We are now at the half-way mark of 'True Detective' season 3 and the case is no closer to being solved in any of the timelines. Younger Hays and West are looking into the connection between the church and the Purcell children, the middle-aged detectives are also back on the case and investigating the fingerprints of Julie Purcell found in a Walgreens in Oklahoma, while older Hays is hoping to find Roland to help him remember some details of the case.
The theories so far are that Will Purcell was trying to protect his sister and that's how he died. That whoever took them, only wanted Julie Purcell for reasons that are not yet clear. High school student Freddy Burns was the last person to see Will alive after he stole his bike from him, making him the prime suspect at the moment, or so he thinks. We also have a black man with a dead eye who bought a load of those creepy chaff dolls off the casually racist "dear good woman" at the church fair.
In the middle timeline, the attorney general is determined to quash this new piece of evidence about Julie Purcell, which thankfully Hays and Roland are happy to ignore. They instead head off to Oklahoma to trawl through the Walgreens security tapes in the hope of spotting Julie. Their search proves worthwhile as Hays spots a woman rushing through the aisles that could potentially be the now 21-year-old. If she is still alive however, she may not be for long, as Hays points out earlier. We also see the strain the re-opened case is taking on Hays and Amelia's marriage in 1990, something that is mirrored later in their first date in 1980 when they decide it's better to move off the subject. In both situations, it's the chemistry between them that proves a welcoming distraction.
In the 2015 timeline, Hays pays a visit to the TV producer Elisa who reveals that they discovered the body of Will and Julie's uncle, Dan O'Brien, in a quarry in Missouri after he "resurfaced" in 1990. This would hint at Dan making an appearance in the middle time and that perhaps the creepy uncle was involved after all, but it's all guesses and speculation at this stage.
The episode, co-written by David Milch and creator Nic Pizzolatto, sees the issues of race bubbling to the surface. It's been there throughout the season but in 'The Hour and the Day', the tension explodes. From the escalation of a scene at Davis Junction to Tom Purcell's outburst in the car with Roland, leading up to the cliffhanger - when local vigilantes all gathered at the house of Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes). Perhaps it will be Hays views on the racism in the town that will lead to his demotion? His insistence that the wrong man was convicted? He was very quick to pick Roland up on saying "we were wrong" in the 1990 timeline, saying, "I don't know about 'we'".
In 2015, an older Hays is haunted once more by the ghosts of his past. This time by the Vietnamese soldiers he killed (and a man in a suit... who was that??). It's clear this case will consume Hays until his dying breath, with him pointing out to his son "that it's keeping him alive".
Can we take a moment once more to point out what a phenomenal performance Mahershala Ali is putting in? He immerses himself seamlessly into the different stages of Hays life and is probably one of the most impressive actors we have seen on screen in some time. (Catch him in 'Green Book' in cinemas too this week.)
Back to 'True Detective' though, where the last half of the season lies ahead with as of yet, an array of unconnected dots. It's slow-burning narrative may be difficult to be patient in a time where we usually binge TV shows in one gulp, but here's hoping its conclusion will be worth sticking around for.
Read our review of episode 1 and 2 of 'True Detective'.
Review of episode 3 of 'True Detective' - 'The Big Never'