‘True Detective’ Recap ‘The Hour and the Day’: The Fall Guy

In the ‘True Detective’ recap, Hays and West find a new suspect in 1980 and the duo team back up in 1990 before spotting a 21 year old Julie Purcell and old man Hays is haunted by the skeletons of the past…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Four episodes into the third season of ‘True Detective’ and we’re no closer to solving the crime behind who murdered Will Purcell, what happened to Julie Purcell or even revealing the person who was railroaded for the crime when the case was initiall solved in 1980.

All of these things have been teased throughout all four episodes, but as of yet there’s been no major revelation.

What we continuously get, however, are a lot of potential supsects that don’t exactly fit the profile of a child killer while the people closest to the Purcell kids keep getting creepier and creepier.

In 1980, Hays and West find out the person responsible for those straw dolls dressed up as brides and it leads them to a suspect, who more or less believes from the time the cops show up at his front door that he’s been set up as a fall guy for the crime.

In 1990, Hays fights with his wife in what appears to be a constantly evolving volatile relationship between them built more around the Purcell murder case than an actual relationship they built on love and trust. Hays does join the investigation with his old partner but it’s clear that the powers-that-be aren’t interested in solving the case as much as absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.

And finally in 2015, Hays is having one of his better days as he begins to dig into the case again with the help of his son Henry and the host of the true crime series who has been interviewing him. Sadly, Hays’ day ends on a much rougher note as he’s visited by numerous ghosts of the past — including a man in a suit and what appears to be the vision of Bret Woodard aka the Trashman and his appearance makes more sense by what ultimately unfolds in 1980.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘True Detective’ titled ‘The Hour and the Day’…


After finding a photo in the Purcell house that showed Will posed in the exact same position as how Wayne Hays found him after his death, the detectives turn their investigation to the local church where the children attended services. The photo was from Will’s confirmation and that led them back to the church where that service happened.

There, Wayne and Roland meet the local priest from St. Michael’s who remembers the children well from their time at the church. He remembers them being happy kids and that they always looked out for each other.

The priest also remembers one of the last times he spoke to the children that Julie had mentioned that she was excited about visiting with an aunt — except for the problem that they children didn’t have any aunts.

The priest offers one more piece of valuable information when the police show him photos of those straw dolls that were found at the crime scene. He says that a local churchgoer named Patty Faber makes those straw dolls and sells them at their fall festival they hold at the church every year.

The fact that the children were always looking out for each other leads Roland and Wayne to deduce that perhaps Will was trying to protect his sister Julie and that’s what ultimately led to him being killed. The working theory is that Julie may have been the target the entire time and Will more or less just got in the way.

A visit to Patty Faber reveals that she’s a racist — but beyond that she also mentions that she’s been making the straw dolls for quite some time and that at the last fall festival she had only sold a couple of them before a man approached her and purchased 10 of the dolls.

She describes the man as an African-American with a dead eye — glossed over and milky white — but can offer no other descriptions about him. She also mentions that the man told her he was buying the straw dolls for his nieces and nephews, which could potentially tie back to the priest saying that Julie was excited about seeing her ‘aunt’.

In previous episodes we learned about a brown sedan with a black man and a white woman inside that were seen in the neighborhood where the Purcell family lived but also in that same field in the middle of nowhere where the children were reportedly spotted by the farmer who lived near the land. In the 2015 investigation, Elisa Montgomery reveals that even more neighbors and local people had spotted that same brown sedan while saying that it stuck out to them because it was reportedly too expensive of a car to be seen driving around that area.

Either way, Patty Faber doesn’t remember much else about the man who purchased her dolls but does say that she just assumed the person lived in Davis Junction, which was the predominantly African-American neighborhood in town.

That leads the detectives to that part of town where they stop at a local liquor store and find the name of a man from that area who apparently has a dead eye.

His name is Sam Whitehead — an older black gentleman, who just so happens to have a dead eye.

When the police arrive to question him, Sam is immediately on the defensive as he believes the cops are trying to pin a murder on him that he didn’t commit. He explains that he was home on the night of the murder and there were plenty of neighbors who could back up his alibi.

Sam lashes out that the cops are looking at him for the murder when he had nothing to do with it — and judging by his reaction he doesn’t seem like the person involved in these crimes. Sam does mention one thing that’s rather interesting, however, when Wayne asks him about his dead eye and if he knows anybody else like that from this same part of town.

Sam says that all sorts of people are missing fingers, toes, ears, etc. while working at a couple of local jobs — one of them on the kill line at the chicken plant. That would be the Hoyt Foods operation where Lucy Purcell also previously worked on that same chicken line before she quit a couple of years ago.

Elsewhere in 1980, the detectives return to the church where the priest has offered to have the entire congregation give their fingerprints as the police continue to look for the mystery sets on the toys that they found hidden out in Will and Julie’s secret play spot in the woods. Roland meets a woman there and remarks how he needs to get to church more often.

