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The History Of True Detective’s ‘Yellow King’ From 1928 To Now

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It’s been nearly five years since the groundbreaking first season of True Detective premiered on HBO. The second season was bland in comparison, and the show didn’t pick up a third until four years later. But, the third season brought back the grit of its original episodes, along with the lore of the Yellow King.

The Yellow King Dates Back To 1928

Errol Childress, a.k.a. the Yellow King, is found to be the killer that Rust and Marty have been searching for since they found Doris Land in the sugar cane fields. He is known by local children as the  “spaghetti-faced man” because of his facial scars, and drawings of him are depicted similar to a legend from H.P. Lovecraft’s novel The Call of Cthulhu.

Cthulhu is an octopus-like monster with a tentacle mouth, who brings chaos and death to those in the story. Aside from Childress’ appearance, there are other references in the show that mirror Lovecraft’s novels.

The King In Yellow

In 1895 author Robert W. Chambers wrote a series of short stories he called, The King in Yellow. The first two are inconsequential to True Detective, but the third ties into the season one finale. In the third short story, “In the Court of the Dragon,” a man visits his church and is overcome by an overwhelming sense of fear. The church’s organist puts him at ease with a hypnotic tune.

Eventually, the music turns dissonant and the organist tries to attack. The man passes out and awakens to the sight of the horrifying city of Carcosa, where—you guessed it—the King In Yellow lives. Childress has been living in a labyrinth of similar terror called Carcosa.

Season 3 Brings Back The Yellow King When Uncovering Hoyt Mystery

In episode seven of season three, we see a newspaper article titled “Former State Police Officers Stop Alleged Serial Killer,” with photos of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. Though we don’t see a direct tie to The Yellow King and Season 3, there are similarities between two groups in power preying on the innocent and incapable of defense.

If you haven’t seen the finale (which aired Sunday, February 24th), you must catch up. Season 3 gives us the kind of closure that we had hoped for in the first. And who knows, we may see another Yellow King in the next True Detective.

The Low Down

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What’s Going To Happen In ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’?

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When Real-Life Plays A Part In TV Plotlines

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