'True Detective' Fans Are Convinced They Know Who Kidnapped Julie Purcell

by Ani Bundel

True Detective Season 3 has had murky waters all through the first half of the season. Trying to discern what's happening has been a little bit like Wayne Hays trying to remember the past in 2015. One minute it feels like all the clues are about to fall into place, and the next it's all gone, and you're trying to figure out which year it is based on Hays' hairstyle. But the ending to this week's episode was as damning a revelation as they come: Did the Hoyts kidnap Julie Purcell? Warning: Spoilers for True Detective Season 3 follow.

When the detectives visit Hoyt Foods in episode 3, the head of the company meets them over the Ozark Children's Outreach Charity putting out a $10,000 reward for any information on Julie Purcell's disappearance. He seems surprised the detectives think this wasn't a coordinated effort with their office, after all, the board talked to the county prosecutor's office, aka Kindt's office, before issuing it.

The charity, he reveals, is a nonprofit arm, which was started after Hoyt's only grandchild died a couple of years ago. There's a massive photo of the daughter and granddaughter on the wall, of a little girl who doesn't look much different from Julie.


This week, all this suddenly began to connect with everything else viewers knew about the mystery:

  • Julie Purcell is said to call herself "Mary" or "Mary Julie" or "Mary July." She says she grew up in a pink room in a castle.
  • Julie has no idea her brother died, saying "They left him resting" in the phone call. This is more evidence his death was an accident.
  • The kidnapper drove a fancy car, helped by a man with a dead eye, who turned up at Amelia's book reading, panicked she knew something.
  • Lucy Purcell was in on the kidnapping
  • Dan O'Brien reveals Lucy was given a lump sum a year to live by whoever she did it for, insisting she was killed for demanding more.
  • Eliza's continues to insistence everyone connected to this died: Lucy in 1988, Dan in 1990. Also, Harris James, a former cop turned head of private security, who disappeared after the detectives questioned him.

At the end of the episode, Tom Purcell tracks down Dan and demands to know the name of the person paying Lucy. The next thing viewers know he's at the Hoyt compound, which could easily become a "castle" in the mind of a child.

Purcell breaks in and slowly works his way downstairs to the basement, to an open walk-in safe, with a door at the other end of a hall. Inside, the walls are bright pink. And Harris James is coming up behind him to take Purcell down.

Kindt, who is shown as shutting the 1980 investigation down and pinning it on Woodard, has already decided the answer this time is to pin the crime on Tom. If Tom Purcell survives his discovery (and chances are he won't), walking into the safe and seeing where his daughter was held for all those years may have sealed the deal.

Too bad in 2015, Hays can't keep remembering all the clues he's dug up to put this together. But then again, maybe he already has.