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True Detective season 3 episode 8 Junius Watts Mr. June HBO via Polygon

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True Detective season 3 finale ‘Now Am Found’ watchthrough

The mystery, solved

True Detective season 3 is over. The finale, “Now Am Found,” answered many questions — including some that that we didn’t expect. For the last time, we’ll take out Sherlock’s microscope and examine the episode in detail.


This is the final episode, scene-by-scene. But we’re going to do something a little differently this time: We’ll have a lot of direct quotes within the scenes, because so much of the story comes from there. We’ll also include a bunch of commentary within the sections. There’s little reason to break some of it out into Themes and Evidence now that we’ve reached the end of season 3.

Amelia and Wayne at The University of Arkansas, unknown date

We see shots of West Fork, the dead (or murdered city) in which the Purcells lived as Amelia Hays reads a poem. It’s “Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day” by Delmore Schwartz, and here’s what she says:

What will become of you and me
besides the photo and the memory?
This is the school in which we learn.
That time is the fire in which we burn.
What is the self amidst this blaze?
What am I now that I was then,
which I shall suffer and act again?
The children shouting are bright as they run.
This is the school in which they learn.
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
the smallest color of the smallest day.
Time is the school in which we learn.
Time is the fire in which we burn.

Without a word, we see from his badge that Wayne Hays is now Chief of Campus Security, and that Amelia is an instructor. His hair is going gray. So is hers. He looks into her classroom and smiles as she reads the poem. She looks up, sees him, and returns the smile.

Wayne and Edward Hoyt in Hoyt’s car and the woods, 1990

We pick up with Wayne riding in the Cadillac that he entered at the end of the last episode. He and the patriarch, Edward Hoyt, are headed to the corner of no and where, somewhere in the middle of the woods.

“Touring back roads?” Wayne asks. “I’ve seen ‘em all.”

“Wanted privacy,” Hoyt says. He’s nipping at a bottle of booze. “My hope being that we could resolve this situation, just the two of us.”

“What situation is that?”

“Don’t do that. You got in the car. You know what this is about.”

And of course he does. It’s about the death of Harris James.

They talk about being veterans, Wayne of Vietnam and Hoyt of Korea. They’re talking soldier-to-soldier. That’s how Hoyt frames it. They both understand triage.

The car stops. They get out. There are some more questions from Hoyt and more denials from Wayne. There’s more nipping from the bottle, too. Wayne plays dumb about Harris James.

Wayne is blunt. He wants to know about Julie Purcell. Hoyt denies knowledge. Wayne says he’s always respected the Hoyt family. As he looks into the distance, Hoyt reminisces about the family he’s lost. Wayne pushes him about Julie again.

“I don’t know about Julie Purcell,” Hoyt says. “I’m in the fucking dark. Well, I guess Harris didn’t talk enough after all.”

Then Hoyt goes on the offensive.

“What I know — Harris’ work beeper, newest thing,” Hoyt says. “Has a little computer chip keyed to our corporate system. Includes a GPS signal. And I have exact coordinates where Harris last was before it went dead. Now, you being the law, and me an interested party, should the two of us go out to those woods, see if we can’t find Harris James? And can you tell me, Mr. Hays, are we gonna need fucking shovels?”

“You wanna swap confessions?”

“Just what is it you think I did? ”

“That’s why you bring me here. So you could see how much I know.”

“Word is your investigation ended. So we’re done now.”

“They can do what they want with the investigation. That’s not gonna stop me from looking.”

“You heard that hotline call. Sounds like she doesn’t want to be found. Maybe, Mr. Hays, best thing you could do for that young woman is leave her in peace.”

“Hard walking away knowing people mean to do her harm.”

“Well, if the police ain’t looking for her, and you’re not, can’t imagine anybody else’d be. In fact, I can practically guarantee it. Otherwise, could be you’re giving these people you mention reason to find her. See? You don’t drop it, there’s others can’t either.”

“What happened? Just tell me what happened!” Wayne yells after Hoyt, who’s walking away.

“I don’t know what happened. Do I look like a man with fucking answers?”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Edward Hoyt HBO via Polygon

“Maybe one day I’ll come see you,” Wayne says. That gets Hoyt to stop. “Try having this talk again.”

“That you hoping to get your balls back? Or truly wanting me to regard you as a threat? Think about what that’d mean to your family — you being a murderer and all. Think about what it’d mean for that girl. Mr. Hays, do you want me to feel threatened?”

Hoyt takes one last swig, and throws the empty bottle down.

“I’ll let you find your own way back,” he says.

Roland, Wayne, and Leanne James at the Blue Sky Ranch Nursing Home, 2015

Old Roland and Wayne are still on the case. Now they’re interviewing the late Harris James’ widow, Leanne. They ask her if she remembers her husband ever meeting a black man with one eye.

“A man like that came by the house,” Leanne James says. “Few weeks after Harris disappeared. I don’t like to think about it. I was upset at the time. He had, uh, one white eye and a scar. He said he knew Harris. He upset me.”

“Did he want something?” Roland asks.

“He asked did I know if Harris had found the girl. I thought maybe — maybe he meant Harris hadn’t been faithful to me. I — - I ran him off.”

