If you’ve watched one episode of True Detective, HBO’s gritty meditation on good vs. evil, you’ve likely consumed them all — rabidly, and multiple times. Not since Lost has a television series so deeply tapped into our obsessive conspiracy theorist sides. And not since fans asked “What is the Island?” has the Internet been pondering one singular TV question: Who is the Yellow King?
At its core, True Detective is a story about two detectives, Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), partners who are haunted by a grisly occult murder that took place in Louisiana in 1995. (Spoilers ahead, so read on with caution.) The series time-jumps through 17 years of Rust and Marty’s tense relationship, from a horrific showdown with the (supposed) murderers in 1995, to the pair’s major falling-out in 2002, to a 2012 reconciliation of sorts prompted by the “debt” that weighs on both of their souls — the revelation that the killer is still out there.
The creepy clues revealed throughout the episodes so far have viewers obsessing over every little, beautifully crafted detail. Why was the body of Dora Lange, Rust and Cohle’s 1995 murder victim, found bound in a praying position under a tree, wearing only a crown made of deer antlers? The detectives keep coming across devil’s nests and painted spirals, whispers of Carcosa and the Yellow King. Rust is convinced the disappearances of women and children along the Louisiana Gulf for years have been tied to Lange’s ritualistic murder. Is the Tuttle family, powerful both politically and in the religious institutions of the Katrina-ravaged bayou, behind it all? In last week’s penultimate episode we met the oft-mentioned “tall man with scars,” who may also be the Spaghetti Monster — and the real killer. Or is he just a pawn?
True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto recently debunked the idea that either Rust or Marty were behind the murders, but plenty of other theories abound. Some fans have laid out their theses and True Detective tributes in painstaking detail for other obsessives to pore over; below are some of the most intriguing. Tune in to HBO on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET for the season finale, and to find out which ones were closest to the mark. READ FULL STORY