Theme and plot analysis are contained in blockquotes throughout the recap.
A white guard escorts young Marty to the jail’s holding cells. The guard unlocks the door to a cell containing two young white men, saying he needs to go on his rounds and will return in about twenty minutes. The young men look nervous; these two were the ones found with Marty’s daughter. One insists he didn’t know Audrey’s father was a cop and meant no disrespect. His friend agrees that they didn’t mean any disrespect.
Marty, deceivingly calm and removing his ring, says they’re looking at statutory rape charges. He asks if they know what happens to “pretty boys like [them] who go up to the farm on statch rape charges”. He removes his jacket, marvels at how their cell door just swung open, and invites to step out “for some air”.
One man says he doesn’t care to leave the cell, saying he thinks Marty is “a little angry”. Marty rolls up his sleeves and remarks that telling him how he feels is “patronizing”. He gives them two choices: letting him assault them and agreeing never to come near his daughter again, or being charged with statutory rape. He pulls on a pair of black leather gloves and coaxes one man out of the cell. “Man’s games charges a man’s price,” he says before delivering several hard punches to the man’s face and stomach. The other young man is terrified. He is not going to leave the cell for similar “punishment”, so Marty enters the cell.
Marty leaves the jail and walks to his car. He gets in and shuts the door, but has to open it again in order to vomit.
(misogyny) The young men insinuate that knowing Audrey’s father’s occupation would have deterred them—not the illegality of having sex with an underage woman, not the inability of someone underage to fully understand consent, but the violent consequences exacted by an angry father who’d risk next to no chance of being penalized for it. Whether the young men mean it or are just saying what they think will assuage Marty’s anger, the implication that their wrongdoing is an insult to Audrey’s father rather than to Audrey is misogynistic. It assumes Audrey is Marty’s property, and helping themselves was disrespectful to the property’s owner. Assuming Audrey is property objectifies and dehumanizes her. It completely erases her agency. Moreover, Marty’s actions in the face of Audrey’s plea that he not punish the young men indicate that “property” is exactly how he sees his daughter.
(pessimism, hypocrisy as the norm) I said I’d point out examples of Marty abusing his power, and this scene is a stand-out example. He used his position as a detective to gain unsupervised, physical access to the young men. He obviously didn’t have to try hard because the guard was rather blasé about it. I can imagine someone arguing that Marty was letting the men go with non-legal consequences as some sort of “compromise” with Audrey’s plea that he not charge them with statutory rape—that he was “scaring them straight”—but the violence Marty displays isn’t for Audrey’s benefit nor the young men’s benefit. It’s to his own detriment because it’s the only way he has allowed himself to be a “man” and a “father”, and it’s why he later vomits.
He says it himself just a couple of seconds before delivering his first punch: “Man’s game charges a man’s price.” To Marty, a “man’s game” isn’t the responsibilities and consequences of being an adult—it’s “teaching” these young men that their “power” is mere affectation compared to his, that they have failed to play the “game” right, which has all sorts of alarming connotations. A “man’s price”, of course, is violence. Moreover, Marty’s complaint that surmising his state of mind was “patronizing” is hypocritical when compared to how much he dismisses the emotions and struggles of others. Maggie’s frustration with his midlife crisis makes her a “ball buster”. Audrey tests the misogynistic expectations of female sexuality, so to Marty she becomes “the captain of the varsity slut squad”.
(pessimism, suspicion toward institutions) The guard’s willingness to turn a blind eye to the explicitly illegal assault he allows to occur in the holding area is another example of the moral hypocrisy that the institutions in this show display.
Gilbough asks present-day Marty what happened between him and Rust in 2002. We learn that before their falling out, Rust started getting disciplinary reports—”two formal reprimands and a suspension”. Marty confirms that Rust “started pulling lost time more” and “for whatever reason, he started working something I didn’t know about”, specifically old missing-persons reports.
