Who's the King in Yellow, when he's at home? Just your average sister-fucking swamp person, given to amazing flights of rhetoric in a bizarre British accent, bouts of dog-kicking, and staring at little kids while licking his lips. He's got his daddy tied up and dying for burning his face, his sister-wife in another house busily working toward a special episode of Hoarders and, a bit further out in the property, an honest-to-God Carcosa that's every bit as damned and beautiful as you could possibly want.
I have not been this impressed with a person, or a performance, since probably Reggie Ledoux first stole my heart. He brings exactly the otherworldly menace and cursed wisdom that could trap you -- Dora Lange, Rust Cohle, the Ledoux boys themselves -- in that magic swampy darkness forever. Just phenomenal. Marty and Cohle are solid, of course, but whatever Milchian heights the show's been stretching itself toward the entire time have really broken through here. I could watch those parts over and over, it's great.
So following on from last week, the Sheriff Steve situation is tied up neatly: Once shown the VHS tape that drives you crazy if you watch it, he doubles down on passing the buck. Less predictably, his threats are answered with slight sniper fire as we learn that Rust's pal the bar owner has volunteered to kill Geraci and mail out all the evidence if the Boys don't come home from this final assault. The 2012 Cops are also brought into the situation as a just in case, and end up saving the day in a way.
After that bit of housekeeping, Marty and Rust track the King down -- admittedly through the most nonsensical and ludicrous sequence of clues yet -- and things shift into Lambs mode real quick, as an irritated Marty tries to get the sister to stop worshiping the King long enough to give him a straight answer about anything, while Rust climbs through maze after maze, half inside his own imagination, looking for the King. (Sound editing on this show, always a plus right up there with the gorgeous cinematography and clever, heartfelt direction, deserves a special shout-out here.)
The episode highlights everything good in the Boys' relationship through the ages -- particularly this last mission, as they've finally accepted each other's intuition and come to trust each other so deeply, and so believably -- so it's only fair that it ends in the heart of Carcosa, a beautiful stinking cavernous cathedral where the King puts a familiar knife in Rust and a hammer right in Marty's chest, before Rust finally takes him out for good. Marty and Rust cuddle up to die, at the bottom of this well, but eventually we see them both rescued.
The show's epilogue covers a lot of ground, as Marty is first welcomed back into his family and then offers himself up as a sort of John the Baptist to Rust's ragged prophet. It is acknowledged, by the men and the show at large, that they didn't really end anything about their horrible universe except this one gross dude, but that's only an obvious stop on the way to the story's final moments, as Rust explains his near-death experience of divinity (and one, note, that doesn't contradict anything else he's ever said, which is the real genius twist here) before offering up a simple, final prayer:
If the sky is a battle between dark and light, it's true the darkness has more territory and always will. But once, there were no stars at all: And that means the stars are winning.
A show that never shied away from breathlessly explaining its own profundity is certainly within its own limits to do so here. But this finale episode, and scene -- if not quite justifying the heavy load that came before it -- get a lot closer to transcendence, and beauty, than we'd explained to us anyway. Just an excellent ride, from start to finish. Well done.
An elderly domestic pointed the Boys toward Sam Tuttle's bastards and grandbastards, then pinned a tail on it by knowing about Carcosa. Marie Fontenot's death, covered up by a deputy, was captured on film -- and the Boys have kidnapped him to get the story.
Out in the jungle is a property with lots of houses on it; there's garbage everywhere, stuff we don't want anymore. One of them has a contract with the parish -- doing odd jobs at schools and cemeteries -- and scars along the bottom of his face. He grins into the camera, talking to his father, William Lee, the man that tortured and raped him, and his sister, into monsters just like himself. The flies are getting to him, tied to a bedframe; his mouth is sewn shut. Errol William Childress is almost beautiful in his madness. The monster's almost dead.
Errol heads out into the yard, back to the main house. It stinks; the garbage is left inside there, rotting. Broken dolls everywhere. They're not just set dressing.
The TV is on, set to North by Northwest. One of my favorite characters of all time is in that movie, the Martin Landau character. I could watch it over and over, just for him. But Errol likes James Mason, likes his clipped received pronunciation. He likes to do different accents. His natural one is marred by a cleft palate, but he uses it when he has to; it's part of the mask.
Betty's in the kitchen. She asks too many questions, and Errol rages, scaring the dog out of the house altogether. His chest barrels out when he speaks in James Mason; he strides. He is a King.
"Top-notch walk this morning, top-notch constitutional. It's been weeks since I left my mark, would that they had eyes to see."
The last time he left one to be found was seventeen years ago. The plan didn't work that time. Lake Charles should work better.
Betty cringes, working her way into the living room. She asks him to make flowers; it's their language, all their life, for what they like to do. They taught it to themselves after they were lost. This house is their heaven. It looks just like everything.
"Now Betty, I have very important work to do. My ascension removes me from the disc and the loop. I'm near final stage. Some mornings I can see the infernal plane."
For the first time in three weeks he traces flowers on his sister's clitoris, draws them out until she is shaking, as he's done ever since they were children. He tells her the story of how Sam Tuttle founded Carcosa. The day their grandfather raped Errol in the cane fields, before his scars. When they were still beautiful.