5 literary allusions to make you love the ‘True Detective’ finale even more (Spoilers ahead!)
1) Errol is the Erlking
Though he may not be listed in any birth register, Errol, the son of the terrifying Sheriff Childress, has his name in a much older book: Grimm’s Fairytales. The name “Earl” is synonymous with the title of “Earl” in English, which is linked to the Germanic title of “Earl-king.” In Germanic folklore, the “Erlking” is the King of the Elves. But he’s also, according to Goethe’s famous ballad Der Erlkoenig, evil, deadly, and a child predator. In Der Erlkoenig, the Erlking attempts to lure, then use violence against a little boy who’s captured his attentions:
Do you want to come with me, pretty boy?
My daughters shall wait on you finely;
My daughters will lead the nightly dance,
And rock and dance and sing you to sleep.
Not only is this a chilling description of the ritualistic ceremonies Errol and the others in the cult perform on their victims, but in the finale, he attempts to seduce Rust to his death in the same way. As he lures Rust deeper into the labyrinthine “forest” that is Carcosa, Errol calls Rust “Little prince,” and asks, “Do you know what I would do to all the sons and daughters of man?” as if he himself is more than human.