‘True Detective’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap: “The Secret Fate of All Life”

By February 17, 2014
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Here we are again! Another new episode of “True Detective” has arrived. Be sure to check the recap of last week’s near perfect episode entitled “Who Goes There” right here. And as always, THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD! Proceed with caution…

We pick up from last week’s fantastic ending in a roadside bar with Rust’s old pal Ginger, who he has coerced into working with him. Dewall Ledoux is the man that arrives to meet with them and after Cohle presents his offer for a big drug deal, Ledoux declines. The situation seems fishy to the man and before he leaves, he leans in close and says these words to Cohle:

I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive like acid. You got a demon, little man. And I don’t like your face, it makes me want to do things to it.

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Once Ledoux is on the road, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart tail him to the woods and arrive at that familiar compound we got a glimpse of at the very end of episode 3. As they lay low on their bellies and take in the scene, Cohle suggests Hart call for back up, a suggestion met with immediate recognition by Marty that Rust will not wait for him to return before going in. Hart doesn’t make the call and they both head in.

From here, both Hart and Cohle deliver the exact same account of what happened in both the 1995 inquests as well as in present day to the two investigating officers. The story begins with the account of an all-out military grade ambush, stating the weapon being used to take them down was easily blowing trees apart.

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As the two men are debriefed, we are shown the actual events as they happened and as you might expect it, things unfold a lot differently. We see Rust and Marty sneaking slowly up onto the trailer and as they move, they avoid a field full of booby traps. The first person they find is Mr. Reggie Ledoux himself, dressed in just a towel.

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Hart cuffs him and leads him outside while Cohle keeps his gun drawn on the cook shack across the clearing. Det. Hart leaves Cohle with Ledoux and heads into a different part of the compound. Now it’s Ledoux’s turn to utter something nonsensical as he looks up at Cohle.

It’s time, isn’t it? I know what happens next. You’re in Carcosa now. I’ve seen you in my dreams.

At this moment, Dewall Ledoux exits the cook shack carrying a box of what I can only deduce are bottles of chemicals. Cohle makes eye contact and Ledoux freezes. As this is happening, Detective Martin Hart ventures deeper into the building he entered and comes across two abused children. The scene is so horrific that Cohle’s immediate response is to exit the building and shoot Reggie Ledoux point blank in the head. Dewall drops his crate and runs but does not get very far: he steps on one of his very own explosive traps and blows his body to pieces.

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Without hesitation, Cohle tells Hart to take the cuffs off Ledoux before the blood starts to set. He then ventures into the building to see what upset Hart. The little boy is dead. The girl, in a coma. Cohle exits the building with an assault rifle (?) and shoots up the field, doing his best to make the scene match the story the two have been telling ever since.

Cut to the police inquest in 1995, where Detectives Hart and Cohle are given much praise for their victory in cracking the case. The two are heroes. Hart gets promoted and Cohle wins an award for bravery.

In 2012, Cohle looks both the investigating detectives in the eyes and sheds light on another of his morbid views on life:

This is a world where nothing is solved. Someone once told me that time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve every done or will do we’re going to do over and over again. And that little boy and that little girl are going to be in that room again, again and again and again. Forever.

It’s halfway into the episode and the case has been solved. From there, Hart tells the detective that for the next few years, life was pretty good. He and Maggie (mostly) worked things out and got back together. Cohle was in a relationship with a doctor that Maggie set him up with. Things were looking all right.

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But things were not all right. Hart tells the detectives in 2012, “I cleaned up, but maybe I didn’t change. Not like I needed to. The solution was right under my nose. That woman, those kids…and I was watching everything else.”

1995 no longer looks like the story’s focal point; we move to 2002 where Martin Hart’s family life is being strained yet again. His daughter Audrey, who drew those explicit pictures 2 episodes ago, is acting out. Not only is she getting her clothes at Hot Topic, she’s hanging with the wrong crowd and ends up being found by the police in a car with two older teenage boys gettin’ busy. Statutory rape, much? (Damn you, Hot Topic!)

