‘True Detective’ Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: Get It Together, Wayne

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

This week on True Detective, Wayne (Mahershala Ali) reexamines the evidence with a new perspective, making him rethink the case entirely. Here’s what went down on season three, episode five of the popular HBO series. 

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Indeed, the explosion we heard at the end of episode four sets off a violent altercation among Brett “Trash Man” Woodard (Michael Greyeyes), the police, the FBI and the townsmen. Roland (Stephen Dorff) gets hit in the leg by the gunfire (hence the limping in the other timeline) and after a nail-biting standoff between Wayne and Woodard, where “Trash Man” demands Wayne end his life, this is exactly how it ends—with Wayne taking out Woodard at the risk of being shot himself.

In 1990, the police consider putting out an APB for Julie Purcell, but think the information is best kept out of the public eye, because it doesn’t appear like she wants to be found, and somebody might be looking for her. That plan backfires, as Tom Purcell (Scoot MacNairy), at the request of the State Attorney General (Brett Cullen), makes a TV appearance asking his daughter to contact him if she sees his plea. He is asked by a member of the press if he believes Mr. Woodard is innocent, despite the evidence against him. (So, this is “the man” they pinned the Purcell kids’ disappearance on). No one is denying the tragedy that took place at the Woodard house in 1980, but the evidence tying him to the Purcell kids is likely tenuous.

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Even 1990s Freddy Burns (Rhys Wakefield) remembers Woodard going in the opposite direction from the kids that day. Wayne and Roland want him to take them through the night of the murder, one more time, but instead, Freddy wants to sneer at them about the cold-hearted way Wayne took out Woodard. Roland insists they get back on topic. Freddy recalls Will being nervous that day, unable to find his sister. “I don’t know where they went,” he apparently told Freddy. They, who? Also, he’s very sensitive about the day he was being pushed around verbally by Wayne and Roland at the police station. A little too sensitive. “Acting like I ruined his life,” huffs Wayne, later in the car. Roland is trying to get back to the task at hand, but Wayne needs to stew about the twerp.

Somehow, they manage to scrounge up a person who knows Julie in 1990, except she now calls herself Mary July, can’t get the year she’s living in straight and tells people she’s a secret princess from the pink rooms. She also says she’s looking for her brother.

Eliza, the documentary producer, in 2015, asks if Wayne was aware that an officer who processed the Woodard scene, Harris James, went missing during the 1990s investigation. “Who?” asks Wayne and is handed a picture. “Who is that?” Someone Wayne apparently spoke to, according to police files, says Eliza. “A lot of people surrounding this thing are dead,” she tells him, pointedly. “Most people I ever knew are gone,” responds Wayne.

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Just when you think things are going well, Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) and Wayne go over to Roland and Lori’s (Jodi Balfour) for dinner. (Guess that flirting at church paid off for Roland…) The two have been together for seven years with a little vacation in between is how Roland explains a three-year split in the middle of their relationship. When Amelia starts to ask Roland about the Purcell case, Wayne shuts her down, rudely. Not, it seems, because the information is classified, but we get the impression he’s in constant competition with his wife. It gets even more awkward when Wayne aggressively puts down Amelia and her book in front of their hosts, and she storms out. But just when you think it would be better for these two to just divorce already, their kids bring them together in another sweet moment that gives us hope for their future.

As 2015 Wayne reads Amelia’s book for the first time as an old man, he comes to the passage about Lucy weeping over the box of possessions Amelia brought to her. “This wasn’t a happy home. Children should laugh, you know,” Amelia describes Lucy as saying. Wayne stops reading and frantically starts searching through the case files for the note with the cut-out letters. He realizes he should have read this book a long time ago. (Yeah, Wayne—even the viewer is more on top of these developments than you are…)

In 1980, Wayne describes how the shooting of Woodard went down to police investigators at the hospital, where the surgeon doesn’t know if he can save Roland’s leg. Amelia rushes to the hospital to care for her boyfriend, and we get a glimpse of the proud, impatient man he becomes a decade later. A man who won’t listen nor talk. He smells something on Amelia, which she claims is Eau de Chalk Dust and ivory soap. These might be clues, but Wayne is now driven by another throbbing muscle than his crime-solving one. Ah, young love…

As 1990s Wayne goes through the evidence, he discovers that the unknown set of fingerprints that were found on the toys have gone missing.

In 1980, we discover that Woodard was named the killer because Will’s backpack was hidden underneath his porch and a pink sweatshirt was found in his incinerator. Upon closer look, 1990s Wayne thinks it’s impossible for the backpack to have remained pristine through the bombing. It must have been planted there afterward. Wayne thinks this is a huge revelation, but Roland doesn’t think it’s worth rocking the boat for. There was, however, a call to the hotline that came in the night before, that he thinks is worth examining.

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Turns out, in 2015, Roland is still alive, living with a pack of dogs in the countryside, flavoring his liquor with a drop of coffee. When Wayne arrives for a visit, he asks to see pics of his kids—but Roland doesn’t have any kids. Roland didn’t even get married. “When you don’t talk to someone for 24 years, you’re going to miss some shit,” says Roland, droll as ever.

In 1990, Roland and Wayne call Tom to the station, so he can hear the recording from the state police hotline. “I saw him on the television,” says the shaky female voice. “Make him leave me alone! I know what he did, the man on TV acting like my father. He took me and I’m never coming back.” Our fingers are pointed right back at Tom, but the Purcell patriarch does not seem to get the severity of the accusations lobbied against him.  

In 2015, Roland tells Wayne he hung up on the TV people several times, which is the extent he’s been in touch with them. “They’re deep in it,” says Wayne. “I don’t want anything to come back on us.” “Like killing a man?” counters Roland. Roland thinks Wayne talking to the TV crew is a terrible idea, on account of him not remembering what he says or knowing what he’ll remember. Wayne tells Roland that he believes the note with the letters cut out was manufactured by Lucy. He thinks she wrote it to make Tom feel better. “We already knew she had some connection to the guy whose name you just said,” says Roland. Hoyt apparently came to see Wayne, which Wayne failed to mention to his partner. “You walked away,” barks Roland. “I know you. I know what you did. What I did.” He is angry and wants an apology.

Poor Wayne doesn’t remember what he’s supposed to apologize for. The two make amends and Roland offers to kill time with old Wayne—but he doesn’t want to dip so much as a toe in the Purcell case. “C’mon, stir some shit up with me,” says Wayne, painting a picture of a mad 70-year-old man wielding his gun. “I could use a laugh,” responds Roland.

What is Wayne so afraid of? Guess we’ll have to wait until True Detective returns to HBO next Sunday, February 10, at 9 p.m.

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