'True Detective' Recap: The Spaghetti Monster Rears His Oh-So Ugly Head

We should have known. True Detective is all about the tiny details and callbacks and, now, our efforts to pay attention to all half-hearted mentions and asides, glances, glimpses, and seemingly unimportant moments is paying off. We've finally met the Spaghetti Monster: the man with the scarred face at the center of the murder network Rust Cohle has been obsessively pursuing for years.

Sure, it was fun to hypothesize about Marty and Maggie potentially being killers, but now that we've seen this creep's face, we know what true evil looks like — but more on that in a moment. We've also jumped head first into the 2012 section of the story, where Marty and Rust have reunited, Maggie lives in an opulent home, and Rust's conspiracy theory locker is stuffed to the brim with evidence that his "crazy" theory is real.

And with only this episode and next week's between us and a resolution, it's about time that the blindfold comes off and things start to make sense. I've been back and forth on True Detective; at times it seems to flounder and drag on, but now that we're here, it's clear that the floundering was necessary. The waiting game and the lack of clear knowledge is realistic — it's how any mystery in real life is solved, with excruciating periods of haziness. And now that we're finally getting to the bottom of this mystery, it feels like we've earned the conclusion just as Rust and Marty have.

But speaking of our dynamic duo...

THEY'RE REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD (Sort Of)

We find Rust and Marty as they meet up for that beer. Marty's gun stays in its holster and Rust tells him exactly what we suspected: He's not guilty (duh), he's been investigating the murder network on his own for the past two years. However, he's hit a wall and now he needs Marty and his connections to the police department for records that he can't legally get his hands on. Only Marty still hates Rust — some dudes just never get over being cheated on, go figure. But Rust has something on Marty: he covered up the Reggie Ledoux murder and lied for Marty. With that, Mr. Hart has to follow Rust to his conspiracy-stuffed storage shed.

And it's what we learn here that opens the story wide up. It's a lot, so let's break everything we learned down:

  • All of the children Rust is investigating disappeared near Tuttle schools.
  • Tuttle freaked out when he saw the Dora Lange murder and tried to take over because he thought he was too familiar.
  • One of Rust's sources once mentioned a cult of powerful white men who made sacrificed of children and women.
  • In 1988, a Tuttle preschool sustained a child molestation complaint, closed and then re-opened in a new location.
  • One of the students from that school grew up to be a prostitute in New Orleans who tells Rust that men with animal faces — and one man with a severely scarred face (hello, Spaghetti Monster) — took pictures of him and "did other things" to him while he was drugged.
  • The scarred man continually appears in victim descriptions: the little girl chased by the "spaghetti monster with green ears," the scarred man at Dora Lange's church, the kidnapped girl screamed at the notion of a scarred man, and now the young man in New Orleans' description.
  • Rust found evidence of "festivals" around Louisiana where women were dressed in antlers and blindfolded.
  • There was a rash of the stick sculptures found outside of New Orleans in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • The Lake Charles murder never made the wires — Rust attributes this to Gov. Tuttle's involvement.
  • Rust broke into Tuttle's mansions, and, at the break-in he didn't report, Rust found images of blindfolded women and child pornography as well as a tape of Marie Fontineau's rape and murder. Rust assumes that Tuttle's "suicide" was a hit to keep Rust from using the photos to blackmail Tuttle.

Once we reach this point, Rust has Marty watch the horrific video, and while the screen is thankfully too small and blurry to truly see what's happening, Marty's reaction of abject horror and disgust is more than enough to make our stomachs drop. We are dealing with some seriously dark shit.

Rust and Marty on a Mission

Knowing full well that they are likely on a suicide mission outside of the law, Marty and Rust both have potentially final moments with Maggie, who says Marty's daughters are healthy and doing well. There's quite a lot of attention paid to her oblique involvement, but there are bigger fish to fry here.

Rust and Marty catch up at Marty's private eye office — his new job — and show their equally sad, solitary lives before diving in head first, seemingly pointing out that this mystery is their sole purpose in life. (And Rust's suicidal asides certainly add to that notion.) First, Marty needs to get the files from his buddy at the police department. He tells the captain that he needs files because he's writing a series of books called True Crime about various, distinct cases. (We see you referencing your own show, Nic Pizzolatto.) Just like that, he gets access to the files, but there's an issue: Marie Fontineau's file is conspicuously missing.

But Marty's got a plan and now he's getting into the investigation — he and Rust feel as chummy as they did when they planned the off-the-books biker mission. He found a woman who used to work for Sam Tuttle, so he and Rust pay her a visit. She divulges all kinds of details about the numerous bastard children wandering around the Tuttle estate, most notably the Spaghetti Monster himself. She says he was part of Sam's other family, the Childresses, and that the scarred man was Sam's grandchild who was maimed by his father. But that's not enough, so Rust keeps pushing. He shows her the twig images and the woman loses it and starts screaming "Rejoice. Death is not the end." Her niece says she's just crazy, but Rust knows better: This all but confirms Rust's theories in a big way.

Next, Marty's digging leads them to a sheriff named Steve Geraci who they believe covered up Marie Fontineau's murder. Marty, being the friendlier former cop, pays Steve a visit and asks about the Fontineau case, but Steve simply says Ted Childress closed the case (Childress, as in the scarred man's family?) and that the girl was off somewhere with her father. Marty is wisely not buying it — thanks in part to Steve's general villain aura.

Before Marty pays Steve another visit — this time with Rust in tow — Rust all but admits that his life will actually end when this mission is over. His life has "been a circle of violence and degradation" and after this, he will close that circle.

This leads us to Steve's boat, where he's upset that Marty is bringing up Marie Fontineau again — all but a confession of his guilt. Rust comes in with a gun, ready to force a confession out of the sheriff because thanks to the Tuttle network, the police and the government are corrupted and vigilantism is their only option. We're left there, but before the episode closes, we get one final terrifying tidbit:

Behold, The Spaghetti Monster

Detectives Papania and Gilbough take Rust's word about one of the Tuttle churches and go looking for it, and along the way they happen upon the man riding a lawnmower — the same one Rust spoke to at the Tuttle school a few episodes back. The man gives them directions and as he begins to say his family "has been here a long time," they speed away. But we know better and so does the camera: it zooms into his face to reveal the scars. Ladies and gentleman: the spaghetti monster with green ears (his landscaping over-ear protection, most likely).

And now all we can do is wait until the surely chilling conclusion hits us next week, but how can we even be expected to wait that long?

Images: HBO