Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

True Detective season 3 has been billed as a one-man showcase for Mahershala Ali as opposed to the two-hander of season 1 or the too-many hander of season 2. And Ali has been predictably great playing the three different versions of Wayne, but Stephen Dorff has also made the most of his supporting role through the first two episodes and he gets even more to do in “The Big Never,” a step up in quality from the second half of last week’s premiere.

We’ve already caught up with Wayne in all of the time periods, so now it’s time to meet 1990 Roland. He’s a hotshot lieutenant, advancing much farther than his former partner. Speaking of Wayne, he and Amelia are spending their date night in the parking lot of the Walgreens where Julie’s fingerprints were found. He’s tired of talking about the case, so she suggests, “We can just drink and have sex all night.” He responds, “Boy, that’d be great.” But instead of doing that they go back to discussing the case and Amelia offers to try to get some info from the local police. They then head to their motel to presumably drink and have sex all night.

Things aren’t as hot and heavy for Wayne in 2015. After last episode ended with him confused in front of the old Purcell house, Teddy has brought him to see a doctor. “I went there for a reason, I just can’t remember,” says Wayne, arguing that it’s not a big deal. He’s so frustrated that he even promises to kill himself if his son tries to put him in a home.

Wayne’s memory problems are ironic considering 1990 Roland is saying how his former partner has a better memory than he does. “Y’all f—ed a good detective,” he says, revealing that his previous attempts to get Wayne assigned to his department were blocked. Back in 1980, the revelation of the note that was sent to the Purcells has Roland and Wayne reexamining the entire case, beginning with why the kids were lying about hanging out with their neighbor friend. They interview little Ronnie and he says that he didn’t play much with Will and Julie, prompting the cops to go through their stuff again. In Julie’s room, Wayne finds notes that read ominous things like “Don’t listen” and “I’ll always keep you safe,” as well as a bag from Hoyt Foods, Lucy’s old employer. The partners then go check out the company, which through their Ozark Children’s Outreach Center has put up a reward for info on the kids. That’s nice, but Wayne still wants names and background on all their employees.

Returning to 1990, Roland confesses that he doesn’t see Wayne anymore, even though he’s not sure why. “Once we stopped working together, we just stopped,” he says. Meanwhile, Wayne hasn’t stopped looking for missing kids as his daughter Rebecca disappears during a trip to Walmart. Thankfully, she resurfaces relatively quickly, but he’s still pissed. Amelia wasn’t there for this, instead out in Oklahoma flirting with cops to get information on the Walgreens robbery (what does Target need to do to get a visit?). The flirting works and she learns that Julie’s fingerprints were on the shelves and not behind the counter. Upon returning home, she doesn’t get a thank you from Wayne, who’s being quite the jerk. And she’s the one who should be mad considering he didn’t even end up buying anything at Walmart!

While he didn’t make any progress on the groceries, Wayne is making some strides in the investigation in 1980. The state park has been shut down for a large search, which means bonding time for Amelia and Wayne. He explains his tracking skills and asks her out to dinner. But progress on the investigation comes when he’s solo and spots some dice, followed by a hidden bag that is full of toys. Nearby he finds hair and blood on sharp rocks, meaning this is where Will was killed. He then grabs Roland and they keep walking to a big house. The owner says he was already interviewed but it’s not clear by whom. Apparently, he had seen the kids as well as a nice car with a black man and a white woman. But his help ends there when he refuses to let his land be searched without a warrant. (The recap continues on the next page)

This latest piece of info leads us to 2015 and Wayne’s documentary interview. Eliza, the director, is questioning the investigation, insisting that not everyone was interviewed. She brings up a suspicious brown sedan, which sounds familiar to Wayne. She also brings up a black man with a scar who was not mentioned in the official reports. While Teddy wants to stop, Wayne wants to know what is going on. Later, presumably that night, Wayne is going through the evidence, talking to himself about the brown sedan and Amelia’s writing, all as he has a gun on the desk. Amelia then appears, and he’s not happy to see her. “How much do I have to lose?” he asks, to which she responds, “Everything, same as everybody else.” He’s worried about what they will find, what he left in the woods. “Finish it,” she declares, before disappearing.

In 1980, the community is starting to take the investigation into their own hands. The trash man, Woodard, is run off the road by a mob of white men who accuse him of hanging around kids. Despite his denial, they start beating on him as he fights back. After the brutal beatdown, he rushes homes and grabs a big bag. Hopefully not a body bag.

Elsewhere in 1980, Tom and Lucy tell Wayne and Roland that they don’t recognize the toys from the woods. But the kids’ fingerprints were on them, joined by a mysterious third set. Wayne starts looking through old photo albums and spots a picture from Will’s first communion of him posing with his eyes closed and arms folded, just like how he was positioned in that cave. Our time with the Purcells continues in 1990 when Roland goes to visit Tom at a new house. While Lucy died two years earlier in Las Vegas, Tom looks good. He’s sober now thanks to Roland. And he’s already been approached by the interviewers and knows about the fingerprints. Roland and Tom then share a prayer together.

The 1990 reunions for Roland don’t end there. Roland meets Wayne at a local bar, and after talk of Roland’s penis (“It just keeps coming up,” he insists), they get down to business. Roland is in charge of a new task force, leading Wayne to ask, “That promotion for merit or did it come with the pigmentation?” Burn! Roland responds, “Well, I think unlike others, I lacked a big f—ing mouth. Hell, with affirmative action, you could have been my boss by now.” Double burn!! We get hints at the possibility of Roland having gotten shot and the very real possibility that Wayne is becoming a drunk. The case is being reopened and there’s a spot on the task force for Wayne. “You feel like maybe being a detective again?” asks Roland. “Because, that, you were okay at.” THE BOYS ARE BACK!

This week’s Truest Detective: 1980 Wayne was on fire this week, no matter what 2015 Eliza says!

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