‘True Detective’: Are Season 1 and Season 3 Connected?

We investigate a theory that ‘True Detective’ season 3 may be a prequel of sorts to the events that unfolded in season 1…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

The two-episode debut of ‘True Detective’ season 3 ended with plenty of questions surrounding the missing children case that continues to haunt Detective Wayne Hays from the start of investigation in 1980 all the way through to 2015 when he’s being interviewed about the infamous crime while dealing with his own bout of dementia.

Much of the first two episodes felt similar to the tone of the debut season of ‘True Detective’ that featured Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart.

In that particular case, Rust and Marty followed a murder investigation that ran more than a decade as they followed a cult that involved a prominent religious family in Louisiana with ties to kidnappings and deaths that could have stretched back more than 20 years.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the initial investigation was the moment when Marty discovered two kidnapped children, who had been beaten and sexually abused by their captors. One of the children died while the surviving girl had been traumatized so severely that she ended up living the rest of her days in a mental institution.

Over the course of the investigation, Rust and Marty discovered that this cult like family had kidnapped numerous children from local schools, abused them, tortured them and then killed them before covering it all up. There was no telling how many children had been involved in this gruesome string of murders but Marty and Rust were determined to put an end to it once and for all.

Years later, the two detectives finally closed their case after hunting down the last remaining member of the family who had just recently re-enacted another ritualistic killing that signaled them that the original killer they pinned the crime on wasn’t the only person involved.

Amidst the investigation, Rust and Marty ran into all sorts of mythology about a religion that follows a figure known as ‘The Yellow King’ and a supposed place called ‘Carcosa’ that was some kind of a heaven or hell for these believers. The two Louisiana cops also found all sorts of creepy stick figures that were called ‘Devil’s nests’ that often times marked the locations where these ritualistic murders were carried out or people were taken.

Consider that a refresher to what could be a tie between that first season of ‘True Detective’ and what just unfolded during the debut of ‘True Detective’ season 3.

The Yellow King

The first clue that could just be an homage to the first season but could also tie the two stories together comes from Wayne Hays’ investigation inside the Purcell home just after the children have gone missing.

Wayne steps into Will Purcell’s room and that’s where he finds a Boy Scout manual and a Dungeons and Dragons advanced guide called ‘The Forests of Leng’.

Now a quick search will tell you that there is no such guide that actually exists in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, which then leads to the investigation about the ‘Forest of Leng’.

The term ‘Leng’ actually originates with HP Lovecraft and his supernatural horror stories. Leng is a plateau where different realities supposedly converge. In one of Lovecraft’s first stories about Leng he writes about a “high-priest not to be described, which wears a yellow silken mask over its face”. In another Lovecraft tale, Leng is supposedly located north of the Dreamlands that is inhabited by ‘the High Priest Not to Be Described’ who lives alone in a monastery amongst a land filled with goatish humans who are feared by all men.

Now that ‘High Priest Not to Be Described’ appears in several of Lovecraft’s stories and the most popular theory about his identity is that his name is Hastur — the King in Yellow. Hastur was mentioned in another of Lovecraft’s stories but most prominently the character is mentioned in the 1895 book by Robert Chambers titled ‘The King in Yellow’.

That easily connects back to the mythical figure that played such a prominent part in the first season of ‘True Detective’.

Dora Lange — the victim that brought Marty and Rust onto the case originally — had written about the King in Yellow in her journals. Years later while Rust was interrogating a suspect, he was once again taunted about the Yellow King, which is a piece of mythology that the police never revealed after they believed the killers — Reggie Ledoux and Dewall Ledoux — had been found. The detectives didn’t find out until years later that they were actually disciples of the real mastermind behind the murders — a man named Errol Childress.

During the hunt to capture or kill Childress years later, Rust chased him through a labyrinth like maze that he called ‘Carcosa’.

Last but not least, don’t forget that Will Purcell was the boy found dead, neck snapped and he was posed with his hands made to look like he was praying. It was a similar set up for Dora Lange’s murder as her head was bowed and her hands were outstretched as if she was praying.

Child Abduction Rings

In the second episode of ‘True Detective’ season 3, TV show host Elisa Montgomery shares with an elderly Wayne Hays a group of online detectives that have continued to investigate baffling crimes over the years. The Purcell case was one of them and there were all sorts of wild theories about what actually happened back in 1980.

Elisa then brings up a large group of pedophile rings involving people of prominence that had been discovered in surrounding areas around Arkansas. She then mentions that there are theories that the straw dolls are a sign of these pedophile groups — one of then named ‘The Crooked Spiral’.

Now if you remember ‘True Detective’ season one, Rust investigated the ties of the original killers back to a very prominent family named the Tuttles. Billy Lee Tuttle was a wealthy pastor of a mega-church while his cousin was Edwin Tuttle, the Governor of the state. During Rust’s investigation, he found evidence inside Billy Lee Tuttle’s safe of a video that contained footage of the ritualistic murder of Marie Fontenot — a girl who had gone missing years earlier. Rust then connected Billy Lee Tuttle to his father Sam Tuttle, who was one of the primary members that started this cult while he had numerous children with other women outside of his marriage. One of those kids was Errol Childress, the man responsible for murdering Dora Lange and ultimately the killer found at the end of the first season.

The Tuttles were a very powerful and prominent family that was connected to pedophilia.

The second part of that quote about the ‘Crooked Spiral’ pedophile group — remember the symbol that decorated much of the iconography surrounding the members of the Tuttle cult was a crooked spiral. Reggie Ledoux had it tattooed on him and that same spiral pattern was drawn on Dora Lange’s back after she was murdered.

There’s yet another tie between the first season and the third season when it comes to this ritualistic murders, pedophiles and the cult worship that seems to exist in both crimes.

In Conclusion

Now before we jump too far ahead and start theorizing exactly how these two shows will be connected by the time the season finale rolls around, one of the executive producers from ‘True Detective’ acknowledged the nod to the first season with that ‘Crooked Spiral’ reference in season three but said that there was no deeper meaning behind it all.

“Not really,” executive producer Scott Stephens told The Hollywood Reporter. “I guess it’s set in the same fictional world everything is set in, right? The reference is kind of a nod to the [first season]. The stuff in season one was based on the same sort of pedophilia stories that are mentioned by the documentary crew. That’s kind of the connective tissue. It’s just a fun way to tie things in.”

Of course, Stephens or anybody else involved with ‘True Detective’ wouldn’t spoil a major twist in the upcoming episodes by revealing now that season 3 is actually tied to the events in season one so anything remains possible.

What do you think? Is ‘True Detective’ season 3 on a collision course with the events from season one?

The next episode of ‘True Detective’ airs this Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.

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