With only three episodes left in True Detective’s third season, the answers need to be revealed. While episode 6, "Hunters in the Dark," offers a few breadcrumbs, the bigger ones are obviously not going to come out just yet.
The 1990 era is clearly the big focus right now, but a couple of notable things do happen in 1980 and 2015 as well.
After the shootout at Woodard's (Michael Greyeyes) house where they uncovered Will (Phoenix Elkin) and Julie's (Lena McCarthy) things, the attorneys and sheriff are relieved to have someone to pin the murders on because the town is growing restless and the press is having a field day. The "official position" is that Woodard murdered both children; they're going after a posthumous conviction and that's that, despite Hays (Mahershala) voicing his objections about how little sense any of this makes.
State Attorney General Kindt (Brett Cullen) and the feds think the detectives should have gone after Tom Purcell (Scoot McNairy) harder back in 1980 in light of the call from Julie. (Of course, bear in mind that Kindt also appeared on TV and Julie might have reasons to accuse him of "acting like [her] father.") Also, they confirm that the woman on the phone was indeed Julie after pulling partial prints off of the pay phone where the call was made.
Going off of the urging of their peers, Hays and West go after Tom harder than ever before. But instead of finding out more about his missing daughter, Tom reveals that he is gay and has been trying to hide it for years — even trying to "cure" it with religion. This, of course, has nothing to do with Tom as a possible murderer, but he certainly could have been blackmailed into doing some nefarious things if he was terrified people would find out that he's gay.
West vehemently defends Tom to Hays, but Hays says they have to clear Tom with evidence. They can't just "decide" he's not guilty. But the fact that they're even considering his involvement after all these years sends Tom into a bit of a tailspin.
The detectives manage to track down Harris James (Scott Shepherd), the officer who "found" the backpack and sweater at Woodard's house. He left the force to become head of security for Hoyt Foods and he is clearly a smarmy, greedy no-good guy. Plus, there’s no way that Hoyt Foods connection is a coincidence.
They are also contacted by Dan O'Brien (Michael Graziadei), who wants money in exchange for giving them information about his niece. They basically tell Dan to kick rocks, especially after he implies he was sexually involved with Lucy after she came to live with his family as a child. He tells them it has nothing to do with Tom, which they kind of already knew, but the detectives are going to tail Dan and see where it leads, just in case.
Hays is juiced, between the "queer underground" angle on Tom and the squirrelly nature of Dan teasing that he knows something, but West thinks they need to slow down and do this right. He also knows Hays needs to stop hiding from his family by burying himself in work which leads to a fight between the two. Hays ends up jumping out of the car and storming off down by himself. He ends up wandering back to the Purcell house where he puts together what the peephole was actually for. Will would pass notes to Julie assuring her that everything was going to be alright. Oof, that is a sweet, heartbreaking detail, and pretty revealing to the type of homelife these kids were subjected too.
While all this is happening, Tom gets released from jail and overhears the officers talking about Dan, so he goes after him with a gun. He finds him at a motel and beats him senseless until Dan reveals the information he has and was withholding from the police. It turns out to be that the person financing Lucy's Las Vegas life was old man Hoyt of Hoyt Foods, which is not exactly a bombshell reveal, considering how much Hoyt's head of security, Harris James, is involved in all of this.
Reveling in this new information, Tom gets drunk and breaks into the Hoyt mansion, where he finds a pink room (!!!) in the basement and starts to react to something shocking involving Julie. The episode cuts to black as James comes up behind Tom, so we don't know how that plays out, but we're going to guess the answer is things are not looking good for Tom.
Meanwhile, Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) is considering a sequel to her novel. To start her research for it, she goes to a local group home for wayward young ladies where Julie stayed for a while. One girl tells Amelia that Julie actually went by a different name: "Mary." She also went by “Mary Julie,” and even “Mary July.” This Mary often talked about the "pink room" and being a "queen in a pink castle" before she ran away from the home. The girl also implies that Julie was also involved with drugs and sex work. So, a troubling life for her after she escaped whatever nightmare she was trapped in as a kid.
Later, Amelia conducts a reading/book signing at a local book store and is confronted by an older black man with one filmy eye who angrily demands that she tell him where Julie is. This must be the mystery man; one half of the couple that bought the dolls and gave them to Julie back in 1980. The identity of the other half of the couple remains to be seen.
Eliza Montgomery (Sarah Gadon) asks Hays if Dan's death was connected to what happened to Lucy (Mamie Gummer) and Tom and also Harris James' disappearance. Hays can’t answer, but it’s clear he privately agrees with her.
For the most part, he plays dumb with Eliza, using his dementia as a cover, but with West, he talks openly about Eliza sniffing around James and it makes one wonder if Harris James' disappearance is what West and Hays "did" back in 1990 that we don't know anything about yet.
Odds and Ends
It turns out Henry (Ray Fisher) has been sleeping with Eliza, which is honestly kind of a weird wrinkle to throw into the show. It doesn't really go anywhere yet, but it probably bears mentioning in case it comes up again before the season ends.
The scene where old man Hays is perfectly lucid, then goes to the bathroom and comes back and doesn't know why West is in his house? SO. GOOD. Their relationship is so pivotal to this season working and enough cannot be said about them together in their twilight years. The actors are killing these scenes. This one is so subtle and poignant — it feels like we might need all the hankies for the way the 2015 storyline wraps up in the season finale.
The pink room at Hoyt's mansion is obviously where Julie was held for at least some period of time after Will's death. But to what end? It doesn't feel as simple as some kind of pedophile ring. That is probably part of it, which is so gross and obviously horrific, but Hoyt's set-up seems off, like there’s still more to uncover about this whole “queen of the pink room” narrative.