Meanwhile, Wayne goes on his first dinner date with Amelia and their conversation is anything but conventional. Both of them avoid talking about their past much at all no matter how many questions are asked. Amelia brings up the Purcell case and then lets it go by saying that Wayne probably doesn’t want to bring his work home with him. When Wayne tries to talk about Amelia’s past in California, she only says it was filled with ‘steers and queers’, which is an interesting comment considering that’s a phrase typically used to talk about places like Texas or Oklahoma (as you’d hear in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ that came out in 1987).

The conversation also takes several odd twists and turns towards a sexual nature with Amelia avoiding questions by ramping up her flirtation with Wayne. It’s an interesting conversation because the couple has a similar encounter 10 years later with Amelia once again turning to sex to avoid a tough talk with her then husband.

There have been a lot of theories out there that Amelia is the killer and she murdered Will Purcell as a way to jump start her own writing career. Remember, Amelia knew the children from school and saw what kind of home life they had with their parents. Is it possible she tried to get them to leave with an adopted family — a black man and white woman perhaps — but Will refused to go and he ended up being killed?

Amelia manages to get involved in the investigation on her own when she goes to the Purcell house to return some art projects and notebooks left behind by the children at school. Lucy Purcell is home alone and she invites the teacher inside where they sit down at the kitchen table for a conversation.

Lucy unburdens her soul about how she was a whore who constantly cheated on her husband and never gave her children a good life. In the midst of that conversation, Lucy also says that her children should have been happy — and that children should laugh but there was no laughter in this household.

That line is particularly disturbing because ‘children should laugh’ is a direct quote from the ransom note that was delivered to the parents house after the kids went missing. Is it possible that Lucy was involved in her kids going missing and now she’s feeling the guilt about it? It seems rather morbid to quote the letter received at their house after the children went missing unless Lucy may have been involved in writing it in the first place.

Amelia also seems a little too eager to inject herself into this investigation, which once again leads back to the idea that perhaps she had some kind of involvement in Julie’s disappearance and Will’s murder.

All theories to think about for the future.

We also find Tom Purcell continuing to spiral out of control by going to the bar where Lucy worked and trying to accost her boss, who he knows was having an affair with his wife. The bar owner and the bouncers subdue Tom and call Roland to come get him after he paid a visit to the bar after the investigation first began.

Roland ends up bringing Tom back to his place where the suffering father sleeps on his couch for the night, which furthers the idea that these two become lifelong friends as we see them still connected 10 years later as well.

One other piece of the investigation that unfolds in 1980 are the fingerprints found on Will Purcell’s bike that was discovered beat up and broken in the woods near Devil’s Den. The fingerprints belong to Freddy Burns — the metalhead kid who drove around in his purple VW bug that day when the kids disappeared.

Freddy is arrested and after just turning 18, he’s no longer being treated as a minor so the police ratchet up the pressure on him big time. Freddy admits to seeing Will on the day of his murder — he says the boy was in Devil’s Den looking for his sister and they ended up running him off because they didn’t want to be seen around the nerdy kid in town. Freddy says he chased Will off his bike, took it and rode around on it before crashing it because he was drunk from having too many beers.

Freddy claims from that moment on he never saw Will again and then proceeds to break down in tears for what seems like hours. Wayne doesn’t believe that Freddy has anything to do with the murders but they want to continue turning the screws on him until they find out if he knows anything more or if he’s holding back on some other information.

The interrogation is interrupted when the cops get a call about a situation that’s happening nearby at Bret Woodard’s residence.

Remember last week, Bret Woodard aka ‘The Trashman’ was ambushed and beaten up by some local town assholes who believed he played a part in the Purcell kids’ disappearance. Bret then went back to his home, pulled out a giant satchel from his garage and then went back inside but we never saw the contents.

This week, Bret is collecting garbage again when he runs into a couple of local kids, who hand over some soda cans for his trash bag. The local idiots who attacked him see this interaction and decide to go after him.

That’s when Bret returns to his home, which he has booby trapped with explosives and trip wires while pulling out that bag, which was filled with machine guns and other weaponry. Bret was prepared for this encounter and he has his place rigged for an attack — obviously still dealing with the ill effects of the post traumatic stress from the war — and he was ready for this to happen or perhaps even goaded the local townspeople into coming after him a second time.

Either way when Wayne and Roland show up, the rednecks are about to burst into his place when Bret refuses to come outside. The lead redneck kicks in the door and we just hear an explosion as the screen fades to black.

All along we’ve known that somebody was convicted of Will Purcell’s murder back in 1980, who may have never been involved in the first place. 10 years later the family of the fall guy pays a pair of attorneys to dig into the investigation to have the conviction overturned. We still don’t know who it was convicted of that murder but Bret Woodard seems like a potential suspect.

He’s a suspicious character, who was seen around the children on the day they went missing and this attack on the townspeople probably won’t help his cause to look less guilty. Bret also mentioned he had children, who he had been estranged from since his divorce from his wife. Is is possible Bret gets convicted of these crimes, dies in prison and now his family is trying to have his guilty sentence overturned?

We’ll have to wait and see.


