Who was the Yellow King? What was Carcosa? Was Marty’s daughter involved? All of these answers coming your way in the True Detective case files….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The first season of True Detective has come to an end with detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart finally helping to bring justice to a 17-year old case after finding and then killing the murderer better known as Errol Childress aka The Lawnmower Man.
The finale was a sweeping gothic that followed these two former partners back from the muck in which they had both been mired in for the past decade so they could wash off their boots, and climb back on the saddle to solve the murder case of Dora Lange and dozens of other missing children from around Louisiana who went missing and were never found again.
The mythology behind the show as written by creator Nic Pizzolatto had the entire internet swarming with rumors and theories about how True Detective would come to an end, who was the Yellow King, and what would be the fate of Cohle and Hart when this case finally met its conclusion. From Robert Chambers now much more famous book from 1895 titled ‘The King in Yellow” to the cosmic doom stories of HP Lovecraft all the way to the dialogue laden homages to Friedrich Nietzsche, True Detective was a pop culture love story from Pizzolatto to the world but now that it’s over what shall we do without our weekly dose of Cohle and Hart?
Well first things first we need to dissect the season we just witnessed and try to explain away a few of the key pieces of mythology that haunted the show from 1995 all the way to present day when Errol Childress was found along with his creepy half sister in a house that would make John Doe from ‘Seven’ say they needed a cleaning crew.
Who Was the Yellow King?
Director Cary Fukunaga said on Monday after the finale that he wasn’t sure creator Nic Pizzolatto really intended for the Yellow King to actually be unmasked but here’s our theory about who the Yellow King actually was in this entire scenario.
The Yellow King was Sam Tuttle
Sam Tuttle was the patriarch of the Tuttle clan in Louisiana, father to Billy Lee Tuttle and uncle to Edwin Tuttle, the future Governor and then Senator of the state. Sam is the former Sheriff over the Vermilion Parish, who later fathered several children out of wedlock before tossing their mothers aside. Sam helped to lead his family into depravity over the years while engaging in child abductions, rapes, and ritualistic murder that he then passed down to his entire family. While not acknowledged on the series, Sam was likely the father to Sheriff Ted Childress, who eventually helped cover up the Marie Fontenot case when she went missing back in the early 1990’s. The Fontenot girl was actually raped and murdered on video that was later found in the possession of Billy Lee Tuttle in a safe that Rust Cohle broke into in 2010.
Sam’s influence over his family and his flock of children that included the Childress clan as well as the LeDoux family pushed all of them into a cycle of madness and torture that ran afoul in Louisiana for decades. While he may have passed his crown onto Billy Lee later in life, it’s like Sam went to his grave as the Yellow King — an ominous title that still carries weight around Louisiana all these years later.
More proof that he was the Yellow King comes from Errol in the season finale when he talks with his half sister Betty and asks her to tell him about their grandfather. Miss Delores, the maid, revealed that Sam was Errol’s grandfather when she spoke to Cohle and Hart in episode 7. Apparently, Betty grew up around Sam as well and knew more about him that Errol did.
Who Was Errol Childress?
Well, beyond the fact that Errol was the lawnmower man that Rust interacts with at the Tuttle school at the end of episode 3, he’s Sam Tuttle’s grandson and the son of one of the many Childress’ that were also part of that lineage. During Reggie and DeWall Ledoux’s kidnap and torture of some children back in 1995, he was the worst of them all doing the most heinous and evil things to the kids they abducted. He was actually the ringleader that committed the murder of Dora Lange after he befriended her when introduced by way of Reggie LeDoux, who heard about her from his old cellmate Charlie Lange.
Errol was seen with Dora at the church revival by girls who served alongside minister Joel Theriot, and according to the witnesses she left with him after one of the congregations broke following a service. Was this the last moment Dora was ever seen alive? All signs point to this being her abduction by Errol before being brought back to Reggie and DeWall to be tortured, raped and eventually murdered.
