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

True Detective is back on HBO and we're examining each episode to find each the best, strangest, and most hard-boiled moments.

True Detective Season 3 Easter Eggs and Awards

“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.

Episode 7: The Final Country

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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. In “The Final Country,” Tom Purcell’s staged suicide could easily slot into this spot, but the final discovery of who exactly Hays and West buried in the woods takes the cake. Harris James’ death isn’t only shocking, it’s maddeningly frustrating, as you can see from Roland’s pained, angry, and remorseful reaction. Roland did what he had to do to protect his partner, but now all of the information that Harris James had has disappeared forever. Wayne and Roland can’t even really bring their suspicions about James to the police out of fear of implicating themselves in his disappearance/death. The scene is a masterclass in tension and ultimately feels like sand slipping through your fingers. With Harris James’ death, the investigation in 1990 seemingly dies with him, that is before Edward Hoyt, the patriarch of Hoyt Industries, drops by Wayne’s house for a visit. There’s no telling what Edward knows and just how much further he may threaten Wayne, but those questions will surely be answered next week.

True Detective Suspect of the Week

Though we’re almost certain that the Hoyt family was behind Julie Purcell’s disappearance, there’s still a matter of who exactly was involved. The one-eyed man, identified possibly as a man named Watts, was seen with Lucy’s cousin Dan, which is just another thread that connects him to the case. Further, when Wayne and Roland talk with a housekeeper who raised Isobel Hoyt, she reveals that Isobel was cared for after her accident by a black gentleman with a dead eye named Mr. June. It’s an interesting new detail considering that a runaway Julie sometimes referred to herself as Mary July, like summertime, the month that follows June. The identity and arrest of the one-eyed man is one of the main things I look forward to in next week’s finale.

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. Finally, we have the first real tenuous connection to Season 1. Elisa explicitly brings up that in 2012 two former Louisiana State police detectives stopped a serial killer associated with some kind of pedophile ring. “In spite of evidence of accomplices, the case never went wider,” Elisa states, insinuating some widespread cover-up by well-connected individuals, just like what happened with the Hoyts and Julie Purcell. There are many more connections to Season 1 than just that, and you can read about them all here.

The Yellow King Easter Egg Award

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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. There are still serious questions to answer about the involvement of Attorney General Gerald Kindt, and I’m sure the meeting between Hays and Edward Hoyt will result in some serious bombshells, but the one thing still on my mind after this episode is Wayne’s daughter, Rebecca. There must be a reason why the episode begins with a fourth timeline, with Wayne dropping his daughter off at college, and we know from previous episodes that Wayne and his daughter are estranged in 2015. What occurs between the two of them that results in their distance? It’s probably the biggest lingering question that doesn’t have to do with the case, or does it? Henry still seems to hold some resentment toward his Dad, which was specifically triggered when 2015 Wayne asked about Rebecca. What did Wayne do that further fractured his family?

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Best Angry Face Award” goes to…Roland West!

– The “It’s 10 PM. Do You Know Where Your Children Are? Award” goes to…Amelia Hays!

– The “Close to the Chest Award” goes to…2015 Wayne Hays!

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– The “Someone Has to Remember Award” goes to…Lucy’s “Best” Friend

– The “Subtle Intimidation Award” goes to…Edward Hoyt!

Episode 6: Hunters in the Dark

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. Obviously, this award has got to go to “Hunters in the Dark“‘s most shocking cliffhanger, where a drunk Tom Purcell stumbles into the Hoyt Family home and discovers a hidden pink room, just like the one the grown-up Julie had mentioned. This pretty much concludes that the Hoyt family was responsible for kidnapping Julie Purcell. All the information adds up; the man and woman seen entering the woods were driving a nice sedan, which only a rich family like the Hoyts could afford, the Ozark Children’s Outreach Center founded by the Hoyts offered a reward for information to stay on top of the case and snuff out any suspicion, Lucy Purcell was paid off handsomely for her silence, and since she knew what happened to her daughter, made a fake ransom note to stop her husband’s lingering questions, and chief of security for the Hoyts Harris James planted evidence to frame Brett Woodard. It’s the sort of big conspiracy of that writer Nic Pizzolatto loves. We still don’t know who was directly responsible for actually taking Julie and killing Will (more on that below) but we pretty much know that the Hoyts were behind the whole thing.

True Detective Suspect of the Week

So the Hoyts made the plan and footed the bill, but who executed it, and how did Will get killed in the process? My working theory is that the man and woman seen in the black sedan was the one-eyed man interrupting Amelia’s book reading in the 1990 timeline and possibly Lucy Purcell herself. They were employees of the Hoyts that were paid for their service and silence, and it’s possible that the one-eyed man is still working for the Hoyts in some capacity, while Lucy, who took money to help the Hoyts replace the daughter that they lost, kept asking for more until she was murdered herself. Maybe Will was trying to prevent the kidnapping and his death was accidental. The Hoyts didn’t go out in the woods to snatch Julie Purcell personally, so whoever else was involved should be taken down too.

