We’re now into the second half of True Detective‘s eight-episode third season, and while “If You Have Ghosts” provided more questions than answers, the episode was worth the ride based solely on the final 10-plus minutes, which reunited Roland and Wayne in 2015. Up to this point, the 2015 scenes had been the weakest of the time periods, but the writing of the final scene and the performances by Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff changed that, setting up an interesting wrinkle for the last three episodes.
Let’s start where the previous week ended: All hell is breaking loose at the Woodard house as the trash man’s gunshots take down men on both sides of the law. Even Roland gets hit in the leg and he’s only saved by Wayne sneaking up on Woodard, who says he could have finished Wayne but missed on purpose. Wayne’s trying to return the favor by talking down the fellow veteran, but Woodard is essentially forcing Wayne to kill him. “You’re gonna put this on me, huh?” He does and Wayne pulls the trigger.
Moving forward to 1990, Roland is going over the Purcell case with his team. They touch on Lucy’s death in Vegas and her cousin, who is still MIA after dropping off the map back in 1987. Tom then unexpectedly arrives and freaks out. First, it’s about the graphic photo of Lucy’s OD. Then, it’s when Wayne has him look at the photo of older Julie. He’s still emotionally reeling when he goes on TV to speak directly to Julie. Soon, Alan, one of the interviewers from the deposition, comes on the scene with Woodard’s children. He puts on a show for the cameras, saying the Purcell murders were just pinned on him after he died. Alan then talks privately with Wayne, who’s still bitter about Woodard’s death. “Motherf—er made me carry his water,” he declares. “Like I need more of the memories.”
The investigation is back in full swing in 1990 with Roland and Wayne going to visit their old friend, Freddie, who has gone from scared teenager to a grudge-holding adult. After their unproductive visit to the defensive witness, Wayne declares that he has no sympathy for him. “Please explain to me all of the hardships and tribulations of being a white man in this country,” he tells Roland, who just wants to get back to the case. They do just that when they interview a homeless kid who recognizes older Julie, saying she went by the name of Mary July and was a bit “nutty.” He backs that up by revealing that she believed she was a secret princess who was looking for her brother. With Wayne convinced that this is Julie, they begin talking to runaways and working girls.
They take a break from the case for a double date night at Roland’s house. Wayne and Amelia come over for dinner with Roland and Lori, who he has been on and off with for years. It turns uncomfortable when Amelia insists on bringing up the case, angering Wayne. The bitterness continues when they get home and Wayne calls her out for calling him her ex-husband to those cops a few episodes back. “This may shock you, but I have bigger dreams than just making a house for you to brood in,” she says, prompting him to refer to her as a “tourist,” who lifts herself up on people’s back luck. “We are all stories to you,” he declares, to which she replies, “Stop pretending that you’re too dumb to know you’re full of s—.” The argument only ends because the kids come down and little Rebecca is sick. The kids remind them of the rule about not saying goodnight until you’ve said I love you. Wayne and Amelia do just that as they all go up to bed.
Meanwhile, in 2015, Wayne is finally reading Amelia’s book and realizes that Lucy is the one who wrote the note. Shortly after, he begins losing it and goes around the house looking for his family. He eventually finds them…in 1990. He watches as post-argument Wayne and Amelia hold hands, the kids sleeping next to them. Wayne in 1990 almost appears to see Wayne in 2015, but then he definitely sees someone in the window (1980 Wayne?).
Speaking of 1980 Wayne, just after the Woodard shootout, he’s at the hospital, still in his bloody clothes and waiting for word on Roland. He’s on edge, but Amelia shows up and is able to eventually calm him down. After asking about her smell, he says he wants to get out of there and they go back to her place. “You hungry?” she asks. Well, not for food! He starts undressing, she follows suit, and they go into her bedroom.
In 1990, Wayne is hungry for the truth! He looks through the old files and discovers that the mysterious set of prints from the kids’ toys are gone. Then, when reevaluating the evidence from the Woodard house, which included Will’s backpack and Julie’s burnt shirt, he comes to the conclusion that they were planted since it was easy to put the blame on a dead guy. Roland is unsure what to do with all of this, but it will have to wait anyway because there’s a call that came through on the hotline that they need to hear. Apparently, Tom needs to hear it too. He’s brought into an interrogation room to listen to it with Roland and Wayne. It’s Julie and she’s talking about seeing Tom on TV. “Make him leave me alone,” she cries. “I know what he did. The man on TV acting like my father.” She also asks where Will is and what Tom did to him. “We left him resting,” she says. “He took me and I’m never coming back.” Tom is crying and failing to realize that he’s now suspect No. 1.
And now we get to the high point of the episode: For the first time, we meet 2015 Roland. He’s old, going bald, definitely single, and has a lot of damn dogs. He’s living out in the middle of nowhere and sees Wayne and Henry pull up outside. Wayne seems scared to go in and doesn’t remember the last time he saw Roland, but he perks up when his old partner comes outside and greets him. Once inside, Henry warns Roland of his father being “shakey.” “He remember why I’m pissed at him?” asks Roland. “Maybe I forgot too.” Henry leaves them alone and they awkwardly begin to catch up. “You don’t talk to someone for 24 years, you’re going to miss some s—.”
The former partners sit outside and begin talking about the case, with Roland making many references to information and events that we’re not privy to yet. A few things to recap: Roland hung up on the TV people; sounds like they killed a man, which may be Dan’s body; the name of a missing officer, Harris James, gets the attention of Roland; Lucy seems to have a connection to Harris; and the Hoyt Foods guy knew what they had done, but he’s dead now.
Now that that’s out of the way, they can get to the heart of the issue. Roland wants an apology from his long-time friend. “I’m sorry but I just can’t remember,” says an emotional Wayne. “I can’t remember my life.” Both men are crying and Roland accepts the apology. He’s more than happy to hang and drink and talk, but he doesn’t want to get back into the case. “C’mon, stir some s— up with me,” says Wayne, who wants to finish this for good. “70-year-old black man going bats— crazy, running around with a badge and a gun, you shouldn’t miss that.” Cracks Roland, “I could use a laugh.” THE BOYS ARE BACK! AGAIN!!
This week’s Truest Detective: 1990 Wayne isn’t messing around!
What did you think? Did you enjoy the final scene as much as I did? How are you feeling with only three episodes left?