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The Latest True Detective Twist Explains the Real Reason the Purcell Case Was Never Solved
Roland West and Wayne Hays really fucked this up. Yes, they’re good cops with the best of intentions, but they really fucked up this investigation. Certainly it’s not entirely their fault, but in the Seventh Episode of Season Three, we finally learn the real reason the Purcell case was never solved.
Back in 1980, the Purcell case was closed because the powers that be forced West and Hays to pin the murder on Woodard by planting evidence on his property after a shootout with the cops. Flash-forward to 1990, when we learn Julie is still alive, and a mysterious call seems to implicate Tom Purcell as behind the whole thing. At the end of Episode Six, we see Tom snooping around the Hoyt property, where he comes across a pink room that appears to be where Julie was being held. But, after we last see him with the head of Hoyt security, Harris James, sneaking up behind him, Tom Purcell turns up dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Just like in 1980, investigators are quick to pin the crime on the dead Tom Purcell despite protests from West and Hays.
This leaves West and Hays in a frustrating position. This case is still unsolved, but their superiors believe otherwise. So when Hays makes a break in the case, he can’t officially continue the investigation. Hays learns that James traveled to Las Vegas over the course of the same two days that Lucy Purcell died, which appears to imply he killed her. Knowing this, Hays approaches West to take the law into their own hands.
He convinces him to kidnap James on their own to beat the information out of him. Unfortunately, before they can get anything useful out of James, things turn ugly and West shoots and kills their prisoner.
So now West and Hays are effectively murderers (even though James was a scumbag who had it coming).
They bury his body in the woods and burn all of the evidence. Except they didn’t get away with it. At the end of the episode, Hays gets a call from Hoyt, who wants to talk about what happened to Harris James.
After some veiled threats to Hays’s family we watch him get into an ominous black town car with Hoyt inside.
Now, here’s where my speculation comes in. I think given Hoyt’s language over the phone, it seems clear that the wealthy billionaire threatens Hays’s family—and to expose the murder—if they reveal the information they got from James. This explains a number of things: That’s why Hays gets so uncomfortable when the documentarian discusses James or the chance that he and West knew what really happened to the Purcell kids. That’s why this episode opened with Hays dropping his daughter off at college, to highlight the fear he’s had his entire life protecting his family from Hoyt. And it would also explain what tore apart Hays’s marriage. Amelia had dedicated her life to investigating this case, and her own husband insured that it could never be solved.
Will Hoyt and West finally get redemption in the final episode and reveal the truth? We’ll find out next week.