True Detective Episode 5: “The Secret Fate of All Life”

By Ele on Feb 17, 2014 to True Detective

“Everyone is guilty.”


One of the most powerful quotes in last night’s episode really left viewers with the impression that both Cohle and Hart are guilty of things. Things that they have said, things that they have done. They are playing a very dangerous game of cat and mouse with Detectives Papania and Gilbough. During the course of the episode, you see the subtle glances that the two give each other and at appeared to me that while they were trying to do their job by trying to ascertain information from Hart and Cohle, they also planted some serious seeds of doubt. I didn’t really like what they were implying about Cohle, either. (Could Cohle be deliberately withholding information….or does he have something to do with the crimes directly? Ties to LeDoux? Ties to the killings?)

Once again, throughout the questioning, we find that Hart and Cohle lied to their superiors while at that secluded residence, where we saw that very scary looking man covered in tattoos, wearing that strange looking mask and wielding a machete. We hear that there was a shootout and that both detectives had no choice but to fire in the line of duty and in self-defense. It was as if they had been engaged in a western style, Clint Eastwood cowboy duel to the death when the reality is both men had been on the premises with no back up and had no called in for additional support. The reality was that Cohle had brought Ginger for a ride to a bar, got to see who LeDoux’s partner was and from there, followed him to that house. No massive gang shooting at them, no huge bombs going off and bullets flying at their heads. Quite the opposite, in fact. Cohle, with his experiences growing up in Alaska, seemed to know his way around the fields and the tall grasses and trees surrounding the property. Good thing – the place was rigged with grenades. Obviously, whatever was going on at that compound was highly dangerous and illegal – enough to have booby-traps laid all around, in order to make sure that people who trespass on the property end up dead.

What we see in the flashbacks is Hart shooting that strange man, because of what he found inside of a truck: children. Children who were wasting away, catatonic and/or dead. In a way, I don’t blame Hart for doing what he did. However, the second man dropped his equipment and ran, and poof! Blew up into bits. Two suspects dead. Two children found. Cohle and Hart doing their best to make the scene look like a firing squad came through it. Police procedure requires that detectives debrief with their superiors about the incident and I am positive that the two made sure that their story had absolutely no holes or errors in it. They are hailed as heroes.

However, you just know that this period of tranquility will not last for long. Professionally, both men receive accolades for their performance on duty. Years later, both men are seemingly happy in their personal lives, too. Hart was making an honest effort to repair the relationship between his wife and daughters – he was in an alcohol prevention program and doing counselling with his wife. Cohle became involved with a doctor that Maggie worked with and he seemed quiet and happy. Nothing is ever as it seems and we hear Hart reflecting on that while he was trying to improve things with his wife, well, there are a few bumps in the road, here and there. (Eventually, it is made known that Marty and Maggie divorced)


“Do you know what happened between them?” Papania asks Hart, in reference to Cohle’s relationship with his new girlfriend. “The same thing that always happens between men and women: reality.” The reality is that while Cohle was seemingly happy, you just know that bubble is about to burst, given the way Cohle views the world and the events that take place in it. It is the same way with Hart. Although things start to look good, and the relationship with Maggie seems to be on the mend and getting back to a happy one, Hart also experiences some domestic issues when one of his daughters is picked up by a fellow Sheriff for having sexual relations with not just one boy, but two. Viewers see Hart’s old macho character slowly rear its’ ugly head. I’m not a parent yet but I am sure there are times where parenting is one of the most challenging occupations that men and women have to go through. You just want to do your best to provide a safe and stable home environment for your children, in the hopes that they grow up to become respectful, loving and intelligent human beings. I thought it was interesting how Hart was trying to make an attempt to figure out what Audrey’s ‘deal’ was – with her Goth style dress and hostile attitude, while speaking to his younger daughter, Masie, in a more loving and proud tone. Hart has two daughters, one he ends up slapping across the face in fury, due to her promiscuous behavior and the other he is pleased and proud of because she is sweet and pliant.

2002 rolls around. With it, some very probing questions and revealing statements come forth, with horrifying results. Imagine that you have solved a case of a gruesome murder years prior and years later, while helping assist some colleagues with a confession from a suspect who has been charged with murder, that this suspect says something that gets your ire up. Gets the hairs on the back of your neck to stand straight up. Cohle loses his cool – which he is known for throughout the series for – and begins to beat the suspect. The very fact that the ‘Yellow King’ was mentioned years later and that there are ‘big people’ involved with that and the killer is still out there is a problem. A HUGE problem. What did this suspect really know? Who are these big people he alluded to? WHY did he commit suicide after receiving a call from his lawyer? Who was the lawyer? Why did this lawyer call from a public payphone? All valid questions to some very damning events.


