The 'True Detective' Finale Probably Won't End With a Twist & It's Actually Better That Way
Finally, we're just days away from the conclusion of True Detective . And all along the journey, we've been confused — were Rust's philosophical monologues leading us to some unpredictable conclusion, something so new and different that our feeble brains couldn't possibly conceive it? Apparently, the answer is no, as creator Nic Pizzolatto professed in an interview with The Daily Beast. So what if all of our insane True Detective theories were just an exercise in "choose your own adventure" capabilities, and the series ends by revealing the "Yellow King" through a series of shocking, uncomfortable circumstances — would it really be so bad?
I'd wager that it would actually be kind of great. Pizzolatto says that while he finds all of our theories interesting, he's not trying to "trick" us like we've been taught to expect thanks to just about every crime thriller in recent memory. Even Law & Order (Insert Specific Iteration title here)'s expected, obvious "twist" is still considered to a be twist that the show is kind enough to spoon feed us during each episode so that we feel about as smart as we do every time we finish the Us Weekly crossword in under 10 minutes. But being just like every other mystery was never True Detective's goal and Pizzolatto confirms it:
Like, why do you think we’re tricking you? It’s because you’ve been abused as an audience for more than 20 years. The show’s not trying to outsmart you. And really if you pay attention… if someone watches the first episode and really listens, it tells you 85 percent of the story of the first six episodes.
With that in mind, let's work through what we know and where it might lead us and trust me, you will not be as disappointed as you thought you'd be.
1. Trust the Damn Creator, Please
Theories are fun. Hell, I had a little fun with a crazy Maggie one myself, just to see how far I could take it. But it's time to stop losing sleep over wild twists and look at the facts and the landscape: we are headed for the Yellow King.
If Pizzolatto says that Rust and Marty are "not corrupt men" and thus not antiheroes, we should probably believe the guy. So while the writing has, at times, seemed to place a question mark over the heads of both Rust and Marty, we can be sure, heading into the finale that everything we saw during the penultimate episode is real. Our duo has teamed up to take down the bad guys and the mysterious "Yellow King." Whether or not they succeed — and how they succeed — is the true question here. And if Pizzolatto has kept us hanging on this long through all of Rust's soliloquies, we should trust the creator to make that conclusion impactful and memorable instead of one that's only shocking.
2. We Saw "85 percent of the story in the first six episodes"
So what does that really mean? Well, let's look at the big things we learned in those first six episodes and see how they connect to where we are now:
- We've known that there were more than one of these ritualistic murders. They seemed to be related because they absolutely were.
- Marie Fontineau's murder was part of this group of murders. It was covered up and deemed a solved "missing persons" case, potentially with the help of her own family who also had those twig structures in their storage shed.
- Rev. Tuttle tried to take over the Dora Lange murder by claiming it was an act against the church. Rust knew this was incredibly suspicious bullshit.
- Since early on, we've known that a man with scars all over his face — or a spaghetti monster with green ears — has been tied to the murders. He chased a little girl, he showed up with Dora at church, the mention of his face drove Reggie Ledoux's abductee into fits, and the New Orleans prostitute who once attended a Tuttle preschool says he was part of a group of men who "did things" to him and took pictures.
- And though we didn't know it, we'd met the "spaghetti monster" before Rust even infiltrated that biker gang: he's the same guy who was the groundskeeper at the old Tuttle school. Right under Rust and Marty's noses.
- When Rust does go back into the belly of the beast, we hear that there's a cult of white men — and likely Reggie Ledoux's new ilk — who murder women and children as sacrifices. There's said to be "some good killin'" down there.
- We know that the Tuttle schools have a history of wiping child molestation under the rug and that's like why Joel Theriot was forced out of the church — he knew too much and he wasn't alright with it.
These are all things we learned in the first six episodes of the series and if we are going to agree to trust Pizzolatto, we're going to assume these details are telling us the story already.
3. This Week's Logline is Pretty Clear In Its Lack of Clarity
"An overlooked detail provides Hart and Cohle with an important new lead in their 17-year-old case."
Now, this detail could be something we still don't know, but considering the way that the series has dropped clues like they're old tissues all the while expecting us to know what's trash and what's useful, we already know the detail these two have overlooked. And judging by last week's eerie ending scene, the detail they overlooked was the scarred man staring Rust in the face when Marty called him away from the Tuttle school to chase Reggie Ledoux.
It's excellent storytelling: Rust was so focused on Ledoux he literally couldn't see what was in front of his face even when he knew that one girl had cried about a "spaghetti monster with green ears," which the internet figured out meant "guy with scars and scraggy hair, wearing landscaper earmuffs." That, my friends, is one seriously overlooked detail and if Rust and Marty don't happen upon it this Sunday, they are going nowhere fast.
5. There May Still Be a "Twist" — Just Not An Entirely Unimaginable One
Now, Rust and Marty are going up against a powerful network of weirdos with friends in all the right places and all the highest places. Our duo is outnumbered because they can't involve Detective Gilbough and Papania for fear of leaking their mission to the improper authorities responsible for the corrupt network in the first place. Rust speaks of wanting to end his circle, which as thus far been filled with "violence and despair." The "twist" might still happen, and if I were a betting woman, I'd put money on one of our guys biting the dust.
And what a shocker it would be if that person was Marty. It could be a serious twist in that Rust is the one prepared to die in service of exposing this network of murder and lies. He's ready. Marty, however, has a family still. He hasn't seen his daughters or his ex-wife recently, but there is potential for him to carry on and work his way back into being a part of their lives. We've spent half of this series learning about his personal life, what a great tragedy and gut-punch of a twist would it be to see that this mystery takes his life rather than Rust's? What surprising pain it would bring to know that Rust would have to live with his partner's demise at the hands of this case for the rest of his life?
Even if Marty doesn't die and Rust doesn't die and everyone walks away unscathed, that will be a surprise too. These two are walking into the belly of a sick, dastardly, unfeeling beast. Everyone is likely to be an enemy and they are surrounded. Any outcome from this intrepid journey will be shocking for viewers with emotional intelligence.
Yes, a crazy twist would certainly give us something to talk about, but from the outset True Detective has aimed to make the something we talk about it the show itself — not cliff-hangers or specific, gotcha scenes. If it were to end on something insane and out-of-character rather that the conclusion it's actually been plodding towards, that would be a true disappointment, don't you think?