‘True Detective’ Season 3, Episode 7 Recap: Somebody’s Lying

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

On tonight’s episode of True Detective, Wayne (Mahershala Ali) hones in on a new suspect, while his hallucinations reach an all-time high. Here’s what went down in season three, episode seven of the HBO series, titled “The Final Country.”

amelia true detective season 3
Warrick Page/HBO

In a previously unseen timeline, we find Wayne driving Rebecca (Deborah Ayorinde) to college. As the father and daughter seem to be having a hard time with this milestone, Rebecca suggests lifting something heavy in order to feel better. “Boy do you have my number,” says Wayne. “Since I was 2,” responds his daughter with a laugh.

In 1990, the body of Tom Purcell (Scoot McNairy) turned up at Devil’s Den. Next to the body is a gun and a suicide letter that says, “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I’m going to see my wife and son.”

When Wayne gets home, Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) tells him about the aggressive one-eyed man at her reading, whom she believes is the guy from 1980, driving around in a sedan. “I think he’s the reason she ran away,” says Amelia.

In 2015, Eliza asks old Wayne if he ever thought Tom’s death wasn’t a suicide. “The man had plenty of reasons to do something like that,” says Wayne. Eliza says the medical examiner’s report said he had a swollen contusion at the base of his skull, as if he’d been struck. Unfortunately, just like in 1980, when a dead man took the fall for the murder of the Purcell kids, Tom’s death also effectively ended the investigation: Another man bites the dust and the case is once again closed.

In 1990, Wayne is furious that this is going to put an end to a second investigation, while Roland (Stephen Dorff) feels guilty for driving a man to kill himself. The two get into a tiff, where Roland claims he didn’t bring in Wayne to help solve the murder—this case was about him helping Wayne get his career back. We all know how much Wayne likes acts of charity. But instead of punching Roland in the face—which surely occurs to him—Wayne tells his partner they’ve got to keep investigating. Roland tells him to work his personal shit out elsewhere and Wayne asks if Roland’s been drinking this morning. Good times.

In 1980, Tom is about to ditch town. Lucy’s (Mamie Gummer) long gone and he’s lost all hope that his daughter is alive. Tom just wants to stop feeling—period. “There ain’t nothing that could happen to me that wouldn’t be a relief,” says Tom, asking Roland to get out of his way, physically and metaphorically. Roland gives him his phone number, for the day he may need his help.

In 1990, Amelia pays a visit to Lucy’s best friend, who is mourning the death of Tom. Amelia asks if maybe Lucy was spending time with the black one-eyed man. No, apparently Lucy had lots of male suitors, none of them black. Lucky for Amelia, this friend-slash-hoarder is also a great documentarian of the past decade and produces a photo from Halloween 1980 with the Purcell kids. “Somebody’s got to remember,” she tells Amelia, after reluctantly letting her borrow the photo.

In 2015, we find out that Amelia decided against writing a sequel to her book because, says Wayne, she had other stories to write. “Did any of her research suggest a larger conspiracy? Like a cover-up?” asks Eliza. “I don’t think so. You have evidence of something like that?” asks Wayne.

wayne roland true detective season 3
Warrick Page/HBO

Cut to the 1990s, where Roland and Wayne go and check on Cousin Dan (Michael Graziadei) and find an empty motel room with signs of struggle. Dan’s wallet is there, but the man himself has vanished—suspiciously leaving his car behind. After initially dismissing him as crazy, Dan’s words are starting to resonate. Did Dan pay for his indiscretions with his life?

Klindt holds a press conference, alleging that Tom committed suicide at the scene of the original crime after being confronted with evidence against him. They are interpreting his suicide note as a confession and are overturning the conviction against Brett Woodard and pinning the blame on Tom. Wayne in 2015 says he wasn’t satisfied with how that was handled. “But I’ve never been satisfied with any part of the case,” he says to Eliza.

In 1980, Wayne’s doing Amelia’s dishes. She’s tooling around with a notebook, trying to figure out what she is writing. An article? A book? “I’m not sure,” she admits. Maybe the next In Cold Blood. “I’m thinking about writing about the crime, but more about the community,” she says. “I feel l have a voice.” Wayne encourages her to write about it, actually seeming like he wants her to tell this story, saying the news isn’t going to cover it. “Wouldn’t that hurt your job?” she asks him. “They don’t want to do it right, it’s not a job worth having,” he responds. If only they knew where this road leads…

Eliza tells Wayne that after Tom died, there was a black man going around asking about Julie. He identified himself as Watts. Eliza’s opinion is that this is the man Julie was running away from.

The dolls are finally given context, by Eliza, who says they’re used as signifiers in the human traffic underground. A blue spiral is code for pedophilia. But that’s not even the most exciting thing about the reveal: Eliza ties the dolls to the case from season one, where detectives Rustin Cohl and Martin Hart (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) stopped a serial killer associated with a pedophile ring. Their case never went wider, despite evidence of accomplices, explains Eliza.