The late Harris James’ wife, Leanne
HBO via Polygon

“Tell you his name?” Wayne asks.

“He introduced himself as Junius somethin’. He upset me. I made him leave.”

In the car driving away from the nurshing home, the new old partners make the connection: Junius must’ve been Mr. June — last name Watts.

Roland says that the old Hoyt mansion has been deserted for years. And given what Regina, the Hoyt’s maid, told them last episode, it’s probably worth checking out.

Roland, Wayne, and Kindt at the police station, 1980

This scene answers a question we’ve had since the earliest parts of the season: What happened to Wayne’s career?

The catalyst: An article. The headline: “Purcell Investigation Brought to False Conclusion, Sources Say Case Far from Solved.” The author: Amelia Reardon. The source that the headline alludes to: Wayne.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland, Wayne, and Kindt at the police station, 1980 HBO via Polygon

Nic Pizzolatto planted the seeds for this last episode. As Wayne did the dishes at Amelia’s house, they spoke about something that she was writing. It hadn’t quite taken form yet, but it was about the Purcell case. She said she was thinking of writing about the community, using the crime as a backdrop.

At this point in 1980, the authorities settled on blaming Trash Man for the Purcell case, and the investigation was closed.

“Somebody ought to point out what they’re saying doesn’t fucking hold,” Wayne said as he scrubbed.

Amelia wondered if their relationship constitutes a conflict of interest.

“People ought to know they closed [the Purcell case] because they wanted it closed,” he says. “It’s not solved.”

Amelia is concerned about him — wouldn’t writing it hurt him or his job?

“Fuck ’em,” Wayne said. “They don’t want to do it right, it’s not a job worth having. I could tell you all kinds of shit.”

Now that’s come back to haunt him.

Kindt reads from the article:

“An anonymous source in the investigation insists that there are a number of clues and suspicious facts of the Purcell case that are being ignored in favor of a hasty conviction of the West Finger shooter.”

Roland’s given Wayne an out. Amelia took advantage of him to write the article. We know that’s not true. But we also know that, if Wayne would pretend that it is, he’d keep his job.

“We think you owe the department your own op-ed,” Kindt says. “You’re gonna write a statement explaining that fragments of hearsay were used without your consent, facts were misrepresented, that the woman who wrote this did so without your cooperation.”

“I’m not much of a writer,” Wayne says.

They’ll write it for him. All he has to do is sign. Everybody in the room, including Roland, is encouraging Wayne to save his career and thank them for the opportunity. And if he doesn’t?

“D Company needs a new Public Information officer. Administration. You’ll never work another Major Crimes investigation,” says the white-haired man behind the desk, working with Kindt.

“Or you could just quit,” Kindt says.

Roland and Wayne at Wayne’s desk, 1980

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland and Wayne at Wayne’s desk, 1980 HBO via Polygon

Wayne clears out his desk. He’s not quitting. He’s going to take the demotion. Roland is furious — and hurt.

“Got away from me, man. I was pissed off,” Wayne says. “Didn’t really think it through. It’s not like me, you’re right.”

“OK. All right, there we go. Just sign their statement, and let’s you and me move on.”

“Except then I’d be burning her. Calling her a liar. She didn’t really do nothing wrong. She didn’t lie, and I’m not saying she did.”

“So what? This is your job. Our job. You’re my partner. That’s it? You’re just gonna go be a typist?”

“Probably a lot less bullshit. Couple years, maybe it all blows over. I can outlast them.”

“What about us?” Roland asks. It’s almost a plea. It’s written like a breakup scene.

“What you talking about?” Wayne asks. “We’ll grab a beer, go to a game. “Not like we’re not gonna see each other, man.”

Wayne’s optimism is misplaced. We learned episodes ago that this is the end of their relationship for a decade.

Wayne takes his belongings from his desk and walks out of the police station without a word.

Roland and Wayne at the Hoyt mansion’s pink room, 2015

Wayne uses a bolt cutter, severing the chain and opening the gate that leads to the Hoyt mansion. If someone catches them, they’ll play old and confused — the third time they’ve decided upon using this excuse.

They make their way to the basement, to the pink room. This is where the Hoyts and Mr. June kept Julie Purcell after she disappeared. This is where Julie ran away from years later.

One wall is a mural — a child’s drawing. A big, pink castle. And outside of the castle, there are three people: Princess Mary (Julie Purcell), Sir Junius (Mr. June Watts), and Queen Isabel (Isabel Hoyt).

“Twenty-five years. And we just,” Roland sighs. “All this — All this goddamn time. What the hell have I — What the hell were you doing?”

Wayne sits down at the accusation.

“Thought it was the right thing,” Wayne says. “I had a family.”

“Now, that must be nice,” Roland says through clenched teeth.

Amelia and Wayne at the VFW, 1990

After his meeting with Edward Hoyt, Wayne meets Amelia. The night before, she found him burning his clothes in a trash-can fire. And that morning, he left the house in those strange black Cadillacs. He asked her to trust him. Now it’s time for an explanation.

“If you’ve got somebody else, I can take it, just say so,” Amelia says.

