More than any other thing I have missed from season one of True Detective, that has been missing thus far in season two, is the sense of existential dread. That dread was made manifest by the philosophical ramblings of Rust Cohle, and for those who were in the know, the constant references to the Yellow King.
The Yellow King, for those of you who don’t know, also goes by the name of Hastur. Hastur is a part of the Cthulu mythos, a ruler of a celestial place called Carcosa, a place between places that if one gains knowledge of is driven insane. It’s a somewhat common theme with Lovecraftian horror, and as such was a theme that came along with using the Yellow King mythos as texture for the first season. Season two has lacked this, until now.
The Bird Motif
From the first episode on, birds have been present in almost every scene. The bird mask was in the front seat of the car that carried Casper to the coast. Bird have been on lampshades and signs and surrounding the bloody hut last episode, were carrion birds. Maybe there is a more metaphorical meaning to the motif, but I think it points to a clue, specifically of which Great Old One is being worshiped this season. I don’t know which one, because I’m not that into the Cthulu mythos, but it’s probably so sufficiently obscure that no one will guess it like they did last season.
The Russians and Catalyst
In the last episode we saw the Russian gangster who Frank had tried to ally himself with in the first episode, make a deal with the head of Catalyst. Catalyst, for those of you who don’t remember, is the company behind the high speed rail deal. All season I’ve just assumed that they were a front for criminal enterprise, not that they were facilitating it, and certainly not that they were cultish. We got the first taste of that as Jacob McCandless said, “The full moon is the best time to ratify new alliances.” In what world is that true? Who says that? Crazy devil worshipers, that’s who.
In addition, I’ve never gotten the vibe from the Russian that he was a gangster in a conventional sense. It is never specifically stated that he is a part of that mob, even though he does the same things that a gangster does (sell drugs, runs prostitutes, etc). It feels sort of like how in Daredevil season one they are always calling the Japanese the Yakuza, but its never the people who actually are in contact with them. That is important because those who know who they are know they’re not Yakuza, they are a mystical ninja association called “The Hand” that dates back hundreds of years. I think the story of this Russian group is similar, and when he says things like, “Our organization has very old rules,” it makes me think I’m right.
The Theme Song
Now I have to admit, I was completely and entirely wrong about this season’s theme song when I first wrote about it. I was so taken aback by how different the sound was that I couldn’t really focus on the lyrics or the images on the screen for weeks. Then my wife pointed something out: the lyrics change. I went back and listened. The first half is always the same, but the second changes. I’m going to save the various stanzas for another post, but suffice to say, it definitely has layers. If you’ve not listened to the song in full I really recommend it. It was written and performed by Leonard Cohen and appears to be about a man who left after a catastrophic middle eastern war and deals with the narrators alienation and separation from his previous life, but he always ends with the refrain, “Nevermind.” In the context of this story, I think it holds multiple meanings, specifically about how all the characters had to leave their past lives behind because of the damage they had either done of suffered, but also toward who our killer is, or at least whom they worship. The first verse goes:
“The war was lost/The treaty signed/I was not caught/I crossed the line/I was not caught/Though many tried/I live among you/Well disguised/I had to leave/My life behind/I dug some graves/You’ll never find/The story’s told/With facts and lies/I had a name/But never mind/Never mind”
Its, as I said before, about leaving a previous state, about a person leaving their country and their name behind. It later on follows:
“I could not kill/The way you kill/I could not hate/I tried I failed/You turned me in/At least you tried/You side with them/Whom you despise/This was your heart/This swarm of flies/This was once your mouth/This bowl of lies/You serve them well/I’m not surprised/You’re of their kin/You’re of their kind”
So the narrator of the story is talking to someone who hates, who is entirely deceitful, who they used to be on intimate terms with (“But we had names more intimate”) To me an old war that involves betrayal and lies, and someone who doesn’t want to mention their old name makes me think of one thing:
Lucifer being exiled from Paradise.
I could be totally wrong and off base, but Satanism was largely created in California (Anton LaVey) around the same time that Bezzerides father was beginning his spiritual awakening with none other than Chessani and Piltor, the men behind the creepy orgies that united the Russians and Catalyst. That makes me think the connection between her father’s new age hippie movement, the fact that a cleaning lady there is now a hooker at these parties, and that his two old buds are running these shows, is more than coincidence. Most likely this is some sort of devil worshiping cult, and the thematic elements of the theme song make me think its almost a sure thing.
Plus, look at this photo:
Yeah. That’s Bezzerides father and a bunch of naked old people standing in water at night. Nothing weird or cultish going on AT ALL. Just prepare yourselves. It’s about to get weird.