I once was lost but…
The episode begins with narration with Wayne arriving at the University of Arkansas after the 1990s as he walks in on Amelia reading to her class.
Then we cut to Wayne in the car with Mr. Edward Hoyt, played by Michael Rooker, who takes Wayne through the backroads to resolve this situation, and Hoyt has his own military history from Korea. Hoyt tells Wayne that they’re both soldiers, and right now he wants to know what happened to Harris James. Wayne explains that he spoke with Harris a few days ago, but Hoyt sees through the bullshit.
He wants to know what was discussed, and Wayne explains that he talked about Julie Purcell, but can’t talk details since it’s an ongoing investigation. He at least believes that Harris and others were involved with Julie’s disappearance. And yet, Wayne merely believes that Harris just took off, maybe because he got spooked. However, there’s video surveillance showing Wayne’s footage following Harris James from the plant.
Hoyt grows tired of Wayne’s games, but Wayne respects Hoyt’s family. Wayne asks if there’s anything that Hoyt wants to get off of his chest, since they’re the only two around. Hoyt doesn’t know about Julie Purcell- he’s in the dark on that. So it seems that Harris didn’t talk enough. But there are still phone records from Lucy, Harris going to Vegas, and Tom Purcell’s death.
There’s a computer chip in the corporate system that includes a GPS. This one in particular tracked Harris James’ last location before he died. So Hoyt asks Wayne if they’re going to need a shovel when they go into the woods. Wayne realizes he’s been brought out here to see what he knows, but the investigation ended, right? However, Wayne won’t stop looking, even though Julie apparently doesn’t want to be found.
Hoyt tells Wayne that the best thing he can do is leave Julie alone. The police are looking for her and Wayne isn’t, right now. In fact, Hoyt guarantees it. Wayne might be giving other people a reason to find Julie. If he doesn’t drop it, the others can’t drop it, either. Wayne asks what happened, but again, Hoyt doesn’t know. He’s not a man with answers. Okay, so Wayne offers to have this conversation again later.
Hoyt cautions Wayne to think about what being a murderer would mean to his family. Hoyt asks Wayne if he wants him to feel threatened. With that, Hoyt lets Wayne find his own way back.
In 2015, Wayne and Roland visit a nursing home and ask one of the employees about Sam Whitehead, based on his description, as they’ve come up short right now. She mentions that a man like that came by the house after Harris disappeared, but she doesn’t like to think about it. She remembers that the man had one white eye and a scar.
He asked if she knew whether Harris found the girl, and she thought it was a question of unfaithfulness. The man didn’t introduce himself as Sam, but Junius Watts. On the road, Wayne and Roland figure if this is indeed Sam Whitehead. Roland will look into it, so looks like that makes him the lead detective.
In 1980, Wayne and Roland speak with a detective and Gerald Kindt about the case concerning an article that Amelia wrote. Apparently there are clues in the case that are being ignored. Kindt wants Wayne to write a statement saying that facts were misrepresented and that Amelia did this without cooperation. Wayne isn’t much of a writer, but luckily, he won’t have to write it.
Roland advises Wayne to just make it right and walk it back. If he doesn’t, though, the company could use a new public information officer. As such, he would never work another major crimes investigation again. Or he could just quit. That’s always an option.
Later, Roland congratulates Wayne on his luck, as Roland had to talk hard to get the others to give him another shot. Roland warns Wayne against doing something like this again. However, Wayne starts packing up his stuff. Roland wants Wayne to just sign the paper, but he refuses. Plus, Wayne hates the public. He’s a detective. People have said that Wayne is a professional. Or, at least, they used to say that.
Wayne admits that he’s pissed off. He won’t sign the statement because that would mean calling Amelia a liar. This is still his job. Roland is pissed that Wayne would walk away from their partnership, but in a few years, maybe this will blow over and Wayne can outlast it. But what about the two of them? Wayne figures that the two of them won’t see each other again? With that, Wayne exits the precinct and doesn’t look back.
We jump ahead to 2015 as Wayne and Roland arrive at the Hoyt home. Or, rather, Wayne cuts the gates open. If someone catches them, they’re just some old, confused guys. Sounds like a plan, I’m sure.
They begin exploring the abandoned home and eventually find the pink room that Tom Purcell discovered. On the walls they find a drawing of a castle and some individuals, including a black man with one eye. They realize all this time what they weren’t doing. Wayne just had a family- that’s all.
Back in the 1990s era, Amelia joins Wayne at a bar and asks about his disappearance after a phone call, as well as him burning his clothes the previous night. It’s still about the case, and it’s over now. However, Amelia wants to know what part of the case made him burn his suit at 3 in the morning. For that, it was the bad part. Still, Amelia wants the whole truth.
