"There's a shadow in you, son." - Dewall
Now a hostage of Rustin Cohle, Ginger orchestrates a rendezvous with the Iron Crusaders' crystal meth contact, Dewall Ledoux. Cohle relays his proposition to trade cocaine for crystal meth. Dewall refuses; "I see you again, I'm putting you down," the cook tells Cohle. Martin Hart tails Dewall's car as he leaves the meeting in the hopes that Dewall will lead them to their suspect, Reggie Ledoux.
After ditching Ginger on the side of the road, Cohle meets Marty outside a forest where he has been waiting next to Dewall's parked truck. The pair discuss calling in the location, but ultimately proceed without backup. Guns drawn, they follow a narrow path through the woods, sidestepping landmines and booby-traps until they reach a meth shack in a clearing. Hart makes his way inside and the detectives locate and handcuff Reggie Ledoux. Kneeling in his yard, Ledoux welcomes Cohle to Carcosa. "Time is a flat circle," he rasps. Dewall exits from a shed and Cohle, holding him at gunpoint, demands that he freeze. Simultaneously, Hart searches the property and discovers two children shackled in a shed. Revolted, Hart impulsively shoots Ledoux in the head. In the subsequent moment of shock, Dewall takes off, but stumbles on a landmine.
"Nice to see you commit to something." - Cohle
With both suspects dead, Cohle covers for Hart. He has Hart remove the handcuffs from Ledoux, grabs an AK and open fires into the forest. The resulting scene is consistent with the story both men tell the shooting board in 1995 and later, to detectives Gilbough and Papania in 2012: A CI told Cohle the location of the cookhouse; the partners arrived to a rainstorm of bullets; Hart ran to the back of the house and took out Ledoux from behind, saving both of their lives. Cohle alleges that they did not find the children, a deceased boy and catatonic girl, until they searched the premises after the shootout.
"You have a long road to climb." - Maggie
Hart tells Gilbough and Papania he was promoted to detective sergeant after the case wrapped and he got back together with his wife. Cohle received a commendation for bravery and dated a doctor named Laurie. Years later, Hart laments that he didn't appreciate the good times with his wife and daughters when he should have. Gilbough and Papania steer the conversation to 2002, the year Cohle quit the police force. The year recalls for Hart his daughter, Audrey, being picked up by police after she was found in a car with two boys in states of undress. Enraged, Hart slapped Audrey, causing both his daughter and wife to recoil.
"I don't want to know anything anymore. This is a world where nothing is solved." - Cohle
By 2002, Cohle is known as an excellent closer for extracting confessions. When pressed for his secret, he tells Gilbough and Papania he believes "everyone knows there's something wrong with them." Cohle conducts an interrogation with a man named Guy Francis charged with double murder, and dupes him into confessing. Francis pleads for a deal: insisting that Cohle and Hart didn't capture the man behind their famous 1995 case, and offers information on the Yellow King, who Francis claims is still killing. The term ‘Yellow King' shakes Cohle, as it is something no one else should know, and he snaps on Francis, physically assaulting him as his interview is shut down. The next day, Cohle briefs Hart on what happened and when the partners arrive at the jail to speak to Francis, they find out he is dead. The staff asserts that Francis slit his wrists following a call from his lawyer, but once the call is traced to a rural public pay phone, Cohle doesn't buy the story.
Cohle continues his investigation on his own. He reads old case files and revisits the original Dora Lange crime scene, now decorated with macabre twig sculptures, and the Light of the Way Academy in Pelican Island. Inside the decaying former school, he finds disturbing murals and a collection of the stick latticeworks.
"You want to see something, get a warrant." - Cohle
In 2012, Cohle discusses how the concept of linear time is flawed; it's just a construct of consciousness-in reality we're all doomed to repeat our lives again and again. At Cohle's insistence, he's finally shown the case file of the recent murder in Lake Charles, but he is disappointed by how little the investigators have gathered. Gilbough then pulls out a picture of their crime scene - with Rust in the background. Cohle was seen multiple times in the vicinity of the murder.
The detectives reveal their theory to both Cohle and Hart: Cohle manipulated evidence and led the trail to Ledoux to protect himself. That Rust has a storage unit he will not allow them to see and that Billy Lee Tuttle died under suspicious circumstances shortly after Cohle's return to Louisiana further fuels their suspicion. Disgusted, Cohle tells them off and leaves. As Hart tries to absorb what he's been told, the detectives ask him to recount his "altercation" with Cohle.