I am convinced that Detective Marty Hart is the Yellow King, or at least is one of the people involved in the Gulf Coast killings. I finally clued in to this a few days ago and confirmed it by going back and re-watching parts of old episodes. The writer has actually been quite blatant in his clues but people like myself have often been distracted from the clues by Rust’s continuous and irritating philosophical blather, the creepy guy with the scars, and the fact that the police suspect that Rust may be the killer.
I came to this conclusion not just from the clues in the story, but also from thinking about how story writers write stories. The writer in this series clearly wanted to create a mystery, and so it doesn’t quite fit that the series would end simply by arresting the scarred man and exposing the Tuttle family as being involved in the series of murders. A writer who puts together such a rich and ambitious series such as this is not going to end it with a predictable, telegraphed ending; he will want to shock his viewers with a surprise ending. If you paid close attention though, you will not be quite so shocked when Detective Hart is exposed as a killer.
The very first episode actually provides what are, in retrospect, quite blatant clues that Hart is the murderer. For no apparent reason, in a scene where Hart arrives home on the day of the murder, we are shown a brief close-up of his fly tying kit. This is not simply a prop in the background; the director explicitly focuses on it. A short while later in the episode, when Marty and Rust are speaking with the coroner, we are shown a close-up of the twig sculpture that the murderer left by the body. If you look closely, you can see that the twigs are tied together with various colored twine, not unlike the tread in Hart’s fly kit. Directors do not make those kind of close-ups for no reason. In case the clue wasn’t obvious enough, later in the episode when Rust is at Marty’s house for supper he comments on the fly tying kit. Looking back on it, the writer is actually slapping viewers in the face with this clue, but since it is only the first episode it just blends in with all the other moving parts in a rather busy storyline.
The first episode contains an even more blatant clue when Hart’s wife wakes him up on the living room chair the day after the body was found. During their conversation she says “I missed you these past couple of days”. It is just slipped in as a seemingly innocuous comment, but it is actually very important. They found the body of the murder victim the previous day, so why was Hart spending time away from home for several day? I believe the answer is that he was out killing someone. Writers write script lines for a reason.
The clues in the first episode may be subtle, but there was nothing subtle about the clue that came half way through the series when Detective Hart shoots Reggie Ledoux through the head. At the time we assume it was in a fit of rage after seeing the young children that Ledoux had enslaved. Looking back though, it is not quite so clear that it was a spontaneous act of rage; it may have been to keep him from talking. During the first episode when Rust is having supper with the Hart family, Marty says that he has never used his gun in the line of duty. If Marty had never fired his gun on the job in his entire career, it is odd that he was so quick to shoot a bound man in the head at close range. As terrible a sight as the bound children might have been, that was not an act you would expect of a man who had never killed someone before.
Finally, the writers give us a clue to the solution when Marty says to the investigators “What’s that old saying about the detective’s curse? Solution was right under my nose, but I was paying attention to the wrong clues.” We are lead to think at the time that Detective Hart was one the one who missed the solution, but it was in fact the viewers who were looking at the wrong clues.