True Detective recap: Penultimate episode connects season 3 and season 1
“The Final Country” will go down as one of season 3’s stronger episodes, ending with a mysterious conclusion, but it will be best remembered for connecting this installment with the original series. I know it was only an online photo from a newspaper, but excuse me if I’m not already picturing the True Detective Cinematic Universe and a superhero team-up of Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, Woody Harrelson, and Matthew McConaughey. (It was part of our McConaissance renewal plan.)
But before we get to the episode’s big tie-in, let’s briefly start in a time period we haven’t been in. For the first time, it’s not 1980, 1990, or 2015. While it’s unclear the exact year, a solo Wayne is dropping Rebecca off at college. He doesn’t know what he will do without her. The seeds to a larger Rebecca story line were planted earlier in the season, so it remains to be seen if she will come back into play.
Last week ended with Tom discovering the pink room at Hoyt’s mansion and Harris sneaking up behind him. Well, skip to Tom being found dead in the woods, not too far from where Will’s body was placed. It looks like Tom killed himself, a theory aided by a suicide note, in which he apologizes, asks for forgiveness, and says he’s going to see his wife and son. Roland thinks this is their fault, believing he and his partner pushed him to it, while Wayne is skeptical about Tom writing that note. Wayne wants to keep going with the case, but as we learn in 2015, Tom’s death put an end to it, just like Woodard’s did in 1980.
When Wayne returns home, Amelia tells him about the black man who showed up at her reading. She then keeps her investigation going, stopping by the house of Lucy’s best friend. The woman (whose name I don’t think has ever been mentioned) says Lucy wasn’t into black guys, so no dice there. But she does give Amelia a picture from Halloween in 1980 which features the two previously referenced ghosts in the background. This causes Amelia to think of the black man and white woman who the farmer had spotted back at the time of the crime. Thankfully, Lucy’s boss has more info about this black man with a dead eye. He remembers Dan talking to such a person.
Speaking of Dan, there’s no sign of him when Roland and Wayne go to his motel room. With his wallet and car left behind, it seems unlikely he made a run for it. “We f—ing lost him,” declares Roland. “We’re burned.” Maybe not! Wayne is packing up his stuff when an officer gives him Lucy’s phone records, which prompts him to request flight records to Las Vegas on specific dates in 1988. Thinking he’s cracked the case wide open, Wayne rushes over to Roland’s house. Lucy made eight calls to Harris James’ personal line, and the clinching evidence is that the former cop flew to Vegas the day before her death and left the day after. Wayne wants them to handle this themselves by taking Harris out to the barn and doing it the old school way. Roland disagrees, but Wayne uses his partner’s guilt over Tom’s death against him. “This is how we do right by Tom,” declares Wayne.
Before we see what they do, let’s fast forward to 2015. Roland shows up at the Hays’ residence during Wayne’s latest interview. He speaks privately with Henry, telling his partner’s son about the gun Wayne keeps in the office, suggesting that someone needs to be watching him. Yeah, maybe someone should be doing that right now as Wayne demands that Elisa puts her cards on the table. She identifies the allusive black man as Watts, who she thinks was the person Julie ran away from him.
Pulling her computer out, Elisa further explains that dolls, like the ones left at the original crime scene, are signifiers in the human trafficking underground. This leads her to bring up a similar case in Louisiana, which was solved in 2012 by…Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Harrelson), who we see via a newspaper story. Elisa thinks the Purcell case could be connected to a similar group, speculating that Tom or Lucy sold the kids off. After not getting much to do for most of the season, Elisa is bringing the heat, saying she’s disappointed in Wayne, who she thought would provide the missing piece. “My whole brain’s a bunch of missing pieces,” he responds. Wayne gets up, declaring the “story’s over for me.” He rushes over to Roland to tell him Watts’ name, not wanting to forget. When Roland says Amelia wouldn’t want him living like this, Wayne responds, “She wants me to finish this.”
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The retired old men then start playing cop again by interviewing an African-American woman who was a long-time employee at the Hoyt residence. She shares the tragic backstory of the wealthy family, which includes the daughter Isabelle losing her husband and daughter in a car crash, only to be involved in one herself years later. A black man with a dead-eye named Mr. June then began looking after Isabelle. The chat is interrupted by a young woman who Wayne believes is young Rebecca preparing to leave for college. Roland quickly covers for him. When they’re done, Wayne apologizes for using Tom to get Roland to go after Harris.
And that leads us back to 1990, where Roland and Wayne follow Harris and pull him over. After playing tough and dragging him out of his car at gunpoint, they take him to the barn in which they previously beat up that pedophile in 1980. As Wayne lays out the evidence, Roland does some damage to a cuffed and bloody Harris. When the man complains about not being able to breathe, Wayne takes the cuffs off, which prompts Harris to go for the cop’s gun. Roland puts a bullet in him, followed by Wayne doing the same. “F— you for this,” Roland yells at Wayne as they bury the body in the woods. He’s pissed that he was suckered into this by Wayne talking about Tom.
Returning to 2015, the reunited friends mention Harris, who they think came into Hoyt’s employ after Isabelle’s crash. Roland is surprised that Wayne didn’t stick with the case over these years, but apparently, he made a deal with Amelia not to. Wayne then spots that same car outside and, this time, Roland also notices it. The car drives off as Wayne goes to confront the driver, but not before Roland gets the license plate number. When the duo then starts walking in the street, all of a sudden, it’s just Wayne, who spots a fire. He follows it and sees himself in 1990, standing in his backyard and burning his clothes from the Harris murder.
Amelia also saw Wayne’s impromptu fire, prompting a conversation the next morning. She needs to know everything. Just then, the phone rings, it’s the infamous Edward Hoyt, who is voiced by none other than Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker. The actor has the perfect intimidating voice for this call. Hoyt seems to know what happened to Harris, offering to come inside and talk about it. Wayne goes to the window and sees two fancy cars at the curb. After dropping the names of Wayne’s family, Hoyt says he wants to keep this between them, adding that he’s been patient with him. Wayne hangs up and pulls Amelia aside, apologizing and saying she’s got to trust him one more time. He then goes outside and gets in the car (we never see Hoyt).
This week’s Truest Detective: Before he killed a dude, 1990 Wayne found some very useful information.
What did you think? Where is Hoyt taking Wayne? Do you think the season will have an exciting conclusion?