“No,” Wayne says. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

“It’s the case. It was only ever the case. And it’s over now.”

“What part of the case made you burn your suit at 3:00 in the morning?”

“The bad part.”

“Can I get you a — a drink?”

“I’d prefer a straight answer.”

“I know what you’d prefer.”

“But supposing that answer would be dangerous to you?”

“I’ll take a hard truth over a nice lie any day,” Amelia says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Amelia and Wayne at the VFW, 1990 HBO via Polygon

Wayne will make the same argument in 2015 when he’s talking to Henry about his son’s affair with Elisa the TV journalist. Maybe it’s better if we don’t tell a secret that’d hurt the person hearing it. Except that this isn’t about an affair. This is about nearly solving the Purcell case, killing Harris James, and deciding to remain quiet at the behest of Edward Hoyt who’s willing to threaten Wayne’s family.

“We never really established this, because when we met, I told you too much,” Wayne says. In other words, Wayne overshared about the Purcell case in 1980, and that cost him his job. And for the next 10 years, as we’ve seen, he told her too little.

“And then for a long time, I wasn’t really a cop. But there are aspects of my job, things I’ve seen, things I know — it’s not for sharing. And this wouldn’t do anything but cause harm.”

“Maybe it’s not for you to decide what’s harmful or not for me,” Amelia says.

“Except I already did.”

“It’s something we should decide together.”

“No, we shouldn’t. And that is my whole point.”

“I might have a problem with that, because this morning you said you’d tell me everything.”

“That was a mistake. And I just realized now that I want your approval, and sometimes I do the wrong thing because it’s what you want. I’d like to stop that going forward.”

“Are we going forward? How do we, with this big secret between us?”

“Maybe that’s what we’re really talking about. There’s always been this big secret between us. And it’s that you and me — who we are together, this marriage, our children — it’s all tied up in a dead boy and a missing girl.”

Amelia sighs. “I’ll take that drink now.”

Roland in the biker bar, 1990

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland in the biker bar, 1990 HBO via Polygon

Roland walks into a biker bar looking for a fight. He gets one.

Amelia and Wayne at the VFW, 1990

We pick up again in the VFW.

It’s a scene that explains how they survive as a couple. The only way to do that is to move past the thing that brought them together and tortured them for a decade: the Purcell case and what that made them both think that they were — or needed to be.

“Last night, listening just now, I’ve wondered: Maybe we don’t really know each other,” Amelia says. “Because you’re right, what you said about us and the Purcell kids. We never really talked about it in that way. What it meant for us. But it’s 10 years later. You write a story, you get past the start, it’s important to know how you want it to end.”

“You were pregnant yesterday. And now Henry’s nine and, I blink, he’ll be out the house. If we get there, I don’t want to wonder how it all happened.”

“I don’t think one date night a month is gonna get us where we need to be. I’m writing this sequel, you’re on Major Crimes.”

In other words, if they keep going the way they’ve been going, they’re going to fail. And there is a solution for that problem.

“They tanked the case again. Same as ‘80. I oughta quit.”

“I’ve thought you should quit for 10 years.”

“Why? ”

“Why? Why wouldn’t I want you to quit? I don’t think you realize this, Wayne: You could have been good at just about anything. But what you think you are, it made you stuck.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Amelia and Wayne at the VFW 1990 HBO via Polygon

“I never went to college. Or California. I listened to my Ma. I was in the army, and then PD. Maybe I got too good at doing what I was told.”

“I always think about why you said you joined the army.”

“Didn’t have money for school, or no job —”

“No, you told me — you said you figured that if you died, that your mom would be rich, because the government would give her $10,000, and that’s why you ended up joining.”

“I think we both — we want something, we get real single-minded. This new thing, that’s not why you write.”

“It’s all the work I’ve done, I don’t want to see it wasted —”

“But it’s not you. You wanna write your real book, write it. It’ll be great. I probably won’t read it, but it’ll be beautiful. And I think that — I think maybe I should quit. You should, too. I walk away, you walk away. And let’s put this thing down. It’s not ours. And like you said, we’re past the beginning.”

“You could really quit?”

“We’ll both, together. You go and write the books you want to write, and I’m gonna — I don’t know what I’m gonna do. But the smartest person I know told me I’d be good at almost anything.”

Roland and a dog outside the bar, 1990

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland and a dog outside the bar, 1990 HBO via Polygon

Roland is sad and alone and smoking and drinking straight from a bottle outside the bar where he just had a fight. A police car pulls away. A stray dog walks up. Roland shoos the dog away, but the dog approaches as Roland starts crying and won’t go. It just wants to love him. Roland embraces the dog with a “come here, buddy.”

It’s the best dog-lover origin story ever committed to film.

Roland and Wayne driving, 2015

Roland tells Wayne that an old friend of him helped him find an address for Junius Watts.

Roland and Wayne driving, 1990

Wayne loads his revolver.

Roland and Wayne driving, 2015

The two old friends look at each other.

Roland, Wayne, and Junius Watts at Watts’ house, 2015

Roland and Wayne are parked near Junius Watts’ (aka Mr. June) house. They look at Watts as he feeds his chickens.

“Might be less crazy than I thought,” Wayne says.

