That conversation Rust and Marty have in the finale about Rust’s having screwed Maggie, and in which Rust doesn’t allow Marty via Maggie (“Don’t blame him, he was drunk. It wasn’t his choice, she made it happen”) to take his responsibility for doing it away from him. There is literally nothing that is more fucking tiresome and inexplicable than the way characters in so many stories have those moments in which they simply cannot resist sex, because, you know, once someone starts sexing you up, god knows you got no choice but to give in and screw.
Goddamn, that is bullshit, and it freaking KILLS ME every time. Obviously, it goes hand in hand with the notion that men simply cannot control the actions of their trouser monsters, which is NONSENSE, and a dangerous notion to give credence to.
When Maggie came to Rust’s creepy bachelor pad and rubbed up on him, I was SURE (SURE!) this wasn’t the type of show, and Rust wasn’t the type of man to be so goddamned banal and bullshit as to screw his partner’s wife just because she was there and looked at him sideways, but he did, and it was a black mark on the whole proceedings for me. I was yelling at the TV! Goddammit! Why would you do that, you idiot?? There is very little I hate more than that moment when the dudes (or ladies! Scandal, I’m looking at you!) give in to the siren call of sex and their eyes roll back and flutter closed like it just can’t be helped. BULLSHIT!
I blamed Rust for that. Maggie was not behaving well, but she had reasons to be fucked up and acting out about her life with Marty. For me, Rust had no goddamned excuse for that behaviour.
When they had that conversation in the car in the finale, and Marty told Rust that Maggie had taken responsibility, but Rust refused to let her have the blame, and told Marty “you always have a choice” and then admitted that it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t wanted it, I was like… THANK FUCK.
Thank you, True Detective, for that one sublime moment.
On another note, it IS possible to interrogate a misogynistic narrative from within. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.
Yeah, I was glad they revisited it, and I was glad Rust took the blame. Because I hated that whole subplot, as well. And I would have hated it even more if it ended up with Rust and Marty sobbing into each other’s ratty hospital gowns about “dem womens.” Goodness knows Rust’s perpetual existential pain was hard to take at times as it was. :)
I love that Rust owned his choice and that he recognized and verbalized that it was, indeed, a choice — his choice. LOVED. IT. However, I can’t absolve Maggie from the full responsibility of her choice. Certainly, Marty treated her like shit, but she was very calculated in picking Rust as the means to punishing Marty. She had other choices. She could have just left him, but she wanted to inflict pain. She had a goal and she made a plan to fulfill it.
One could argue that Rust was emotionally damaged, too. Clearly, the death of his wife and daughter ripped his heart out and affected how he lived his life, how he viewed life, how he viewed humanity, and how he interacted with people. Sure, Maggie’s wound was fresh, albeit probably somewhat longstanding, but I don’t think that Rust should be judged more harshly because his wound appeared more remote. And certainly based on Rust’s emotional near death experience, the death of his child traumatized him greatly — it was an open wound.
Rust had a choice and Maggie had a choice. Neither one of them made a good one, and I think both of them should bear the full burden of that choice. I guess I see them as equally culpable regardless of the emotional trauma and tragedy they endured. I don’t see the point in weighing their respective pain and determining one is owed more consideration than the other.
I totally agree. I didn’t mean that I thought it was all Rust’s fault. I meant that I cannot stand it when stories absolve men (or women!!) of their responsibility in situations like that because they just can’t say “No” because sex is too powerful. If they had left it, and not revisited it, they would have allowed Maggie to bear the responsibility for it, both in Marty’s mind and in the narrative itself.
I think you’re right, that what she did was damaging to Marty. If you wanted to get crazy, you could even talk about consent issues and rape—he was drunk! Could he consent? Did he know her motives?—and I think we totally would be, if Rust were a woman. But, I think we’d be wrong to, because sex is not an imperative just because someone rubs you up, and he could have refused, but he didn’t, because he DID want her.
I was really uncomfortable with that scene, and it made me uncomfortable with the voice behind the whole narrative, but by going back to it and allowing Rust and Marty to take their share of the blame, which is what that conversation is about—not just Rust’s choice, but Marty’s role in it all, too—they don’t let Maggie bear all the blame. She was manipulative and took advantage of his weaknesses, but Rust let those weaknesses win. I loved that they allowed it to be a complex situation in which no one bears all the blame and everyone is an agent with a choice.
I guess I was caught by the phrasing “Maggie was not behaving well” and the list of reasons why it seemed more acceptable or justifiable, which seemed like such a polite, and in my opinion, unfair way of describing her behavior juxtaposed to Rust (kind of like Rust was an ass, but Maggie misbehaved). I took it to mean that she was in the weaker position and not responsible when I thought she was so clearly driving that train, or that somehow because Rust was a male that he bore a weightier responsibility. For me, it was “it takes two to tango” and they were both wrong.
I agree that sex is not an imperative and one is not required to accept a sexual invitation, and the right to decide can come at any time. I also don’t think it was the drink that drove Rust to accept Maggie’s seduction. I think he’s a bit of a tragedy and he insulated himself from really feeling, choosing to build up his philosophical walls to create distance between himself and everyone else. Then Maggie shows up and he decides he wants to connect — pretty much wrong time, wrong girl, wrong reasons, with the operative word being wrong.
Rust, Marty, and Maggie all made choices and the show unapologetically lets them all own them. And a big YES to the bold. :)