In this week's episode, "The Secret Fate of All Life," we finally meet Reggie Ledoux. And pretty much just as soon as we meet him, he's dead. A pretty ballsy move to immediately kill the lone suspect as early as Episode 5.
But let's start at the beginning, shall we? Through his biker contact, "Ginger," Rust is able to set up a meeting with Ledoux's cooking partner, Dewall. Dewall immediately says that he will not strike any kind of deal whatsoever with Rust, that he doesn't like the look of him.
Dewall leaves, and Marty follows him, with Rust close behind. Dewall leads them to the cooking site. Rust makes the call to not involve extra law enforcement, saying that they can call later if they need to. He insists that they track the men alone before they call for backup. Marty reluctantly agrees, and the audience eventually sees the familiar site that we saw at the end of Episode 3 (the one with the scary tattooed guy in his underwear).
Now, things get particularly interesting at this point because Rust and Marty's public story appears to be different than what actually happened (and we, the privileged members of the audience, are the only ones who know that). Their public story is that a major shootout occurred, started by the drug cookers, Ledoux and Dewall.
However, this is not, in fact, what happened. Rust and Marty stealthily enter one of the houses. Marty finds Ledoux and easily takes him outside and handcuffs him. Rust stands outside with Ledoux while Marty begins to investigate the rest of the place. Ledoux starts babbling some stuff about life being a "flat circle" that repeats itself, and says some other pretty crazy shit (Rust later repeats to the current detectives that he, too, believes this "flat circle" philosophy).
All of a sudden, Marty comes out of one of the buildings and shoots Ledoux in the head, execution style.
Dewall hears this and tries to run, but then ends up being blown up by a booby trap that the drug cooks had themselves planted.
What had Marty stumbled upon in the building that made him have the emotional reaction to shoot Ledoux? The cooks had kept two children chained up to a bed in one of the buildings.
Marty and Rust immediately become heroes after this, and their story is automatically accepted. It seems like it was pretty easy for everyone to accept that Ledoux was Dora Lange's killer.
It appears that their lives are getting back on track. Marty's wife takes him back, and Rust gets a stable girlfriend. Marty gets promoted. Things seem to be going well.
Flash forward to 2002.
Marty's home relationship is unraveling. His oldest daughter is in high school. She is super punk rock. She gets caught with two older boys in a car having sex, Marty essentially calls her a "slut," she says "Fuck you," and he slaps her in the face. This scene really encapsulates that things are beginning to go downhill for the men.
We soon see Rust interrogating a PCP addict about a double murder. Rust gets the man to confess (as he is a master of getting confessions). The addict says that he wants to make a deal, that he has relevant information. He says that Rust didn't catch the man who killed Dora Lange. He says he has met him, and that there are "big people who know about him." Then, the addict says, "I'll tell you about the yellow king." At this point, Rust goes nuts and demands a name (after all, the "yellow king" stuff was not public information; it was found in Lange's diary).
Rust tells Marty that they absolutely have to look into this, that it's possible they made a mistake. They head to the holding prison where the PCP addict is, but it turns out that he has committed suicide in his cell. However, it occurred right after making a phone call, supposedly to his lawyer. They track the call and see that it was from a pay phone in the middle of nowhere, that it couldn't possibly be from his lawyer.
It's at this point (in 2012) that we see that the current detectives are really trying to pin these murders on Rust. They say that Rust's records don't add up. They say that he and his truck were spotted at the new crime scene by multiple people. They wonder why he went off the grid from 2002 to 2010. They wonder about the storage shed he owns that he won't let them inside of. They mention that Rust completely led the case, that he found all the witnesses and evidence. We also find out that Marty and Rust had an altercation (though we aren't told about what), and that that's why they lost touch.
The episode ends with 2002 Rust in an abandoned school house examining more wood sculptures that he has found.
Are we supposed to think that Rust committed these murders? Maybe. I certainly don't think so. It would also make for a pretty boring, undramatic ending if they try to go that route for the rest of the show.
I am leaning towards the theory that Rust has gone the vigilante route. Perhaps he has quit the force because he wanted to go it on his own, having seen all the bureaucratic bullshit that goes hand in hand with being in law enforcement. Perhaps he has discovered a secret that he can't go public with for some reason.
I have to admit that even though the show has definitely abandoned the "whodunnit" set up from the first few episodes, I still find myself wondering, WELL...WHO DID IT?! And I still think I will be disappointed if it ends up being some stupid, cobbled together story, as is so often done with complicated mysteries.
Despite my fears, I still hold out hope for a brilliant ending.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: At this point, I feel like I need to rewatch every single episode right after I've already watched it. I'm sure that lots of things have gone over my head (e.g. most of Rust's philosophical musings from this episode, though The Daily Beast does a pretty good job of explaining). So forgive me if I leave out something you deem important (and let me know in the comments!)