True Detective: The Final Country

“Me and my goddamn work ethic.”

The theme song for this season is a cover of the Son House song “Death Letter.” It’s about a man left depressed upon learning of the death of a loved one. There’s particularly a line about how there “Ain’t no satisfaction, don’t care what in the world you do.” That’s the feeling I’m getting from this story.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been thoroughly satisfied with the quality of this season. I mean this more for the characters. I think even if they manage to finally solve the Purcell case, there won’t be any real satisfaction for Hays and West. As West explains in this very episode, detective work isn’t really supposed to be therapy for the detective. And to paraphrase a great character from The Wire, the job will not save you.

Yet it seems that’s what they’re trying to do in the 2015 arc. Trying to atone for the past by finally closing the case. Either that or Old Hays just doesn’t feel right about going to his grave still haunted by this one lingering loose end; Old West just appears to be going along to back up his partner.

I can sort of understand why, considering the way they seem to have left things in 1990. As I expected, Tom Purcell is discreetly murdered after making his discovery in the Hoyt estate. His death is framed as a suicide, which along with the disappearance of Dan O’Brien, effectively halts the second Purcell case.

Hays, of course, is obsessed and won’t let it go. He keeps digging and finds evidence linking Harris James to Lucy Purcell’s death. Then he uses Tom’s death to coerce West into going rogue with him, abducting James and submitting him to their old enhanced interrogation routine at the barn.

And the investigation is literally stopped dead again when James manages to attack Hays and is shot dead by West, leading to the detectives’ falling out after they bury the body in the woods.

What really ends it, though, is what happens after. Hays gets a call from the mysterious Edward Hoyt, who somehow knows everything that transpired with Harris James and wants to talk. Feeling trapped, Hays has no choice but to submit to his demands and leaves his family to go for an ominous car ride with Hoyt.

We know that, following this encounter, Hays dropped the Purcell case for the next 25 years and Amelia gave up the idea of writing a sequel to her first book. And it seems unlikely that Hoyt elaborated on just what the hell his motives were.

This leaves us with only the 2015 arc now, where Old Hays and West seem to be close to solving this mystery. But to what end? Is Hoyt even alive at this point? Clearly we’re meant to think that dark sedan that’s watching Hays’ house is there on his behalf, but as West pointed out, it could just as easily be someone else. I think the best they could hope for is finally learning what happened to Julie, who would now be a middle-aged woman if she’s still alive.

It seems that in both the 1980 scenario and the one in ’90, Hays damned himself with his stubborn commitment to a shut case. It’s implied here that what really got him the shaft in ’80 was feeding Amelia information on the case for her book so people would know it wasn’t fully solved. And in ’90, his determination to get it right the second time compelled him to manipulate West into helping him overstep their bounds, which resulted in them killing a man and Hoyt putting an end to their investigation.

The same thing is happening in 2015, with Old Hays’ drive to finally end the case despite Old West’s reservations and his own increasingly alarming dementia. Which is why I’m wondering if there really is any absolution to be found at the end of this, or just more regret and despair.


Bits and Pieces:

* We get our first reference to a previous season, when Elisa makes a correlation between Marty Hart and Rustin Cohle’s case in 2012 and the conspiracy behind the Purcell cases. Not gonna lie, I got giddy at that.

* The one-eyed black man is apparently named Watts aka “Mr. June.” Thinking this is why Julie used the aliases “Mary July” and “Julie July.” Elisa speculates that he was a “procurer” for a pedophile ring.

* A housemaid who worked for the Hoyt family gave Old Hays and West some telling details about our new suspects. The Hoyts were a family lucky in business but nothing else. Hoyt’s disturbed daughter Isabelle was confined to the main house. She had the basement level all to herself where she was attended to by “Mr. June.” Come 1981, none of the servants and staff were permitted to go down into the basement level besides Mr. June. Considering she seems to have attempted an escape at one point, I’m thinking Isabelle and Julie Purcell were kept down there with Mr. June in the pink rooms around the same time.

* I thought Hoyt would end up being played somebody recognizable. Was pleasantly surprised to discover it is Michael Rooker. Should have known by that soft but raspy and authoritative voice. This just makes the character all the more menacing.

Quotes:

Elisa: It’s like 1980, isn’t it? A sudden act of violence. A dead man. And the case is closed.
Old Hays: Guess I never thought of it that way.
(cut to)
Hays (1990): It’s like 1980 again. They’re gonna hang it on a dead suspect.

West (1990): Let go. This is our job. It ain’t here to make you right, and it’s not the place you work out your shit.

Amelia: Have you ever read In Cold Blood?
Hays: Is that Batman or The Silver Surfer?

West (1990): Guess what word I’m thinking of right now?
Hays (1990): Say it then. Say it, motherfucker!
West (1990): No. I just want you to know I’m thinking it.
This was both sad and funny.

Four out of five black sedans.

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