Cohle looks like he is a man possessed and needs to find answers. Which brings him to the old school. I was on pins and needles, watching him wade through the school. It was dark, decrepit and eerie. I kept thinking at any moment, someone was hiding in the shadows, spying on him. As he walks through the hallway and classrooms, he sees more of those ‘wooden devil traps’ and pictures of creepy looking children on the wall. Something drew Cohle there; otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered to go there or to the original crime scene with the fields and the large tree. Viewers also saw several references to round shapes – the beer cans crushed into small, circular shapes, the circular wooden object on the tree.

What evidence did Hart and Cohle miss out on? How could their investigation been different if they had been able to speak with the custodian who was cutting the grass? Or if they had gone into the high school and did a detailed search for more evidence? Why are Gilbough and Papania implying Cohle was involved in the murders? Why is there so much evidence piling up against Cohle? Why did he ‘go off the grid’ for years and then all of sudden, turn up in Louisiana, especially around a time where there were more murders? What are Papania and Gilbough trying to extract from both Hart and Cohle? Of the two detectives, was Hart just a means to an end and Cohle the brilliant, yet criminal mastermind behind something more disturbing? Is this something to do with the occult and linking it with the church? Who are the ‘men in high places?” Why did Cohle walk out the police station? Why do Papania and Gilbough seem insistent on seeing the contents of Cohle’s storage unit?

A lot of questions. A lot of doubt. It made for a very riveting episode.  Here’s a preview for next week:

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10 Comments on "True Detective Episode 5: “The Secret Fate of All Life”"

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Got something else to share…. remember opening scene where shadows

are walking and field is burning…. that is (I THINK) just my theory is
the closing of episode 8.
Rusty is either dead and Marty is burning him, or Both Rusty and Marty are burning the evil Yellow king and his men.

This is just my 2 cents and I might be wrong. What do you think?

Am i the only one that has seen the Yellow King?! Episode #2 The Yellow King makes his appearance in the second episode! Although you can’t tell who he is, it’s definitely him. Go back and watch the scene where Marty and Rust tell the lady with the messed up finger nails about the girl they found under the tree.(The old ladies daughter) As she’s telling about her husband not being able to bath his own children the camera pans to a picture of 5 men on horse back and a girl standing on the ground in front if them.… Read more »

Great catch. Supposedly the show and its advertising are full of bits like this. it makes the show that much more ineresting.

This is one of the BEST Shows I’ve seen in a while. I am not happy to hear the woody and matt will not be back. I cannot imagine any other 2 actors. Matt plays an awesome character. Woody is great also. Hope we don’t have to wait too long for its return.

Upon furthur thought I need to modify a statement made below. I said Hart has been duped bu Cohle. May I add that Cohle has also been duped by Hart. He has said things and diverted attentions in interesting ways as well, One example is involves the school house that we saw featured again in this episode. If Cohle were the killer why would he need to investigate the school with gloves and go back to the tree? If he’s the killer he knows all of this stuff. If you recall the first visit to the school Hart stopped Cohle… Read more »
My husband has said something along the same lines. Everyone is focused on Cohle because of his ‘insane’ dialogue and his appearance, his vacant eyes and his general outlook on life. However, my husband said what about Hart? He’s a bit unstable – he beat up his mistress’ boyfriend, made threats to her on the phone, talked about hunting a 10 point buck and claims that “I’m not a psycho.” I don’t know. I feel that they are both deliberately misleading Papania and Gilbough. I am almost hoping that Cohle wants those two to get a warrant and search out… Read more »
I must agree that the episodes are getting more nerve wracking. We have lies upon lies, clues upon clues, and to what crazy end? The path we are on is leading one way but be warned it is not to late to lead us down this suspicious path for another episode and then throw us a big twist at the end. But even if Cohle is not a muderer he is still a diabolical person. One large clue to his wicked shrewdness was the whole speech to the interrogated criminal – plead you were not culpable due to influencing substances.… Read more »
I agree, Jef. Although my husband did tell me that the True Detective Reddit site is full of discussion posts, he’s been a good spouse and has told his friends about reading up on HBO Watch and telling people to check out the series. I’ve told a few colleagues and sure enough, they have started watching it and have said it is engrossing, like watching a long movie. I thought it was odd that Cohle was drinking. But then, it occurred to me that when a person drinks while they are under some sort of investigation and being recorded, when… Read more »

Something else I’d been meaning to include was the colour yellow and how prevalent it is in almost every single episode. Gives a gritty and eerie feel to the scenery. As well, when Rusty is shooting the machine gun into the trees and fields, note that his face is almost entirely obscured by another circular object, the part of the gun. These circles, the colour yellow, black stars, the Yellow King, all these clues are adding up to something very dark. Every episode gets a little more nerve wracking than the last.

Cole is a real person with a lot of issues From his past father being abusive To him growing up. Hart is nOt real.. He is a personality locked up in a Room in Coles head. Cole mighDt have Other people personalities up there too. He blacks out And his personalities Come out at different times. He can’t Face home so he turns into Marty. Marty sleeps at night but cole Never sleeps. All the people he Makes out of his beer cans represent A personality locked up in his head. They all wish they were real people, But only… Read more »

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