TV Review: ‘True Detective’ Season 3 Episode 7: ‘The Final Country’
***WARNING!!! SPOILERS BELOW!!!***
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.
1980: Honestly not much unless you count younger Wayne washing Amelia’s dishes.
1990: Tom is discovered dead at Devil’s Den due to an apparent suicide. The authorities reverse the Brett Woodard conviction and pin the murder of Will on Tom. Unsatisfied, Wayne pressures Roland into going after Harrison James with fatal consequences. Wayne’s secrets catch up with him as Edward Hoyt pays him a visit.
2015: Hays continues his interviews for Elisa’s “True Criminal” show who presses him on what she refers to as forced conclusions. She also references a mysterious one-eyed black man named Watts. Roland and Wayne interview a housekeeper for the Hoyt’s who offers some insight.
Review: Well people, we’ve reached the penultimate episode to True Detective, in a season that’s proved to be both fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. Thankfully, this week’s episode, “The Final Country” skews toward the former rather than the latter.
The focus shifts noticeably from the 1980 timeline to the 1990 timeline and for good reason. History repeats itself as Attorney General Kindt and his crew pin the murder of Will on Tom, who conveniently shows up dead at Devil’s Den by apparent suicide. Anyone who watched the previous episode probably knows that’s a load of bullshit as Harrison James most likely offed Tom once he discovered the Pink Room.
Speaking of Harrison James, my suspicions about his ultimate fate proved true. Wayne discovered that Lucy called James multiple times in 1988 and James flew out to Vegas a day before Lucy was found dead of an “overdose.” It’s not hard to connect the dots from there. Not surprisingly, Hays pressures West into going after James, exploiting West’s guilt regarding Tom’s demise. Unfortunately for the duo, the intense interrogation (i.e. beating) West gives James in the barn goes sideways when James tries to kill Wayne and escape, which forces Roland to kill James. What’s maddening about this is that it appears as though James was about to confess what he knew. The subsequent heated exchange between Roland and Wayne is laced with racial overtones. Have to say I’m on Roland’s side regarding his anger as Wayne basically bullied him into going after James. Also can I just say how much Stephen Dorff is killing it in this show? Welcome back good sir.
The larger possible conspiracy regarding the Hoyt family comes into focus during the 2015 storyline. Relegated mostly to older Wayne freakouts and “True Criminal” interviews that seem to run in place constantly, it’s refreshing to see this timeline fleshed out. Wayne and Roland are successfully able to track down a housekeeper who worked at the Hoyt estate for years. A car wreck in 1977 resulted in the death of Edward Hoyt’s daughter and after that apparently everything changed. Mrs. Hoyt became reclusive and a one-eyed black man (hey where have we seen that before?!) began working at the house. The housekeeper refers to him only as “Mr. June.” Strangely, he’s the only one who has access to the lower levels of the Hoyt estate, presumably where the Pink Room was.
Although the audience knows the Hoyt family to be reclusive and odd, it’s not until this episode that the “why” starts to coalesce. In the midst of Elisa’s “True Criminal” interviews she suggests that what happened to Will and Julie could be part of a larger conspiracy regarding a child prostitution ring. The strange dolls previously introduced are symbolic of such groups. This implies of course, that the Hoyt family is part of this group and that Will and Julie were sold into sex slavery, possibly by their mother. Subsequently the Hoyt family uses its wealth and influence to make the case go away. Additionally, this one-eyed black man named “Mr. June” presumably oversees the nefarious dealings at the Hoyt homestead. Could he have been one of the ghosts in the picture supplied by Lucy’s friend that Amelia interviews? The evidence would certainly suggest so. (Sidenote: A tip of the hat to the showrunners who have Elisa mention a similar Louisiana case that connects directly to season one. It was nice Easter egg.)
What’s further intriguing about this episode is that the show introduces a fourth timeline where Wayne drops his daughter Rebecca off at college. It appears to be in the late 1990s or early 2000s. It’s the first time we see an older Rebecca. However, in one of the more frustrating moments of the episode we do not discover the rift between father and daughter that underscores this entire season. I have to believe it will play a major role in this week’s season finale. I hope this plot point isn’t a red herring that will ultimately lead nowhere.
Additionally I have to give credit to the showrunners for some of the dynamic ways this episode switches between timelines. Whether it’s the adjustment of the rear view mirror that goes from the Rebecca timeline to Tom’s body, or 2015 fading away after older Roland obtains a license plate from the car watching Wayne’s house into the 1990 timeline and Wayne burning his clothes, it’s damn near magical. Wayne is quite literally a man unstuck in time and the constant shifts between 1980, 1990, and 2015 takes the audience on a thrilling dementia journey where truth is subjective and time nebulous.
The end of “The Final Country” portends danger as the heretofore unseen Edward Hoyt calls Wayne and threatens his family. Hoyt reveals that he knows what Wayne and Roland did to Harrison James and persuades Hays to take a ride with Edward. (And for those wondering, yes that is the voice of Michael Rooker as Hoyt over the phone.) It’s not a stretch to assume that the upcoming conversation with Edward Hoyt causes Wayne to leave the force. Will Roland be there as well? What will transpire? So many questions still.
This week’s season finale looks to pack a wallop. However, with only an hour to spare this third season of True Detective still has a lot to wrap up. It begs the question of if fans of the show will be left wanting this Sunday after the credits roll. Stay tuned kids! I have a feeling it’s about to get messy.
You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1