This scene is reflective of some of the very basics of True Detective: the reluctant partnership between two guys who went to hell and back, the complete destruction, the slow crawl to death because they’re so committed to solving this crime and to settling their debts. A man’s gotta pay his debts, even if it almost kills him.
Cut to the hospital, where Marty is fine and Rust is in a coma. The detectives bring Marty up to speed on what happened — Errol has been linked to dozens of missing people and, yikes, his girlfriend is a relative of his (did anyone else get some X-Files “Home” vibes from the Childress’ house?). There is also a brief reconciliation between Marty, his ex-wife, and his children, but it’s short-lived. That’s fine, though, because this was never a story about Marty’s family. It was always a story about Marty and Rust.
Rust is OK, much to his surprise. In Carcosa, he was convinced that he was going to die. He could feel it and he could feel his daughter waiting there and he knew that if he let go, he could go be with her, so he let go and let himself be surrounded by his daughter’s love and fall into the idea that they’d all be together again. But it didn’t work; he woke up. Rust, as Marty puts it, is “unkillable.” It’s news to me — who else was expecting Rust to die this episode? But True Detective needed that final reconciliation between them, and to see them shuffle away together. They were assigned partners from the beginning and they’re going to become partners by choice at the end.
That’s why I loved “Form and Void” and True Detective as a whole. I thought it was only tangentially about Dora Lange and Yellow Kings and conspiracy theories. I had the same reaction Marty had in the hospital when the detectives tell him the details: I don’t want to hear it. The focus was always on Hart and Cohle’s relationship, the light vs. dark (light won when they killed Errol; dark prevailed when they realized how many they could’ve saved had they done the right thing earlier). It was about their obsession with this shitty notion of masculinity (how telling is it that when Marty and Rust talk about the night they fought, it isn’t exactly about Rust having sex with Marty’s wife, but rather about Marty’s concern that Rust was “holding back” in the fist fight?) and the recurring idea that time is circular. The mystery-thriller was aspect was great, but I would have kept watching the show if it was just Detectives in Cars With Flasks featuring Rust’s crazy ramblings and Marty’s withering stares.
In a way, True Detective seemed like an experiment: how quickly and thoroughly can we become invested, how creative and outlandish can our theories get only to have the ending be the simplistic one that we should’ve seen coming. There is no doubt that some people will be disappointed in this straightforward finale, but it worked because it was still such a great story. Everything that came before “Form and Void” was a hell of a ride; it didn’t need to complicate its ending.