5 Unanswered Questions from the 'True Detective' Finale

MichaelKolander by MichaelKolander on Mar. 10, 2014

5 Unanswered Questions from the 'True Detective' Finale

In case you're an idiot, Spoiler Alert!!!

There’s no doubt that True Detective’s first season was one of the most entertaining television series in recent memory. But last night’s finale left a lot to be desired. To be clear, it wasn’t an extreme disappointment like some other shows (Battle Star Galactic, American Horror Story: Season 1Lost, etc.). And to be fair, it had some exciting, extremely intense moments. But on the whole, it was still a pretty unsatisfying ending to an otherwise spectacular season.

I’m not the type of person who expects everything to wrap up in a nice little package. After all, some plot points are better off left to the imagination (Where is Walter White’s money?). But True Detective left us with some major questions unanswered. I’m not sitting around wondering what happened to Ginger (frankly, I don’t want to know). But when a major conspiracy central to the plot is explained away with one line on the TV news, you can’t expect viewers to walk away feeling content.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five unanswered questions from the True Detective finale.

What the Hell Happened to Marty’s Daughter?

Granted, this is the weakest question on my list, but it’s worth asking.

At a young age, Audrey was drawing pictures of graphic sex acts and using her dolls to portray scenes of group sex. By the time she reached high-school, she became, as Marty put it, “captain of the varsity slut team.” Why?

Of course, having an absentee, alcoholic father who is also a serial adulterer is a perfectly valid explanation. But when you add a plotline about a sexually troubled girl into a show about ritualistic sexual abuse, viewers are going to draw some conclusions.

It's safe for viewers to conclude that Audrey will grow and go to ASU."

Normally, there’s nothing wrong with a red herring that keeps viewers guessing, but this wasn’t really a misdirection so much as a plot line that went nowhere. I guess it helped establish that Marty’s family life was crumbling, but there are ways to do that without Audrey wearing a crown similar to the one worn by murder victim Marie Fontenot. Of course, maybe writer Nic Pizzolatto doesnt buy the whole "Chekhov's gun" thing, which is fine. But it seems like he went out of his way to imply that Audrey was involved in the larger plot, and I’m not sure why.

Why Was Dora Lange’s Body Left To Be Found?

As we now know, Errol Childress was responsible for the deaths of numerous women and children. He managed to keep his decades-long killing spree under the radar by using his family connections to deflect attention from law enforcement, and by maintaining a low profile as a lowly groundskeeper. So why did he decide to leave Dora Lange’s body where it could easily be found, and why did he take the extra step of lighting the field on fire in order to attract attention?

Hold still!

I know serial killers do weird shit, so it’s not a stretch to believe that someone would do this on purpose. But outside Lange and the dead girl who reignites the investigation in 2012, Childress never draws attention to his crimes. So why does he do so with Lange?

For the sake of argument, let’s say Errol simply wanted to be caught, or draw attention to his family’s cult. That leads us to yet another question.

Why Does The Tuttle Cult Tolerate Errol Childress?

The Tuttle-Family Sex Cult is made up of extremely powerful political and religious figures who use their influence to hide unspeakable crimes. So why do they stick their necks out for Errol Childress, a bastard relative living a life of incestuous squalor?

Errol Childress in happier, more incestuous times!

Blood is thicker than water, I suppose. And it’s possible that Errol couldn’t go down without the entire family breaking his fall. But when Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle lost his snuff film, Rust implied the Tuttle family staged his suicide to keep things quiet. If they’re willing to off a powerful religious figure, then why would they hesitate to eliminate a backwoods maniac like Errol who has lead the police right to the family’s door?

How Does Senator Tuttle Mange to Keep His Family’s Crime A Secret?

Before Rust heads out to find Errol, he leaves a stack of packages to be mailed to various law enforcement agencies and media outlets. Inside these packages are details of his investigation, and a copy of the snuff film stolen from Billy Lee Tuttle. Yet at the hospital, we find out from a news broadcast that the FBI is denying Senator Tuttle is related to Errol. How is this possible?

Didn't anyone read my blog, RustyTrombone.biz?

I can understand why the federal government might not want to publicize the fact that a sitting US Senator is part of a murder-sex cult, but the information is already out there. Why wouldn’t the press report on it when multiple outlets already know the truth? More importantly, the two men who broke the case are still alive. Why aren't reporters clamoring to speak with Rust or Marty about their accusations against the Tuttle family? And why aren’t Rust and Marty screaming what they know about the Tuttle family to anyone who will listen? Which brings us to my last question.

