HBO’s True Detective
Season 3, Episode 2: “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Written by Nic Pizzolatto
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Big Never” – click here
In 1980, the cops were dredging the river after young Will Purcell’s corpse was found in a forest cave, not unlike the police in Robin Hood Hills did in West Memphis during 1993. In 1990, Dt. Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) talked about the case during his deposition, but couldn’t get his mind off Julie Purcell having turned up during a robbery recently.
Back during the case, Wayne and his partner Dt. Roland Best (Stephen Dorff) brought photos Hays took of those strange dolls he found leading to the cave to show various people. The detectives interrogated Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes), who bonded slightly with Hays – his partner mentions Wayne was called “Purple Haze” by his pals in Vietnam, perhaps more racist than a friendly nickname – about their shared background. But they took different paths following their time overseas. Woodard’s offended when he realises the cops are suggesting he might’ve been involved in what’s happened to the Purcell kids.
“You ever been some place you couldn’t leave and you couldn’t stay, both at the same time?”
People in West Finger were already suspicious of Devil’s Den, as well as those they deemed outsiders, like homeless people or “queers,” or generally anyone different from the heteronormative, churchgoing-types the white population deemed as ‘normal’ for the time. And the police were trying to keep a lid on it while scrambling to investigate the terrifying crime they had on their hands.
Wayne and Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo) were bonding, not yet husband and wife. Their connection was the case. He brought her a picture of the strange doll to ask if she’d ever seen a child with anything similar. For personal and moral reasons, the case haunts Wayne perpetually. In 2015, he and his son Henry (Ray Fisher) go back through his memories. He’s having memory troubles. Looking back through the case is a double-edged sword— it brings back terrible memories as much as it brings back fond ones. Great narrative for True Detective to tell right now, given the proliferation of true crime podcasts, in which people dredge their souls for memories of cold cases so maybe, just maybe, new information may come to light after so many years.
After Will’s funeral, Wayne and Roland talked to Dan O’Brien (Michael Graziadei), Lucy’s (Mamie Gummer) cousin who’d stayed with the family. Dan commented on the shitty state of Lucy and Tom’s (Scoot McNairy) marriage. The detectives got more possible info from Tom’s parents about the possibility Julie wasn’t even their son’s child because he’d been off working when she was conceived. Yikes. At work, Tom experiences the looks and judgement of people wondering why he’s back so soon, only to quit when questioned.
In 2015, Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon) introduces Wayne to the true crime world, full of articles dedicated to cases like the one in West Finger. She mentions the Franklin scandal as possibly connected (a documentary never aired about it is available here) in conspiracy theory circles. She wants to focus in on race, wondering if Hays experienced any issues because of being black. She talks in lots of white buzzwords concerning race+power structures, all but regurgitating Foucault (who was already regurgitating what he stole from the Black Panthers). A perfect, timely scene.
At school, Amelia saw Freddy Burns (Rhys Wakefield) and his two friends, a tense argument going on between two of them. A boy at school named Mike also told Amelia he saw Julie receive one of those strange-looking dolls on Halloween. Mike said he saw Julie talking to “two ghosts dressed in big sheets” that night. Meanwhile, the rest of the cops weren’t wholly on the side of their two detectives, who wanted to effectively bust West Finger wide open to search everywhere for evidence.
Wayne and Amelia were busy getting to know one another better, running into one another at a bar. Suddenly on the news, Dt. Hays saw his fellow police officers sharing too much information on TV, believing it would only hinder their investigation. He felt he wasn’t listened to because of racial politics in Arkansas, partly blaming his partner for not pushing harder as a white man.
Wayne and Roland saw West Finger descend into panic over what rumour conjured in their minds. People wouldn’t send their children on the school bus, living in constant fear. The detectives went to visit a pervert suggested by Roland’s man in the Vice squad. They talked with him at a diner, then took him to an abandoned barn. They were sure he’d crack after the right amount of forceful interrogation. Only he was working until 8 pm the night the kids disappeared, albeit at a daycare— gross. Wayne threatened the pervert would “bleed black cock” in jail if he ever said anything about the illegal interrogation. They soon heard an eerie note turned up at the Purcell house.
In 1990, Wayne heard more about Julie’s print at the robbery. His obsession with the case was renewed. We hear about Roland briefly— that he’s “done well” and how it seemed you needed an appointment in those days to see him, suggesting he climbed the ladder. Wayne’s life began fading into the background as he tumbled back into the Purcell case.
In 2015, Ms. Montgomery mentions something happened concerning Julie and her father Tom around that time, though Wayne’s less than enthused about speaking about it with her. At home, Wayne’s finding his personal struggles haven’t disappeared, either. Much as the case haunts him, the general story of his life haunts him, and his own memory’s falling apart worse by the minute. He’s starting to lose time. What else (i.e. info/theories on the case) is disappearing with his memories?
A killer Season 3! Father Gore’s totally sold. Pizzolatto has kept things simpler, yet no less complex. There’s a lot of creepy and disturbing stuff like always. As opposed to Season 2’s many tentacles, perhaps reaching in too many directions, Season 3’s sticking to a solid, direct path even as it shifts from 1980 to 1990 to 2015.
“The Big Never” is next time.