Errol was the scarred man and the tall man, both referenced by different characters during the season. He was also the green eared spaghetti monster that chased a child through the woods before Cohle and Hart started their investigation in 1995. His ears were green because he was a house painter for his family’s business and had recently used that color pain on a woman’s house in town. Later in life, Errol worked for the parish where he cut grass and did other odd jobs up and down the coast line — the same area where children came up missing for years.
Errol Wanted to Be Killed
For all the dead bodies and bones found at the house that Errol occupied with his half sister, the only two that were discovered came in 1995 and 2012 and both were Errol’s attempts at being found so his ‘work’ could lead him to the ascension. As he states when talking to his sister that it’s been weeks since his last work was witnessed, he’s waiting on the cops to finally be worthy enough to discover his trail.
While Rust is walking through the catacombs hunting for Errol, he calls him ‘little priest’ and says that he ‘blessed’ Reggie and DeWall while referring to them as acolytes (a person who assists in a religious experience). Obviously, Rust was involved in Reggie and DeWall’s deaths so this was the ascension that Errol spoke about, and now he’s hoping to follow their same path and escape from this plane.
Creator Nic Pizzolatto also confirmed as much when speaking to EW.com
“In the beginning, when he says, “My ascension removes me the disc in the loop,” he’s describing the cosmology of eternal recurrence of various characters, including Cohle and Reggie Ledoux hit upon, and he’s hitting upon his personal mythology. When he says, “It’s been weeks since I left my mark, would they have eyes to see,” we can tell from that that he’s angling for a reckoning, for a showdown. He’s waiting for it. He believes the murders ritually enacted over a period of time, upon his death, permit him an ascension that removes him from the Karmic wheel of rebirth.”
It also stands the reason that’s why Errol attacked Cohle and Hart because they had to kill him so he could ascend off this plane. He couldn’t be captured, he had to be killed.
What Was Carcosa?
Carcosa in the book ‘The King in Yellow’ is a mythical place, but in Louisiana it’s very real. Errol reveals that the catacombs where he’s committed dozens of murders where Rust chases him is his idea of Carcosa. Inside the walls of the ruins stands dozens upon dozens of small and large ‘devil’s catchers’, the wooden fixtures we’ve seen dabbled throughout the series.
This is also recognized by Miss Delores the maid because when she spots the devil catchers pictured in Rust’s book, she says ‘you know Carcosa?” because in this vision of an evil family, they’ve actually managed to create the place and it’s no longer mythical.
A little extra something for those that might be venturing to Louisiana sometime soon — Carcosa is a real place you can visit.
The real Carcosa was a location shoot at Fort McComb — a 19th century fortress about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. The site is owned by the state of Louisiana and can be found on the western shore of Chef Menteur Pass.
What was Rust’s Vision at the End?
A lifetime spent abusing drugs with the occasional acid flashback had Rust seeing things all season long, and this one came at the absolute worst time because in a moment of tense peril, his mind flashed an image of cosmic doom overhead just before Errol attacked and shoved a knife into his belly. Rust sees a dark sky with a vortex opening up and black stars , just as mentioned by Reggie LeDoux before his death. Rust’s visions weren’t consistent throughout the history of the show, but this one just happened to come at the absolute worst moment. There was no real vision there, only Rust’s mind playing tricks on him.
Was Marty’s Daughter One of the Victims?
There was a popular theory running throughout the course of this show that Marty’s daughter Audrey was one of the victims of the Tuttle’s abuse. She was drawing sexually explicit pictures at a young age, and posing her dolls in similar positions. Everyone believed that she had somehow got caught up and was a victim of this as well, but it’s just not true.
First of all, the Tuttles never left their victims alive. Just like Marie Fontenot back in the early 1990’s, they covered up her disappearance along with the help of Sheriff Ted Childress, but she was never found again. The only one who ever survived was the young girl named Kelly, now stuck in a catatonic state after being rescued alongside another young boy named Billy, who was already dead when Marty Hart discovered them at Reggie LeDoux’s meth compound.