We see young Rust pull up to a house. From the front door, the white male homeowner inhospitably asks what this newcomer wants. Rust tells the man, Terry Guidry, that he’s a state police officer and wants to talk to him about his son.
Inside, Guidry tells Rust (and us the audience) some details about how the local sheriff sent out a search party, including a marine unit, that found nothing. He says his son’s pirogue was found four weeks after his disappearance. Consensus seemed to be that Sonny was attacked by an alligator. His school was Queen of Angels, one of Reverend Tuttle’s schools. Guidry’s grief begins to overtake him, and he describes how his bereaved wife swore she could hear her son “under the water”. He warns Rust to leave before he does something to him.
A bereaved man who can only express his deep sorrow with threats of violence? How original! (/sarcasm)
Papania and Gilbough are interviewing someone new: Maggie. Papania assures her that they’re not looking at her ex (Marty) for anything criminal, but rather for some “perspective”. He brings up the falling out in 2002 between Marty and Rust. Maggie basically tells them to stop jerking her around because she knows their tricks. They insist they’re not trying to “work” her (like a suspect or witness).
Using her new married name of Mrs. Sawyer, they ask if she’s had any contact with Rust since 2002. She says she hasn’t. She asks why they’re asking about him and is given a vague answer. Maggie says she believed Rust was a “good man” and that she can’t imagine what she can offer.
As young Rust pours over a pile of documents on a dining table, Maggie continues in voice-over. “Rust knew exactly who he was, and there was no talking him out of it.” She compares him to Marty, who she says never really knew himself and therefore didn’t know what to want. We learn she hasn’t held a grudge over that.
(self-deception) Maggie has revealed that, in hindsight, she realizes Marty was steeped in self-deception. He only knew what he was supposed to want. To quote Paul J. Ennis for the umpteenth time, Marty “has just soaked up ideas of how to be a man and tries to live according to them (without reflecting on it all too much as he senses where that leads).”
Young Marty enters an electronics store and asks a young white female clerk for assistance with getting a new mobile phone. Viewers may remember this woman’s face from an earlier episode. Later, having visited other stores, Marty looks across the parking lot at a strip-mall bar called Fox and Hound. He looks down at the bags in his hands, which contain a strangely large amount of female hygiene products. (I guess they like to stock up?)
Rather than drop the bags off at his car, Marty takes them into the bar where he orders a drink while looking at his new mobile phone. The woman from the electronics store enters the bar, orders a drink, and strikes up a conversation with Marty based on the multiple bags’ worth of tampons sitting next to him.
She confirms he’s a police officer and tells him she remembers him from years ago. She explains where they met and we realize it’s Beth, the underage woman who was working at the bunny ranch, and to whom Marty gave some money. He encouraged her to “do something else”.
(misogyny) We’ve already been given the sense that Marty is once again discontent. It’s almost too on-the-nose and cliché that he must be “reduced” to buying his family some tampons, as if making a simple purchase threatens his masculinity somehow. (Is that all he was buying? Was there a sale? Do they not pick up tampons as needed when they get groceries, like normal people?)
In the previous episode, he looked forlornly at a twenty-year-old belt buckle as well as the signs of his aging body in the mirror. We know he promised Maggie to work on his drinking problem, so his visit to a bar further represents him returning to old vices. We know he and Maggie ended up splitting. Once we’re properly reminded of who Beth is, and maybe even recall the line Rust threw out at the bunny ranch in which he asked if the money given to her was a “down payment”, it becomes obvious what is about to happen. We pretty much don’t need to see the rest. However, the audience, like Marty, must go through the motions of his second affair. (And HBO needs an excuse to show tits again.)
Young Rust visits former minister Theriot at the thrift store he now runs. Theriot’s circumstances have changed significantly since we last saw him. Rust asks if Theriot always drinks so early in the day and reminds the bleary Theriot when and where they last spoke.
