With the 1995 flashbacks seemingly wrapped up, ‘True Detective’ turns to the events of 2002 in this week’s episode, as viewers finally find out what led to a parting of the ways between detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle.
The episode begins with Marty visiting the two young boys who were arrested for having sex with his oldest daughter. He opens their jail cell door and tells them that they have two choices: they can either come out and deal with him or they can have charges pressed against them. The first boy reluctantly comes out of his cell and Hart gives him a pretty solid beat-down. We don’t see the second boy get his, but when Martin leaves the jail, he throws up in the parking lot – which is at least a sign that he feels somewhat guilty about what he’s just done.
Rust has become obsessed with finding out whether they got the wrong man in 1995, even though that case has been closed. He spends his free time investigating missing children, and even goes back to visit the revival tent preacher he met in Episode 3. Rust learns that, for a while, the preacher worked as a custodian for Tuttle Ministries as part of his seminary duties. He stumbled upon a folder with pictures of naked children in them, but when he turned them in, nothing was done about it. Later, Rust visits the girl (who is now in a psychiatric hospital) he and Marty rescued when they killed Reggie Ledoux. She tells him about a “giant” with scars. Is this Ledoux or someone they didn’t catch?
In 2012, Marty decides to walk out of the interview after it becomes obvious that the detectives are trying to pin the new murder(s) on Rust. (As you may recall, Rust has already walked out on them.) So the detectives call in Marty’s ex-wife Maggie, and ask her about what happened in 2002 that destroyed the friendship between Marty and Rust. Maggie claims that she has no idea what led to it, but flashbacks show viewers the truth.
Back in 2002 again, Martin goes to a store to pick up a new cell phone for himself. The girl working there is slightly flirtatious with him, but Hart leaves and heads into a nearby bar for a drink. While he’s in there, the girl (named Beth) joins Martin for a drink. If Beth looks vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the same girl that Marty gave money to back in Episode 2 when he found her working at the Bunny Ranch brothel. Now Beth wants to – ahem – “thank” Marty for his help. We already know from prior episodes that Marty has a weakness for younger attractive women, so it’s perhaps no surprise that these two wind up in bed together. However, when Maggie finds some of Marty’s clothes in the washer, she becomes immediately suspicious and sneaks a look at his new cell phone, where she finds a naked selfie (girls were doing this in 2002?) of Beth.
Rather than confront Marty immediately, Maggie is so mad that she plots to get even with her husband. First, she dresses up in a hot little red number and hits on a guy at a local bar, but later winds up at Rust’s apartment. After asking him if he knew about Marty cheating again (he says he didn’t know), she seduces him. The two have an intense, but brief, sexual encounter – after which Maggie admits that she just wanted to have something to throw back in Marty’s face. Rust promptly kicks her out.
While the above has transpired, Rust also manages to get himself suspended from the police force for one month without pay due to his continuing investigation of the 1995 murders and child disappearances. He went to see Tuttle himself, and while the conversation between the two men was civil, Tuttle apparently has complained to Rust’s superiors.
Meanwhile, Maggie tells Marty that she had sex with Rust. The next day at work when Marty hears that Rust is in the parking lot, he leaves his gun, badge and wedding ring at his desk and goes outside to fight with him. The two men beat each other pretty senseless until their fellow officers are able to break things up. They get called into their boss’s office, but both Marty and Rust refuse to press any charges against each other.
Back in 2012, Martin drives away from the police station when he hears a horn beeping from behind him. It’s Rust in his pickup truck (the same one he had in 2002, and it still has a broken tail light from when Rust bounced Marty off of it during their parking lot fight!). Martin pulls over to see what he wants. Rust asks if they can get a drink and talk. Although Martin agrees, he checks that his weapon is loaded before following Rust.
There’s a ton of stuff going on in this week’s episode, not all of which I’ve had room to write about. First, while I’ve been praising the two male leads of this show week after week, a round of kudos needs to go to Michelle Monaghan for an absolutely fantastic performance. Most of us had already guessed (as I did back in Episode 1) that an affair with Rust would lead to the break-up with Marty, but none of us had any idea that it would be a meaningless act of revenge that had nothing (or, at least, very little) to do with attraction or romance.
We also get a rather chilling scene this week where Rust gets a mother to confess to killing her child. After getting the confession, he encourages her to commit suicide. The questioning has nothing to do with the main investigation, but it’s one more insight into Rust’s rather dark outlook on life.
It probably goes without saying that this was another fantastic entry in the series. My guess is that most of the final two episodes (which producers have stated are essentially Part 3 of a three-act story) will take place in 2012. Will all roads lead back to Tuttle (who died in 2010, the same year Rust returned to Louisiana), or does ‘True Detective’ have one more shocker up its sleeve?