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‘True Detective’ and Its ‘The King in Yellow’ Mythology (Video)
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True Detective Matthew McConaughey

HBO’s crime drama True Detective has truly become the show to watch. Aside from the fine acting and great directing – like for this standout 6-minute single-take tracking shot, we’re learning more now about the mythology behind the main storyline. The show centers on two homicide detectives, played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who are telling their story of how they tracked a ritualistic serial killer seventeen years prior.

In the second episode, the detectives find the journal belonging to murder victim Dora Lange, who wrote about the powerful “The Yellow King.” As it turns out, The Yellow King is inspired by the 1895 anthology of weird tales of horror and madness by Robert W. Chambers called The King in Yellow. In some behind-the-scenes videos for last night’s episode, “The Secret Fate of All Life,” show creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto talks about how this literary reference is part of the mythology for True Detective. You can watch the videos here below.

True Detective The Yellow King journal

[Pages from Dora Lange’s journal about “The Yellow King” – True Detective]

I’ve been following the show since its premiere in mid-January and through five episodes so far, there’s so been much layering in the storytelling that I’ve gone back and watched the episodes again, seeing new things each time, but I initially missed the whole Yellow King reference, which io9 then pointed out and discussed in detail. Chambers, who influenced the likes of H.P. Lovecraft as well as modern-day writers like Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin, wrote in his anthology several stories that refer to The King in Yellow, a forbidden play about The King In Yellow and his city of Carcosa.

The King in Yellow anthology is currently being offered for FREE for the Kindle, so grab it now if you want some more insight into True Detective and where the story could be going. (The book is also available in paperback.)

Video

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