Wayne explains that when they met, he told her too much. There are aspects of his job and life that aren’t for sharing. This right here would just cause harm. Amelia wants them to decide together if it’s harmful for her, but Wayne’s already made a decision. Still, Amelia has a problem, because Wayne promised to tell her everything. Wayne realized that he sometimes does the wrong thing because it’s what she wants.
He’d like to stop that going forward, but are they indeed going forward? How do they with this big secret? Everything has been tied up in the Purcell case, so Amelia decides to take that drink.
Meanwhile, Roland heads to a bar and starts chatting with one of the patrons and his mate. He starts talking about the two of them to get under the guy’s skin, and it works. He gets a punch to the face, but he does manage to hold off all the guys thrown at him.
Amelia, meanwhile, tells Wayne that he was right- he never talked about what the Purcell case meant for them. But it’s 10 years later. One date night a month won’t get them where they need to be. Amelia is writing a sequel and Wayne is on Major Crimes. However, the case has been tanked again, just like in 1980. As a result, Wayne quit. Amelia wanted him to quit for so long.
She says that he could’ve been good at anything, but what he thinks he is, it made him stuck. Wayne then confesses that he never went to college. He went to the army, then became a police officer. Maybe he got too good at doing what he was told. Amelia then remembers Wayne told her that he joined the army because if he died, that his mother would be rich because the government would end up providing her with money.
Wayne tells Amelia that if she wants to write her book, then she should still write it, even if he himself doesn’t read it. Also, Wayne agrees that he should’ve walked away. This thing isn’t theirs. They’re past the beginning. They could both quit- Amelia could write and Wayne, well, he doesn’t know what he’ll do.
So Roland apparently survived his bar fight, as he sits outside having a drink and a smoke. A dog walks his way and though Roland tells it to go on, the dog remains. As Roland weeps, the dog approaches and consoles him. And that’s how Roland became a dog lover.
In 2015, Roland tells Wayne about a friend of his who works at the DMV. We transition to 1980 as the two, still in their vehicle, go for a drive while Wayne loads his gun. We jump from one period to another, but ultimately remain in 2015.
They arrive at their destination and find Mr. Junius Watts, as he’s been waiting for them. He asks if they’re there to kill him, and right now they just order him inside his house.
Back in 1980, Wayne starts his new job as a public information officer and begins adjusting to a boring desk job among many other stenographers. How fun.
In 2015, Junius explains his working history with Mr. Hoyt, but Wayne and Roland aren’t interested in that. After the expansion, Junius started managing Hoyt’s home. When Ms. Ellen got sick, Junius helped Hoyt raise his daughter, Isabelle, who went to university and met a young man. The two had a daughter, Mary, and Mr. Hoyt was happy. Then there was the accident. The husband and daughter skidded off a mountain.
The daughter became worse than said. She wouldn’t leave the house and had to take medicine. Mr. Hoyt couldn’t stand seeing her this way, so he started traveling. Then one night, she snuck off from Junius and crashed her vehicle. Harris James helped keep it quiet. For the first time in three years, something stirred up.
Isabelle saw a family during a picnic and tried to grab the girl who looked just like Mary. Junius took the mother, Lucy, aside, to maybe let Isabelle play with the daughter. Lucy agreed, but she wanted money, and she wanted the girl’s brother along, too. So they would meet in the woods and just play. Isabelle was then back to being her old self. However, there was an idea- Isabelle wanted to adopt the girl.
There was the matter of the father, though. Ms. Isabelle was confused. She stopped taking her medicine. One day, during hide-and-seek, Will came looking for them. When he stumbled upon them, Will, in the struggle, knocked his head against a rock. Junius told Julie that he would be awake soon. But they couldn’t just leave the boy there.
So Junius brought him up to the cave, with Julie placing his hands in the position. It was just an accident. Hoyt knew nothing of this. Junius called Harris James, who brought the Purcell items to Brett Woodard’s home. Harris explained and offered money to Lucy, saying that the best thing was to let Isabelle have Julie.
Julie eventually calmed down and was happy to be in the pink room. For a time, it was working for a few years. Isabelle told Julie stories, while Junius just tried to help as best as he could. He thought that Julie was happy. But Isabelle had been drugging her all along since she was 10 years old. It’s why Julie had no problem once they left Devil’s Den. It’s why she had few memories about her upbringing.
Isabelle, meanwhile, got sicker, and Julie got older. She started asking questions about her brother. Junius helped her run away. He made sure that the doors were unlocked and Junius gave her a map of a nearby place she should go. But Julie never showed and Junius was looking for her ever since.
