At last, in this week's third episode of 'True Detective' we were introduced to an older Roland West (Stephen Dorff). His absence from the later timelines had been a bit of mystery to date, but he's alive and well and still seems to be a pretty good guy. The case clearly didn't have the same consequences to his career as it did for Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali), in fact he seems to have done quite well off the back of it, but then we're still not quite sure yet why exactly Hays leaves his detective hat behind him.
More discoveries in the case are made in all three of the timelines in this episode. First up, by a box of toys found near the murder scene of Will Purcell. This leads the two detectives to a nearby farm house where they are told that a brown Sedan had been spotted in the area a few times, along with a white woman and a black man with a scar. Fast forward then to 2015, where Hays is being told by the documentary maker that there were witnesses who were not questioned who also spoke of a brown Sedan, leading to her suspicions that there was a police cover-up. It appears to trigger a memory in Hays but of what, we're cut short of finding out.
Meanwhile, middle-aged Hays is busy hitting up Walgreens with his kids - the place where Julie Purcell's fingerprints were found. The case seems to be consuming Hays the most at this point in his life, from his sheer terror at losing his daughter in the supermarket to the tension in his relationship with his now wife Amelia.
Hays struggles are seen too later as an older man, as he is confronted with a vision of Amelia (a product of his illness no doubt) quoting passages of Einstein to him about the illusory nature of time: "Einstein said past, present, and future are all a stubbornly persistent illusion. And are you waking up to that illusion?"
This can't help but mirror the ramblings of Rust Cohle in season one but would make you wonder about 'True Detective' creator's Nic Pizzolatto's use of time in this season. Scenes from the past and present bleed into each other in a way that makes if feel like everything is happening at the same time.
You guys... could time really be a flat circle??
Yeah maybe not, but 'True Detective' is certainly raising the standard for what can be done with story-telling.
The end of the episode served up a good old buddy cop scene that we particularly enjoyed. Hays and West may be estranged but it's clear they still hold a great deal of respect for one another and that up to that point at least, no real damage has been done to their professional relationship.
Now that Hays is back on the case, it will be interesting to see what discoveries will be made in that timeline too. No doubt there are plenty of you internet sleuths out there already trying to solve this; something that Pizzolatto seems to be very aware of in how he is drip-feeding the evidence to us. For a show that seems so interested in time, things certainly are slow-moving in 'True Detective'. Here's hoping the pay-off is there and that, unlike Hays, future you isn't out there somewhere still trying to work it all out.