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We’re back in 2012 and Cohle has made another aluminum can man.

You ever hear of something called “The M-Brain Theory”, Detectives? It’s like, in this universe, we process time linearly. Forward. But outside of our space time, from what would be a 4th dimensional perspective, time wouldn’t exist. And from that vantage, could we attain it? What we’d see is our space time would look flattened like a single sculpture of matter in a super position, every place it ever occupied. Our sentience just cycling through our lives like carts on a track. See, everything outside our dimension – that’s eternity…eternity looking down on us. Now to us, it’s a sphere. But to them, it’s a circle.

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While we see Martin Hart struggling with his loosening grasp on his family, Cohle’s words continue.

In eternity where there is no time, nothing can grow, nothing can become, nothing changes. So death created time to grow the things that it would kill. And you are reborn but into the same life that you’ve always been born into. How many times have we had this conversation, Detectives? Well, who knows? You can’t remember your lives. You can’t change your lives. And that is the terrible and secret fate of all life. You’re trapped in a nightmare you keep waking up into.

The Detectives snap Cohle out of his trance and inquire about his interrogation techniques that made him somewhat of a legend back in the day. We see him interviewing a man accused of double murder by the name of Guy Francis. With some sly verbal trickery, the suspect confesses which leads to him frantically offering to make a deal.

I know who you are. I know about that woman y’all found out in the woods way back, the antlers. Y’all never caught the man that did that. He’s been out there killing. I met him once. There’s big people who know about him. Big people.

Rustin Cohle is not hearing it. Not until Francis says, “I’ll tell you about The Yellow King.” A button has been pressed, sending Cohle into a rage and a few detectives have to remove him from attacking Mr. Francis further. The seed of doubt has been planted in Rust’s mind. The killer may indeed still be out there.

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He communicates with Hart the concept that Dora Lange’s killer may still be out there. When they go back to the prison to follow up with Guy Francis, they find him dead by way of suicide. Further investigation finds that he cut his wrists short after receiving a phone call from his lawyer. But upon tracing the call, the detectives drive out to a pay phone in the middle of nowhere and it’s quickly decide that “No kind of lawyer makes calls from here.”

When cutting back to the 2012 interviews, Martin Hart starts to show agitation. The Detectives begin to bring to light the evidence they have been collecting against Rustin Cohle. There’s an implication that Mr. Tuttle, the preacher behind the Light of the Way Church the two visited a few episodes back, died in 2010 – possibly at the hands of Cohle, who moved back to Louisiana at the same time.

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At this point, we’re moving back and forth between both the rooms. The Detectives hand Cohle the images for the report he has been asking for consistently since episode 1. Along with them, the two hand him a police photo of onlookers at the murder site and Rust is featured prominently in the crowd. While prying for further information, it becomes clear to Cohle that he is their target for this murder.

Look, y’all want to arrest me? Go ahead. You wanna follow me? Come on. You wanna see something? Get a warrant. Thanks for the beer. Beyond that, you wasted my f*cking day, company men!

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On the flip side, the two Detectives tell Hart that Rust’s stories don’t add up. Each man states their case as they hand Martin more documents and photos to back up their reasons for suspicion. While not sold on the stories, you can see doubt in Hart’s eyes. However, given their history together, Martin seems like he will defend Cohle till the end. One thing also worth noting, Rust Cohle was given beer per his request in the interview because, not only is he a self admitted functioning alcoholic…but also because none of what was said in that room could now be used.

From this scene, the episode ends on Cohle back in 2002 as he visits the long since abandoned Light of the Way Christian Academy he briefly visited with Hart back in 1995. (It’s also worth noting that this school was affiliated with Tuttle Ministries.) As he explores the building, he happens upon more of those triangular twig thingies they call “Devil Catchers.” With his gloves now on, he holds one up to the one beam of light coming through a broken window and Episode 5 comes to an end.

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It’s making me very sad to think there are only 3 episodes left of what has quickly become my new favorite show! Do you think Cohle is guilty? What about Hart? Let’s have a water cooler style discussion in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.