Sunday, February 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'True Detective' - As One Investigation Comes to a Close, Another Hits New Complications in 'If You Have Ghosts'

HBO's True Detective - Episode 3.05 "If You Have Ghosts"

Wayne finds himself in a no-win situation as new clues emerge in the Purcell case. Roland wrestles with how to keep evidence secure as lawyers demand a new investigation. Amelia finds her relationship with Wayne imperiled by her writing aspirations and his jealousy.

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. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's True Detective.

"If You Have Ghosts" was written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Nic Pizzolatto

Answers are finally starting to come in about the various outcomes of each respective investigation in the narrative this year. The narrative structure of three time periods has meant the characters had to talk around certain events. This episode reveals that Wayne and Roland were able to close the case in 1980 by charging Brett Woodard for the central crime following his death. Things reached an explosive ending in the previous episode with Woodard arming himself against the town that was targeting him as a pedophile. He was well-prepared to attack the people who wished him harm. He always claimed his innocence in the Purcell case. However, he still kills a number of people here - including some police officers. Roland is shot in the leg. Wayne is the only person he spares during this assault. He does so because he felt a connection with him as the only person who truly accepted his innocence. Of course, Wayne is too busy having sex with Amelia in the aftermath to look closely at the case that immediately presents itself damning Woodard for every horrible thing that has happened in this town. It ultimately didn't matter that Julie's body was never recovered. The police simply had all the evidence they needed after collecting it from Woodard's torn-apart home. Wayne and Roland were the few survivors. That moment then put them on their current paths in 1990. Of course, this is a very haunting moment as well because Woodard forces Wayne to shoot and kill him. It's not something that Wayne wants to do. He figures that Woodard could still get help and not have to deal with too many consequences for his actions here. He could have presented that case too if he hadn't killed police officers. If he was just defending himself, then this could have been explained away. Instead, he saw this as his final stand. He was proud to take it. It just means Wayne has to live with this decision. That changes his mind as well. Moreover, the narrative is really pointing out how Wayne is a demanding individual who likes to bully people into doing whatever he deems best. In 1990, Amelia wants to learn more about the reopened case during a dinner with Roland and his girlfriend. Wayne shuts her down completely. He doesn't believe she is entitled to this information simply because she hopes to exploit it even more after writing a book about the case. Wayne is so stubborn in that regard. The narrative really makes it seem that he hasn't read the book until he is in old age and suffering from dementia. It's a powerful tool for him that brings back all of these memories. His issues with that help explain why he doesn't recall everything in this case. That means Elisa is still providing him with new clues while Roland has to talk around the conclusion of the case in 1990. However, it was drastic enough for Wayne and Roland to stop being friends for the next 25 years.

But again, the Purcell case is so all-consuming to many of the individuals in this story. It is the sole thing that defines their lives for years. Tom is perpetually in grief. His children were taken from him and his wife died. He is all by himself. He has relied on Roland for support. However, his world is coming apart once more with the reveal that Julie is still alive. Moreover, the woman Wayne noticed in the security footage may actually be her. It's even more pivotal when she calls in to the police tip line. However, that may only add to the questions pertaining to this mystery. In 2015, Wayne thinks Julie could still be alive and found. He is still searching for those answers. In 1990, Julie calls in to say that the man making such a public display as her father should stop doing so because he isn't her father. It's so confusing to Tom. And yet, the narrative also wants the audience to be concerned about Julie and how she has experienced the world. She may be living on the streets and wandering around looking for her lost brother. She may not even know that Will is dead. To the rest of the world, that's a closed case. His body was discovered and a man was found guilty of the crime. Only now does Wayne realize that the evidence found at Woodard's house was probably planted there by whomever actually committed the crime. The evidence is still being misled in some major and destructive ways. But again, that doesn't explain how Julie is all by herself in 1990 or what action Wayne and Roland feel like they have to do that they then can't talk about. Wayne is giving himself openly to the producers in 2015 just because he still wants clarity in this case. He needs to solve it. It's the one thing that he needs to do before he dies. He doesn't see himself as someone whose failing health could compromise him in some significant ways. He believes he can still stir up trouble. He wants to investigate with Roland once more. However, that doesn't interest Roland at all. He accepts Wayne's apology for the past he has forgotten about. In the present though, he is simply searching for a friend. He has become a lonely man in the woods who cares for dogs and nothing else. He would like Wayne back in his life. But all of this punctuates how this is a tragic story because everyone associated with this case is forever scarred by it and incapable of ever truly evolving beyond it. That stunt in emotional growth has truly troubled so many people in this world.