Why Did Rust and Marty Just Give Up?

In the hospital, Rust complains to Marty about the fact that aside from Errol, the Tuttle family will go unpunished. Marty replies, “We ain’t gonna get them all. That ain’t the kind of world it is. But we got ours.”


Honestly, one passing line about Senator Tuttle on the TV news isn't going to cut it. If both Rust and Marty had died, or even just Rust, I could have swallowed an FBI cover up. But both men lived, and they have a paper trail, not to mention a snuff film stolen from Tuttle's brother's house. Of course, it's Rust's word against the Tuttle family, but considering he just used his evidence to catch a serial killer, I think he's built up some credibility. Why is he willing to walk away with so much left unfinished? It makes no sense.

My biggest problem is that True Detective built up a huge conspiracy involving powerful figures who have prison inmates killed on a whim, but then reduced it all down to a mentally-ill groundskeeper with some melee weapons. The show was one hell of a ride, but such a great season deserved a more thoughtful ending. 

That said, how can I be that upset with a show that gave us this scene...

She should really start a muder-sex cult.

All bitching aside, great job, guys!

John-P-Nightingale-201 User

Loved the show. Anyone notice that the left rear tail light of Rust's red pickup was miraculously fixed by the final episode??? Despite having been busted because of the parking lot fight back in 2002 and continuing so, up until  the scene in 2012 where Rust confronts Marty on the Louisiana back road

Madison-Chua-245 User

I commend Mr Kolander for articulating so well what I thought about the show. That's why I went on line and typed "True Detective Makes No Sense" and got this piece on the grand finale. There are a lot of plot holes in this huge web of intrigues. The most glaring would be the bodies displayed in the open, for all to see, drawing attention to crimes that stretch back for years. Why would anyone do that? It just makes no sense. Is it ego? Death wish to get caught? I don't get it. And how the two detectives eventually pieced together the puzzle... now that didn't take long, did it? Painting of the house green, interviewing the old resident and viola! They have their suspect.  LOL It's shoddy story-telling.

Peter-Ortner-437 User

2nd Point: I think Childress had the job to acquire the children/women for the family. Because he had access.

Rik-Steur-83 User

First, what happened to his daughter, puberty, stupid question

Second why was dora langes body left to be found? All the bodies where left to be found but this one made the newspapers

Why do the tuttles tolerate errol childress? Because they where a gang of psychopatic christians thats why.

How do they menage to keep it a secret, dont know,

And last why do they give up? They don't, marty says: we ain't gonna get 'em all (all te criminals) but we got ours (their criminal) that's the kinda world it is,

Rust complains about the world not their case

Tom-Brown-79 User

You're right: you 1st point is the weakest. From the beginning I never thought the rape scene with Audrey's dolls was anything more than a consequence of her and her sister's imagination coupled w/ their Dad's profession and the news. Nothing she does is really that bizarre, is it? Well w/in the bounds of teenage behavior.

However, the rest of your points, especially points 2 and 3 are EXCELLENT!!! I made both over at reddit. I had a list of over 20 problems, but 3 and then 2 were at the top of my list. I was wondering if anybody else out there had a problem with it. Thanks you!!

Your points 4 and 5 and excellent too. I didn't even think of you #5, but it's a great one too.

It really kind of ruined the show for me to be honest. Those are some gaping wide holes in the plot!

Revisiting your #3 and #2 (my biggest problems with the show): they COULD have been turned into an interesting addition to the plot, but this was not explored ... in favor of letting Rust ruminate I guess. Here's one way those questions could have been answered: suppose there was a power struggle within the Tuttle/Childress/DeLeux clans. Maybe the middle class Childress had some reason to protect Errol (the law enforcement branch of the clan), and they were holding something over the heads of the richer more powerful Tuttles. They could have made an interesting bad guy power struggle out of it, but instead we have this view of a united front being put up to cover for Errol the maniac for 17 long years... with the sole exception of Rev. Tuttle who went out of his way to hide his perversions (totally unlike Errol!), and gets whacked immediately. It makes ZERO sense!

andyman4 User

who called the cops, as they had no cell phone signal??? HUH?

gonzagylot User

The price for Marty wasting Ladoux was that they didn't get to keep pulling the thread. 

The price for Cohle wasting Errol was that they didn't get to keep pulling the thread.