True Detective: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

“You ever been someplace you couldn’t leave and you couldn’t stay, both at the same time?”

We’ve got our case. Now let’s look at our suspects.

There are three main suspects in the murder of Will Purcell and the abduction of his sister Julie. The prime one seems to be Brett Woodard, a local scrap collector and Vietnam vet. The guy’s wife left him and took his own son and daughter away, and he’s clearly still feeling the effects of the war. I get the feeling Hays sees him as something of a kindred spirit. In the previous episode, 70-year old Hays cuts the interview short and asks the documentary crew to leave when Woodard is brought up.

Next we have Dan O’Brian, Lucy Purcell’s cousin who stayed in Will’s room several months before the children’s abduction. Neither Tom nor Lucy are suspicious of him, and his story seems legit when Hays and West question him at the funeral. However, there is a strong suggestion of incestuous feelings toward Lucy on his part; he thinks Tom isn’t a strong enough man for her and it’s unlikely Will was the one who made that peep hole in his closet with a clear view of Lucy’s vanity mirror. I wouldn’t be surprised, considering the last two seasons dealt with incest as well.

Lastly, there is Freddy Burns and his two friends, the teenage boys who were among the last people to see Will and Julie before they were taken. At first, they don’t seem too suspicious aside from the hard glares they direct at the two kids in passing. But Amelia later sees Freddy appearing to threaten one of the other boys in the schoolyard, so who knows?

I get the feeling none of these guys were the bedsheets ghosts that Julie’s friend saw during Halloween, who gave Julie one of the angel dolls Hays discovered near Will’s body.

It probably won’t matter, though, since Hays and West’s superiors decide to make their and Amelia’s discoveries known to the public, which only succeeds in stoking the people of West Finger’s fear and paranoia. And seeing as how the townsfolk were already suspicious of Woodard, I’m sensing a witch hunt on the horizon. This might be foreshadowed by the title of the book Amelia eventually writes, Life and Death and the Harvest Moon: Murder, Child Abduction and the Community It Destroyed.

This is rightfully a character building episode, and I most enjoyed that aspect with Hays and Amelia in 1980. The scene where they get to know each other at the bar was my favorite part. Despite being very different people, they have immediate chemistry and know it.

I also like that this story touches on something the previous seasons did as well, which is that a good detective doesn’t necessarily have to be a member of law enforcement. This is displayed with Amelia, who becomes involved in the case when she helps Hays and West question the local children and gains their first big clue. Hays later regards her novel as being a testament to her skills as an investigator.

Although, it is unknown if Amelia becomes aware of the seedier dimensions of the case that Hays and West delve into. They weather their sleepless nights with Benzedrine and eagerly employ some enhanced interrogation techniques on a local sex offender who turns out to have nothing to do with the kidnappings.

Instead, we get another haunting development in the case when Tom and Lucy receive a cryptic letter stating that Julie is safe and advising them to let go rather than look for her. Not good.

We know the Purcells will likely never just let it go. No more than Hays can. It’s shown in all three stages of his life that he is incapable of letting the case die. Even as an old man in the throes of dementia, it isn’t over for him. In the end, he unwittingly finds himself standing outside the ruins of what was once the Purcell house on Shoepick Street in the middle of the night. Talk about haunting.

Bits and Pieces:

* Hays is a fan of Batman and Silver Surfer. He also loved Star Wars and does a funny lightsaber impression to put Mike at ease. Which reminded me that Mahershala Ali also did an “I am your father” impression in The Place Beyond the Pines.

* The child actors aren’t the best this season, but I thought the kid who played Julie’s distraught friend Mike did a good job.

* Scoot McNairy has a habit of being a standout actor in just about everything he appears in, and this is no exception. His performance as Tom Purcell is heartbreaking.

* The makeup used to give Mahershala Ali the appearance of an old man is really good.

* Tom’s mother believes Lucy cheated on Tom while he was working in Texas and that Julie isn’t his biological daughter. Maybe another hint at the possible incest between Lucy and Dan.

* The decision by the District Attorney to publicize the Halloween clue was an obvious mistake, but I felt he had a point about Hays and West’s plan to simply go door to door asking to search the neighborhood was also questionable. It was a very gray dilemma.

* Old Hays states that he didn’t feel his opinions were ignored on account of his race during the investigations, but his 35-year old self angrily voices this belief to West after the DA ignores their opinions. Which makes me wonder if he simply doesn’t remember it in 2015 or if he’s decided he was wrong in the years since.

* While he lives with his son Henry in 2015, Hays seems to have become estranged from his daughter Rebecca and longs to reconnect with her.

Quotes:

Jim Dobkins: Mr. Hays, the purpose of this deposition is to give a statement, not to extract one from us.
45-year old Hays: I’m pretty easy-going, but go away already.

Woodard: I miss when “Don’t get killed” was the only thing on my to-do-list.
Hays: It’s hard to unplug from that.

West: Do you like kids, generally?
Woodard: Do I— What the fuck kind of question is that?
I’m with Woodard on this. What exactly is the right answer to that question in a scenario like this?

Elisa Montgomery: Can I ask, with what happened in 1990 and you leaving the force, did you ever feel your leads and theories were discounted because of your race?
70-year old Hays: Not particularly, no. Why?
Elisa: Well, I’m interested in the intersectionality of marginalized groups in authoritarian and systemic racist structures.
The look old Hays gives Henry after this was too funny.

West: It’s all maybes, man. You do the maybe that gives you a shot.

70-year old Hays: I never stopped coming up with theories about that case.

West: That was a vivid description of prison rape. Jesus.
Hays: Could tell he had the racial thing. Remember what he said in the barn?
West: Still. It’s gonna haunt me.
Me too.

I’m even more eager to see where this story goes, and where it takes these characters. Five out of five bennies.

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