Rust asks him about his time with the Tuttle ministry back in the mid-eighties as well as what Theriot might know about a foundation Tuttle set up to finance rural schools. We learn that the Wellspring Foundation “was an evangelical initiative to provide religious education as an alternative to public school in the rural communities”. Theriot attributes the state’s drop-out rate to some children having to bus an hour or more to their nearest public school.
Rust mentions a Wellspring school on Pelican Island, and Theriot tells him an old rumor about a different Wellspring school that in 1988 was dealing with “accusations of children being interfered with”. He surmises that the accusations were dealt with internally. Rust asks why Theriot left Tuttle’s school in Baton Rouge. Theriot gives a vague answer, and Rust tells Theriot not to lie to him.
Theriot considers how to answer for a couple of seconds and explains that, while performing cleaning as part of his ley duties, he knocked over a very old book in the senior minister’s library. “The Letters of Telios DeLorca. Twelfth-century Franciscan mystic, very obscure.” Tucked into the book were pictures of naked children who looked as though they were asleep. Theriot took the issue to the morals officer, a deacon named Farrar. Farrar was close to Tuttle and also vice president of the college.
Theriot says Farrar was angry and “even intimated that maybe [Theriot] was confessing to something”. Eventually, Farrar made an empty promise about looking into the matter, and Theriot says he left the Tuttle ministry by the time Wellspring shut down. Rust asks why Theriot quit his own revival ministry. Theriot lists tents being vandalized, drinking too much, and losing heart. “All my life, I wanted to be nearer to God, but the only nearness…silence.”
The Franciscan mystic Theriot name-drops, Telios DeLorca, isn’t a real historical person. I’ve looked online for others’ best guesses regarding what the name might mean, but I didn’t find anything with which I agreed. The name might not mean anything—sometimes a thing is just a thing.
(pessimism, suspicion toward institutions) I’m glad that, in his interview at Vulture.com, Ennis points out the difference between how Rust interacts with Tuttle and how he interacts with Theriot:
“A nihilist could find drive, if not meaning, from undermining those with power. We see this in [Rust’s] barely concealed contempt for Reverand (sic) Tuttle (and his intuition that he is a moral hypocrite) and his sympathy for the more honest and flawed former Rev. Theriot.”
The sympathy to which Ennis refers is evident in Rust’s choice of words and his gentler tone. Theriot has revealed himself to have been another victim of moral hypocrisy, specifically that of Deacon Farrar and Reverend Tuttle. Moreover, Theriot now mourns his loss of faith. Having sympathy for someone who has come to such a bleak understanding is not out of bounds for Rust.
We catch up to Marty and Beth, who have moved on to another bar and are outside drinking and talking. Beth says she only stayed at the bunny ranch until she could save up money for her own apartment, after which she got a “straight job”. Marty expresses relief that Beth turned everything around. Beth mentions his heroism from 1995 being in the paper, and when he tries to be humble, she insists that he’s a “good man”.
She stands close to Marty and says, “God gave us these flaws, and—something I learned—He doesn’t see them as flaws. There is nothing wrong with the way He made us. The universe forgives all.” She invites Marty to her apartment for “bourbon” and we cut to a scene of Marty and Beth having sex. Afterward, Marty looks up at some devil and angel figurines on Beth’s wardrobe.
(self-deception) Personally, I was more concerned for Beth than Marty during their pre-coital conversation. She got the phone-store job, had her own apartment, and it seemed that she had put her difficult past behind her. Marty, in many ways, represents that past, so starting a sexual relationship with him felt like she was relapsing. When she says everything she can to boost Marty’s ego and help him rationalize the decision she wants him to make, she’s not only encouraging his self-deception but also revealing the things she tells herself in order to cope. As for Marty, getting into a relationship with Beth was just as much about backsliding for him as it was for her. We were begging him from the couch not to fulfill Rust’s prophecy from episode 2 in which he asked, “That a down payment?” However, he doesn’t have the will not to grasp at the chance to bolster his sense of self-worth via the “traditional” tenets of masculinity.