“Don’t get carried away,” Roland says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland, Wayne, and Junius Watts at Watts’ house, 2015 HBO via Polygon

They approach Mr. June, revolvers at their side. Watts senses them as he exits the chicken coop.

“I been waiting on you all,” Watts says. “Since the night you saw my car. Probably shouldn’t have drove off, but you had that baseball bat. Y’all here to kill me?”

Wayne gestures with his gun and tells Watts to walk back in his house.

Wayne in Public Information, 1980

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne in Public Information, 1980 HBO via Polygon

A kind, redheaded woman shows Wayne to his new desk in Public Information. There are no windows in this room. There are no cops in this room.

“Usually if PD or state want a statement, they’ll just drop it by” she says. “If we get an information request, then we’ll just connect it to you.”

She pats him on his shoulder and leaves.

He sits down at his desk, looks up at the clock. Typewriters clack.

Thus begins Wayne’s decade in purgatory.

Roland, Wayne, and Junius Watts at Watts’ house, 2015

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland, Wayne, and Junius Watts at Watts’ house 2015 HBO via Polygon

Inside the house, Junius Watts talks about his history with the Hoyt family.

“I worked with Mr. Hoyt on his first chicken farm,” he says. “Been there since he started. Lost the eye in a line accident, one of the hooks.”

It’s just like the man they interviewed, Sam Whitehead, in Davis Junction, back in 1980.

“After [Edward Hoyt] expands, he moves me to his place. I started managing his household for him. Him and Miss Ellen, they had Isabel. Miss Ellen got sick. I helped him raise his daughter. Isabel. She was a delight. She go to university and meets a young man, and they have a little baby girl. Mary. They was happy. Mr. Hoyt, he happy.

“Then there was the — the accident. [Isabel’s] husband and her daughter skidded off a mountain on their way to meet her at Bull Shoals. She gets very, very sad. Worse than sad. Won’t talk, won’t leave the house. Has to take medicine. Lithium. This little girl I helped raise was so sad she can’t talk.

“Mr. Hoyt, he can’t stand seeing her this way. So he starts traveling again. Then one night, she snuck off from me. Took her car and smashed it all up. This patrolman, Harris James, he help us keep it quiet.

“Then for the first time in almost three years, something stirs her. Employee picnic, ‘79. She sees this family there with this little girl, and she runs out and tries to grab her. Hmph. Miss Isabel, she keep talkin’ about that girl she saw. Saying she’s just like Mary. Says she wanna see her again. So I take the mother Lucy aside, back when she worked on the line, and I talked to her about maybe letting Miss Isabel play with her daughter a bit.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Isabel Hoyt HBO via Polygon

“She was good with that?” Wayne asks.

“Well, she say OK, but she want money,” Watts says. “And she wanted the little girl’s brother along, keep an eye on her. And that was OK. Well, for a little while we meet ‘em, a little spot in the woods, and we just played. And Miss Isabel, she get back to being her old self.”

“Except what?” Roand asks.

“Well, we had an idea,” Watts says. “Miss Isabel want to adopt the girl. She have a better life, we thought, and well, the father, we’d just have to figure something out. But, eh, Miss Isabel, she — she confused. She’d stopped taking her medicine, I — I didn’t know. She’d been calling the girl ‘Mary’ since we arrive. I heard it. I oughta knowed something was too wrong.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Julie corn husk dolls HBO via Polygon

As Watts tells the story, we see a flashback to that terrible day in 1980. Julie holds a pair of corn husk dolls. Isabel is putting toys into the bag that Wayne will find after the kids disappear. And now we know that the set of unidentified fingerprints were from Isabel Hoyt.

“Well, we’s playin’ hide-and-seek, and Will was off looking for us.”

And that jives with the story that Ronnie Boyle told Roland and Wayne years ago — that Will was at the fire tower in Devil’s Den on the night he disappeared looking for his sister. They were playing hide-and-seek — or, more accurately, Isabel hid herself and Julie away from Will so that she could spend more time with Julie.

“I guess Miss Isabel had other plans,” Mr. Watts says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Isabel Hoyt Julie Will HBO via Polygon

In the flashback, will finds Julie and Isabel. He tells his sister that they have to go home and grabs her hand. Isabel freaks out, calls Julie Mary (the name of her later daughter), and grabs Julie’s other arm. They’re playing tug, and Julie is the rope.

Isabel pushes Will. He loses his grip on Julie’s arm. He stumbles, falls back, and hits his head on a rock. Julie screams. Watts checks Will’s body, but we know that Will is dead.

“I told the girl her brother OK,” Watts says. “He just bump his head, that’s all, and he’d wake up soon. But she said we can’t leave him there. And she can’t calm down. So I brought him up to the cave.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Isabel Hoyt Julie Will’s body cave HBO via Polygon

We see Julie fold Will’s arms across his chest, leaving him in the position in which Wayne would find him not long after.

“It was just — just a bad accident. Mr. Hoyt, he don’t know none of this, because he on safari. So I call the man Harris James, he help us out before. When that Woodard man went crazy, Harris brought that boy’s backpack up to his place, and the girl’s shirt.”