Roland West — now a lieutenant in the Arkansas State Police — pulls some considerable strings to get his old partner back on the case as they’ve re-opened the investigation into the Purcell murder-disappearance now that Julie Purcell has been confirmed alive.

Wayne is very excited to get back to work after spending the last decade at a desk, being punished for whatever he did back in 1980 at the close of the Purcell case the first time around. At home, Wayne expresses his excitement but his wife Amelia is none too happy after he lashed out at her just recently for doing her own investigation into the case that involved some drinks and flirting with the Oklahoma cops where Julie Purcell’s prints were discovered.

The two end up in a loud shouting match with Amelia accusing Wayne of constantly pulling the victim card as if fate is constantly working against him. When Wayne tries to push Amelia’s buttons, she once again turns to sex as a distraction. They have sex and the pillow talk is far away from the argument they were having just minutes earlier.

Once again it seems like Amelia doesn’t want to address anything when it comes to her personality or past and when Wayne pushes for those answers, she is quick to distract him with another subject (usually sex).

Following that encounter, Wayne returns to work at the state police but first he has to meet with the now Attorney General Greg Larson, who warns them that their investigation is to stick solely to Will Purcell’s murder rather than turning this into a missing persons case in an attempt to find Julie Purcell. The attorney general is confident that the conviction they got back in 1980 is still valid so they are looking to prove the case rather than overturn anything.

He even teases Wayne that by doing his job as requested and he might find himself back in the Major Crimes division where he was once a promising detective until his actions surrounding the Purcell case knocked his career off track.

Wayne agrees and then quickly converses with Roland, who says they have no intention of sticking to the script laid out for them by the attorney general.

At the meeting of the task force, Roland lays out the plans for the other detectives involved in the new investigation. They will go through all the previous case information including the interviews conducted with neighbors and local townspeople at the time of the kids’ disappearance.

Roland also wants to track down Dan O’Brien — Lucy Purcell’s cousin who lived with the family back in 1980 and was under suspicion of having a peephole peering from Wil’s room into Julie’s room while he was there. Dan has apparently gone missing and hasn’t been seen in some time. Obviously at this point, Lucy Purcell has already been dead for two years after overdosing just outside Las Vegas.

Wayne and Roland are going to focus on finding Julie Purcell in hopes that she can answer all the questions that they’ve never been able to answer in this investigation.

Wayne also suggests that everybody is working on a ticking clock because perhaps Julie escaped her captors and she’s been on the run ever since. If word gets out there that Julie is alive and being sought by the police, perhaps the people initially responsible for taking her and killing Will may attempt to go after her again.

Finally, Wayne and Roland visit the Sallisaw, Oklahoma police department to see the store surveillance footage where Julie Purcell’s prints were found. While looking through hours upon hours of tape, Wayne spots a girl he believes is a 21-year old Julie Purcell staring back at him in the camera.

Wayne’s reaction is probably the same one anybody would have after spotting a girl they believed was dead for the past 10 years.



And finally in 2015, Wayne goes to visit his son Henry Hays at the Arkansas State Police where he’s now a detective just like his father. Wayne is having a good day when it comes to his ongoing battle with dementia and he’s asking his son for some help tracking down a few people involved in the investigations between 1980 and 1990.

Wayne says he’s not working the case but he’s just trying to track down a few leads that he thought about while talking to the woman from the ‘True Criminal’ TV show. He also asks Henry to track down Roland West — what he’s doing in 2015 we haven’t heard yet.

Wayne then goes to visit Elisa Montgomery at her hotel room where he sees she’s had dinner for two served but claims she’s there all alone. That only seems to prove that much more than Elisa is sleeping with Wayne’s son Henry, which would explain how this whole television interview business started in the first place.

Wayne asks Elisa to reveal all her cards because her investigative team from ‘True Criminal’ has been digging into the Purcell case as well and that’s how they found out so much about that brown sedan spotted back in 1980 as well as all the local neighbors, who had never been questioned despite seeing the children on the day they disappeared.

Elisa says she can’t reveal everything just yet but she does tell Wayne about one key piece of information her investigators found.

She shows him the bones and remains of Dan O’Brien — Lucy Purcell’s long missing cousin — after they were dug up in a grave in Missouri. It seems Dan O’Brien may have been murdered as well but there’s no telling when or how he died just yet.

Back at home, Wayne begins reciting everything into a voice recorder to once again get his thoughts straight when his mind isn’t working at its best. In the midst of telling himself all the discoveries he made that day, Wayne begins hearing voices and we once again see that he’s being haunted by ghosts from the past.

We see several soldiers from the Vietnam War that we have to assume are people he killed in battle but we also see a mysterious person standing there in a full suit, hair slicked to the side and he’s also amongst those people who are dead. Who is this person? It seems he’s stuck amongst the people who Wayne has killed in his life who he’s dragging around like skeletons in the closet.

Finally, Wayne looks outside and he spots a grey colored sedan near his home. Is somebody watching Wayne? Does somebody know that he’s digging back into the Purcell case 35 years after the original investigation?

We’ll hope to find out more when ‘True Detective’ returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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