Papania and Gilbough ask present-day Marty about the falling out in 2002. Marty asks if they pulled their last case file for a woman named Charmaine Boudreaux, also called “Marshland Madea” in the local papers. They did, and Marty says that he and Rust got “a lot of static” after that case. He theorizes that the case “contributed to Rust’s state of mind when he” quit the force.
Young Rust sits in an interrogation room with a young white woman whose first two infants supposedly died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Rust speaks briefly of the daughter he lost in order to build rapport. When Rust brings up Charmaine’s third and most recent child, Marty flippantly asks Charmaine if she has ever heard of a condom. She insists that birth control is a sin and that a child is a wonderful thing.
Rust nonverbally tells Marty to leave and brings up Munchausen by Proxy. He explains the evidence they have that Charmaine unplugged the sleep-apnea machine hooked up to her baby for thirty-six minutes, after which it was plugged back in, and her baby was dead. Later, having coaxed the entire truth from Charmaine as a written confession, Rust tells her, “The newspapers are going to be tough on you, and prison is very, very hard on people who hurt kids. If you get the opportunity, you should kill yourself.”
(pessimism, hypocrisy as the norm; self-deception) It’s, of course, morally hypocritical and self-deceiving to say that “birth control is a sin” and a “child is a wonderful thing” and be guilty of several counts of infanticide. Charmaine, as these babies’ mother and the likely “default” caregiver, had ultimate responsibility over them, but used that power against her children. As for Rust telling her she should kill herself, Paul J. Ennis said of Rust that he’s “sensitive to those he sees as being crushed by various forms of power, which is often sustained by moral hypocrisy”, but that’s as far as his moral code goes. To Rust, calmly informing her that she should consider suicide is par for the course. It may seem cruel to the viewer—it may even seem like something he said out of condemnation for what she did—but he genuinely thinks it’s the best way out for her.
After their boss has reviewed the confession and walked away, Rust tosses the confession onto Marty’s desk and tells him to type it up. Marty wonders where Rust needs to be for Marty to get stuck doing the paperwork, and Rust asks if he needs to tie Marty’s shoes for him, too. In the stairwell, Marty asks about Rust’s attitude. He says not to get on his case just because Rust didn’t hold on to Laurie. Rust calls him a moron, suggesting that Marty completely missed the mark. “You, these people, this place. It’s like you eat your fuckin’ young and that’s all just fine as long as you got something to salute, huh?”
Marty mentions that another precinct called their boss about Rust “bothering people” and “trying to open up old cases”. Rust won’t admit what he’s up to, only saying that he’s working. “I get people to talk, you write the stats. It’s worked out well for you so far.” Marty pushes Rust for insinuating that Rust does more of the work and reminds Rust that he’s the only one in the department who’s ever vouched for Rust. He asks, “You know what it’s like being your partner?” Rust replies, “No, buddy, without me…there is no you.”
Let’s revisit the dynamic between Rust and Marty. They rubbed each other the wrong way at first, then they had those seven good years, and now their partnership is grating again. What has changed? For Rust, he recently learned that he and Marty probably didn’t get all the criminals who took part in the torture and deaths of several women and children. Ennis pointed out that Rust finds drive from undermining those with power, so this bad news has shaken him. We even learn later that he places some blame for that with Marty (remember, Marty executed Ledoux). Moreover, recall that brief scene of Rust sitting next to his then-girlfriend Laurie while they watched TV, and the look of discontent on his face. Now for Marty, we’ve already discussed above how he has also reverted to his former state of lying to his wife, drinking, and having an affair. It’s no wonder that a rift has formed once again between them.
Young Rust visits the young woman he and Marty found at Ledoux’s in 1995, Kelly Reider (December Ensminger). A nurse explains that Kelly has regressive catatonia, and that if she responds negatively in any way to Rust, he’ll have to leave immediately.
