Tonight’s True Detective finally explained why Hart and Cohle’s friendship fell apart, and the answer may not come as a surprise in hindsight.
The murder mysteries shared airtime this episode to explain why the two lead detectives fell apart in 2002. The answer? Margaret.
True Detective episode 6 opens with Hart visiting the cell of the two men who hooked up with his daughter. He puts on some gloves and beats them up. Even if he isn’t committed to his wife, he definitely is committed to protecting members of his family from others.
In 2012, Hart tells the detectives that Cohle had worked a case in 2002 which he wasn’t aware of. We jump to that time where he questions two people. On the way out of interrogations, Hart and Cohle get in an argument over each other’s attitudes. Hart asks him why he’s been opening up old cases, but Cohle won’t explain.
Cohle then goes to visit Kelly, one of the two girls who was found at the Ledoux compound. She says that a “man with the scars was the worst.” And when he asks if the scars were on his face, she has a panic attack and he has to leave. Yet again we hear that the killer has scars on his face.
Back in the office where he’s being yelled at for visiting Kelly, Cohle explains to his boss (Salter) there’s been a series of young girls getting killed that have been considered disconnected and went unsolved. Salter is pissed because there’ve been no bodies and no solid evidence he can present concerning these cases. Cohle goes on an impassioned speech that leaves Hart and Salter lost, so the latter orders him to stop digging around.
Not one to take orders, Cohle catches up with Preacher Joel who he and Hart checked out in the ’90s when he had his traveling church tent. He questions him about an organization set up to finance rural schools called the Well Spring program, an evangelical initiative. The preacher says he left his life behind because he found photos of naked kids within his organization, but was unable to find anyone higher than him in the organization who wanted to take action on them. Asked why he quit the revival, the preacher says his last two tents were vandalized.
Cohle next goes to the leader of the church organization, Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle, who can’t offer much help on paperwork surrounding the Well Spring program, but the Reverend says he’ll put him in touch with someone else to look at documents. He adds that the program couldn’t afford itself, which is why it shut down. Tuttle was one of the people who wanted to take over the investigation with a task force in the ’90s, which leaves Cohle suspicious of his interests.
Cohle’s boss Salter finds out that he is continuing to investigate old cases against his orders, so he pulls his badge and gun and suspends him for a month.
The new detectives think Tuttle may’ve been killed by Cohle after the order came down from Salter to stop investigating. They think Cohle never left the area after he was suspended and that he’s been involved with these killings. Hart walks out after hearing this and says he won’t help them with their case anymore.
In 2002 Hart visits a T-Mobile store where he meets a pretty employee named Beth. After purchasing a phone, he goes to the bar across the street. Beth ends up there after her shift at the store. She sits near him and says she used to work at the ranch he investigated years ago for evidence about Dora Lange. Beth’s now in a better place and Hart’s proud of her. She’s proud of him too because he’s made a name for himself in the local papers. He goes back to her place and they have sex.
Hart’s wife comes in for questioning in 2012 and we learn that they’re no longer together (as hinted at previously when he was missing his wedding ring in ’12 questioning). They ask her if she’s had any contact with Cohle since ’02 and she says no, adding that she’s always known him to be “a good man.”
Back at home in 2002, Hart and Margaret are distant. To make matters worse, she finds nude pictures of Beth on his phone.
Margaret is naturally upset by this because of his history with other women earlier in their marriage. She goes over to Cohle’s because she’s upset that Hart is still cheating on her. She says she can’t deal with it again.
After a few more words, they start hooking up. It’s only afterward that he asks what she’s doing here. She says she wanted to get with someone else, and this pisses Cohle off, so he throws her out of his house. In 2012 she doesn’t tell the detectives about their hookup or if her and Hart’s break up had anything to do with Cohle.
Back in 2002, Margaret comes back from Cohle’s and tells Hart that she hooked up with his partner. She tells him she hadn’t had sex like that since before they had their two kids, which pisses him off so much that he almost decides to choke her. He resists when he’s reminded of their daughters.
The next day Cohle comes to the police station. One of the other officers tells Hart he’s out front. He takes off his badge, gun, and jacket, and walks outside knowing full well what he’s about to do to Cohle. He runs outside and the two get into one of the better TV brawls we’ve seen on television. All the other detectives come outside to break up the fight. Salter brings them both into his office and Cohle quits.
In 2012 Hart is “pulled over” by Cohle, who asks if they can talk at a bar. Cohle offers to buy him a beer, but he changes his mind. “Actually, you should buy me a beer.” The episode ends with the two heading to a place for a drink, where they’ll talk to one another for the first time in 10 years.