True Detective is, at its core, all about how deeply affected human beings can be by tragedy. In this case – as with its debut series back in 2014 – the tragedy is the disappearance/murder of children. In forensic detail, we’re shown just how devastating and far-reaching the fallout can be when utter catastrophe strikes.
The immediate damage we’ve seen. The impact that Will’s murder and Julie’s disappearance has on the family is obvious. Tom is a wreck and Lucy doesn’t live to see the next decade, dying of a heroin overdose in Nevada. But the ripples go far wider than that.
There’s the negative influence it has on those unfairly accused or under suspicion of the crime(s). There’s an interesting and telling scene here in this fifth episode, ‘If You Have Ghosts’, that shows a slightly burnt out Freddy Burns a decade on from his grilling by detectives Hays and West, still utterly traumatised from the abuse and threats he suffered during his time under arrest.
This third series is mostly occupied with the toll taken on the detectives, though. This is demonstrated perfectly in the episode’s best scene right at the end, showing a reuniting of the two pals on Roland’s porch in 2015. Some 24 years after they last spoke. Two stubborn old men with no nothing left to lose stare back down at the case which helped destroy their lives in different ways.
True Detective is, at its core, all about how deeply affected human beings can be by tragedy.
This reunion scene, with its uneasy bonding, convincing old man makeup and ‘getting the band back together’ vibe was touching and thrilling in equal measure. But for real thrills, we were treated to an explosive shoot-out this week that saw ‘The Trashman’ Brett Woodard defending himself from an angry mob in rather elaborate style.
This blast ’em up action scene resulting in half a dozen dead rednecks and law enforcement agents proved to be a nice change of pace and called to mind the now-famous six minute Steadicam tracking shot from the maiden series of True Detective. And, to a lesser degree, the mass cops vs bad guys shootout from the fourth episode of the sophomore effort. The bullets, bombs and bleeding bad guys come as something of a welcome relief, sandwiched as they are in between so many scenes of a ‘brooding’ Detective Wayne Hays.
We later discover that it’s Woodard that ended up wrongly taking the fall for Will’s murder in the 1980s, in a classic case of laddering. A decade later and his estranged children are fighting the good fight to clear his name. And with good reason. Only Hays has an epiphany that seems to prove the man’s innocence… Will’s rucksack was found under the house post-blast. Yet was oddly clean. Meaning it was, in all likelihood, planted there by someone. Woodard is a convenient scapegoat. With only police allowed at the crime scene, that suggests a cop’s involvement to some degree.
What else did we find out this week? Well, In the 1990 timeframe, Hays realises that it was Lucy Purcell that wrote the ransom note. He recognised the phrase ‘children deserve to laugh’ from a quote of hers in his wife Amelia’s book – which he’d only just decided to read…
Speaking of laughs, as the final scene comes to an end, Hays eventually breaks his old partner and convinces him to join him trying to crack the case one more time. “I could use a laugh,” West finally says, relenting. They couldn’t solve the thing in their 30s or their 40s. Can they piece it together in their 70s…? Well, for the sake of our collective sanity, we certainly hope so.
Only if we don’t find out who is behind all this, it’s going to leave us pretty devastated ourselves…
What did you think of True Detective series 3 episode 5? Let us know in the comments below…