True Detective Season 3 is a rough case. The roughness doesn't just come from focusing on the mystery of a dead boy and a missing girl, who was accidentally written off as dead for a decade, though in many cases that would be plenty. As the episodes go on, it becomes clear there are so many other dynamics at play. Racism, sexism, religion, and guilt all intertwine to create this melange of ugly. One of the uglier moments this week involved Freddy Burns being brought back in for questioning. Who is Freddy Burns on True Detective? Warning: Spoilers for True Detective Season 3 follow.
In the opening scenes of the first episode, Freddy Burns is seen driving a brightly colored Volkswagen bug, with several of his buddies, out to the edge of town where they drink beer and get high. On the way out, he sees Will and Julie Purcell bike by. Later, in a disconnected scene, Freddy is shown on Will's bike drunkenly messing around on it.
At some point, West and Hays were going to put these things together and assume the worst. Burns was already questioned once, early on, but that was before his fingerprints were confirmed to be on the crushed hull of the bike.
The scene where Hays and West drag in a terrified Freddy is horrifying. Hays repeatedly reminds the kid that as a skinny, long-haired teenager, his chances of being raped in prison are high. West is a little bit more of a good cop, suggesting if the kid tells them everything he might get them on Team "Keep Freddy Out Of Jail."
But in the middle of all this bullying, both detectives seem to miss Freddy, in his terrified state drops one hell of a clue about Julie and Will.
Up until now, these were the facts:
- Will and Julie were befriended by adults who gave them presents.
- They were groomed to trust these adults and lie about them.
- They lied to their dad to meet with these adults.
- Julie disappeared. Will was killed and his body dressed in a creepy manner.
But Freddy contradicts this narrative.
According to Freddy, he saw the kids riding out of town. But then, later, while drunk at the water tower, Will came up to him, on his bike, frantically looking for his sister. Julie was not with him.
Freddy, being a drunk teenager, shoved the crying, scared kid and took the bike to play with it. Will ran off, into the woods.
In short, Freddy reveals the story is not what the cops believe it to be.
- The people who took Julie didn't kill Will. They left him behind.
- Will's death could have been entirely unrelated to Julie's kidnapping.
Considering how Will was found, everyone assumes he was murdered. But if Julie and her kidnappers were gone, who killed him? What if it wasn't murder? What if some poor moron found the dead child, who bled out after hitting his head, and placed him in the cave as a form of burial instead of calling the cops?