Episode # 4 – Who Goes There. There were many underlying themes prevalent in this episode. Themes of personal relationships eroding, professional relationships becoming strained and the dangerous side to being in the line of undercover detective business were all evident.
Hart is a man who is conflicted. He feels that he can have his cake and eat it too, as if nothing or nobody will shatter his world. Wake up call comes in the ugliest and yet, not surprising of ways. The ex-mistress decides to take matters into her own hands after a particularly snide and sarcastic encounter with Hart outside the courtroom. You just know what is going to happen and in a way, we all know that Hart deserves it. He wife leaves him, leaving Hart full of rage and abuse. It was only a matter of time before that ticking time bomb went off.
Cohle, on the other hand, states that during a break in their case with a very good lead, he has to leave for ‘personal reasons.’ His father, whom he was estranged, had leukemia. Allegedly. During part of his interrogation scene, I got the sense that the two detectives who were interviewing Cohle knew he was lying. Just look at the body language and the glances they gave each other. How does that make sense, while working on a high pressure case, that a detective just happens to up and leave, stating personal reasons? I know that in my line of work, I would have to be providing a whole lot of paperwork to support my claim. Those detectives later tell Hart that they could not find any trace of Travis Cohle, or any hospital records that would support Cohle’s reasons to leave.
We also hear, first hand from Dora’s ex-husband about the kind of man Reggie LeDoux is: violent, a criminal record that was filled with drug related busts and sexual assaults. Amongst other things, apparently the man is a genius when it comes to mixing illegal substances together: he can ‘cook’ up all kinds of drugs with household solvents and products, producing some of the best drugs to sell. Charlie shared a cell with the man, and in the course of their many conversations, some very weird things came up: people who worship the Devil, women and children being sacrificed in these ritual type killings, the kinds of drugs he cooked and the fact that he only made drugs for one particular client. Chilling and eerie. Charlie even stated he was scared of Reggie, because Reggie was a big man, not the kind you wanted to anger, especially when you are the cell mate. I guess life in prison is all about survival and self-preservation.
In a very bold and dangerous move, Cohle and Hart stake out an undercover operation, with Cohle doing most of the dangerous dirty work. When Cohle was an undercover narcotics officer, he made a contact by the name of Ginger, who is a very violent and dangerous man who runs with an Eastern Texas motorcycle gang. A thug who “embraces the outlaw life.” Knowing full well that things could go wrong at any time, Cohle, who Ginger knows as “Crash,” has to put an on extremely convincing act. He dresses in a leather jacket, sniffs some drugs, puts on some gangster swag and tries to feel out the situation. He gives a large packet to Ginger, like a token of goodwill, to bring Ginger around. Testing the product, Ginger realizes it may be worth his while to come in for “the deal” that Crash is suggesting. Eventually, Ginger and Cohle come to terms: Ginger will let him in on the link to Reggie LeDoux IF he comes along to do a break and enter ride along with a few of Ginger’s men, to a projects style area in Beaumont. Of course, all this goes down, after Cohle has been to Ginger’s trailer and sniffed a small quantity of drugs.
You just know that something is going to go awry during what should have been a simple in and out, robber mission. Lot of guns, lot of men and a lot of tension and hostility do not make for a successful snatch and grab mission. At this point, viewers see an all-out shoot out, in which Cohle, realizing that he may not get out alive, has to blow his cover and he ends up taking out a lot of guys in the process. He takes Ginger with him and they go in and out of these project houses, all the while screaming and gun fire echo in the distance. At any given moment, those guns could be turned on Cohle and Ginger. Ginger realizes that Cohle isn’t what he seems, especially when Hart rolls up in the car.
Several questions go through my mind as the episode fades to black: are Cohle and Hart lying to the detectives? It seemed to me that both men have things that they are desperately trying to cover up. Why? For what purpose and for whose gain?
Cohle said he needed to take a leave for personal reasons. What were those reasons? Did he really go see his father?
Hart’s domestic drama: if Cohle doesn’t want to get in the middle of Maggie and Hart’s train wreck of a marriage, why did he decide to speak with Maggie in the diner? Why did Maggie make the remark to Cohle that he must have been some kind of husband? Low blow, if you ask me.
Why did Cohle deliberately lie to Hart about his marriage and if it could be salvaged? I understand that Cohle wanted to make sure that Hart was focused on the undercover job they were about to pull, but why lie and give someone false hopes?
One line in particular resonated with me throughout the episode. The line where Cohle says to Hart about the time he was working with a cartel on the border of Texas and Mexico and the torture methods they employed. They cut around your face, pull your skin by the scalp and peel off, while there is a mirror there, so you can see. In this episode, many people are wearing ‘faces’ in order to hide behind.
Hart wears a different face: one when he was with his mistress, one when he was with his wife and one on the job. Cohle wears one on the job and the other when he was conducting business with Ginger and his crew. What is it that both these men are not telling and what really happened 17 years prior that put an end to their professional relationship?