The True Detective season 3 finale premieres tonight at 9/8c on HBO. The episode is titled “Now Am Found” and the Xfinity synopsis of tonight’s episode reads, “Wayne struggles to hold on to his memories, and his grip on reality, as the truth behind the Purcell case is finally revealed.”
Season 3 centers around Detective Wayne Hays, played by Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, who is a retired, 70-year-old Arkansas state police detective. Hays’ story, which plays out over three separate time periods covering the 1980s, 90s and 2000s, involves Hays attempting to uncover the unsettling story of two missing children in the Ozarks – Will and Julie Purcell.
Fans are hoping the finale will answer a slew of questions that have been nagging viewers for weeks, including what really happened to the Purcells (and if the case will finally be fully solved), how Hays’ wife Amelia dies, who/where Julie Purcell actually is, and the biggest question of all – who killed Will Purcell and kidnapped Julie?
If you aren’t completely caught up and don’t want anything spoiled for you, this is your OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING! Turn back now or proceed at your own risk. Otherwise continue reading for details regarding tonight’s episode with LIVE UPDATES throughout the season finale. Don’t forget to refresh the page every few minutes to keep up with the live spoilers.
The episode kicks off with Hays’ wife Amelia reading a bittersweet poem to her students with Hays watching lovingly from the doorway. The scene then cuts to Hays sitting in the backseat of a car with Edward before the two get out of the car and take a stroll through the woods while they talk about the Purcell case. Edward is angry that he keeps giving Hays “chance after chance” but Hays keeps throwing more “s–t in his face.”
Hays then asks Edward what he knows about Julie Purcell and if there is anything he’d like to “get off his chest,” and Edward replies, “I don’t know about Julie Purcell.” The two continue to exchange tense “confessions,” and Edward walks away with Hays shouting at him “just tell me what happened!” Edward shouts back, “I dunno what happened, do I look like a man with f–king answers?” The two exchange a few threats, with Edward accusing Hays of being a murderer and threatening his family.
The timeline jumps forward to old Hays and his partner Roland West questioning a woman on whether or not she had ever seen her husband with a man with one eye. The scene cuts to Hays and West driving and deciding to check out an area that they hadn’t looked at in the past. Hays tells West it’s his decision, since he’s now the head detective, before the timeline jumps backwards again to a younger West and Hays.
Hays is talking with two detectives about Amelia’s op-ed in the newspaper regarding the case. They say they are thinking about suing her. He is told he is going to write a statement denying everything his wife wrote, claiming she used his information without his consent, or risk being fired and blacklisted from working as a detective ever again.
Hays leaves the office and starts packing his desk up. West and Hays argue about his decision to leave, since Hays refused to sign the statement that Amelia lied. He defends Amelia’s op-ed to West and says he won’t “burn her.” Hays says he will “outlast the bulls–t” until everything blows over, and hopes he will eventually be able to be a detective again. West is visibly upset as Hays walks away.
The scene cuts back to Hays and West as old men cutting the chain of a gate to a private residence. West says they can claim they are “old and confused” if they get caught, and proceeds to drive them up to Isabel Hoyt’s home. They creep through the house to the pink room in the basement.
The two start to argue in the pink room before the scene cuts back to a younger version of Hays and his wife Amelia. She questions him about why he burned his suit at 3 a.m., and he replies “the bad part.” She urges him to give her the “hard truth” about what’s been going on, and he explains that he told her too much about the case when they first met. She is angry that he doesn’t want to tell her everything, and that he “sometimes does the wrong thing because that’s what [she] wants.” He goes on to explain that their entire marriage, their live together and their children are all tied up in the case about the missing girl and a dead boy.
The scene cuts over to West antagonizing a couple in a bar, and goads a man into punching him in the face by continuing to insult the man’s girlfriend. The two start to fight and several more people jump in and beat the tar out of West. The scene jumps back to Hays and Amelia, who tells Hays she wants him to quit being a detective, and wanted him to for a long time, and that he had so much potential to do whatever he wanted. He urges her to write a book instead of focusing on journalism, and Amelia cries. They decide to both just “walk away,” and try to get on with their lives.
Cut to a bloody and beaten up West sitting on the side of the road drinking a bottle of booze and yelling at a stray dog, before he breaks down in tears. The dog comes over to comfort him and a sweet moment of bonding occurs between a tearful West and the dog. The scene jumps forward again to an elderly Hays and West driving. They end up at interrogating Mr. Watts in a chicken coop, who says he’s been waiting for them to show up. They both have their guns drawn.
Mr. Watts tells the elderly detectives how he worked for Isabel Hoyt’s father, how he helped raise Isabel, and how Isabel lost her husband and daughter. Isabel stopped talking, became very heavily medicated, and how she eventually lost her mind and tried to grab a little girl from a family who was picnicking, claiming she reminded her of Mary, her dead daughter. She was obsessed with the little girl, who turned out to be Julie Purcell, so Mr. Watts talked to Julie’s mother Lucy and tried to set up a playdate so Isabel could spend time with Julie. Lucy agreed but wanted money, and she wanted Julie’s brother Will to come along as well, to keep an eye on her.