Rust gets right to it. He tells Kelly they met once and asks if she remembers if more than two men hurt her (besides Ledoux and Duwall). Kelly makes eye contact with Rust and eventually says, “The man with the scars was the worst.” The nurse is shocked that Kelly spoke, and Rust asks about the scars. “The giant”, Kelly says. She tells Rust that the man made her watch. Rust asks if the man’s scars were on his face. Unfortunately, remembering the scarred man’s face greatly upsets her, and Rust has to leave.
Later, Rust sits in his boss’s office. Major Salter (Paul Ben-Victor) asks about what Rust’s been up to, and Rust starts in on what he thinks are a string of murders and disappearances (of women and children) that no one else has yet put together. Marty says he hasn’t heard of any of this. Salter demands dead bodies seeing as how Rust is a homicide detective.
To that Rust says, “Either we don’t find them or they don’t get connected. I don’t know which, and I can’t decide if it’s a cover-up or the garden-variety incompetence here.” He explains that they didn’t get all their suspects back in ’95 and that these dead or missing women and children get no press “the way things in the bayou get no press”. He brings up that most of these no-press incidents occur in the areas around Billy Lee Tuttle’s Wellspring schools and reminds them of how Tuttle came “barging in with his task force”.
He’s almost getting Marty on board, but he descends into a metaphor about how they’re in a swamp with alligators they can’t see swimming around them. Marty says he saw “zero logic in all that”, and Salter warns Rust never to bring up what he just said to anyone else ever again. He tells Rust to take a break. Rust gives Marty the finger as he walks out of Salter’s office.
(pessimism, suspicion toward institutions) Rust accusing the department of either a cover-up or “garden-variety incompetence” fits right into his distrust of institutions, especially after his boss completely dismisses his concerns despite knowing full well how good a detective Rust is.
Gilbough and Papania remind present-day Marty of Tuttle’s supposedly accidental death in 2010. They tell him Tuttle’s house in Shreveport was broken into a couple of weeks before Tuttle’s death, and another break-in at Tuttle’s house in Baton Rouge wasn’t reported. (Remember that the second one wasn’t reported.)
The detectives point out that the break-ins happened right after Rust re-appeared in Louisiana and that, even in 2002, Rust had his eye on Tuttle. They speculate that he must have been doing things other than just drinking and bartending, that he’s been in the state the entirety of the last ten years and doing “bad things”. Marty gets his briefcase, tells the detectives that he’s done talking to them, and leaves the station. On the road, he looks in his rear-view mirror at someone repeatedly honking behind him.
We return to Marty’s family in 2002. Maggie takes a load of dirty clothes into the laundry room and is confused to see the washer already going. She opens the lid and finds Marty’s clothes inside. She calls to Marty elsewhere in the house, saying she didn’t know he was home. He says he’s just cleaning up and will be out shortly. Knowing he’s momentarily busy, she picks up his mobile phone and finds several calls and explicit photos from someone named “B”. Marty calls to her about them having a long-overdue date night.
Later, Marty and his two daughters sit in the living room and are watching TV. Maggie brings him leftovers to eat and sits on the couch. Marty asks Audrey if she’s still “offended by [his] presence”. Audrey gives him a cold look, and Marty says it’s fine because he’s content to sit there with three beautiful women. He asks if the show on TV is “Dumb Blondes in Cracker Country”. Audrey is fed up and silently leaves the room.
Marty says nothing about her departure and asks his younger daughter Macie to change the TV to “the game”. Macie simply hands him the remote and uses studying as an excuse to leave the room. Marty tells her, “Good girl.” He changes channels and notices Maggie looking at him. Her expression is mostly neutral, though perhaps she’s smiling just a little. He says, “What?” She says, “Nothing.” He tells her he loves her, and all she says is, “Thank you.”
