I shouldn’t be allowed to watch anything involving crime drama/mystery/basically anything cool or potentially mind-blowing. Why? Because I get too involved and my imagination runs wild with theories like an unbridled pony down an undiscovered beach except this particular pony never stops or sleeps at night because all it does is think excitedly about possible conclusions.
This time, however, I was sort of right about the ending, so I feel like exploring it a bit. If you don’t want to hear anything about HBO’s True Detective, stop reading!
So, basically, I got too into it and after some investigations, suddenly was checking out a case from Louisiana involving sexual abuse and other creepy stuff. Then I read Robert Chambers’ 1895 book of stories titled The King in Yellow, which was suggested because both the show and book, both mystery/horror themed, mentioned Carcosa and a yellow king and a mysterious yellow sign. The stories were good, but also supernatural, which led a lot of people to think the show was going to end similarly.
My mind considered a bunch of theories and in the end I thought to myself, what if this is one thing that ends on a positive note? What if they solve the case and evil doesn’t prevail? What if that’s part of the twist? Sure, everything leading up to it was…sick. We saw a cheating husband, pessimism about life and what happens after death, gangs, kidnapping, sexual abuse, frightening rituals, a big guy in a gas mask and dirty underpants, excessive drinking and drug use, a video of a child being sacrificed and, unfortunately, I’ll never be able to forget how Erroll Childress fingered his half-sister in that dirty house near all those creepy dolls. Jesus.
In the end, light won (or is winning). Carcosa was a place and idea that represented evil and often corrupted innocence. In Chambers’ book, Carcosa is a mysterious, dim, possibly cursed city. I think Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson visited a version of Carcosa in multiple ways throughout the show, but they ultimately don’t allow themselves to be consumed by darkness and are rewarded with another chance. I could go into serious depth here, but if you watched you’ll likely understand.
I like the light vs. dark theme, which of course exists in stories and real life.
In real life, we tell ourselves stories, hide behind stories, tell our children stories and even grew countries and religions out of stories. Stories are everywhere. Those who watched the show watched a story about a story based on a story that references other stories and we ourselves are a story and so on.
I think one theme of the first season asked, “What stories are you surrounding yourself with?” We choose what and who surrounds us and the show reminds us that it’s easy to be led down paths and become consumed by the theme and mood of our interests, stories and beliefs (all of which are our choosing). Interestingly, in Chambers’ stories, anyone who reads The King in Yellow play is driven mad by it. The killer in the show was crazy because of stories and sick rituals, the detectives were in and out of their own versions of “madness” because they were consumed by the case and on our level, anyone who watched may have gone a little crazy with excitement over theories and the mystery of the show.
Now that’s some excellent writing.
Please feel free to share below any thoughts or theories if you watched and want to discuss!