I guess we shouldn’t have expect the season three finale of True Detective to be anything less than controversial, huh?
With “Now Am Found,” this season of True Detective once again comes to a close with a somewhat frustrating, somewhat insightful conclusion that certainly has fans split right down the middle. Personally, I see that appeal of both sides of the argument but can’t deny that, as a whole, True Detective: Season One still feels like a far superior story.
In actuality, the parenthesis isn’t really needed there, because talking is all they really do.
Hoyt knows that Wayne and Roland killed Harris, but he also drops enough subtle clues to reveal that he may or may not know what happened to Julie. He’ll leave Wayne’s family and that secret alone if Wayne stops pursuing the case.
And then, that’s it for Michael Rooker, as he leaves Wayne in the woods and doesn’t factor into the rest of the episode. It’s a very True Detective-ish kind of performance, for sure, but it still leaves something to be desired.
That message gets through to 1990’s Wayne (sort of), but not 2015 Wayne and Roland, as we see them burst into Hoyt’s now abandoned house.
You can probably guess what they find.
There, in all its glory, is the pink room in which Tom was killed, with a bunch of pictures, drawings and other items that clearly belonged to Julie.
Roland is a bit upset that it took them this long to find it, but another trip back to 1990 reveals just how much this case consumed their lives and why, at the time, quitting was the only option they had.
Wayne and Amelia are at a bar, talking things over to the point where they’re debating where their lives can go from here. Is there any world in which they can possibly stay together? Maybe, but only if they both walk away from this case and don’t look back.
“This case,” Wayne finally says. “It’s not ours,” as they agree to drop it.
Roland comes to a similar conclusion by himself after picking a fight in a bar, beating the hell out of some dudes and ending up in the back alley crying by himself apart from a stray dog who kindly greets our fallen detective.
Speaking of sad realizations, 1980’s Wayne also comes to one of his own after he’s forced out of the department for not admitting everything Amelia wrote in her book is a lie (they are, at this point, pretty heavily in love after all).
It’s a great moment because we already knew he was forced out of being a detective in 1980 after refusing to let some things go, but here we actually see how. The department forced him into a desk job regarding public information, even though Wayne hates paperwork and hates the public even more.
There’s even a bitter-sweet moment where, right before Wayne leaves, he tells Roland that they’re still going to keep in touch outside of work, even though we know that not to be true for the next decade.
The answers finally start rolling in during the 2015 time.
Roland and Wayne find the address of the one-eyed black man and pay him a visit. The man, who they quickly confirm to be Junius Watts, isn’t too surprised to see them. In fact, he’s been waiting for them to show up ever since their first confirmation back in 1980.
He takes them inside and explains everything. Edward Hoyt had a daughter named Isabel (Lauren Sweetser). Isabel had a daughter of her own, Mary, who was tragically killed in a car accident at a very young age. Isabel had a hard time processing that event but, upon seeing Julie outside her father’s company one day when Lucy was returning home from work, she was quickly reminded her of Mary.
A deal was struck between Lucy, Isabel and Watts. Watts would use Edward’s money to pay Lucy to allow Isabel and Julie to hang out for a while. They’d meet in the woods a couple days after school, with Will tagging along just to make sure Julie wouldn’t get hurt.
After a while, Isabel became so attached to Julie that she decided to kidnap and eventually adopt her. Will tried to intervene, but Isabel pushed him away. He accidentally hit his head on a rock and died. Wanting to appease Julie’s startled cries, Watts took the body away and placed it in a cave.
Julie was then brought to the pink room, which is where she stayed for another three of four years. She was kept compliant by the massive amount of drugs Isabel gave her, to the point where Julie started believing she was actually Isabel’s daughter.
Once she grew up, though, she started remembering the truth and wanted to escape. Feeling guilty for everything that happened, Watts helped her do so, which drove Isabel completely mad and eventually brought her to suicide.
Julie was supposed to meet Watts at a house a few days after her escape, but she never showed. Trying to find her for a number of years, Watts was eventually led to the convent. There, he found the gravestone of “Mary July,” who he quickly deduced to be Julie. She died, he was told, of HIV in 1995.
Emotional and guilt-struck, Watts begs for Wayne and Roland to end his life right there, but they don’t. It’s True Detective, after all, so they’re going to make him live with the sins he committed.
The two detectives visit Mary’s grave and confirm everything Watts said is true. Before leaving, they bump into a little girl named Lucy, but don’t think anything of it (like, come on guys). They go back to Wayne’s house, Roland makes a proposal to move in the backroom given that they’re getting so old and they share a meaningful hug. All that means that things should be coming to a close now, right?
But the story isn’t over yet.
In one of Wayne’s visions, Amelia comes to him and asks him to consider something. What if Julie isn’t really dead? What if she faked her death in fear that someone might put the pieces together and come looking for her? What if that little girl, Lucy, wasn’t just some kind of crazy coincidence?
“Wouldn’t that be a story worth telling?” Amelia asks.
Wayne goes back to the convent and gets the address of the man — who happens to be Mike, the little boy who knew Julie was out trick-or-treating that night from earlier in the season — Lucy was with.
He heads to her house and, sure enough, finds Lucy and an older woman who he presumes to be Julie in the front yard, gardening.
There’s one problem. Right when Wayne is coming to all these realizations, his dementia hits. Suddenly, he’s sitting in front of a strangers house with no idea why he’s here or where he is.
He gets out of the car and approaches the woman — Julie — to ask for her phone. The two almost share a look of recognition, but it doesn’t last for too long.
Wayne’s son and, surprisingly enough, his daughter
That’s the only kind of resolution we’re going to get on this case. You be the judge on whether or not it’s a satisfying ending or if True Detective just through us for an eight-episode loop. Again, I see both sides, but still prefer season one.
The last scene from this HBO True Detective season goes out on a bit of a hopeful note in 1980, in which Amelia finds a very drunk Wayne sitting at a bat. Like 1990, they have a discussion on whether or not this case will destroy them or if they should break up. With both of them in tears, Wayne figures now is as good of a time as any to propose.
We end with the two of them walking out of the bar, followed by a brief shot of Wayne in Vietnam, walking out into the jungle to track down the enemy.
Cut to black.
What do you think? Was this season of True Detective worth the ride, or were you disappointed by it all? Anyone else find it a little weird that Amelia’s ghost was the one who solved the whole thing, and that if it wasn’t for Wayne’s dementia this case probably would have been wrapped up a long, long time ago? Or is it just me?
Either way, let us know what you think in the comments below, and check out some of our other True Detective recaps by clicking here.