As for Isabelle, after Julie ran off, she had another break. She put on her wedding dress, took all of her pills, and went to sleep…and never woke up. Junius did find Julie in 1997, as he had been passing Julie’s picture around for 10 years. The runaway girl talked about a place where girls went, and Julie apparently worked at the convent. But Julie went under the name Mary July.
Indeed, the nun explains this to Wayne and Roland, saying that Julie stayed there for three years, but she was in bad shape when she arrived. She had disassociation issues. She found a home there, but the things she’d done on the outside changed her. Plus, she had HIV. She was taken care of at the infirmary, but after a few months, she died.
Junius was too late. Something Julie had done got her sick, and Junius told her that he would meet her. But Julie just never showed. Sam, it turns out, was the one outside Wayne’s home, just to let him know what was up. As such, Junius is ready to die. He wants it and doesn’t want to live with this anymore. With that, Wayne places his gun on the table. But unfortunately, Wayne and Roland don’t have the authority.
If Junius doesn’t want to live with it, he doesn’t have to. As the men leave, Junius yells for the two to punish him.
At the grave, Roland apologizes for not doing a better job for Julie Purcell. Wayne says that Julie deserved better than this. The two leave the home as a young girl almost runs into them. An employee, Mike, tells the girl, Lucy, to hop into his truck, as she apparently likes to run around. He explains that his father started the place and the son kept taking care of it in his absence. With that, Mike bids the men farewell.
Over at Wayne’s home, the two go through the files, with Wayne deciding to get the rest tomorrow. Roland jokes that they can write a book about it, but hey, at least they now have an ending. However, Roland asks if he feels like there’s been closure. Neither does.
Roland then says that Henry suggested that he move closer to town. So Roland offers to crash with Wayne for a few nights. He can even keep the dogs out back. Also, Wayne’s daughter will be coming by soon. The two friends hug as Roland departs.
Back in 1980, Amelia visits Wayne and asks what’s happening, as he hasn’t been returning her calls. But no, he doesn’t play. Amelia asks if this is about what she wrote and wants to know what happened. Wayne ten gets a box of Amelia’s stuff, and naturally, she is livid. Okay, so Amelia wants a clear picture of who she’s been with all this time. However, Wayne just wants Amelia gone.
He tells her that she used him for information. When he landed in the States, someone like Amelia would’ve called him a baby killer. Wayne rages, saying that now he’s a secretary because of Amelia’s actions. With all of Amelia’s questions, Wayne figures that she was just working him. Right now, he’s decided that she doesn’t know what she’s up to most of the time, being a good looking woman.
People don’t expect her to take responsibility. She’s like a pretty bird that shits on people’s heads. Amelia responds by calling Wayne weak. He has a badge, gun, and things he learned from movies, but there’s nothing inside of him. Wayne tells Amelia that the officers wanted him to sign a statement that called her a liar, and Amelia wants him to do that.
She doesn’t want Wayne in trouble. She’ll be fine if he signs the statement. Oh, and she doesn’t take the box.
As Wayne awakens in 2015, he reads through Amelia’s book about the disappearance. He’s on the segment about the boy Amelia spoke with- the one who liked Julie and hoped to marry her. And his name? Mike. You remember, right?
Then things get dark as Amelia asks Wayne if the ending isn’t really the ending at all. She appears to him as a ghost and asks if Julie did find a life at the convent. What if the boy who loved her so much- the boy who took care of the yard, what if he recognized her? What if he knew her, even if she didn’t know herself?
What if the nuns who knew that Julie had a hard life wanted to protect Julie from bad people? They could only protect her by telling a story. Wayne realizes that the little girl had to have been Julie’s daughter. What if there’s another story and if something went unbroken? All this life and loss, what if it was just one long story that kept going until it healed itself? Wouldn’t that be a story worth telling and hearing?
Following this, Wayne makes a call to Northwest Arkansas and asks for an address. He arrives at a home, but decides to make a phone call to Henry. He tells his son that he might be lost, as he suddenly doesn’t recognize where he is. Henry explains that Becca is here and that he will come get him. He asks if there’s someone nearby that he can ask for information. Luckily, there is.
As Wayne approaches the mother and daughter, he apologizes, saying that he’s lost and asks where he is. She tells him that he’s in Greenland and tells this to Henry, who wonders why his father is out there. Either way, Henry is on the way. Wayne explains to the mother that he forgets things because of his condition. The woman offers Wayne some water, so she sends Lucy inside to get some.
She quickly returns with it, and after Wayne downs his water, he lets the mother and daughter get back to work. Henry eventually arrives and embraces his father, who apologizes to him.
