The plot to destroy education in Louisiana, on True DetectiveAnnalee Newitz2/25/14 1:53amFiled to: tv recaptrue detectivetelevision28014EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkJust when you think you know where True Detective is going, it punches your face and takes you down a new road. Last week we explored the horrors of fatalistic philosophy, but this week we got surprisingly political. Turns out that the root of all evil may be Christian voucher schools. Spoilers ahead!AdvertisementOne of the things I love about this show is that it's so smart it will just break your fucking heart. In last night's episode, we began to see that the tragedy in this show isn't just about the women and children who have been killed, and it isn't just about Rust and Marty. It's about the whole state of Louisiana, and how dark forces have tried to wreck it with lies and private "enterprise" schools that teach the Tuttle Ministries' approved curriculum. This is a show that's about nothing less than the demise of America.All season, Rust and Marty have been drawn deeper into the world of a cult which seems to worship Cthulhonic gods and sacrifice children in dark churches. We had hints that there might be something political lurking at the edges of the Lange case that began it all, especially when a Christian task force (headed by Billy Lee Tuttle) tried to step in and take the case away from the partners. But then, they actually found the dirty bastards who were kidnapping and killing kids. Or so they thought.AdvertisementBut in 2002, Rust is more obsessed than ever with the idea that they didn't catch the killer. Meanwhile, Marty is obsessed with destroying his own life. In this episode, we watch as both men spiral down toward the fight that ruins their friendship, each pursuing his own obsession with catastrophe. For Marty, the catastrophe is purely domestic. After beating the young men who had sex with his daughter nearly to death, he pretty much immediately has sex with a woman whom he once tried to rescue from a brothel when she was underage. Of course Marty's wife figures out what's going on almost immediately because the woman sends a naked picture of herself to Marty's phone. But it's not as if Rust is somehow avoiding domestic horror. It's just that all his horrors come from the world of crime. One of the most disturbing scenes in the episode is when Rust is doing one of his signature interrogations, getting a woman to confess to killing her three newborn children by feigning sympathy for her. But once she's confessed, his face becomes a blank mask. He tells her that the press will be hard on her, and prison will be even worse — "If you get a chance, you should kill yourself," he intones emptily.So basically Rust is bingeing on judgement and Marty is bingeing on fucking. And of course it all comes together into one hellacious mess.Rust is getting closer and closer to figuring out all the connections between Lange's death and the deaths of many other women and children who are all seemingly connected to a program of church schools. On his fishing expeditions for new information, he goes back to Reverend Theriot, who says he found evidence of child molestation when he was working for Tuttle Ministries' Wellspring school program. He found a packet of pictures of naked children, and was summarily driven out of the ministry. AdvertisementSponsoredAnd then Rust re-interviews the little girl he rescued last episode. Now she's grown up into a crazy, catatonic teenager who has been institutionalized. When he asks about the mysterious man with the scars, she does a full "I saw Cthulhu routine," screaming "HIS FACE! HIS FACE!" (Remember, another child said his face was like spaghetti. Tentacles?)But my very favorite part of the episode came when Rust cornered Tuttle at his slick, high-tech ministry. Rust asks about the Christian schools that Tuttle helped create in the 1980s, and which may have become feeder schools for a group of murdering crazy people looking for the black stars of Carcosa. We find out that the Wellspring program supported privately-run schools which taught Tuttle-approved Christian curricula. They were intended as an antidote to "secular" schools, Tuttle says, allowing people to "choose" which education their children would get. But there's not much choice, really. The Wellspring schools are built out in rural areas, where the only other schools are miles away — so Wellspring schools become the default local teaching institutions, filling children's minds with creationism and other church doctrines. You have to watch this dialogue, in the clip below, to see some great acting and political creepiness.There is such understated menace when Tuttle says "when we get the voucher program, we'll bring them back." You have to realize that this bizarre conversation reflects actual political struggles in Louisiana, where activists like Zack Koppelin are fighting to stop voucher schools from teaching creationism as fact. It's fascinating to think about how this show has taken us from philosophical ideas about good and evil, crime and justice, then drawn us into to this highly specific example of the ways that churches control the children of Louisiana through school funding.