After Sunday's episode of True Detective, we were all but forced to take a look at Marty's potential to be the killer. The show was practically shoving us down the rabbit hole of Detective Hart's potential guilt and while we went along for the ride, there's something nagging at us: It can't really be that simple, can it? There have to a bevvy of other potential conclusions that don't involve Marty hanging antlers on the 2012 victim. Enter a new theory: we need to be paying more attention to Maggie.
Marty's wife has been almost nonexistent in any and all discussion of who the killer could be, despite the fact that she's become a rather central character. And while True Detective is inherently misogynist and seemingly unlikely to place so much weight on Maggie, as Willa Paskin at Slate pointed out earlier this week, "When it comes to women, True Detective is undeniably shallow — but I think it’s being shallow on purpose ... Ignoring women may be the show’s blind spot, but it is also one of its major themes."
True Detective does rather ignore women — even when Maggie accepted a drink at a bar and seduced Rust afterward the conclusion of her pain was Rust's anger and the breakdown of his relationship with Marty and not her own demise. Essentially, Maggie's intense emotions were just used as a piece of the grand scheme of breaking up the Cohle and Hart dream team.
But if we're to believe the notion that True Detective is purposely cruel to its female characters, is it so crazy to think that the series is using that tendency to drive us away from the truth? Perhaps its "blind spot" is also a method of creating a blind spot in our understanding of the investigation, as well. The notion that Maggie is involved is admittedly far-fetched, but in a world where the landscape changes drastically with each new reveal, it doesn't seem entirely out of the question either.
Let us consider moments like Maggie's interrogation in 2012. Immediately upon entering the station, Maggie is furious. She's almost unwilling to cooperate with the detectives and while it's clear she harbors anger towards Marty though he's no where in sight and their relationship has long been over. Perhaps she's just annoyed that the duo blames Rust for these murders when she knows he's a good man, sure. Or perhaps she is what the episode paints her as — little more than a bitter ex-wife. After all, the show's been painting her as nag since its outset, bitter ex isn't be far behind. But perhaps, there's another explanation.
When the detectives are asking Maggie about Rust, she inevitably drives the conversation back to Marty over and over: Rust is a good man. Rust knows what he wants, but Marty struggles with that. Rust taught her that forgiveness is a fallacy, and now Marty has taught her that. Every thing she says about Rust leads to Marty. Sure, she's the "nag" so this is just what she does — or is it? When given the opportunity to tell them that the 2002 fight between Marty and Rust was over her tryst with Rust, she stays suspiciously mum. And that's sort of where this entire could-be theory hinges: Why is Maggie hiding anything? What could she possibly have to hide?
To answer that, we have to think about what the truth about Marty's anger would do for the detectives. Possibly, it could make Marty more suspect because he's so inclined to violence, but more likely than not, it would just be another black mark on Rust's record: potential murderer and now, adulterer too. Not using her knowledge of why Marty fought Rust leaves things in rather neutral territory; they already think the killer is Rust and without an understanding of the fight, they're inclined to let other evidence sway them rather than the circumstances of this incident.
But that's not much of an end goal if Maggie does indeed have one. The lack of understanding about Marty being cuckolded does, however, do one very important — though largely unnoticed — thing. It removes Maggie from the equation completely. Though she served as the catalyst for the incident that led to Rust quitting the department, by not telling them, her role in the investigation is now complete. She could be removing herself completely in order to get back to her life away from Marty and the department (the simple explanation), or she could be feeling a sense of urgency because she's carrying guilt (more twisted, True Detective-y explanation).
And here's where the theory gets really hare-brained, but anything could happen on this show, so just hear us out. If you hadn't guessed it yet, we're suggesting that one possible outcome of this mystery is that Maggie committed the 2012 murder and is working to let Marty take the fall for it.
While she's been much of a supporting character, looking back, Maggie was different. She understood Rust more than anyone else; she shared long conversations with him when Marty wasn't home; she didn't even balk at the strange artifacts all around Rust's apartment when she came over to seduce him. She's more at home with Rust's world view — the one that's got the detectives scared — than anyone else we've met. Plus, for someone who's been broken up with Marty for years, she's still carrying a hell of a lot of resentment.
Consider also, the fact that Rust had to have been following someone when he staked out the murder scene days before it happened (recalling the photos the detectives showed him in episode five). Yet, when the detectives ask him why he was there, he doesn't give them an explanation. We know that Reverend Tuttle committed suicide, so he wasn't following that potential suspect. He had to have been following someone else that he wouldn't dare reveal to the police: perhaps the woman he connected with so greatly once upon a time? Maggie.
Now, this theory is slightly problematic in that it would involve a woman-on-woman crime in a world where men are already proven to be a species of tormentors to women, but that's also exactly why it makes sense. If we've been taught all season to almost blatantly ignore the women on the show, with the show deliberately rendering them worthy of little more than shallow single-word descriptions (nag, slut, hooker, mistress, girlfriend, and this week, predator) for the purpose of pointing out the existence of such blindness, it can't be so insane to think that all along, we've been guilty for not seeing — as Marty says earlier in the series — the true killer right before our eyes.
Images: HBO (3)