The Yellow King Unveiled! Five Theories, in the Style of True Detective Magazine.

Slate's Culture Blog
March 7 2014 3:42 PM

The Yellow King Unveiled! Five Theories, in the Style of True Detective Magazine.

True Detective is not just the title of a TV series. From 1924 to 1995, it was the name of a pulpy “true crime” magazine that, especially in its early days, had terrifically lurid covers advertising the shocking stories within.

We decided to pay tribute to those wonderful covers and guess at the revelations in this weekend’s finale at the same time. Below, you’ll find five magazine covers, each one fingering a single suspect as the Yellow King. Who do you think it is? Pick your favorite cover and share it with the world by clicking on one of the buttons below.

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Errol Childress
This giant of a man—first glimpsed on his lawnmower in Episode 3, then given a brief, haunting soliloquy in Episode 7—is the likeliest killer of Dora Lange. Could he also be the Yellow King? If the show ends up circling around a single big bad, he’s probably your man.

Pulpit rock

Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle
After Errol, Reverend Tuttle may be the likeliest Yellow King—perhaps he’s even more likely, given where that hideous videotape was found. And then there are the subtler clues: the apparent Wellspring cover-up, his eagerness for the task force to take over the investigation, the yellow tie. If Tuttle’s the Yellow King, we won’t be surprised.

Pulpit rock

Jake Herbert
Maggie’s dad, who’s listed as Jake Herbert on IMDb, has appeared in only one episode so far—but it was a memorable cameo. “Everything’s sex,” he groused, complaining to his son-in-law Marty about kids these days. His large house suggested the wealth one might expect from the leader of this apparent conspiracy. And Michelle Monaghan, who plays Maggie, told the Daily Beast, “Our family—everybody—is still going to be part of the plot going forward.”

Pulpit rock

Marty Hart
HBO gave us our first clue as to the identity of the Yellow King in the show’s promo poster, released long before Episode 1, with Marty Hart’s yellow hair cut off right at the crown. Each episode since has made it more clear that Marty’s spending every waking second pushing his demons down—his hatred of women, his violent streak, his fascination with the darkness. Where do you think those demons escape to when Marty Hart finally relaxes his iron jaw and lets them out?

Pulpit rock

Rustin Cohle
Is Rust the Yellow King? Papania and Gilbough sure think so. He’s obsessed with the lost women of Southern Louisiana; he’s unsettled and unbalanced; he’s capable of great violence and greater baloney philosophizing. There’s a shadow on Rust, and even if he didn’t kill Dora Lange, perhaps his demons overtook him in the years that followed.

Pulpit rock

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

Lisa Larson-Walker is a Slate photo editor.

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