Isabel decided she wanted to adopt Julie (to give her a “better life”), and had started calling her Mary when they were spending time together. She wanted Mr. Watts to figure out what to do about Julie’s father, and Isabel continued to meet with the kids in the woods where they would play together. Apparently Isabel stopped taking her medication, and apparently Isabel decided she wanted to keep Julie and shoved Will away, who cracked his head on a rock and died. Mr. Watts helped arrange his body and the corn husk dolls to help the police find Will’s body. It was all apparently an “accident,” according to Mr. Watts.
Julie is the one who folded Will’s hands like he was praying. Mr. Watts had help from a detective who faked evidence by stashing Will’s backpack to pass his death off on the garbage man. The detective then told Lucy Purcell what happened and offered her a lot of money to stay quiet about everything. Lucy agreed and let Isabel keep her daughter. Julie eventually settled in to Isabel’s home and Mr. Watts said that everything was working out well with the little family. He “though she was happy,” but found out that Isabel was feeding Julie lithium since she was 10-years-old. She’d been drugged half her life and couldn’t figure out what was real and what wasn’t.
Mr. Watts helped Julie escape when she was older, after realizing what Isabel was doing and that Isabel was getting sicker and sicker. Isabel killed herself following Julie’s escape, and Mr. Watts didn’t see Julie again for over a decade. Julie went by the name Mary after she escaped and started working at a convent. A nun at the home said she had “disassociation issues” and said she was in bad shape when she arrived. The nun tells the old detectives that she had HIV and walked them to a grave marked Mary July.
Mr. Watts was devastated. He was hoping to meet Julie after she escaped, but never got the chance. He wanted to tell Hays what happened for years, and told him that he won’t fight if Hays and West want to kill him or take him in. He tells Hays he doesn’t want to live with the guilt anymore, and tells them to take him in, but Hays says he doesn’t have the authority and West tells him to kill himself if he doesn’t want to live with it anymore. They leave while the man shouts “punish me!” desperately from the doorway.
Hays and West visit her grave and tell her that her name was Julie Purcell, not Mary, and that she deserved better than the life she lived. A little girl runs up to the elderly men as they leave the cemetery, and the girl resembles little Julie Purcell. Neither of the men feel like they got closure from Mr. Watts’ story.
West asks Hays if he minds if he crashes with Hays a few days a week to keep him company, and the two embrace before West leaves. The scene cuts back to a young Hays and Amelia. Hays hands a box of Amelia’s stuff to her and tells her to get out of his house. He calls her an asshole and accuses her of using him to get details on the case. She denies it and they fight and she calls him a “mean drunk.” He tells her that he refused to sign the statement calling her a liar, she tells him to do it and she leaves.
Jump forward to elderly, sad Hays sleeping alone in his bed. He picks up his wife’s book, and Amelia’s voice narrates a clip of her book – a scene about a young boy who loved Julie and was devastated by her disappearance because he always thought he’d marry her when they grew up. Amelia appears and Hays listens to her theory of what actually happened to Julie at the convent, and he believes she may still be alive. Amelia’s ghost/Hays’ vision of Amelia puts it in his head that the nuns created a story to protect Julie, and that the little boy who loved Julie from school recognized her at the convent and the two might have run off together, and that the little girl he saw at the cemetery was actually Julie’s daughter.
Hays tracks down the girl’s father (whom he ran into while they were leaving the cemetery) and heads to his home to see if Julie is still alive. Sadly, Hays doesn’t recognize where he is and calls his son to tell him he’s lost. Hays doesn’t appear to realize that he was trying to track down Julie. He gets out of his car to ask the woman, who is actually Julie, where he is. He explains to Julie that he forgets where is sometimes, and she offers him some water.
As he drinks the water and looks at the little girl and Julie, he seems to be contemplating why he is there. His son pulls up to get him and hugs him tightly. His daughter gets out to greet him as well, and she tells him how different everything feels. He asks her to stay longer, and then asks her if he “lost her,” and they have a bittersweet exchange.
While Hays goes outside to play with his grandchildren, his son contemplates the address Hays gave him when he was lost (Julie’s house). West pulls up and they are all sitting on the porch and enjoying the weather when Hays has one last flashback.
He is sitting in the bar when Amelia comes up to him to let him know that she won’t tolerate him talking to her the way he did when he kicked her out. She asks him for a “do-over” and if he really meant that he wanted to stop seeing each other. She tells him he has to decide what he wants, and he tells her that he wants to marry her while he cries. He also decides to become sober, and she takes him home.
The final scene cuts back to his time as a tracker in the military and he disappears into the woods.
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