Wayne asks about Lucy, Julie and Will’s mother.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Harris James Lucy Purcell HBO via Polygon

“Harris talked to her,” Watts says. “Explained things, the accident. Offered her a lot of money. Showed her the best thing was for her to take it and let Miss Isabel have Julie, just like we talked about. Only, it just happened this way. The little one, Julie. Time we get home, she calm with everything, no trouble. She happy to be there. We seen the girl is happy. She is.

“And for a time it was working. Couple years. The little one, she thinks she’s Isabel’s daughter, because Isabel’s been telling her stories. I’m just trying to take care of them best I can. I swear, the little one was happy. I thought she was happy. I didn’t realize till later what’d been going on.”

We see a series of devastating shots of the pink room, Julie, Isabel, and Watts, culminating in Isabel Hoyt’s lithium dosing.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 lithium HBO via Polygon

“She’d been feeding that little girl lithium since she was 10,” Wayne says.

“That was why the girl didn’t have no problems once we left Devil’s Den,” Watts says. “Musta started then.”

“That’s why she wasn’t sure about her own history,” Roland says. “She’d been drugged half her life, told some fucked-up fairy tale by this woman.”

“And Miss Isabel was getting sicker and sicker,” Watts says. “The girl is getting more and more confused. Then she growed up. She wants to leave. She asks questions — memories, her brother. I want to help her.”

“You helped her run away,” Wayne says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Julie runs away HBO via Polygon

“Yeah. I make sure that the door is unlocked and Miss Isabel was in her bath. And I gave her a map how to get to a place I had nearby. But she never showed. And I was looking for her ever since. Trying to save what I could.”

“That’s real heroic of ya, you cyclops motherfucker,” Roland says.

“What happened to Isabel?” Wayne asks.

“After the girl run off, [Isabel] had another break. She put on her wedding dress, she took all her pills, she go to sleep and never wakes up.”

“Did you ever find her?” Wayne asks.

“‘Ninety-seven. I’d been passing Julie’s picture around for 10 years. This runaway girl tells me about this shelter nuns in Fort Smith run. The girl says she saw Julie working there at the convent, and they say her name is Mary, which I knew it must be her.”

We see old Roland and Wayne at the convent where Amelia was a few episodes back, in 1990. They pass a man with a mustache and a little blonde girl on their way in. We saw him in a previous episode. He runs Ardoin Landscaping, as his nametag says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Julie Purcell daughter and husband Mike Ardoin HBO via Polygon

“Mary July,” the nun, Sister Shelly, says. “‘Like summertime,’ she said. She didn’t have any ID. She stayed for three and a half years. First getting help, then helping others. She’d been in bad shape when she arrived. She had what’s known as disassociation issues.”

The nun says Julie had HIV and died. She shows them Julie’s grave, died Dec. 10, 1995.

“I was too late,” Watts says, sobbing now. “Something she’d done out there on her own got her real sick. And I told her — I told her that I would meet her. I drew her a map. But she wasn’t there.”

“It’s always too late, whatever we do,” Wayne says.

“That’s why I’s sitting outside your house. I was just trying to get up the nerve. Trying to tell you what happened. So you can kill me or take me in. I want it. I don’t wanna live with this no more. Take me in.”

“We don’t have the authority.” Wayne says. His revolver is on the kitchen table now.

“You don’t wanna live with it,” Roland says and gestures to Watts’ guns, “fucking don’t.”

“Hey!” Watts screams as they walk away. “Y’all come back here! Y’all punish me! I need y’all to punish me! Y’all punish me!”

Roland, Wayne, Mike Ardin at Julie’s grave, 2015

“Your name was Julie Purcell,” Roland says to the tombstone. “I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job for ya. I’m real, real sorry for that, miss.”

“Failure was mine,” Wayne says. “You deserved better than this. Better than me.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Roland, Wayne, Mike Ardin at Julie’s grave, 2015 HBO via Polygon

As they walk back to the car, the little girl we saw earlier bumps into them. The man she’s with apologizes.

“All right, that’s enough running around, Lucy,” he says to the little girl who shares a name with Julie and Will Purcell’s mother. “Why don’t you go ahead and jump in the truck.”

That’s Mike Ardoin, Lucy’s father. He exchanges a bit of small talk with the two old friends about the work he does at the convent.

“Oh, yeah,” Mike says. “My dad started the business, and he used to do the convent for free. And I kept doing the same.”

Roland and Wayne at Wayne’s house, 2015

They’re in Wayne’s office, packing up all off the evidence and research Wayne’s dug up about the Purcell case. As far as they’re concerned, Julie’s dead, and the case is closed.

“We got an ending, I guess,” Roland says. “But I don’t, uh — hm. Do you feel like any kinda closure? I don’t.”

“Me neither,” Wayne says.

Roland says he’s been talking to Wayne’s son, Henry, about how he wants to get closer to town. He says maybe he can stay with Wayne a couple night a week. Wayne agrees.

Then Roland says that Becca, Wayne’s daughter, is coming to visit the next day. Henry invited him to dinner. Wayne is glad. They say their goodbyes, and they hug. The case is solved. Their friendship is reconstituted and secured.

