The ‘True Detective’ season 3 premiere kicked off with two episodes on Jan. 13. Detective Wayne Hays is confronted with a major case at three points in his life in the latest installment of the anthology series.
True Detective starts off in 1990 with Wayne Hays, who is taking part in a deposition to get the man convicted of a crime out of jail. In 2015, Wayne is confronted about that same case again. This time around, he’s filming a true crime documentary. The older Wayne is having memory problems now. He has to record audio of himself so he doesn’t forget certain things. The case that keeps coming back to haunt Wayne started on Nov. 7, 1980 when Will and Julie Purcell go missing.
The kids were last seen riding their bikes around town. They cross paths with a number of people along the way. When night falls, Will and Julie’s father realizes that his kids haven’t come home. He goes out looking for them, but they’re nowhere to be found. Wayne and his partner, Roland West, are called about the missing kids. Will and Julie’s mother comes back to the house drunk and furious that Tom couldn’t take care of the kids. When Wayne and Roland look around the house, they find Playboy magazines under Will’s bed and a hole in his closet that looks into his sister’s room. They also learn that Dan O’Brien, a cousin, used to stay in Will’s room.
The police and detectives try to figure out if the kids ran off or got kidnapped. Tom is certain they were kidnapped. The town of West Finger starts the search for the siblings the next day. Wayne and Roland talk to teenagers who saw Will and Julie riding their bikes, along with local teacher, Amelia. They also check out the house of a man named Brett Woodard who collects garbage around town. When Brett’s name is brought up in 2015, Wayne stops the interview.
Later, Wayne finds one of the bikes the Purcell kids were riding before they went missing. He continues to search and stumbles upon a husk doll seemingly dressed as a bride. He soon finds another one. When he walks into a nearby cave, he comes across the body of Will Purcell. His neck is broken and his hands are in a praying position. There’s no sign of Julie. Wayne and Roland question two suspects, trash collector Brett and ex-con Ted LaGrange. The detectives take Ted to an abandoned farm and tie him to a post so they can beat him. However, Ted actually has an alibi that clears him in this case.
Amelia begins asking around the playground to try and get some answers. She does learn from a kid named Mike that someone was passing out those husk dolls on Halloween and that Julie got her hands on one. The detectives also find out that Mike saw Julie chatting with two adults dressed as ghosts in big sheets on Halloween. The mystery deepens…
The Purcell family receives a cryptic ransom note that pushes the case in a new direction. “Do not worry, Julie is in a good place and safe. The children shud [sic] laugh. Do not look. Let go,” the note reads. The FBI comes to town to help out with case
In 1990, Wayne learns that Julie Purcell is actually alive. Her prints went into the system when it was established. Julie was arrested for a burglary in Oklahoma two months ago. By this time, Wayne’s now-wife, Amelia, has published a book about the case — Life & Death & the Harvest Moon.
In 2015, Amelia has died. Wayne is asked whether or not he came up with more theories after “what happened” with Julie and her father in 1990. “I never stopped coming up with theories about that case,” Wayne tells the director. Following a tense dinner with his son and his family, the final moments of the episode feature the elderly Wayne out in front of where the Purcell house used to stand.