At times, it has been difficult to get emotionally invested in the mystery at the heart of True Detective Season 2. While we obviously sympathized with the young women being tortured and murdered by a Satanic cult in Season 1, this year's victims aren't so easy to feel empathy for. From what we've heard, city manager Ben Caspere doesn't seem like he was a very nice guy, and we never even really knew Frank's flunky Stan before he was offed in the third episode. But, with only two episodes left in the season, answers should be forthcoming regardless — and last Sunday's episode, "Church In Ruins," may have dropped the biggest hint yet about the killer's identity.
If my theory is correct, it all hinges on those blue diamonds that were found in Caspere's possession after his death. The $2.5 million worth of jewels ended up going missing from evidence lockup, so either some destitute cop has sticky fingers or they're the key to the whole conspiracy. While Paul was out following up on this lead last week, he met with a retired cop who worked the case when the diamonds were originally stolen. The theft happened in 1992, during the Rodney King riots. The couple who owned the store were both murdered (and the wife was pregnant at the time), while their two children hid in a display case. The case was never solved because the store was immediately ransacked by looters — or at least that's the official story. In reality, the security tapes went missing, implying a much more sinister cover-up than random rioters.
This retired cop then showed Paul a picture of the two children whose parents were murdered in the robbery:
And, ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have met our killer(s).
The story of the jewelry store robbery, these two poor kids, and their murdered parents is just too random to be insignificant. While most viewers are expecting some elaborate conspiracy involving politicians, mobsters, contracts, poisoned land, and inscrutable railway deals, it would be ironic if the whole case turned out to center on a simple, personal quest for vengeance. (That revelation would certainly parallel Season 1's denouement, when everything came down to one lonesome, disturbed individual.) Maybe Season 2 will end similarly, with the revelation that these two children spent their lives searching for those responsible for the deaths of their father, mother, and unborn sibling — and eventually learned that Stan was the one who committed the theft and killed their family, on Ben Caspere's orders.
But who are these kids? And, assuming they are responsible for the deaths of Caspere and Stan, how did they find out who killed their parents when the police couldn't? The retired cop mentioned that the kids ended up in the foster system — one prevalent theory making the rounds online claims that eventually they were adopted by Vinci mayor Austin Chessani, making them his children Tony and Betty, who we met in the season's third episode. Betty in particular seemed to be hiding something when Ray and Ani followed her to a hookah lounge. But I find it hard to picture hard-partying Tony, professional party planner and escort procurer, as the vengeance-seeking boy from the photo.
My personal theory solves two mysteries at once:
It's my belief that the young girl in the photo grew up to be everyone's favorite enigmatic bartender, Felicia. The mystery of her lingering presence and scarred face have been nagging True Detective viewers since the season premiere, and this would be a satisfying conclusion to her story. We know Frank was intimately involved with Caspere, and we know that Frank frequently held meetings in Felicia's bar, within earshot of the young woman. Perhaps she gleaned everything she needed to know about Caspere's involvement in her parents' death by eavesdropping on the gangster's conversations. Perhaps Frank even met with Caspere himself in that very bar.
The only problem with this theory is that, if the kids in the photo aren't the Chessani siblings, then I'm not sure who the brother is. There are several possibilities, but none that are definite yet. He could be a cop, using his position on the force to solve his parents' murder. (And steal back the diamonds from lockup?) He could be Dan Howser, the journalist we briefly met in the first episode, who Frank sent Ray to beat up after he snooped too deep into Frank's shady dealings. He could be the set photographer who Ray met while investigating the car that went missing from the movie set, the one who pointed Ray towards the parties that the movie's director and Caspere used to attend together. (Bet you forgot about him, right?)
Then again, Season 2's murder mystery is so convoluted, we're all just shooting in the dark. Maybe Felicia the Scarred Bartender won't have anything to do with it. At this point, it's just as likely that Caspere's murder will turn out to have been the work of the Yellow King himself.
Images: Lacey Terrell, Screengrab (3)/HBO