Welcome to our weekly breakdown of the minutia of Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective. While Brian Grubb provides his always excellent coverage of the series (here’s his write-up of the most recent episode), here — as we have in the past with Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Better Call Saul, and Mayans M.C. — we will look at some of the details viewers may have missed; references to other shows, movies or books; and theories on particular suspects. We scour Reddit threads, social media, and podcasts in an attempt to curate the best intel about each episode.
— The biggest clue came in the final seconds of the episode, and while it didn’t give away the whole ballgame by any stretch, it certainly did clue us into what we suspected: That Mr. Hoyt is involved in the disappearance of Julie (and might be her biological father). Tom found the “pink room,” which is a bunker in the basement of the Hoyt Home. Remember Mary July, aka Julie Purcell, told the street kid she used to hang with that she was a “secret princess … from the pink rooms.”
Behold the pink room:
Knowing that clicks a few pieces into place. We know that Hoyt (or someone working for him) abducted her. We can assume that Lucy was aware of Julie’s abduction (and probably blessed it or participated in it, as a means to give her “a better life” or for money). It also seemingly confirms that Lucy wrote the ransom note, designed to give Tom some closure. We can also assume that Will’s death was both a separate event and that Lucy could not survive the guilt.
Mr. Hoyt, by the way, will be played by Michael Rooker.
— We also officially know that it was Julie who left the message with the police (her fingerprints were on the phone in Russellville). Let’s re-examine the message she left in light of what we know:
“I saw him on the television. Leave me alone. Make him leave me alone. That’s not my real name. Tell him to leave me alone. I know what he did. The man on TV acting like my father! Where’s my brother? Will. I don’t know what he did with him. We left him resting. Tell him to leave me alone. It—he took me, and I’m never coming back. Just leave me alone.”
Seems like a classic case of brainwashing, which is consistent with living in a basement bunker and the account of the girl in the convent who suggested that Julie “didn’t know who she was.” Julie was told that Tom was not her father, and Hoyt probably poisoned her against Tom, who she now blames for Will’s death.
— While we can assume that Hoyt abducted Julie, it’s possible that he’s not the father, but did so for other reasons. Recall that Hoyt lost a granddaughter (prompting him to open the Ozark Children’s Outreach Center), and he and his wife may have taken Julie as a way to replace his lost granddaughter. This is a pic of Hoyt’s daughter and granddaughter from the Ozark Children’s Outreach Center in episode 3.
I think it’s the pose of Hoyt’s daughter in that image that echoed a shot from the season’s Behind the Scenes footage (via Reddit) of a similar looking woman in the Devil’s Den cave where Will’s body was found.
— We can also make an educated guesses as to why Officer Harris James was killed. I still believe he planted Will’s backpack at Woodards and stole the set of fingerprints from the evidence box. He must have quit soon thereafter to take a job running private security for Hoyt. He also clearly knows about the bunker.
It’s likely that either Tom Purcell killed James (and Hays helped hide the body), or Harris killed Tom. Hays and Roland then killed Harris out of revenge.
— Meanwhile, at Amelia’s book reading, we also met the correct black man with a smoky eye that Patty Faber, the old racist lady, identified as the man to whom she sold the dolls.
That puts the conversation that Roland and Hays had with the farmer guy in episode 3 in context.
The farmer fella told Hays and Roland that, the day after Will’s murder, a “man in a suit, who showed me a badge” came out to ask him questions. That was probably Officer James. The farmer also said that he saw a black man and a white woman out near his property where Will and Julia were playing. That’s probably the smoky-eyed fella above and either Lucy or Hoyt’s daughter, who were scoping out the area and preparing to snatch Julie.
— As for our old friend Cousin Dan? He was something of a red herring. Granted, he was a red herring who was likely sleeping with his cousin, Lucy, and who could connect Tom to the Hoyt home. It doesn’t appear he was directly connected to Julie’s disappearance or Will’s death. How he wound up dead, however, remains something of a mystery. Hoyt/Harris may have killed him because he knew too much, but considering his strung-out condition, it’s possible Dan did that to himself.
— There were a few other items of interest from this episode that likely do not connect to the case in any meaningful way. However, it appears that Tom was gay, and that perhaps so is Roland. Also, Henry confirms that he is having an affair with Elise.
— Finally, and this has nothing to do with True Detective, but I feel compelled to mention it. This shot:
That’s the Russellville nuclear power plant, which can be seen from the freeway by anyone driving from central Arkansas to Northwest Arkansas. One of my best friends in college was from Russellville and went home after his freshman year and worked in the Atkins Pickle Factory, about 14 miles away from the nuclear plant. It was his job to stand in an assembly line for eight hours a day and put the last pickle in the jar. Over and over and over. Dude would come home at the end of every shift smelling like pickles with green-tinted eye contacts. It’s the worst job I have ever heard about someone working. And he did it every day for three months, eight hours a day, for $4.25 an hour.