True Detective Season 3: Theories, Easter Eggs, and Awards

TV

“The harvest moon cloaked the expansive Ozark wilderness with an odd milky glow. The steps of the search party crunched the dead leaves beneath their feet, creating a dull roar in the still night.” *Takes long drag of cigarette, stares out the window searchingly, a sad saxophone swells*

Sorry, I was just doing a little light roleplaying as True Detective writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto. To get into character, I went outside and starred into the eye of a dead raccoon I found in the street while pounding cans of Lone Star. Anyway, welcome to the True Detective Awards! Each week, we’ll be breaking down all of the big moments from True Detective Season 3, honoring each episode’s best, strangest, and most hard-boiled scenes with completely arbitrary, silly awards that I made up. Sound good? Great. Let’s get started! 

Spoilers abound, you’ve been warned.

Episodes 1: The Great War and Modern Memory

Episode 2: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

The Rust Cole WTF Award

The “Rust Cole WTF Award,” is handed to the scene, image, or line of dialogue that inspires the biggest “Yo, WTF!?!?!?!?!” reaction in a given episode, and in the premiere episode of Season 3, “The Great War and Modern Memory,” the “Rust Cole WTF Award,” goes to the discovery of the peephole in Will Purcell’s closet. I’m pretty sure that the peephole looked directly into his sister’s room, and I don’t have to tell you why that’s a problem.

Now, it may not be exactly what it seems. Tom and his wife Lucy mention that a cousin named Dan O’Brien was staying with the family and sleeping in Will’s room. Perhaps Dan or even Lucy were peeping on Dan instead. That’s still not great, but it’s better than the alternative. I don’t necessarily believe that either parent had anything to do with the disappearance of the children, but that unsettling little ray of light shining through that closet wall tells me we’re not dealing with Mom and Dad of the year.

In episode two, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” the award handily goes to “You will bleed black c***,” which I have to agree with Roland, is a vivid description indeed. Let’s move on to our next award, shall we? 

True Detective Suspect of the Week

Self-explanatory, innit? Lots of suspects are presented to us in the premiere. There’s “that garbage man” Brett Woodard, teenager Freddie Burns and his friends, along with the previously mentioned parents and cousin Dan, and finally, pedophile Ted LaGrange. But look, mama didn’t raise no fool; I’m not placing my bets on any of these chumps as our culprit until I get some more evidence, dammit. I’m a True Detective detective, I don’t make hasty calls until I see some creep riding around shirtless on a riding lawnmower or something, OK? I really suspect the cousin, Dan O’Brien, because of the peephole, but also when interviewed in episode two, he radiated bad vibes. Also, that coat he was wearing alone makes him a suspect, you know what I mean?

further reading: True Detective Season 3: A History of the Occult in the Ozarks

Anway, I’m also suspicious of the kid in the Black Sabbath t-shirt, just cause it’s clear that he knows more than he’s letting on, and again in episode two, is seen getting pushed around by Freddie, possibily because he’s cracking up. Woodard, though super uncomfortable, just seems too obvious to me, even though I realize creepy go-kart full of trash isn’t too far off from creepy riding lawnmower, but just trust me on this one. And Ted LaGrange, as much of a creep as he is, is a classic red herring. I’m not ready to make a call on this one just yet.

Time Is a Flat Circle Award

The “Time Is a Flat Circle Award” goes to a scene, image, or line of dialogue that it is reminiscent of or feels directly lifted from True Detective Season 1. It’s no secret that HBO and Co. have planned True Detective Season 3 to be as spiritually close to True Detective’s first season as humanly possible, after Season 2 turned out to be a long, confused, drawn-out fart in the wind that almost sank the entire enterprise. If it worked in the first time around, we’re likely going to see something similar this time.

This week’s “Time Is a Flat Circle Award” winner is the scary corn dolls! (Full disclosure I just typed corn dolls, thought of corndogs, and got extremely hungry.) Like a cousin to Season 1’s devil traps, these corn dolls are eerie little bastards that look like brides and lead the way to the discover of Will’s body, lying with his hands folded as if in prayer. Just like in the inaugural season, these husks are surely meant to allude to some occultist tomfoolery surrounding this murder.

further reading: True Detective Season 3 Timelines Explained

In episode two, the documentarian mentions connections to a possible child pornography ring in the area and suggests that straw dolls might even be a sigil for pedophile groups. She also mentions something called the Franklin scandal which apparently ensnared VIPs from President Reagan and Bush administrations. Whether any of this amounts to anything or if these are just meant to throw off the scent remains to be seen, but in the True Detective universe, killers are incredibly crafty bastards.

The Yellow King Easter Egg Award

The “Yellow King Easter Egg Award” goes to a scene, image, or line of dialogue that will inspire reckless speculation, over-analyzation, or unfounded fan theories. Remember how out of control everyone got with all of that Yellow King business during True Detective’s first season? The internet was so hungry to believe that Matthew McConaughey’s dark philosophical musings were signifiers that something supernatural or other-worldly was happening that at times, the theoretical interpretations of the show sometimes eclipsed the actual experience of watching the series.

In episode one, the award goes to Robert Penn Warren’s poem, “Tell Me a Story,” which was being taught in Ms. Reardon’s classroom. It makes sense that Pizzolatto would feature this poem, as its main themes are focused on the passing of time and looking toward your past, and Warren is losing his memory in the present-day storyline and is being asked to reflect on the case in both that timeline and the 1990 timeline.

read more: True Detective Season 3 Opening Credits Explained

But what if the poem has a deeper significance?! Robert Penn Warren was blind in one eye since birth, what if our suspect also is blinded in one eye? What is the significance of our lead and the poet sharing the name of Warren? WHAT IF THE GHOST OF ROBERT PENN WARREN IS LEADING A CORN-WORSHIPPING DEATH CULT?!?!

Ahem, excuse me. Now in episode two, the award goes to a passing mention of “crooked spiral” iconography by documentary producer Elisa Montgomery. Season 1 fans will remember the crooked spiral popping up all over the place, specifically carved in the back of victim Dora Lange and in hallucinations that Rust Cohle has and in and around Carcosa. This could mean that the crimes in seasons 1 and 3 are connected, or at least confirmation that these stories take place in the same universe. Or maybe it means that the Yellow King is still reigning?!?

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Predatory Vermin Award” goes to….Foxes!

– The “Best Character Name Award” goes to…Roland West!

– The “Best Actor Name Award” goes to…Scoot McNairy!

– The “Best Character Nickname Award” goes to…Purple Hays!

– The “Watch the Leather Award” goes to…the purple Volkswagen Beetle!

– The “Kids Who Shouldn’t Go Out Riding Their Bikes in the ‘80s Award” goes to…kids named Will!

Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.

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