(misogyny) This scene is representative of Marty’s failure to treat the women in his family as equal human beings, and they begin to leave him one by one. It’s irksome that I’ll never know for sure whether Audrey learned what her father did to the two young men found with her, but it’s telling that he’s more content to superficially “bask” in the company of his family, regardless of how they feel about him in the moment, than to work out the feelings between him and his daughter. The latter would acknowledge she has feelings, that he might actually need to deal with them rather than expect her to go back eventually to being neutral, if not a “good girl”. It’s also telling that his sexist “dumb blondes in cracker country” comment is what forces Audrey out of the room.
As for Macie, who barely exists in the show: she finally gives us a tiny glimpse into how she might feel about her father. After insulting the show she and her sister were watching, he asks Macie to change the channel, which we might guess is something he does often. Maybe he’s not home much and just wants to watch what he wants to watch, but maybe he also never cares to see or understand what his daughters are interested in—he just says “good girl” when Macie acts in a socially acceptable way and leaves their interactions at that. Finally, we know that Maggie is aware of his current affair. Though she doesn’t technically leave the room, she’s not there anymore anyway, which is why she says “thank you” rather than return Marty’s sentiment.
Present-day Maggie tells Papania and Gilbough of something Rust said once: there is “no such thing as forgiveness…people just have short memories.” She admits that she disagrees with that “less and less”.
Young Maggie goes to a bar by herself to try to pick up a man for a one-night stand. Before we find out if she managed it, Papania asks present-day Maggie about her and Marty’s “split” in 1995. Maggie asks the two detectives if they’re married. Gilbough says he has an ex and Papania says he’s “still on the first”. Maggie nods and tells them, “It’s difficult to admit defeat.” She gives them some details about them trying for seven more years. Papania asks about 2002, which he says was also a bad year for Rust. Maggie describes Rust as intense, but a man of integrity and responsibility.
How Papania words his marital status is interesting. Like Marty, perhaps he has also soaked up ideas of the “typical” phases of a man’s life. Of Marty specifically, Ennis says, “In many ways, he is just the Everyman and he carries out his ‘duty’ in an extremely predictable way—almost as if he got married just so he could move on to have affairs as the next step.”
(realism) It’s subtle, but I appreciate the way Maggie has hardened over the years. She was never a pushover, but for a long time, she defended against Rust’s bleak outlook. Now that she has been separated from Marty for several years, has grown older, and has looked back on the events of her marriage, including its end, she realizes that she disagrees with Rust “less and less”. It also contributes to why she refuses to speak badly of him—the bigger reason, of course, being that he never dismissed her the way Marty did.
Young Rust visits Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle (Jay O. Sanders). Their conversation starts off pleasantly enough. Rust asks about Tuttle’s Wellspring program, specifically the names of former staff. Tuttle expounds on how the program worked; the schools were private enterprises that simply adopted Wellspring’s curriculum in exchange for tuition reimbursement. Since they were private, Wellspring itself doesn’t necessarily have any faculty lists. Rust says he hit a dead-end with finding those schools’ administrators, and Tuttle hems and haws about some information they might have in their archives, some of which was lost due to flooding at some point (uh-huh). Tuttle offers to have one of his clerical staff help Rust.
Rust changes the subject and asks about Deacon Austin Farrar (the morals officer whom Theriot mentioned earlier). Tuttle’s expression becomes guarded. He chooses his words carefully and his tone is merely tolerant at this point. We learn that Farrar was dismissed at some point in the past for embezzling, which was handled internally. Rust brings up Farrar’s subsequent “accident”, of which Tuttle says, “I’d heard he had taken it hard, drinking.” We can assume Farrar died.
Tuttle wonders why Rust is asking about Wellspring and Farrar, and Rust boldly tells him, “dead women and children,” almost to see how Tuttle reacts. He offers Tuttle no further details, and Tuttle offers again to put Rust with a clerk. They wait for one to arrive and Rust asks why Wellspring shut down. Tuttle explains it simply “couldn’t sustain its costs”. A clerk arrives, but Rust declines to go looking for information in the ministry’s archives. He thanks Tuttle for his time.