Amelia and Wayne at Wayne’s house, 1980

Amelia shows up unexpectedly at Wayne’s house. After taking the demotion and refusing to sell her out, he’s also been ignoring her. She’s here to find out what’s going on. She accuses him of playing games, but he says he doesn’t play.

She suspects it’s about the article she wrote, but Wayne remains tight-lipped. He grabs a box of her stuff from the other room box. She won’t take it, so he puts it on the ground in front of her. He’s obstinate. She’s persistent.

“All right, give it to me then,” Amelia says. “I want a clear picture of who I’ve been spending time with.”

“Clear picture is, I don’t wanna see you anymore,” Wayne says. “And I’m not the asshole here. You’re the asshole.”

“Me? How? ”

“You used me. Fucking around with me so you could hear what the police are doing. Like you’re better than me. Right? When I landed back in the States, some high yellow bitch like you called me a baby killer.”

Remember that while Wayne was fighting in Vietnam, Amelia was an anti-war protestor.

“I’m sorry that happened —”

“Shit, you’re whiter than my partner. Former partner.”

“What’s the matter with you? What happened?”

“I’m fucked’s what happened! Twelve years on the job, and I’m a fucking secretary now.”

“So you got in trouble. What did they — Is that why you’re doing this?”

“I’m trying to pull my head out my ass, regards to you. You — I don’t know. Maybe you didn’t mean it all the way, maybe it just happened, but you was working me. Always asking questions, always talking about the case.”

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Amelia and Wayne at Wayne’s house, 1980 HBO via Polygon

Wayne wouldn’t sell Amelia out and say that she used him, but he’s still suspicious. He’s acting like it might be true.

“That’s not what I did,” she says. “You know that’s not what I did.”

“No, I don’t! But I just about decided that you don’t know what you’re really up to most of the time, do you? Being a good-looking woman like you are, I mean. People don’t really expect you to take responsibility. You’re just like a pretty bird, flying around, shitting on people’s heads. I don’t need one of them. I was doing real good without no head-shitting birds in here.”

Wayne’s now crossed the threshold of racism and sexism. But as usual in True Detective season 3, they’re accusations or emotions born of thoughtlessness and emotion — darts thrown in anger and frustration.

“You’re a mean drunk,” she says. “But it’s good to see how weak you really are. You’ve got a badge and a gun, couple of other things that you learned from watching movies. But there’s nothing here.”

Amelia takes a few things out of the box.

“They wanted me to burn you down. Sign a statement saying you were lying. That you took pieces of what you heard and made up all that shit you wrote.”

“You should. I don’t want you in trouble. I don’t want anything from you, ever. Go ahead, sign their statement. I’m gonna be fine. I don’t need the rest.”

Amelia walks out the front door, closing it behind her.

“I don’t want this shit in my house!” Wayne yells at a closed door.

Wayne and “Amelia” at home, 2015

Wayne wakes up in his bed. He continues packing the Purcell casefiles. Amelia’s book drops on the floor, and what a page it lands on! He reads, and we hear it in Amelia’s voice.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne at home, 2015.jpg Image: HBO

Among the children who knew her, a 10-year-old named Mike Ardoin seemed to take Julie’s disappearance hardest. I knew Mike to be a shy, artistic boy, and he often played with Julie, or at least sought out her company. His father ran a small lawn servicing business, and when he spoke about Julie, the boy’s lip trembled and his eyes flooded. My attempts at comfort were completely insufficient, but I tried to let him talk about his feelings. He started crying. He said he always thought he’d marry Julie when he grew up.

And then Wayne has another vision, a hallucination of his late wife as a young woman talking to him.

“What if the ending isn’t really the ending at all?” the ghost of Amelia asks Wayne. “What if Julie did find a life at that convent? Friendship, love. And what if that little boy who loved her so much, that little boy whose daddy, and later himself, took care of the yard at that convent? What if he recognized her? What if he knew her, even if she didn’t know herself? And what if those nuns who cared about her, those women who knew she’d had a hard life, they knew bad people were looking for her? What if they wanted to protect her?

“Protect her how?” Wayne asks Amelia/himself.

“The only way they could — by telling a story,” Amelia says.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne and “Amelia” at home, 2015 HBO via Polygon

“What if there’s another story? What if something went unbroken? All this life, all this loss, what if it was really one long story that just kept going and going until it healed itself? Wouldn’t that be a story worth telling? Wouldn’t that be a story worth hearing?”

Wayne calls information. He’s looking for an address.

Before we move on to the next scene, let’s go back to episode 3, in 1980, when Amelia and Wayne walked through a field looking for Julie Purcell. They talk about a poem. He asks about the poem she was reading when he first met her in the school. It’s called “Tell Me a Story” by Robert Penn Warren — and in fact, it was the poem she was reading in her classroom when they first met each other.

It goes like this:

Tell me a story.
In this century, and moment, of mania,
Tell me a story.
Make it a story of great distances, and starlight.
The name of the story will be Time,
But you must not pronounce its name.
Tell me a story of deep delight.

In the field, they talk about the poem.

“He says you call the story time,” Wayne says. “But you can’t say its name.”

