Following last week’s phone call from a girl presumed to be Julie, her father Tom is at the center of the investigation. Roland is skeptical of his friend’s guilt, but he and Wayne still go hard at him, questioning his alibi, the peephole, and Julie maybe not being his daughter. That gets Tom going and he starts to make things personal with Roland. Afterward, Wayne is unsure what to think, while other cops speculate that Tom could have cooperated with Woodard or planted the evidence himself. Regardless, he’s being held for 24 hours.
The call came from a truck stop and prints confirmed that it was Julie. Once Wayne is done having another argument with Amelia, he and Roland start looking into Tom. His old boss says Tom was on the way to being fired even before the kids went missing, thanks to drinking on the job and not getting along with his coworkers. Apparently, the latter was because some of them spotted Tom going into a gay club, which is supported by the partners finding a pamphlet about curing homosexuality at his place. In the car, the two debate Tom’s guilt, with Roland quickly rejecting Wayne’s theory that the kids might have seen Tom at Devil’s Den, a known gay hook up spot. Wayne says they need to get it right, take it all the way this time.
Back in 1980, Wayne gets good and bad news. First, he’s cleared in any wrongdoing from the Woodard shootout, only to then immediately find out that they’re pinning the murders of Julie and Will on the deceased trash man. Despite the shirt and backpack being found at Woodard’s, Wayne doesn’t believe this to be the correct conclusion.
The backpack is the topic of conversation in 1990 when the cop who found it directs Roland and Wayne to Harris James, who we’ve never seen but previously learned went missing during this part of the investigation. He left the force in 1981 and now works security for Hoyt Foods, the same company that Lucy used to work for. Harris, Wayne, and Roland have a spirited back and forth that includes talk of donuts, seeing Tom at Woodard’s while they worked the scene, and Roland’s confusion on how many days it took God to create man. “He rests on the seventh,” says Wayne. “I always thought he should have put the extra day in, instead of half-assing it.”
In 2015, Elisa brings up Harris, insinuating that he was killed. Wayne wants to stop, which sparks a fight between Henry and Elisa. Henry eventually comes outside to talk with his father, who confronts his son about sleeping with the reporter. How did he know? “I’m still your daddy, boy,” he replies. “In addition, I was once a fair to middling detective.” Henry wants to come clean to his wife, but Wayne convinces him that it isn’t fair to make her feel worse just so he can feel better. Wayne then asks his son if he taught him to be withholding. “Before you ever knew me, I wasn’t scared much,” he says. “I wasn’t a fearful man. I did things some people even call brave. Y’all made a coward of me. I’ve been terrified since the day you were born.” He then tells his son not to hold back anything. Henry needs to go make a phone call, which is hopefully not to his wife, who deserves to hear about this in-person!
Speaking of wives, 1990 Amelia is doing her own investigating. She ends up finding a girl who was in the same runaway group as Julie a few months back. She went by both Mary Julie and Mary July, while also mentioning living in a pink room and being queen in a pink castle, which tracks with what the other member of the group previously told Roland and Wayne. “I think she didn’t know who she was,” the girl says of Julie. “I think she just pretended.”
Well, Roland and Wayne might soon know more about her. A guy called the hotline wanting to speak to Roland, and when the boys head to a diner to meet him, they find the notorious cousin Dan O’Brien. We know that his remains were found not long after this in Missouri, but he’s alive and well…for now. He claims to have information and will share it in exchange for $7,000. Dan insists that there are people working to prevent them from getting these answers. He also suggests that these aforementioned people staged Lucy’s death as they didn’t take kindly to calls for renegotiations. When Tom is brought up, he quickly dismisses his involvement. “It’s all about the kids,” he declares. He wants the money within two days because others are also looking for Julie. Wayne lets him leave, then tells Roland that they need to find phone records for Lucy’s hotel room, Tom’s whereabouts at the time, and the $7,000.
Later, the duo continue to argue about Tom’s guilt, with Wayne wanting to keep working, while Roland wants to take him home. Their argument leads to Wayne getting out of the car and walking. He keeps going until he ends up at the rundown Purcell house. Once inside, he realizes that the hole between the kids’ rooms wasn’t to peep but to pass notes through. Meanwhile, Amelia is doing a live reading of her book when an audience member begins to make a scene. It’s a black man with a dead eye, most likely the one they’ve been looking for all these years. He asks about Julie being alive and if Amelia has any idea what happened to her.
Amelia’s book is also a topic in 2015 as Wayne and Roland drink and talk. While Wayne takes a step away to use the bathroom, Roland notices both the book and the nearby gun. Wayne then comes back, surprised to see Roland, asking how he’s doing, Roland plays it off well, but it’s truly heartbreaking. Wayne has Roland look to see if there’s a car outside. There isn’t.
Shifting back to 1990, Tom gets released and goes looking for Roland, but instead overhears cops saying Dan is back and wants a payout for info. Tom tracks Dan to a local motel and pulls a gun on him. A tussle ensues, with Tom repeatedly smashing Dan’s head into the floor. Dan denies using the peephole and says he doesn’t know where Julie is. But, he does know who funded Lucy skipping town. The action cuts away before showing if Tom pulls the trigger or not. Next we see of the grieving father, he’s drinking and driving to the Hoyt mansion. He breaks in and eventually makes his way into a restricted area. He turns on the light and it’s a pink room, you know, like the one Julie is telling people she’s the princess of. We can’t see what Tom is looking at directly, but it causes him to say, “What the hell? Julie?” What we do see is Harris sneaking up behind him as the episode ends.
This week’s Truest Detective: Tom doesn’t have a badge, but he found Dan very quickly and easily broke into Hoyt’s place.
What did you think? Did Tom kill Dan? What will Tom’s fate be?