On the road, Becca drives Wayne home and tells him that everything now feels different. He asks if she can stay longer and if he ever lost her, but she says that he didn’t. But for Wayne, it feels like he’s losing the hour and the day. Still, he missed her, and Becca misses him right now.
At home, Wayne presents the address to Henry, who just wants his father to go play with his grandkids, saying that the information is nothing to worry about right now. Still, though, Henry examines the address and decides to pocket it.
Later on, Roland arrives and meets the rest of the family while the kids go for a ride on their bikes.
We jump back to 1980 one last time as Wayne has a drink at the bar. Eventually, Amelia arrives, saying that she lets very few people talk to her the way that Wayne did. She’s trying to remember that Wayne has been through hell these past few days. She asks if Wayne wants a do-over and if he meant what he said. She then wants to know if they’re going to yell at each other again, but that won’t happen.
He does ultimately apologize for what he said, saying that he hasn’t been himself. Amelia asks if Wayne wants her to leave or stay. He doesn’t know, but he’ll eventually have to decide. What Wayne does know is that he doesn’t want this. What he does know, however, is that he wants to marry Amelia. He didn’t expect this, or her. Seems like he should just grow up before he starts. However, Wayne means it.
Then first off, it’s time the two of them went home. That way, Wayne can think about how he’ll propose and Amelia whether she’ll accept. Luckily, Wayne doesn’t play. That much Amelia knows. The two exit the bar with the world ahead of them.
We then jump to Wayne Hays navigating his way through the thick jungles as the third season of True Detective comes to a close.
Well, here we are. The mystery of Julie Purcell has finally been revealed, Wayne and Amelia decide in 1980 that they will have a do-over, and the case looks to be solved. Whether the characters or we as an audience received actual closure from this all comes down to you. But let’s break this down from the top.
Since Will and Julie first went on that bike ride, their disappearance has taken the tiny town by storm and made life hellish for Wayne, Roland, and everyone in their circle. This being a major case, this would be nothing out of the ordinary for them. Yet as the case continued to unravel, we learned about the seedy underbelly of the town, some of its residents, and even among other detectives.
This level of secrecy wasn’t limited to our protagonists, though, or even people we should see as the good guys, like Harris James. So many questions arose with each new discovery that they just added to what originally started out as nothing more than a case of two missing children. But as is the case with True Detective, it’s never that easy. The series wouldn’t be as engaging if it was straightforward.
Starting from the beginning, we see just how far ahead Edward Hoyt, for example, is when he’s grilling Wayne. He could tell Wayne that he knows everything, but he’d rather feel Wayne out and see if the detective will just be honest with him. This being an ongoing investigation, and Wayne being Wayne, that wasn’t going to happen. But I do appreciate Hoyt cutting through the bullshit just to get to the point.
Whether it was them being in the backwoods or Hoyt already having the surveillance footage of Wayne and Roland tailing Harris, Hoyt had the advantage. It was a nice back-and-forth between the two and it left me wondering if one of these men would wind up dead. Luckily, that didn’t happen. It was just Hoyt sending Wayne a strong warning. After all, Wayne did take part in burying Harris. He’s in this just as much as Roland is.
It’s the mark of a great performance when an actor can leave a strong impression in such a short amount of time. Even though this is the only time that Michael Rooker appeared and while he’s just in the first few minutes of the episode, he left a hell of a mark. I think it works to the show’s credit that we don’t get more of him, much as I would’ve loved that, because we see just enough of Hoyt to get his point.
From the start, Wayne has been a machine in action. His sharp detective and analytical skills took him far in the 1980s and 90s, but more than that, he’s a man of action. As a soldier, he would have to be. But one thing stood out in this episode to me.
He tells Amelia that he became proficient at doing what he’s told, but that feels contradictory compared to everything we’ve seen. In an investigation or search, he goes off and does his own thing. In this episode, he refused to sign a statement that would call Amelia a liar, even if that ended up tanking his career in the process. If anything, Wayne is someone who always challenges authority.
He’s a hardass, to be sure, but he still does have his tender moments…all of which come outside of work. As consumed as Wayne is by his job, his other side tends to show when he’s with Amelia or, sometimes, working with Roland. By 2015, as an older man, the tender side is all he has left, as all of his bravado and youth have vanished in the face of old age.
While before, he was willing to risk his job and partnership with Roland just so he wouldn’t be lying about Amelia. Now, when the closing details are all that he has left, he’s hoping to rekindle his bond with Roland and achieve some form of closure with the case.
