“Yes sir,” the man with the scars said to nobody in particular as he went back to mowing a perfect circle in a desolate field “my family’s been here a long, long time.”
And with that chilling ending to the second to last episode of Season 1, the “Lawnmower Man Theory” is vindicated. First and foremost props are due to everyone (included my co-blogger, Ms. Sofia) who called from his very first appearance that the creepy man mowing the lawn, actual name Errol Childress, at the abandoned school was Suspect #1 in the “tall man with the scars/spaghetti monster with green ears” case. You are the ultra-perceptive Cohles to the rest of our merely inattentive Martys. Frankly, we don’t know where we’d be without you. You complete us. Onto the episode itself…
We pick up where the last episode ended: with “present day” Marty and Cohle in 2012 continuing their long dormant, often volatile relationship at a dive bar. After all that’s gone down between the two former detectives, Marty can’t help himself from chiding his old partner for his now haggard appearance: “Father time has his way with us all” he said with a shit-eating grin, “I see you must have pissed him off”. What Marty didn’t know, is that although Cohle has been hitting the bottle for pretty much the entirety of his decade off-the-grid, only two of those years have been spent doing his own independent research into missing persons cases and potential cover-ups of child-abuse rings (the other 8 years were spent back in Alaska). Trying to quell the strong suspicions of his old cohort, Cohle eventually cops to the fact that he brought Marty in because of his connections to their old department as well as the fact that he doesn’t trust anybody else (AWWW, RUST! YOU OLD SOFTY).
Marty also finds out that although he hasn’t spent EVERY waking moment looking into his theories, Cohle has used his time the past two years judiciously, obsessively organizing every molecule of evidence he could muster into a storage locker. Adorned with the words “YELLOW KING”, “SCARS” and “CARCOSA” written in giant block letters above a set of antlers and surrounded by pictures of the spiral tattoo found on Dora Lange as well as the sketch of the spaghetti monster, this small space acts as a manifestation of Cohle’s fractured mind itself (not to mention fans of the show who may have strayed past the point of reasonable of these past few weeks). “It’s like you told yourself this story,” Marty remarks, “and kept drinking until you believed it”.
However, although Rust admits that at one point he thought he could have possibly lost his marbles, (“Here I am, my whole life is this one expanding circular fuckup and I think it’s about to close out and…I was aware that I might have lost my mind”), it turns out that amongst this “sprawl” there is also concrete evidence that authenticates his worst suspicions. After reaching his breaking point, he took matters into his own hands by doing a little good old fashioned B&E (in full body ninja suit for good measure) on Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle’s residences. What he uncovered behind locked safes, were disturbing pictures of a blindfolded little girl surrounded by menacing figures in animal masks as well as a videotape depicting unspeakable atrocities being done to the poor child (The identity of the girl in the tape/photographs is Marie Fontenot, a missing child with ties to Billy Lee Tuttle’s “Light of the Way” school that was shut down for two years following molestation charges). After shutting the tape off in shocked horror, Marty asks Cohle if he watched the whole tape, Cohle confirms that he had to in order to see if the masks ever come off as adding that, “I won’t avert my eyes…not again”.
No longer able to dismiss Cohle’s theories as the misguided beliefs of a crazed drunkard, Marty throws himself completely back into the case. Although Marty has done his part in keeping up outward appearances by starting his own private investigation firm, we see that his private life has become a depressing cycle of Match.com browsing, green tea and microwavable lasagna for one. He ended up quitting the force following a particulary gruesome discovery involving a meth-head, a baby and a microwave. Without his family, any crazy young side pieces and, perhaps most importantly, the case (and Cohle), present-day Marty’s life is pretty damn empty. This explains why we see the most actual honest to God dedicated police work to date out of him (Can you imagine 1995 or even 2002 Marty digging throw dozens of boxes of evidence?). This even elicits an ‘atta boy out of Cohle to which Marty responds that its “high praise coming from a bartender”.
