HBO’s True Detective
Season 3, Episode 8: “Now Am Found”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Nic Pizzolatto
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Final Country” – click here
* Will HBO go for a Season 4? Fingers crossed.
We get a glimpse of a time in between the others we’ve seen already. Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) reads from “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day” by Delmore Schwartz. The poem’s themes are important to this season’s story.
Let’s go to 1990, when Dt. Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) went with Edward Hoyt (Michael Rooker) out to the woods. They related about war— Wayne, a Vietnam vet, Edward a Korea War vet. They weren’t there to “trade war stories,” though. Hoyt wanted to talk about Harris James (Scott Shepherd). He knew more than he let on. Hays claimed he was only talking to Harris about Julie Purcell’s disappearance. He tried to pretend he had no clue what happened to Mr. James, but Hoyt had video suggesting otherwise. The older man claimed to be in “the fucking dark” just as much as the detective. He had GPS that showed the last location where Harris was in his car, and that put Wayne in a bad position. How to go forward with an investigation into this powerful man when he was holding something over Wayne’s head? Not to mention the danger of it all for Hays and his family. And what about Julie? Only got more complicated from that point.
In 2015, Wayne and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) are looking back into the case, asking around at a nursing home about the black man with one eye (Steven Williams), questioning a nurse who was married to Harris. She says he came around after her husband disappeared. They’re given the name Junius. Likely this was “Mr. June” they heard about from the old maid.
“Time is the school in which we learn /
Time is the fire in which we burn.”
Back in ’80, Wayne got in trouble for Amelia being quoted in the press. He was being punished for what the white men in charge saw as his “little girlfriend” using him as an “anonymous source.” Everything he said to her was being used for her writing. He was deemed “too pussy–struck” to know what was happening, even by Best, who saw things the same as their white superiors. They all wanted him to write a statement and wash it off their hands. Best worked to keep his friend from being fired. But Wayne decided he’d take a shittier job rather than hurt Amelia, especially when it was all truth— she wasn’t making anything up, and he wasn’t either.
Old Wayne and Roland return to the Hoyt estate together 35 years later. They descend into the bowels of the mansion, where we once saw Tom Purcell (Scoot McNairy) discover the pink room. They go into that very same pink room, which is like an apartment fitted for a little girl. On the wall is drawn a castle. There are characters drawn next to it: Princess Mary, Sir Junius, and Queen Isabel. Wayne’s trying to come to terms with his guilt, of knowing Hoyt was somehow involved 25 years prior but being unable to come forward, or unwilling.
Skip back to ’90, when Wayne talked to Amelia about coming home and burning his clothes then disappearing in the car with Hoyt. He, again, wanted to protect his wife, like ten years before. How could they go forward with such a massive, unspoken divide existing between them? There’s also the fact they never fully dealt with the personal repercussions of the Purcell case and what it meant to them as a married couple/parents as opposed to a detective and journalist. Meanwhile, in a bar, Roland picked a nasty fight with a huge biker. Roland wound up taking on a few men before too many of them ganged up on him. He met a dog while he was drunk and bleeding in the parking lot later, likely where his love of the animals started.
In 2015, Wayne and Roland go to see Junius— it was him lurking outside Wayne’s place over the last while. Junius explains he worked for Hoyt’s original chicken farm, and when the operation expanded he was given a bigger job. He looked after Isabel. She went off to college, had a baby, but her husband and child died in an accident. This drove her into mental illness. Some time later, she got worse. She saw Lucy with Julie once and wanted to play with the girl. She became obsessed. They arranged secret playdates in the woods. But Isabel stopped taking her medication, leading to her accidentally killing Will while trying to abduct Julie. Mr. June put Will’s body in the cave for her, and Harris planted evidence at Woodard’s home to make it all go away.
Lucy was given money as a payoff. For a couple years, Julie went along with things fine because Isabel had been giving the little girl “lithium since she was ten.” The girl lived in a “fairy tale” for years. Once Junius figured out what was going on, he left a door open so Julie could escape. Following that, Isabel put on her old wedding dress and downed a bottle of pills. In ’97, Junius tracked Julie to the convent where she’d stayed, calling herself Mary July. Wayne and Roland go back to the convent discovering Julie had HIV and died there. They stand over her grave and apologise for not helping her while she was alive. They run into landscaper Mike Ardoin (Nathan Wetherington) – whose father used to take care of the lawns at the convent – and his girl Lucy. Anybody else find this odd? The girl’s name being Lucy? We’ve seen the Ardoin truck before, briefly.
“You don’t want to live with it? Fucking don’t.”
In ’80, Amelia was trying to figure out what Wayne wanted from their relationship. He only brought out a box of her things she was keeping at his place and gave it to her. He lashed out, blaming her like she manipulated him for sources. He uses an extremely derogatory term – “high yellow bitch” – to denigrate her. Nasty misogynoir coming out of Wayne. And to think, they went on to have children after that!
In 2015, Wayne lives with his own failures. He’s packing things from his latest investigation away when he knocks over a copy of Amelia’s Life and Death and the Harvest Moon. He reads from where the book is opened: a passage about Mike, the landscaper, then ten years old, who loved Julie as a boy and thought they’d grow up to get married one day. Suddenly the puzzle’s rearranging. Maybe there’s a happy ending tangled somewhere deep within this web.
Wayne tracks down an address for Ardoin, then finds himself lost. He calls Henry (Ray Fisher), who advises him to ask for directions. He’s actually at the Ardoin house, where little Lucy is gardening with her mother. Is he speaking to a grown up Julie and totally unaware? Tragic irony. He actually gets a blast from the past when Henry arrives with his sister, Becca (Deborah Ayorinde). He gets some time with his daughter on the way back. Back home, Wayne sips iced teas with his family, and Roland drops by for a visit. In spite of the happiness, he won’t forget all of the past.
In ’80, Wayne sat at a bar drinking one beer after another. Soon he was joined by Amelia. She wanted to know what was really in his heart, apart from anger and resentment. He apologised for what he said out of rage and said he wanted to marry her. They went on to build a beautiful family, and their good memories hopefully outweigh the bad for old Wayne as he exists in a liminal space between past and present.
Our last look at Wayne is back in Vietnam. He wades into the thick of the jungle, similar to being in his old age, wading into the deep end of obscurity as his mind fully crumbles. His life’s mission is complete, not unlike when he finished his mission in the jungle, albeit there are questions to which he doesn’t have the answers because of his condition preventing that final piece of the puzzle from falling into place. Only there’s no life to return to anymore as an elderly man who’s accomplished a mission, like there was as a young man following the war— he’s wading into the great beyond this time, as are the traumas in his memory, receding into the void. Maybe he doesn’t remember the last crumbs of the case and that won’t give him full closure. But he remembers the important moments, like his wife, if only for a while longer.
“What if the ending isn’t really the ending at all?”
For others, this finale might not have been what they wanted. For Father Gore, it was EVERYTHING! Fantastic storytelling once again proves Pizzolatto does good work, especially when collaborating with others, whether directors or writers. Hopefully HBO will consider a Season 4. Many actors could come in to perform exciting roles, and there are definitely great directors/writers for Pizzolatto to work alongside.
Overall there was an amazing theme of memory, more so than the other two seasons, and it was presented so well across the three timelines using Wayne’s mental deterioration. Father Gore plans to come back and write another article later on about the prominent themes and ideas throughout, so stay tuned.