Amelia seems to have learned throughout her relationship with Wayne that honesty isn’t always the best policy. The more she learned and deeper she went, the more complicated things became for both her and Wayne. Her attempt at a friendship with Lucy blew up in her face. Plus, she had to be extra cautious when she had children, in order to make sure their lives weren’t in danger.
Now sure, Amelia was never in the thick of it like Wayne and Roland, but she did maintain an active role by virtue of her book, as well as Wayne bringing his work life with him at home. When you’re burning your clothes at 3 in the morning, obviously some shit went down with your job.
I understand Amelia wanting Wayne to let her in, given how much of his life is still shrouded in mystery. Sure, he’s opened up to her as the season progressed, but I see that more as him being polite anything else. There’s no way in hell that he would tell her every minute detail about him, especially since her involvement has only created more tension between them.
The hard truth is that Wayne doesn’t seem like the one to let people in- he’s more of a lone wolf type with only a few relationships here and there. But by the end of it all, despite how hard he came down on Amelia, he wants to give it another try. It shows how much the two had an impact on one another that they actually agree to give their relationship another shot.
We’re not told just how things ended between the two. We know that, at some point, Amelia passed away, but we don’t know when or how. I’m fine with this because, in the grand scheme of things, especially with the Purcell case, it’s not that important. At the same time, Amelia’s book and her legacy remained with Wayne well into his elder years.
Would it have been nice to get the smallest of acknowledgements as to what happened to Amelia? Yes, very much so, more since there’s no telling to what extent this impacted Wayne between the 1990s and 2015. Still, though, it’s not a huge loss, but some inclusion of it would have been appreciated.
Roland, at the end of the day, was reeling just as much as Wayne. In addition to feeling like he had failed Tom, the same happened when he and Wayne learned about the apparent ‘fate’ of Julie Purcell. Though at least Wayne knows a bit more than that. Like Wayne, he may also be a hardass, but he’s a good person at heart. He pulled strings in order for Wayne to keep his job, only for Wayne to walk away.
There may not be many close people in Roland’s life, but his partnership with Wayne cannot be understated, and that’s a testament to the great chemistry between Stephen Dorff and Mahershala Ali. When Roland gets himself into a bar fight just to blow off some steam, we see just how he’s torn over what Wayne has chosen to do to their partnership. Despite his tough exterior, Roland does show a vulnerable side.
Now then, let’s get onto the case itself. Amelia’s ghosts asks Wayne what if the ending isn’t really the ending at all. Indeed, what if Julie wasn’t just out there and lost? We finally get some form of closure in this through the unlikeliest of sources in Junius. So it looks like Tom was onto something when he stumbled upon the pink room at the Hoyt home after all.
She’d been hidden away to live an entirely new life, kept from public sight to appease the wishes of Ms. Isabelle Hoyt. But then things took a darker turn when Isabelle had been drugging Julie, as if to numb her as a way to keep her around. As we know by now, none of this continued to happen, and Will ended up as a casualty in the process. Interesting that the ensuing cover-up only extended to Lucy and not both her and Tom.
Either way, while it looks like there was no complete closure, at least for Roland, Wayne decided to give it one more look…and then his memory loss hit him for a bit. For a moment, I wondered if this was a ploy just so he could get Julie to talk to him, but it seemed genuine enough. All the same, from the looks Wayne gave her, it did look like he could tell it was Julie.
So I guess there goes the theory that Elisa Montgomery was actually Julie. A fun theory, but now we know the truth.
Could Wayne have done something with this information? Very possibly, but to what end? He got the closure he needed that Julie was alive and well. He’d found her without actually needing to dredge up the past, and that’s key for putting this chapter behind him. At the same time, it does make you wonder what Henry would do with the information, since he did pocket the address.
I imagine there are some who would’ve wanted Wayne and Roland to talk with Julie, if just so the viewers could get closure. But that’s now what happened here. Wayne and Roland didn’t bring Julie up to speed on anything. Wayne saw her, and that was enough. In an interesting change of pace, we get an actual happy ending for True Detective. With no bloodbath to wrap things up, anyway.
Season 3 of True Detective was a fantastic return to form from start to finish. From the deepening mystery of the Purcell case with its twists and turns, the multiple timelines, and powerful performances all around, this was a great watch that I would highly recommend. While I would say that Season 1 is still overall a better watch, this was stellar television right here.
I suppose all that’s left is wondering whether we get a fourth season. The overall reception here has been much more positive compared to the second season, and I’m guessing that HBO would want to keep a good thing going. But we’ll have to wait and see. Fingers crossed that if we do get another season, the quality is as stellar as this one.
Until then, thanks for following along with my ramblings, keep on watching television, and take care.