(Chambers reference) The plot is pretty self-explanatory so far. I’ll only point out that Tuttle is wearing a yellow tie, a gold wristwatch, and gold-rimmed glasses.
Young Marty sits in his car and is talking to Beth on his mobile phone. Beth wants to see him again. Marty tries to deny her, but she entices him with explicit language. It’s not clear if Marty sees her again that night.
(self-deception) Though Marty has relapsed, it’s harder for him this time around to rationalize what he’s doing. Thus, besides trying to say “no” to Beth, he grimaces and frowns when he’s talking to her on the phone.
Major Salter, Commander Speece, and Marty are in Salter’s office to reprimand Rust for talking to Reverend Tuttle, who must have made a call about Rust’s visit. Salter also asks after why Marty looks like he hasn’t seen his bed in a couple of days. Marty says he has the flu, and Rust insists that Tuttle being angry must mean that Rust is onto something, but Salter tells him to shut up. He suspends Rust for a month without pay and demands his badge and gun (you’re a loose cannon!). Salter also mandates that Rust undergo thirty hours of counselling before he can be reinstated. Rust tersely tells the room, “I’m the person least in need of counseling in this entire fucking state.”
(realism, self-deception) Rust’s line about being “least in need of counseling” feeds right into the eternal vigilance he maintains against deluding himself. Others think Rust is a Windmill Crusader, but due to his belief that everyone self-deludes, which as you’ll recall makes him not only a great interrogator but a great overall detective, Rust is actually Properly Paranoid. I’ve linked specific tropes in this aside because I appreciate how the writers used Rust’s realism to explain how he ends up “right all along” rather than it just being catharsis for both writer and viewer. It doesn’t subvert the trope, but it gives it a more satisfying explanation.
Later, Rust is at home and drinking. He points a flashlight at a pair of deer antlers on his table in order to throw shadows on some String Theory on his wall. Someone insistently knocks. Maggie is at his door and upset. She doesn’t beat about the bush and tells Rust that Marty’s cheating on her again. Rust hasn’t invited her in, but she walks into his apartment anyway and says she “can’t live with it”. She has brought a bottle of wine for some reason and asks if Rust knew about Marty’s affair, to which Rust says “no”. She asks about all the stuff in his living room.
Then she stands close to Rust and tells him, “You can’t live like this.” Of people giving advice, Rust reckons that those people are talking to themselves and asks what Maggie is doing. She replies, “Some people, no matter where they look, see themselves.” (Whatever that means.) She begins touching and kissing Rust. He doesn’t reciprocate at first, but then they have sex right there against the counter. (I don’t think it takes even thirty seconds.)
Rust backs away while he and Maggie straighten their clothes and asks her, “What the fuck are you doing here?” He seems to realize that Maggie just used him, and Maggie apologizes. She says, “I wasn’t even sure I could do it. Seventeen years is a long time.” She mentions not mustering the courage to use a stranger from a bar and says, “He’ll have to go, you see, because this he won’t live with.” Rust tells Maggie to get out of his apartment, and she again tries to apologize as well as thank him. He has to yell at her to make her leave.
How many times have I watched a detective show, and it turns out that the wife of the married detective is sleeping with his partner? Though it doesn’t have its own subtrope on my favorite tropes website, it really should. Why couldn’t Maggie just demand a divorce? Why couldn’t she lie about sleeping with a random guy she found at a bar, if she was so sure that only her infidelity would get Marty to agree to a divorce? Why does that have to be the thing that breaks up Rust and Marty’s already dysfunctional partnership? Why does Maggie have to lower herself to Marty’s level? I hate everything about this plot development, from Rust participating in what is obviously a revenge fuck to Maggie taking advantage of Rust when he’s drunk and feeling incredibly low. Both characters were unnecessarily weakened by this scene.
