TV Review: ‘True Detective’ Season 3 Episode 6: ‘Hunters In The Dark’





Season Plot: Set in three different time periods (1980, 1990, and 2015), the third season of True Detective follows Arkansas state police detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and his obsession with the disappearance of two children.

Episode Plot:

1980: With deaths of the Purcell children laid squarely at the feet of Brett Woodard, the brass seeks to close the case quickly, even though Wayne has doubts.

1990: With suspicions arising anew, Roland and Wayne go hard at Tom Purcell after the desperate phone call from Julie. Wayne and Roland look into former police officer Harris James who now is head of the Hoyt company’s security. Lucy’s cousin Dan O’Brien resurfaces and seeks to provide crucial evidence to Hays and West while Tom has other plans for Dan. Tom makes a startling discovery.

2015:  Older Wayne discovers that multiple people surrounding the case have turned up dead and suggest a larger conspiracy. Hays and West investigate the case further while Wayne’s memory deteriorates.

Review: Ooo boy. After five episodes of elegiac philosophizing, red herrings, and faulty memories, it seems like the pieces of season three of True Detective‘s mystery is finally starting to fall into place. The bulk of this episode’s action takes place during the 1990 storyline and rightly so as that’s where most of the revelations come to light.

It’s clear now that the reason that the case ended so abruptly in 1980 was not just because the town had a perfect scapegoat in Brett Woodard. The veneer of wanting “the town to heal” was in truth actually hiding a larger conspiracy involving, presumably, the Hoyt family. At this point we still know little of the Hoyt family other than they are a family of abundant wealth and influence. Yet as the end of the show indicates, they are intricately tied up in the death of Will Purcell and the disappearance of Julie.

The influence of the Hoyt family extends ten years after the case presumably ended. With the children of Brett Woodard reopening the case as he was convicted in absentia, the Hoyt’s needed to shift the focus to someone else. Enter Julie’s convenient call to the police that puts a spotlight on Tom. The implication of course from Julie’s call and the “peep-hole” in Will’s room suggests that Tom was spying on Julie, perhaps even molesting her. This is amplified by the revelation that Tom is in fact gay. Yet Wayne shows once again his detective prowess, going back to the old Purcell house and proving that the hole was meant to pass notes back and forth between Julie and Will. Their home life was clearly not ideal.

What the Hoyts didn’t count on I believe was the re-emergence of Dan O’Brien, Julie’s cousin. While he isn’t able to provide much info to Wayne and Roland (he holds back information due to a request for $7,000) he is able to connect the dots a little for Wayne and Roland. Where would the Purcells have gotten $10,000 in 1980 for reward money if it wasn’t put up by the Hoyts? Where did Lucy get the money to leave Tom and live a (somewhat) extravagant lifestyle in Vegas?

Its become apparent that this money was from the Hoyts and used as hush money to cover up their involvement in the Purcell case. It’s no coincidence that multiple people surrounding this case have perished or disappeared unexpectedly. Dan implies that Lucy was murdered and possibly because she was going to tell the world what she knew. Dan ends up at the bottom of a quarry shortly after speaking to Wayne and Roland, and as we discover in the 2015 timeline, Harrison James disappeared shortly after the events in 1990. I have little doubt that Harrison James was the one to plant the evidence at Brett Woodard’s house and then reaped the rewards by getting a nice cushy job at the Hoyt plant.

What’s fascinating about this week’s episode as well is how it presents evidence from Tom‘s perspective. Wayne and Roland aren’t the ones to extract from Dan who the person was that was paying Lucy. Furthermore, it’s Tom that eventually infiltrates the Hoyt homestead, leading to the “pink room” that Julie referenced to some of her friends.

“Hunters in the Dark” brings to light the idea of a much larger conspiracy. Could the Ozarks Outreach Children’s Center run by the Hoyts be something much more sinister? Child trafficking perhaps? In the end it all confirms something that Wayne suspected all along: that this wasn’t just some simple murder/disappearance. Life, like this case presents no simple answers. This also flips the whole idea that older Wayne is being paranoid on its head. If the Hoyt family had this much influence in 1980 and 1990, who’s to say they aren’t doing the same in 2015? The car monitoring Wayne may not be just a figment of Wayne’s imagination. Furthermore, it’s possible Roland could be involved. After all he tells older Wayne that the car isn’t out there, but we never actually see that it’s not out there.

So while it’s becoming abundantly clear that the Will and Julie Purcell case involves a larger conspiracy with the Hoyts, the real question is why? What’s the motive? Is it a pattern for them? And with the reemergence of the one-eyed man–does that have any significance? Could he be working for the Hoyt family as well? Once again we the audience received a significant amount of answers this week, but also more questions.

And I have to say the final chilling scene of Tom walking into the “pink room” with Harris James right behind him, that’s about as harrowing as it gets. That could very well be the last we see of Tom.

With two episodes remaining in the season, I have the distinct feeling that the most significant reveals are yet to come.


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