Fully reunited as partners, although of the independent variety this time around, the two go digging for further clues regarding the identity of the “man with the scars” and whatever other monsters he may consort with. After visiting with a law-abiding, society contributing member of the extended Ladoux family, Marty and Rust get a firsthand account of an experience the man remembers having with “a man with scars” that his creepy brethren took along with them on a camping trip when he was about 10 years old. The detectives eventually end up at the house of a former employee of Sam Tuttle (Billy Lee’s father). Dismissed as a dementia riddled old woman by her family, she immediately perks up with talk of Carcosa when Cohle presents her with sketches of the tree branch figures found at the crime scenes. She also recalls that Sam Tuttle often had lots of children around, including a boy she claims to be his grandson, with scars around his face (scars, she believes were given to him by his father, Billy Lee Tuttle).
When Cohle discovers that the Marie Fontenot missing person’s case was taken by their old coworker, then Deputy Steve Geraci, Marty arranges a seemingly innocent round of golf with the now Sheriff. After concluding that Steve was “fucking lying” about his involvement with and knowledge of the Fontenot case(maybe he did pick up some skills from Cohle after all), he tells Cohle that they’ll have to drop the civil way of getting the answers their looking for in favor of a more underhanded approach. This comes in the form of Marty luring Geraci out on the boat for some early morning fishing and beer drinking which ends up with Cohle pointing a loaded gun at the Sheriff demanding answers which sets up perfectly for the Season 1 finale next week.
-Oh wait, that’s right, that wasn’t the last scene of the episode! I almost forgot about the creepy man on the lawnmower MOWING CIRCLES IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. The one with the scars on his face that were concealed by his facial hair when Cohle was beginning to get a read on him during their encounter outside of the abandoned school. His final line, “I know the whole coast” is bone chilling and might actually be somewhat true given the extended Ladoux/Tuttle/Childress extended family trees that we’ve become privy to *shudder*. It can all get a bit confusing, and Reddit /u/joemama19 posted this helpful and informative album which includes a family tree as well as pictures of several of these people: http://imgur.com/a/ZKDd6
-Speaking of which, “Childress” happens to be the name of one of the Prison Guards that was working when the inmate “killed himself”. It’s also the name of the Sheriff that Steve claims took the Marie Fontenot complaint because the girl’s aunt and uncle, “knew him.”
-One more observation about the final scene: God those company men Gilbough and Papania (or “Brother Mouzone” and “Laroy” as I’ve been calling them up until this episode) didn’t even get any sort of read on the monster staring them in the face!
-Almost forgot this gem that Marty tossed at Rust during their Lone Star Reunion: “If you were drowning, I’d throw you a fuckin’ barbell.” He may not be pulling in 10’s anymore but his zingers have gotten better with age. I bet his Match.com profile is extremely witty.
-Maggie seems to be doing well and it’s nice to hear that her children (especially Audrey) are too. Perhaps I and countless other internet detective dweebs were wrong about her. However, I do still find it suspicious that they would include two scenes of a young Audrey expressing sexual knowledge far beyond her years, but perhaps it wasn’t an indicator of something more disturbing after all.
-The owner of the bar that Cohle has been bartending at had a son who went missing in ’85 and was never heard from again. Also, the bar has a prominent deer head (with antlers) displayed because of course it does.
-Just what the hell was Maggie doing in that bar anyway? Cohle’s reaction to her was actually justified in that situation.
-The male prostitute from the beginning who attended Light of the Way and remembered “dreams” involving men with animal masks is yet another victim/suspects that can be seen in this yearbook photo:
-“Don’t look at me, I ain’t never been able to control him” Marty on Cohle. You can’t control the Cohle, you can only hope to contain him.
-“My life’s been a circle of violence and degradation as long as I can remember…I’m ready to tie it off.” See what I mean! Always with the circles…
Well, that’s it for me. Remember: him who eat time…death is not the end, rejoice!