How is everyone doing? We're entering Week Two of the deep freeze in Alberta, but I am fortified with a massive cuppa and blankey so we can take out the trash in True Detective S3:E06 Hunters in the Dark. Onward!
We start in 1980 with post-coital chitchat between Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and future wife Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo), his "helluva thing when a gunfight's the second most exciting thing that happened in a day" made me laugh out loud.
He stares out the window into 1990, right after we heard that tape of the missing girl Julie Purcell suggest her father Tom (Scoot McNairy) was both not her dad and also responsible for the death of her brother Will.
Wayne and his former partner and now boss Roland West (Stephen Dorff) didn't kick Tom's alibi that hard, apparently, even though he didn't have much cover for the night the kids went missing. They brainstorm with the higher-ups then head into the interview room to put the verbal boots to Tom.
Tom can barely believe they're asking him about that night, even more incredulous that his pal Roland is jumping all over him. Wayne asks about the hole drilled into Julie's wall (I think it was Julie's creepy uncle Dan O'Brien who did that) and brings up the question of paternity, all within 10 seconds.
You fellas need to pace yourselves!
In 2015, television producer Elisa (Sarah Gadon) calls that taped call a turning point in the investigation, but elderly Wayne can't remember "in light of what happened."
In 1990, we get more marriage-fighting between Amelia and Wayne, she's working on the sequel to her book about the Purcell case. They are thisclose to hate.
Wayne and Roland start digging deeper into Tom's life, the foreman (Lawrence Turner) who fired him remembering some speculation about a secret homosexual lifestyle. Or just that one time going into a queer club, same same.
The detectives search Tom's house, finding a lot of AA literature in between overdue bills, condoms and a flyer for religious conversion therapy. It seems our Tom was trying to pray away the gay.
Roland strongly defends Tom, no way would he do this to his kids. Wayne counters that it's not looking like they were his kids after all, so. Roland will not let Prosecutor Kindt (Brett Cullen) and bigwheel Major Blevins (James MacDonald) railroad another person.
Speaking of! We get the details of the setup of the deceased Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes), the cops and Kindt are in a hurry to pin the whole case on our departed Vietnam vet. Kindt thinks Brett sent the somewhat illiterate kidnap note (nope, that was the mother, we know that by 2015) and burned Julie's body in a homemade incinerator (nope again, she showed up in 1990 alive and well), case closed!
Wayne is openly defiant due to the stupidly huge amount of non-evidence, I wonder if that's why his career completely stalled after the case.
In 2015, Eliza asks if Wayne thinks the death of Dan O'Brien was connected to "what happened to Tom."
WHAT HAPPENED TO TOM??
Roland and Wayne go next in 1990 to talk to Harris James, the cop who processed the scene at Brett Woodard's house. He was involved in the finding of Will's (totally planted) backpack at the Woodard house and remembers seeing Tom nearby while they were searching the house. We also know he disappeared during the investigation.
Heeeey, I think Harris is working for Hoyt Foods, where Lucy Purcell (Grace Gummer) worked and probably met the real father of her kids.
Harris also takes a moment to compliment Wayne on his body, he's not wrong but there was a bit of a record scratch when he did. That's WEIRD.
Amelia's tracked down where Julie was staying in 1990, it wasn't a good scene. Drugs and hooking, the girl Amelia talks to suggests she write a book about what happens to kids out there. "To girls."
A call comes over the radio for Roland, ten bucks says it's Tom wanting to confess something. Orrrr it's Dan O'Brien (Michael Graziadei) who wants $7000 for information on the case. Wayne regretfully declines.
Dan isn't just Julie's creepy uncle and Lucy's cousin, he and Lucy grew up together and I think he's suggesting incest but he's all twitchy so it's hard to tell. He thinks Lucy was murdered instead of overdosing on drugs her own self and that the police aren't the only ones looking for Julie. She's in danger from people who want the status quo maintained.
Wayne leans heavily on Dan, he's kind of a one trick pony when it comes to dudes. He does "speak crazy. I'm fucking fluent" which is helpful. After Dan leaves, he and Roland come up with several plans of attack, all of which are carefully shouted in the investigation room while Tom listens outside.
**That was an extremely clunky plot device, True Detective.
Wayne still wants to check out Tom for Lucy's murder, even though Dan O'Brien thought that was ridic.
Back in 2015 Wayne asks his married son Henry (Ray Fisher) if he's going to keep screwing the television producer Eliza, somehow this ties back into something Wayne did. He withheld? I don't understand. Is he saying he cheated on his wife or she cheated and he withheld? Did someone other than Henry cheat, coz I'm confused. Maybe he means that he withheld love because he was terrified he would lose them.
In 1980 Kindt announces the conviction on Brett Woodard for the deaths, parents Tom and Lucy can't listen to it all. Lucy runs out and Amelia follows, trying to make up for their awful last meeting but Lucy is as aggressive and defiant as ever.
Speaking of defiant, Roland and Wayne have another huge argument in 1990. Wayne's elated at the movement on the case, he wants to go back to the office and work it. Roland senses that Wayne maybe doesn't want to be home more than he wants to be at the office, Wayne proves he's not emotional and overheated by pulling on the steering wheel and storming off into the cornfields.
**I'm terrible for storming off emotionally, but mostly because I try too much for too long. Pacing oneself is a beautiful but elusive thing.
Tom finds Dan at his no-tell motel, looking dangerous all of a sudden. He holds a gun on Dan until Dan spills the beans. He was gonna tell the cops a name, who was paying Lucy for the whole time she was gone from town. Lucy just kept asking for more.
Wayne's walked back to town to the Purcell house, now a graffiti-covered hovel for squatters but still with a pristine wall showing the peephole. Wayne's got that sorted, it was for passing notes between the kids. Hm
He explains it to 2015 Roland, tells him Eliza brought up Harris James again. We kiiinda found out that Roland and Wayne killed someone back in 1980/1990, we're meant to decide whether they mean Harris James or Dan O'Brien.
Wayne interrupts their chat with a bathroom break, coming back having completely forgotten what they're doing and why Roland is there.
There are some challenges Wayne is working around.
It's 1990 and Amelia is at her book launch when an angry man interrupts to ask her theories about where Julie is. Did I say man? I meant a black man with one eye, that is, DOES HE DRIVE A BROWN SEDAN?? If so, we gotta get this guy in a police interview room, stat!
He accuses Amelia of using the story for money, for milking the pain of the Purcells and it's like a much older and less ocular-blessed Wayne is standing there! That's exactly what he accuses her of.
Tom drinks and drives his way to a very fancy residence with his gun, this must be the Hoyt Foods guy I've been blaming this all on!
He does have what looks like a SafeRoom door, which leads to a pink-walled room, reminiscent of the pink palace 1990 Julie has been telling everyone about. It's Harris James who slinks into the room behind Tom, though, not Mr. Hoyt Foods jefe, and suddenly we're out.
Huh. I'm completely surprised at the demeanor of the one-eyed black man, he was really concerned about Julie and desperate to find out information.
Who declared war or true crime writers anyway? One of the things I loved about Ann Rule's books when I was a teenager is how beautifully she wrote about the victims of violent crime. Are they making money at the expense of another's pain, are they ghouls? Or are they filling the public need to stare indirectly at monsters with a curated filter?