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Your Guide to Everything You Need to Know and Watch Before Tonight's 'True Detective' Finale

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! March 9, 2014 at 2:21PM

At last, it is finally upon us. The eighth episode, and season finale, of HBO's morbid southern gothic "True Detective" airs tonight. Was all that internet head-scratching, endless theorizing and obsessive close-reading in vain? Who is The Yellow King? Do we even care anymore?
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Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the first season of "True Detective."
Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the first season of "True Detective."

At last, it is finally upon us. The eighth episode, and season finale, of HBO's morbid southern gothic "True Detective" airs tonight. Was all that internet head-scratching, endless theorizing and obsessive close-reading in vain? Who is the hell is The Yellow King? Do we even care anymore? We've rounded up some of the juicy internet memes, criticism and clips you'll want to peruse ahead of the final episode.

Spoilers abound, so stop here unless you're caught up on the show.

  • In their hilarious sketch, Joel McHale and The Soup ponder, "Can Anyone Understand 'True Detective'?" while making playful nods at the internet's tendency to deconstruct every nuance, red herring and easter egg with a tweezer. 

  • Also below is another clever meme in which the narrator offers a bold take on the identity of The Yellow King. The video doubles as an amusing supplement to our own theories of the Yellow King -- who, for my money, is more of a figurehead for the show's larger themes than a literal figure -- while jabbing at the processes of criticism and close-reading. In "True Detective," looking for answers is like looking for patterns in the clouds: they're there if you're looking.

  • Check out this hilarious Tumblr that spoofs the metaphysical claptrap spouted by Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle, and the drawling conversations he shares with Woody Harrelson's wet blanket/moral monster Marty Hart. For example: "You been watching 'Looking'?" Hart asks Cohle. His response? "I'm too busy seeing to waste my time 'Looking.'"

  • Slate has assembled a "glossary" of all the weighty terms in the series, handily divided between "police jargon" and "metaphysical malarkey." It's hilarious, but also rather helpful in parsing who's-who in the show. I, for one, have a hard time keeping track of the Tuttles, whose stakes in Cohle's self-described "sprawling" conspiracy thriller are growing ever darker.

  • Check out our own Matt Brennan's saucy read, "A Southern's Defense of 'True Detective,'" who offers some much needed perspective on the series, under siege from feminists and critics alike for its skimpy female characters. The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum has some serious problems with the show.

  • Wired offers six possible theories about the identity of the Yellow King, a seemingly Where's Waldo that the internet can't stop harping on. These are all fairly plausible, but I'm still not convinced that Marty's ex-father-in-law is somehow involved in the serial killings. One loose end I can't seem to let go of, however, is Marty's sexually precocious daughter, who he found having sex in a parking lot with two older dudes. Earlier in the series, in the '90s-set segments, Marty stumbles upon her disturbingly prescient drawings, as well as a bunch of her freaky dolls assembled in such a way that creepily foreshadows the ritual rape Cohle uncovers on a snuff tape.

  • Writer/showrunner Nic Pizzolatto opens up to Buzzfeed about the insane (and frequently inane) "True Detective" theories cropping up. "Going into the final episode, I wanted to end any audience theorizing that Cohle or Hart was the killer, and also provide a concrete face to the abstract evil they’re chasing," he says. Sorry, internet.

  • Backstage at the Oscars, Matthew McConaughey informed us that he wouldn't be returning for the second season which, like "American Horror Story," will be a new story with a new cast. Before deleting the tweet, Pizzolatto teased that the next season may feature more female characters.

  • The Daily Beast deep dives into the satanic child sex abuse case that may have inspired the series: "The residents of the small, south Louisiana town of Ponchatoula discovered in 2005 there were monsters committing unspeakable acts to children and animals. The evil was reportedly carried out inside a church." Oof.

  • Read Robert Chambers' 1895 book of short stories "The King in Yellow" for free via Project Gutenberg. It inspired the series -- and is said to drive anyone who reads it completely insane.

This article is related to: True Detective, Television, HBO, HBO , Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Cary Fukunaga


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