Eliza believes one, or both, of the Purcell parents sold off their children to a pedophile ring, possibly with the help of Cousin Dan. “That’s why they’re all gone,” she says, explaining how wider investigations are often curtailed because high-level businessmen and politicians are implicated. She mentions that Wayne left the force in 1990. “You saw nothing that suggested obfuscation from higher quarters? No evidence ignored? No forced conclusion?” The answer, Eliza, is yes, yes, YES! But admitting to all of it is probably not a great idea. “Do your best, learn to live with ambiguity,” offers Wayne, by way of life advice. Eliza is disappointed. She was hoping Wayne would provide a missing piece to the puzzle because he never went along with the conclusions. “My whole brain is a bunch of missing pieces,” Wayne tells the “young lady.” “I’m tired of walking through the graveyard. The story is over for me.”

Wayne walks over to Roland, and—in a manner that indicates this story ain’t over by a long shot—he tells his partner to write down the name of the one-eyed-man before he forgets. “Do you think your wife would want this for you?” asks Roland. “She wants me to finish it,” Wayne insists.

In 1990, the phone records of Lucy from 1988 are keeping Wayne busy at work, while Amelia gathers their kids for a late-night excursion. These two truly are candidates for Moral Compass of the Year: Wayne pretends to be Roland to get his hands on flight records, while Amelia leaves her two kids in the car while she speaks to the bar manager at The Sawhorse where Lucy used to work. Her boss recalls seeing the one-eyed-man in the bar, but not with Lucy. He was hanging out with Cousin Dan. In the middle of gathering important clues, Amelia freaks out as she thinks her kids have gone missing. Alas, they’re just asleep in the back seat.

wayne on the phone true detective season 3
Warrick Page/HBO

Meanwhile, Wayne seems to think he has solved the entire mystery, by discovering a phone number that was called eight times, two days before Lucy overdosed. It belongs to an address owned by the Hoyt corporation. Harrison James’s personal line. James flew to Vegas the day before Lucy died and came back the day after. Wayne suspects he planted the evidence, stole the fingerprints from the toys from the evidence locker. But rather than go through proper channels, Wayne thinks they should just go ask James what he was doing and figure out how it leads to Hoyt. Roland’s not into the plan. Wayne tries to push his buttons by saying they owe it to Tom.

Geriatric Wayne and Roland have managed to track down Hoyt’s longtime housekeeper. She tells them the Hoyt family had no luck in life, except in business. She virtually raised their daughter, Isabelle, whose husband and daughter died in a wreck three years before the Purcell kids disappeared. After the accident, when Isabelle was too fragile to be left by herself, she was taken around by Mr. June. And, you guessed it, Mr. June is a black man with one good eye. The housekeeper left her job when they started restricting where she was able to go within the house. Ms. Isabelle, she says, was getting worse.

In 1990, Wayne and Roland tail James and pull him over. In a traffic stop that defies all protocol, Wayne gets into the passenger seat, accusing James of refusing to comply, and pulls out James’s gun, which he at this point has not been reaching for. Roland pulls him out of the car, and the three of them wrestle on the ground for a bit. Like a throwback to the pedophile interrogation, the two drag Harrison James to a barn and tie him to a pole. James denies it all, as our heroes pace back and forth presenting him with their theory. A pummeled James seems ready to make a deal as long as he knows he’s walking out of this rendezvous alive. After a few more whimpers, Wayne releases him. His hands free, James attacks Wayne and Roland shoot to kill. No answers, no witness, a whole lotta trouble.

In 2015, Roland and Wayne deduce that Harrison James must have patrolled the area in 1977 where Isabelle’s family was killed in the car accident. Maybe that’s where his relationship with the Hoyts began? When they look out the window, the car that’s surveilling Wayne is there, and this time Roland sees it too. Wayne heads out with a baseball bat, while Roland sneaks behind the car and snaps a picture of the license plate. (These old dude schemes are kind of fun to watch.)

Suddenly, Wayne turns around and finds himself alone in the road. There’s a fire in the distance and he heads for it. He sees his younger self burn his clothes after the murder of Harrison James. Amelia (real Amelia, not a hallucination) is also watching Wayne’s creepy evening ritual. She asks what he’s doing. “I can’t talk about this,” he tells her, in a way that seems to scare them both. They agree to speak in the morning.

Their morning powwow is interrupted by a phone call—from Mr. Hoyt. “I think we may have some things to discuss,” says the man on the other side of the line. “I’d like to discuss the events of last night, as I understand them.” He offers to come inside, name checking Wayne’s entire family. When Wayne suggests meeting up later, Hoyt says he’s been patient already and should perhaps take what he knows to the prosecutor’s office.

Realizing he has been backed into a corner, Wayne promises to tell Amelia everything, as soon as he has taken care of whatever awaits outside. “Trust me,” he says.

A car door opens. Wayne gets in. They drive away.

Will “trust me” be Wayne’s last words to Amelia? Are we just looking for the show to piece the chronology together in its last episode or are we about to be hit with a last-minute shocker?

Guess we’ll have to wait until the final episode of True Detective airs next Sunday, February 24, at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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Carita Rizzo

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