Sunday, January 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'True Detective' - Hays and West Learn More About the Secrets the Purcell Children Kept in 'The Big Never'

HBO's True Detective - Episode 3.03 "The Big Never"

Hays recalls his early romance with Amelia, as well as cracks in their relationship that surfaced after they married and had children. Ten years after the Purcell crimes, new evidence emerges, giving him a second chance to vindicate himself and the investigation.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's True Detective.

"The Big Never" was written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Daniel Sackheim

This season is still mostly just inching its main investigation forward. That's the primary driving factor in each separate time period. The show is introducing more and more details that complicate every version of this story. Sure, there are still some strong character beats about how all of this impacts the characters. However, most of the time is still spent on characters either being interviewed about the Purcell case or just looking around for new clues in order to help the investigation. In 1980, Hays and West find the toys that Will and Julie were playing with in secret. In fact, they discover that the children have been lying for a long time about what they've doing doing after school. Everyone has been deceived by them. They were close with each other. But they kept many secrets. Hays only now finds the location where Will was killed. It happened at the same spot where they went to play this game. That would make it seem like it immediately happened. That's a new potential clue. So is the fact that Will's body was positioned in the same way as his confirmation photo. That could tease that it was someone with a personal relationship with the family who tried to take the children. Those are the big developments in that time period. Elsewhere, it's fascinating to see how the longer this mystery goes on the more damage it does in this community. Brett Woodard is attacked by a bunch of white men who believe he doesn't belong here. That's such a potent and timely image. Woodard earned the respect of the detectives because of his service in the war. And now, he is being ostracized by the community because he doesn't conform to their ideas of normalcy in this part of the world. They make the association between him collecting trash and his interest in children. There is no correlation whatsoever. And yet, the show would like the audience to keep an eye on him because he may also be up to something. That's one of the ways in which this central case is seeping into the minds of the people in this community. It's also understandable in 1990 when Hays fears that his own daughter has been taken when they are shopping at Walmart. This isn't a store he likes at all because it's simply too big. He needs to keep a close watch on his children because of the chaos inside. He is quick to act when he believes the worst has happen. But nothing ultimately does. Rebecca just wandered off for a bit. She is perfectly fine. However, this moment sours Hays' mood for the rest of the day. Amelia is out there getting new information from the police about Julie's fingerprints that have been discovered. Meanwhile, he suddenly becomes dismissive and upset. But that doesn't stop him from rejoining the task force when West invites him to reopen the case.

Moreover, this continues to prove how Hays' life has been consumed with darkness because of this case even though it didn't only change him. Sure, this season is primarily about Hays. Mahershala Ali is giving the starring performance. He's the central figure of everything. However, it's still intriguing to see how all of this impacts life for West and Amelia as well. In 1990, Hays is still with the force but working a desk job. He is no longer a member of the major crimes unit. It's inferred that it's because of his handling of the Purcell case and troubles with his memory. That doesn't stop West from making that offer to him again. He is seen for the first time in 1990 here. He has become a lieutenant. He is now the man in charge of leading the investigation. Meanwhile, Amelia is an active partner with Hays in trying to understand the new break in the case. She believes she can get access to classified information because of the book she has written. It gives her a perspective as a journalist that could really be beneficial in this investigation. Hays just doesn't want to hear anything about it simply because she comes home too happy following the uncertain day he has just had with his children. Both of these characters remain missing components in 2015 though. It's still all about Hays and his son, Henry. They keep going back-and-forth on whether Hays should be during this interview. Henry still sees it as a potential setup to get his father to say something embarrassing about this case that proves the producer's point of several injustices happening that prevented the case from being solved. There is a tease throughout all of the time periods that there was someone in town actively interfering with the investigation. Someone was going around town posing as a police officer and collecting information just so the truth wouldn't make it to the actual detectives. Moreover, there were people who had important information but were never interviewed by the detectives. All of this may serve as evidence that Hays isn't as good a detective as everyone claims him to be. He is an expert tracker. He finds all of the important clues in the woods. But in 2015, he remains haunted about some potential clues that he seemingly overlooked now that he can no longer remember them. That too is so distressing. Of course, it's also just a lot of empty teases especially in the moment when Amelia appears as a hallucination to mention that Hays once buried something with this case. That character defect could prove very important. It just shouldn't be hidden for too long.