.”

    Basically, Cohle’s been in deep cover since 2002 to investigate the case on his own. That’s why he’s been popping up at various crime scenes.

    I watched the episode On Demand, and there was a featurette interview thing with one of the producers afterwards. He explained that Cohle insisted that he wouldn’t answer any questions until the detectives gave him a bunch of beers for two reasons: 1) He’s a functioning alcoholic, and 2) He knows that once they provide him with alcohol, anything he says in that room will be inadmissable in court.

  2. Scott H

    I have been watching the show On Demand as well and the post show inside the episode videos have been very interesting. Love this show. Matthew McConaughey has really grown as an actor since his silly rom com days. He is almost unrecognizable as Cohle. And Woody Harrelson has been great.

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