Amelia’s interpretation is about how we can’t be separated from time.

“I think it’s because we’re in time and of time,” she says. “But to name — you separate yourself from something when you name it, and I think he means we can’t be separated from time.”

Wayne’s interpretation is that it was like the name of God. “You know, how the Hebrews weren’t supposed to say God’s name,” he says.

They might as well be talking about Wayne becoming unstuck in time — and the memory problems that his doctor won’t name. And that was true at the time. But with all of the information we have now, it’s clear that they were also talking about their story — and the story of Julie Purcell.

Wayne in the car, Julie and Mary at home, 2015

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne in the car, 2015 HBO via Polygon

Wayne figured it out. He’s on his way to find Mike Ardoin — and Julie Purcell. He’s right there, moments from solving the case that’s defined his adult life.

And then his memory gives out.

He calls Henry — he presses the button that the show set up in a scene way back in episode 4 — on speed dial from his cell phone. And, yes, it also echoes the scene where old Wayne found himself on Shoepick Ln. in front of the old Purcell house in the middle of the night wearing a bathrobe. This is not without precedent, in other words.

Wayne has no idea where he is, so Henry suggests he look for people to ask about his location.

There’s the little girl, Lucy, from the convent. There’s Julie Purcell. And Wayne has no idea. Wayne tells Henry where they are — 1208 Allegra Lane in Greenland.

Julie and Mary at home, 2015 HBO via Polygon

Julie offers him a glass of water, and Wayne accepts.

Henry pulls up to the house. Becca gets out of the car, too. Becca drives Wayne’s car back to Henry’s house for dinner.

“Oh, I sure missed you,” Wayne says to his daughter.

“I miss you too, Dad,” Becca says. “I miss you right now. I haven’t — I haven’t really — I don’t —”

Wayne and his family at Henry’s house, 2015

Wayne shows the scrap of paper that he had in his pocket. It’s the address of the Ardoin household. He has no idea what it means.

Wayne crumples it up, says it’s nothing, tells his dad to go play with his grandkids.

Wayne walks out to the yard. Henry looks at the address on the paper. He doesn’t throw it away. He puts it in his pocket.

There is hope yet.

Wayne sits in a rocking chair on Henry’s front porch, sipping iced tea. Roland pulls up. Henry introduces him to his wife, Heather. She hands him his own iced tea.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne and his family at Henry’s house, 2015 HBO via Polygon

Two children ride their bikes down the street in front of the house, reminding everyone of the Purcell case. Roland looks down at Wayne.

Becca holds her dad’s hand. Henry holds his wife’s hand. Roland puts his hand on his old friend’s shoulder.

Wayne looks at the kids, and a memory surfaces.

Amelia and Wayne in the FVW, 1980

After their fight, Amelia finds him drinking.

“You want a do-over?” Wayne asks.

“I guess I want to know if you meant it,” Amelia says. “If you meant what you said. I want to know if you want us to stop. That’s all.”

“I don’t know.”

“Wayne, what do you want?”

“You want to yell at me again? You want me to tell at you?”


“I’m sorry for what I said to you. I-I haven’t been myself.”

“You want me to leave? You want me to stay?”

“I don’t know.”

HBO via Polygon

“You’re gonna have to decide.”

“I, uh — I’m not myself.”

“I don’t know. I don’t like this.”

“But I want…”

“I think I wanna marry you. I didn’t think that’d happen for me. I didn’t let myself — I didn’t expect this. You.”

“And how would you make that happen?”

“Guess, uh — Guess I should sober up, for a start.”

“For a start, yeah.”

“I mean it.”

“Then let’s get you home.”

“You can think about how you’re gonna propose. I can think about if I’m gonna accept.”

“I’ll do it. Get on my knees, with a ring and everything. I ain’t messing with you. I don’t play. No, I know you don’t.”

Wayne in Vietnam, date unknown

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne in Vietnam, date unknown HBO via Polygon

As Wayne walks into the jungle alone, a song plays. It’s called “St. James Infirmary Blues,” a traditional American folk song that approximately infinity artists have recorded. This is John Batiste’s version, and it goes like this:

I went down
To St. James Infirmary
And I saw my baby there
Stretched out on a long white table, yeah
So sweet
So calm, so fair
Well, folks
This is the end of my story
And if anyone should ever ask you
Just go on ahead and tell them
That I had the St. James
Infirmary Blues

Themes and evidence

And here we are, with one last chance to write about what happened and tie it up in a pretty little bow.

Much of what would’ve gotten its own section here in previous weeks appears above, within the watchthrough where it’s germane. But there are still a few things worth expanding upon.

Wayne’s gun

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne’s gun HBO via Polygon

This may be the biggest surprise of True Detective season 3.

We learned about Wayne’s gun early, and it feels like we saw it or someone talked about it in every episode. Every time it appeared, we referenced and linked to Chekhov’s gun.

Chekhov’s gun comes from Anton Chekhov, a distinguished Russian writer whose last name I have never once spelled correctly on my first try. As a dramatic concept, the quick and dirty explanation goes like this: If you introduce a loaded gun at the beginning of a story, someone has to fire it later.

