True Detective’s 3rd Season continues to get better with each episode.
The third season of True Detective premiered is in full swing, and we’re taking a look at each new episode. This season has been a return to form with a story that feels much more like the phenomenal first season. The story this season begins with Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali), a Vietnam Vet and former Detective who in 2015 is losing his memory as an old man. Hays is haunted by a case from 1980 centered around the disappearance of Will and Julie Purcell, a set of young siblings who disappeared after going for a ride on their bikes. Hays and his partner Roland West (Stephen Dorff) wrapped up the case in the 80’s only for it to be reopened in 1990 when the person convicted of kidnapping and killing the kids attempted to clear their name after the potential reemergence of Julie Purcell. As we travel through the decades we also see Hays fall in love with the Purcell kids’ teacher Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo). Amelia and Hays would marry after the initial investigation and in 1990 she wrote a book about the case. Now in 2015, Hays works to remember the details of the past while being interviewed by a film crew documenting the case.
This episode focused slightly on the current day Hays losing his memory, and the results of the end of the second episode, where Hays was alone at an intersection at night. He knows he drove himself there but isn’t sure why. It’s becoming clear that there was something more to the investigation. Likely something that happened in 1990, which led to things changing in the case significantly. Potentially something dark and damning for Hays.
We get to see Detective West brought into the fold in 1990, and by the end of the episode the case for the Purcell children is reopened with West leading a task force and Hays coming in to work with him. The two detectives stopped talking when the case wrapped up in 1980, but ten years later there’s no animosity between them and they’re able to pickup where they left off. The big question is where things were left when the 1990 investigation was finished.
In 1980, the detectives get a major development in the case when they realize that the friend the Purcell kids would often tell their parents they play with, had no real relationship with them. They had secretly been going to a spot in the woods. West and Hays find that spot, and a location where they believe Will was killed. The location is close to a house owned by an old man who believes he may have seen the kids once before. They get a warrant to search the premises, but it doesn’t seem as though the man had anything to do with the case.
Looking back at the Purcell home they find a picture of Will at his first communion. His body was found in the same position, with his hands clasped, as he was in the photo. This leads the detectives to believe that someone who knew Will and Julie may be their suspect. Potentially someone connected to their church.
In 1990 we also get to see Amelia helped Hays try to find out more about Julie potentially still being alive. That it began to tear at Hays as this case was something he didn’t want to reopen. Yet, despite his frustrations with her, he still joins the task force by the end of the episode. In current day Hays imagines seeing Amelia and she tells him he needs to finish it all. It’s clear now that no matter what is happening here, the end of the story in 1990 had dark secrets behind it. That something happened that likely wasn’t good for any party involved, and may have had long lasting impact on the entire Hays family.
The biggest highlight of this episode has to be the relationship between West and Hays, especially in the final moments of the episode. We’ve seen in all three episodes that Hays and West work perfectly together, and their chemistry as partners works extremely well because Ali and Dorff have great chemistry on screen. In a way that seems to be one of the great call backs to the first season of True Detective.
The chemistry growing between Hays and West is definitely reminiscent of Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). You enjoy seeing them work together, and play off of one another. And while the dynamic is completely different it still is complex. Largely due to discussions on race. The second season never found a spot where the dynamic between the characters was entertaining or desirable, even after 8 episodes. This season has managed to accomplish that in less than three episodes, with a clear promise that this is all far from over.
True Detective airs on HBO each Sunday at 9pm, and you can catch up on previous episodes via HBO on demand services.