Marty and Rust meet up at a bar and after some pressure about paying off one's debts, Marty agrees to go with Rust to his mysterious storage shed. What's in there is a bunch of the usual hilarious conspiracy nonsense -- including a spiral painted on the entire sliding door, so good luck getting your deposit back -- and a few less funny things: In the thefts from Billy Lee Tuttle's various houses a few weeks before his death, Rust came up with some icky Polaroids as well as an old VHS of little Marie Fontenot (the niece of the baseball player guy) getting gang-raped by a bunch of guys in animal masks, which matches up with what Rust learned from Rianne's various Wellspring classmates.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, Marty and Rust fall back into their partnership, easier with each other than ever, which is at least as gratifying for us as it seems to be for their sad lonely asses. When Marty drops by Maggie's house after two years, she acknowledges it as some kind of possible goodbye depending on where this all takes them; Rust later confirms to her, and to Marty in plain English, that the second he takes down the King in Yellow he plans on topping himself for good because his life is so depressing.
Working through Marty's PI business, the boys pull some old case files that bring them two new witnesses: An old housekeeper for the Tuttles and a distant cousin of the Ledouxes. The former is some kind of Carcosan initiate, based on her demented reaction to the twig sculptures, but the latter's just happy to be rid of Reggie and Dewall for good. Both witnesses remember the scars on the face guy -- apparently the three of them were notable for not wearing animal masks -- and give hints that the eventual answer is to be found in the sprawling, bastard-filled family trees of Louisiana.
In particular, Grandpa Sam Tuttle's disinterest in women after he's devirginized them, even if they bore him children, which has certainly increased the population along the bayous. In particular, his grandson, the sole survivor of the three-man crew we've been tracking, who maybe took their ancestral syncretist pagan Mardi Gras black-hood animal-mask festivals a little too far... And is that great big feller on a riding lawnmower, of course, whose scarred face we've never seen all the way up close.
The episode ends -- as Marty and Rust fully kidnap the sheriff of a neighboring parish for covering up the Fontenot case in the first place, knowing he's connected -- with the 2012 cops following the Boys' leads and blowing off Spaghetti Man right before he tells them exactly how influential his family really is. That part was spooky as shit, even if the recurring spooky music didn't really help as much as it wanted to. Lots of things managed to succeed better than they wanted to actually, thanks to the more focused timeline and almost complete lack of the show's more eye-rolling usual indulgences.
Mostly it was a thrilling episode that played with the show's formalities -- time, interview structure, etc. -- in a way that was exciting to watch and never cut into the chemistry between the leads with any needless monologues, but still managed to cram in as many shitty "crazy old black lady oracle" and "molested gender-queer sex worker" lazy tropes as we've come to expect. Turns out actually telling a story, instead of talking about the story you're supposedly telling, leaves you a lot less room to show your ass. But best of all you get a real door into Rust's particular brand of crazy, where he's been, and how easy it is for Marty to take him back. It's like watching them both come back to life; supremely satisfying.
Finale: The trail of naked dead girls leads finally to Carcosa, where death has no dominion and everybody is related.
Cohle realized that the constant clues pointing toward a vast good ol' boy conspiracy of rapine and carnage might actually signify something, seven years after the fact. Then he had sex with Maggie Hart, lost his shit all over everybody, and ran away, either to Alaska or a nearby bunker where nobody saw him for ten years but is somewhere in town. Then Reverend Tuttle, a minor character from several episodes ago, sadly died; also a girl died. Now Cohle is all over the place! He is investigating and in turn being investigated, Maggie and Marty can't stop saying lovely things about their mentally ill, long-ago acquaintance, and Cohle would like very much for Marty to buy him a beer and also become a crazy person like him. Marty is set to oblige, although he is bringing a gun.
The jukebox in this bar thinks for a long time before deciding to play "Angel of the Morning," a Juice Newton classic that was actually written about this one time a cop's wife boned her husband's partner instead of just filing for divorce like a normal person.
Cohle: "You look older and like you have something in your mouth at all times."
Marty: "You look like you died and brought back to life in a sewer."
Cohle: "Did you ever notice that there is a serial killer? You can tell by how nobody talks about it and there is no proof. That's because the state police and the newspapers and the government and also religion are all terrible things that exist solely to keep the white man down. That's why I put my money in Bitcoin."
Marty: "I'm only here because I am lonelier than anyone who has ever lived, due to my fucked-up notions about masculinity. But even though I am so lonely I am even happy to see you, it does bear noting that you seem to be on drugs and even crazier than before."
Cohle: "I spent the last ten years drinking, because of these twigs I once found."
Marty: "I can't tell if I am settling for you because I am lonely, or the other way around."
Cohle: "It's a shame you shot Reggie Ledoux before he could explain this show to us, seventeen years ago. Also because he was awesome. But for a third reason, because this story isn't even an indictment of privilege and decadence but just about this one gross family that everybody is related to each other. Would you like to see my storage shed?"
Marty: "No. I wish you ill."