When, why, and who would pull the trigger was up for grabs, but I was sure and certain that there was going to be a bang.

I was wrong. But it still served a dramatic purpose.

Early in the season, it was old Wayne’s insurance policy — a threat that he used in the doctor’s office during episode 3. He’ll off himself before Henry puts him in a nursing home. For most of the rest of the season, it’s effectively an ominous reminder of what could go wrong.

The gun doesn’t fire. But it is useful. It’s the sidearm that old Wayne carries when he and Roland confront Junius Watts in 2015. It’s a means to an end — a way to intimidate Mr. June into talking — not an end in and of itself.

Then again, choosing not to use the gun is an affirmation in and of itself. By the end of season 3, that version of old Wayne is gone.


True Detective season 3 episode 8 Julie drinking lithium HBO via Polygon

We did a pretty good job of piecing together True Detective season 3’s mystery. We had the broad strokes — the Hoyt family’s involvement, Lucy Purcell’s guilt, the children’s drawings — down pretty early. But the one thing we couldn’t work out was an explanation for Julie’s warped view of reality.

We knew she was alive (though our wild speculation about who she might be was wrong). We knew she spent years on the street. We knew she ended up at a convent. We knew she told odd stories about her name — often Mary July — and talked of being royalty who lived in a pink castle. We worked out immediately that the pictures she drew were important.

Turns out the answer was lithium.

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’ve got to be brutally honest here: I’m no doctor. I don’t know if abducting a young girl, feeding her elaborate lies, and dosing her with lithium for a decade would produce this kind of dissociative disorder. Seems reasonable enough to me.

Desperados Under the Eaves

Music has always been important to True Detective, and in season 3 it feels like another character. One song stands head and shoulders above the others.

Might as well quote ourselves from the episode 5 watchthrough. As two old gunslingers sit on the porch, the camera pans up to catch the sun shining through the trees. The inimitable genius of Warren Zevon plays over the credits. It’s from his song “Desperados Under The Eaves.” It’s about drinking too much, and it goes like this:

Don’t the sun look angry through the trees?
Don’t the trees look like crucified thieves?
Don’t you feel like desperados under the eaves?
Heaven help the one who leaves.

It’s a song about alcoholism. In True Detective season 3, drinking is something people do when they’re in a bad way. (Smoking is, too.)

The most interesting scene

This is probably the old English major in me coming out, but I think the most interesting scene in the True Detective season 3 finale isn’t about the mystery.

Here’s how it plays out:

“I think we both — we want something, we get real single-minded,” Wayne says. “This new thing, that’s not why you write.”

“It’s all the work I’ve done,” Amelia says. “I don’t want to see it wasted —”

“But it’s not you. You wanna write your real book, write it. It’ll be great. I probably won’t read it, but it’ll be beautiful. And I think that — I think maybe I should quit. You should, too. I walk away, you walk away. And let’s put this thing down. It’s not ours. And like you said, we’re past the beginning.”

“You could really quit?”

“We’ll both, together. You go and write the books you want to write, and I’m gonna — I don’t know what I’m gonna do. But the smartest person I know told me I’d be good at almost anything.”

On the surface, it’s dialogue between Amelia and Wayne at the VFW. But viewing it through the lens of a writer, it takes on a different meaning.

You don’t have to squint too hard to imagine that this is True Detective creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto writing about writing — getting “real single-minded” when he wants something (like, say, the esoteric and not terribly well regarded season 2). And why would he want to do that? “It’s all the work I’ve done,” Amelia/Nic says. “I don’t want to see it wasted.”

The final scene

The final scene, in which Wayne walks into the Vietnam bush, seems discordant at first.

I think we can gather the point from the title of the episode. “Now Am Found” is a reference to the opening lines of “Amazing Grace:”

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see

Now let’s take the last three scenes together.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne and his family at Henry’s house, 2015 HBO via Polygon
True Detective season 3 episode 8 Wayne and Amelia holding hands VFW HBO via Polygon
  1. Wayne, his family, and Roland are reunited, holding hands on the porch.
  2. Amelia and Wayne overcome Wayne’s lone wolf tendencies and repair their relationship.
  3. Wayne, alone, disappears into the Vietnam jungle.

The first two scenes are counterpoints and contrasts to the third. When he was young, Wayne was alone and unwilling and unable to share his life with others. In the first episode, he says he can’t imagine himself getting married. But Amelia surprised and changed him.

He struggled to live up to what he wanted for most of his life — a struggle that alienated family and friends alike. But we leave old Wayne in 2015 not with the impression that he’s doomed to repeat the mistakes of his past, but with the strong implication that, with good reason, this time it’s different. Young Wayne raged against the idea that his actions could alter or even ruin others’ lives. Old Wayne apologizes to the people he’s hurt.

On the porch, he’s put the Purcell case behind him. He’s reunited with his oldest, best friend (who’ll be spending a few nights a week at his house, helping to take care of him), and even his daughter, Becca, is back in his life.

That’s the whole thing, right there. Wayne was once blind — for most of his life, but most acutely when he was young — but now he sees.

True Detective season 3 episode 8 Julie Purcell as an adult HBO via Polygon

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