Director Cary Fukunaga also confirmed that Audrey was never a part of the actual investigation — she was just a troubled kid meant to show the neglect of her father Marty over the years.
“I read Audrey’s behavior as being the direct result of an inattentive father. Seeking male attention in other places, or even seeking to get into trouble, perhaps, to get the attention of her father; it was not related to the killings or anyone around them.”
Most people expected at least one of the dynamic duo of Marty Hart and Rust Cohle to not make it out alive once they discovered the real person behind this nearly 20 year old murder case. It appeared both were resigned to that fact as well after episode 7 when Marty more or less said goodbye to Maggie for the last time when he visited her after reconnecting with Rust. As for Rust, he’s been inviting death into his life for years, but as it turns out almost meeting his end somehow changed his opinion on how he should approach the end.
“We’re never going to spend time with these guys again. And killing characters on television has become an easy short cut to cathartic emotion,” Pizzolatto said. “So I thought killing the guys, or having something more mysterious happen to them – like the guys charged into Errol’s underworld, and disappeared, and nobody knows what happens to them – would have been the same thing if the show had gone full-bore into the supernatural.
“To me, it would have been puerile, and it would have skirted all the issues the show raised. To me, the challenge was to not only let these guys live, but show true character change through this journey. That passing through the eye of the needle in the heart of darkness has actually done something to them.”
Who Were the Men in the Masks in the Video in Tuttle’s Safe?
This was the murder of Marie Fontenot with men wearing ritualistic animal masks, as also described by the abused boy from one of Billy Lee Tuttle’s satellite schools that were eventually closed down. There were five men total so we’d have to assume one of them was Sam Tuttle, another was Billy Lee Tuttle. The other three were most likely Errol Childress, Reggie LeDoux and DeWall LeDoux, who were also of age and disciples of this cult family.
Who Got Away?
Rust and Marty both admit that while they put down the monster that had been tormenting women and children up and down the coast for the last 20 years, there were more members of this family involved that were never captures. We can’t forget Billy Lee Tuttle was found dead in 2010 just after Rust took the murder video tape from his safe, and everyone assumes he was killed as revenge for allowing the evidence to fall into the wrong hands. Considering Errol’s mission all along was to be found and ‘blessed’ into ascension, it doesn’t stand to reason that he would be involved in finishing off Billy Lee. Could Edwin Tuttle, the now Senator of the state, be the new Yellow King behind this all?
What we do know is there are other Childress’ and LeDoux’s running around with Sam Tuttle’s blood coursing through their veins, and they are dug in deep to the swamps of Louisiana. As Errol said at the end of episode 7, ‘my family’s been here a long time’.
What Song Closed Out the Season Finale?
That would be “The Angry River” by The Hat, which you can listen to below:
The score was created by famed producer and composer T. Bone Burnett, and if you want to go through the entire soundtrack, a wonderful compilation has been put together by the folks at IndieWire.
What’s Ahead for Season 2?
The moment season one of True Detective came to a close, the anticipation for season two began. While the second season hasn’t officially been picked up by HBO, there’s vitually no way this show doesn’t return for another turn. While Pizzolatto is still in the finishing stages of putting together this new series, he did give a teaser to what’s ahead for season two.
“The basic idea: Hard women, bad men, and the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system. I was well on my way in the writing but there’s been a lot noise and work around the end of the first season that got in the way.”
Could We Ever See Rust Cohle and Marty Hart Again?
It sounds like there is a chance it could happen, although don’t expect Woody Harrelson or Matthew McConaughey to reprise their roles necessarily. Creator Nic Pizzolatto managed to retain the rights to both characters so at some point down the road, we could see the enigmatic pair come back to life to solve another crime in novel form.