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'True Detective' Creator Debunks Fan Theories

Nic Pizzolatto says there's no way Rust Cohle or Marty Hart is the serial killer ahead of Sunday's finale

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Rust Cohle and Marty Hart on 'True Detective.'
Michele K. Short
March 6, 2014 2:45 PM ET

True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto put the kibosh on any speculation that either of the two troubled sleuths at the heart of his hit HBO show is the serial killer. The author told Buzzfeed, "Going into the final episode, I wanted to end any audience theorizing that Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) or Hart (Woody Harrelson) was the killer, and also provide a concrete face to the abstract evil they’re chasing." Fair warning, spoilers ahead.

Of the myriad theories suggesting Cohle or Hart was guilty, Pizzolatto said he was a little surprised, but not frustrated, that they continued to spring up, noting that suspicion was necessarily built into the show. "I just thought that such a revelation would be terrible, obvious writing," he said. "For me, the worst writing generally just 'flips' things: this person's really a traitor; it was all a dream; etc. Nothing is so ruinous as a forced 'twist,' I think."

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Pizzolatto addressed why he revealed the most likely suspect, Errol – a landscaper with familial connections to a wealthy preacher – at the end of the last episode, and what to expect in this week's season finale: "There’s enough fragmentary history in Episode 7 that, like Hemingway's iceberg, what is obscured can be discerned by what is visible. We have further context and dimension to explore with the killer, but the true questions now are whether Cohle and Hart succeed, what they will find, and whether they'll make it out alive."

Pizzolatto also spoke about the show's vibrant mysticism, something he saw constantly growing up, both in his own family (he was raised heavily Catholic), as well as the area of coastal Louisiana he grew up around. Along with the "Satanism panic" of the mid-80s and 90s, Pizzolatto pointed to a sex abuse and Satanism scandal at the Hosanna Church in Tangipahoa Parish in the mid 2000s.

"[W]e were prepped for the end of the world throughout grade school," Pizzolatto recalled of his own upbringing. "So the wild extremes of belief were always visible, and then to me it’s a short jump to a horror story. The ritual abuse in our show is the darkest side of belief, in a show where belief has been a steady underlying topic."

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Amidst all the rave reviews, True Detective has also come under fire for having elements of misogyny and only simple, dull female characters. Pizzolatto dismissed the notion that the women on the show, particularly Hart's wife, Maggie, are one-dimensional or under-developed, adding, "Given that neither of our leads has a healthy relationship with a woman, and given that we only see things in their POVs, that women are not given a full representation is correct for the story being told here."

With Cohle and Hart's story wrapping up this Sunday, Pizzolatto also spoke of what might be next for the anthology series, which will introduce a new cast and setting when it returns (assuming it does – the show hasn't been officially picked up for a second season, though Pizzolatto is already at work on the scripts). While the creator wouldn't give away too many details, he suggested he was inspired by various conspiracies that have plagued the Southern California government over the past 40 years.

As for what viewers should consider about before the finale, Pizzolatto didn't mention Yellow Kings or Carcosa, but offered this cryptic suggestion instead: "Anything they want. Binary systems, maybe."

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