The bayou’s dirty little secret: ‘Cajun Justice’ basks in mystique

Wilma Mae Harding Taylor
June 13, 2012
New St. Mary tourism sight: sinking visitor’s center
June 19, 2012

Absent alligators, “Cajun Justice” ventured to the dark side with its third and fourth episodes, unleashing a hurried pace of soul-summoning black magic, lunar-based criminal activity and a dead-baby spirit with access to rubber bands and a hankering to haunt horses.

Come on, Catfish, the presence of hair ties is certainly hard evidence that somebody entered the lady’s barn to braid the equines’ coats. Right? If not, the power of the Lutin is much stronger than I anticipated (possibly weaker since the braids needed to be bound – I can’t decide), or it would be had I ever given the Lutin a serious thought prior to last night.

The “Cajun Justice” website at defines the Lutin: “According to Cajun folklore, it is the spirit of a baby who died before it was baptized and engages in mischievous trick and pranks on the living (sic).”

It had to be the Lutin, the horse owner insists, because the animals were only left unattended for 30 minutes. How else could the braiding be done so quickly? Then chimes in the Cajun Chorus, with quips such as “It’s a newborn baby that died and never was baptized” and “The children come back as ghosts and they’re mischievous.” At least the above definition is sourced.

As captivating as the spirit and other south Louisiana mysteries may be, it only took three episodes for Terrebonne Parish’s unique criminal aspects to bore producers. The plethora of “Cajun” culture and how it factors into crime is allegedly the show’s foundation and definitely something producers labor to capture. Yet, in the series’ fourth episode, viewers are beat over the head with a tired motif: FULL-MOON MADNESS!!!!

Sometimes life is convenient, and even on the most tiresome of full-moon nights, double-shift working Lt. Det. Terry Daigre can appreciate his good fortune. Moments after verbally absolving a suspected burglar of wrongdoing in a hushed conversation with his partner, his inclinations are verified. The suspect’s friend confirms via the suspect’s phone that the suspect entered the friend’s father’s camp to retrieve hunting gear so the duo could go early-morning gaming. You see, Daigre’s instincts are spot on, and once the liberated man decides to bequeath information that sheds light on the real camp-thieving scoundrels, Daigre doesn’t even consider calling it a night. So he and Sgt. Dudley “D.J.” Authement stake their boat in the marsh and sit for four hours sweating bullets and fending off mosquitoes. Then, they see the light. The thieves back up their boat to a Superior Canal camp in preparing for a quick getaway. After one enters the empty shack, Authement strobes the blues and the deputies descend on the scene. In what could be mistaken as a shoddy approach (we’re not able to see how the thief was able to slip out of the camp, into the boat and scoot past deputies so quickly), Daigre and Authement find themselves in a boat chase. With the seemingly tough task of pulling over a speeding boat ahead of them, the TPSO deputies catch their final break when the thieves take a left-hand turn into a natural roadblock. Authement pins the scum against the barrier.

“Did y’all know you were caught at a dead end, Fellas,” Authement, who has navigated parish bayous since his youth, gloats.

The debate over whether or not the scenes are staged should end now. As far as the show’s value is concerned, it’s irrelevant. Camera placement in multiple scenes (the graveyard this week and the ghost hunters last week) makes it clear that producers tinker with the shots as they see fit, and the presence of alteration casts doubt on every scene. I cannot take any of it seriously, but I’m going to try.

Buried beneath the elements of a show many locals find offensive may be a glimpse (and thus far, only a glimpse) of something artistic. Producers did dispense talent in developing Daigre’s character so quickly in a half-hour episode. He’ll work until he keels over, his intuition is sharp and yes, he is a sly interrogator. He’s a lunch-pail-toting company man with a drive and talent to hunt criminals. Despite less airtime than other deputies, Daigre’s character is already vivid.

The detectives’ lieutenant also points out, and show runners make sure to include audio of the thieves horsing around as they readied their entry, evidence of the robbers’ comfort that comes with experience of inconsequentially pillaging numerous camps. They simultaneously advance the narrative and reaffirm Daigre’s hypothesis in a three-second clip, a sharp edit that, among few others, deserves credit.

Considering the access producers were granted, it’s a pity “Cajun Justice” hasn’t already shown more relevant infusions of plot and deputies’ talents and personalities.

And while these details add to the narrative, the narrative holds no regard for veracity. Follow-up investigation and results of the so-said charges pressed against the six men arrested in last night’s episodes were nonexistent.

If “Cajun Justice” truly wanted to do anything but indulge worldwide viewers oblivious to – and stilt its portrayal of – Terrebonne Parish, these facts would be included. The viewer would be presented with the status in the case against the trespassing soul summoners. We would come to know just how many camps these dirtbags robbed. But that must be seen as a waste of time, because the mysticism would be marginalized. On this show, perception and ratings reign over truth and legitimacy. To expect anything different would be disrespectful to the role of “reality” programming.

Other notes:

– I find it shocking that the guy and his girlfriend’s sister, who were sharing the driver’s seat while “talking” in a car parked in a cemetery under the moonlight, signed a release with MAK Pictures.

– Dep. Paul “Mitchell” Thibodeaux likes it when people caress his hair. He’s great when it comes to retorting to fellow deputies’ wisecracks about his blonde highlights. He does not check himself out in the rearview mirror before exiting his patrol car. Why thank you, yes he would like to see evidence that the skull is missing from the casket.

– My favorite moment last night came during my most-disliked gimmick, the Cajun Chorus. As residents list what thieves can take from empty camps, a man throws up his arms in mock disgust and says: “They can even steal your fricken electricity.” A swipe at those who willingly satisfy producers’ wants, its inclusion is more of a nod to the segment of the audience that watches the show because of its absurdity.

Fact Check – (Year’s total in the third column)

Gunshots: 0 0
Boat chases: 1 1
Arrests: 5 7
Gator count: 1 44
“Voodoo: mentioned: 3 10
Seized automobiles: 0 2
Skulls (allegedly) stolen: 1 1
Skulls recovered: 1 1
Souls summoned 0* 0
Rougaroo sighting: 0 0


*You can thank TPSO deputies for that. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn’t been so prompt?

Until we see footage of the Rougaroo, that’s enough from me. What did you think of last night’s episodes?