Papania asks present-day Maggie if she knew what was “going on with [Rust] around that time” and Maggie feigns ignorance, saying she knew only of Rust’s suspension and of him quitting after his and Marty’s “thing”. She says “no” when Gilbough asks if her and Marty’s divorce had anything to do with Rust.
Young Maggie sits with a glass of wine at the dining table. Marty comes home and is clearly leery of his wife’s attitude, but he pretends that everything is still okay and kisses Maggie’s cheek. She tells him to sit and confronts him about the pictures of “B” on his phone. Appallingly, Marty tries to lie and says, “I cannot help it if some crazy bitch sent—” Maggie doesn’t let him get the whole lie out and tells him she slept with Rust.
He calls her a “whore”, to which Maggie goads him by praising how good the sex with Rust was. (I assume she’s lying because I doubt she climaxed in less than thirty seconds.) Marty gets up, so Maggie does as well, and he grabs her throat. She dares him to “do it” so that she’ll have “something to explain to [his] daughters”. When he doesn’t do anything, she pushes his hand away and calls him a coward.
(misogyny) Even for Marty, immediately calling Beth a “crazy bitch” and putting all the blame on her as though he had zero agency was especially self-delusion and misogynistic. Moreover, given his history with cheating and the clear-cut evidence on his phone, I was appalled that he would try to lie. That he thinks there’s even an outside chance Maggie would fall for “crazy-bitch-came-onto-me” is a real insult to her intelligence.
Let’s talk about Marty calling his wife a whore, though. He called his first mistress Lisa a whore when he could no longer retain a sexual monopoly on her. He called his older daughter Audrey a slut for participating in a threesome, even though he boasted a time he was in a threesome to his drunk co-workers. He calls his wife Maggie a whore for having sex outside of their marriage. By Marty’s own definition, he is a whore. As I’ve said before, it’s both misogynistic and morally hypocritical for Marty to demand that the women in his life adhere to a “higher” standard of conduct—and they’re whores or sluts if they don’t—while not being “too hard on [himself]” when he doesn’t adhere to it.
We see Marty later at work, sitting at his desk and obviously upset about the state of his marriage. Another detective tells Marty that Rust is outside and asks if Rust knows he’s suspended. Marty stands up, puts away his gun and jacket, and goes outside. Rust puts his hands up and says he’s just there to get his files. Despite at least six uniformed police officers watching the fight that ensues, it doesn’t get broken up until Major Salter and a couple of the homicide detectives run outside to intervene. (To Salter’s credit, he yells at the other officers for just standing there.) Inside Salter’s office, he asks Rust and Marty why they were fighting, but neither of them admit what happened. Salter reminds Rust that Marty was his only “pal” at the department.
Rust abruptly tells Salter that he quits. “Fuck this. Fuck this world, man,” he says. He says “nice hook” to Marty before leaving. Salter tries one more time with Marty, saying, “You two fucked each other up pretty good,” to which Marty says, “No shit.” Present-day Maggie tells Papania and Gilbough that she never really knew what their fight and Rust’s departure from the force was about.
We return to present-day Marty driving away from his interview and the car behind him that’s repeatedly honking. We get a look at the car and realize it’s Rust. Marty pulls over and Rust walks up to Marty’s window. They greet each other amicably enough. Rust thinks they need to talk and offers to buy him a beer. Marty accepts the offer. Rust almost heads back to his car before leaning down and saying, “Actually, we don’t you buy me a beer?” Marty checks his gun as Rust walks back to his truck, and we see that Rust’s left taillight is still broken from when he threw Marty against it during their fight in 2002. He pulls back onto the road for Marty to follow him to a bar.
I’m not sure that there’s something specific to glean from Rust turning the beer offer around on Marty. At most, it’s Rust’s way of saying that if there’s anything owed between them, Marty’s the one who owes Rust. It’s practically a given that Rust’s still-broken tail light straight-up symbolizes the yet-to-be-healed rift between them.
See you again for Episode 7: After You’ve Gone.