Time Is a Flat Circle Award

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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. Having the shadowy, yet rich and well-connected Hoyt family at the center of this crime is just like the Tuttle family’s involvement in the crimes depicted in True Detective Season 1. Another season, another family of means using their money and influence to sweep their ugly crimes under the rug.

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. There’s not much this week that isn’t made plain, but I want to circle back to Attorney General Gerald Kindt, played by consummate scumbag portrayer Brett Cullen. Kindt is either just as wrapped up in the corruption of this case as Harris James, paid off by the Hoyts to reach forced conclusions and limit the scope of the investigation in the 1990 timeline, or he’s just as he appears to be, an opportunist capitalizing on a high-profile case to make a name for himself and advance his career. Either way he’s a jerk, but in the former option, it proves that in the world of True Detective, there’s no limit to the ways that the rich and powerful will maneuver to keep their dark proclivities hidden.

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Primal Scream Award” goes to…Scoot McNairy!

– The “Too Much Information Award” goes to…Harris James and his hemorrhoids!

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– The “Half-Assed It Award” goes to…God!

– The “Gary Oldman Lookalike Award” goes to…1990 Dan O’Brien!

– The “Tearjerker Award” goes to…2015 Wayne Hays and his “withholding” speech!

Episode 5: If You Have Ghosts

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. The clear standout in episode five, “If You Have Ghosts” is explosion and subsequent shootout on Brett Woodard’s property that was teased at the end of “The Hour and the Day.” Reminiscent of the shootout from Season 2 Episode 4 episode “Down Will Come,” the chaotic fire fight in this episode finds both the angry townsfolk and police officers caught in the crossfire. Roland is shot in the leg and Wayne is forced to kill Woodard, despite trying to bring him in peacefully. Woodard claims that he spared Wayne’s life, possibly due to the connection they share both being veterans, yet he doesn’t spare Wayne another ghastly memory of taking a life. We finally discover that in the aftermath, Woodard was convicted of the murder and disappearance of the Purcell children, after Julie’s burned shirt and Will’s bookbag is found on his property while processing the scene. For those complaining about a lack of action in this season, well, you got your wish this week.

True Detective Suspect of the Week

Despite the evidence that’s found on Brett Woodard’s property, I’m crossing him off our list of suspects, because as Wayne astutely notes, the objects found were clearly planted, and it was possibly an inside job. In the current day storyline, Elisa tells Wayne that a policer officer named Harris James went missing in 1990 and that he was one of the officers involved in processing the Woodard scene. Later, when we’re shown the flashback of the officers scouring Woodard’s property, Harris is the officer that first identifies a found bookbag as Will Purcell’s. There’s also the matter of the missing unidentified prints, which Harris could have gotten access to. Did Harris plant the evidence to frame Brett Woodard? Is he involved in the disappearance? 

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We also have questions about Lucy Purcell. When finally reading Amelia’s book, Wayne pauses on Lucy’s direct quote “Children should laugh,” which was also a phrase used in the note sent to the Purcell’s after their children’s disappearance. When reunited with Roland in the present-day storyline, Wayne hypothesizes that Lucy made the note herself to give to Tom. Why would she do that? Well, as the hotline message alludes to, perhaps Tom wasn’t as loving as a father as he appeared to have been and maybe Lucy was somehow involved in getting her daughter away from their home. Maybe the note was meant to assure Tom that their daughter was still alive. As the end of the episode indicated, there’s still a lot about Tom, Julie, and what Roland and Wayne might have done in 1990 that we don’t know about.

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. The reunion of old Wayne and Roland felt just as tense and ultimately rewarding as the similar reconnection of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart in Season 1. Just like Marty Hart, Roland has some serious issues to resolve with his former partner, but in this case, the other party isn’t certain exactly what he did that led to a falling out. Many times, both Roland and Wayne reference “what we done” and Tom knowing about “what we done,” but we get no information on whatever terrible thing that the partners did back in 1990 or how it led to Roland holding a grudge against Wayne. Still, seeing both men in their old man makeup trying to make up and put to bed their lingering issues felt awful familiar to the original True Detective’s final stretch.

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. This week’s award goes to a moment that actually connects to the Yellow King! Sure, we get a brief glimpse of Marty Hart and Rust Cohle on Elisa’s laptop which confirms that these cases are taking place in the same universe, but the real interesting piece of connective tissue between Season 1 and Season 3 comes from the runaway that offers information to Wayne and Roland in 1990. The runaway tells the officers that he recognizes Julie Purcell, but that she was using the name Mary July and that she claimed to be “a secret princess from the pink rooms.” That sort of creepy “royalty claiming to be from a fictional land” sounds like all of the Yellow King from Carcosa talk from Season 1. Perhaps these cases are more connected than we thought? 

In actuality, this comment is probably evidence of some brainwashing akin to Abducted in Plain Sight, with an older person convincing a child of something ridiculous, like they were abducted by aliens or that they were actually secretly royalty, as a means of easing their kidnapping. This would explain why when Julie Purcell called the police hotline, she spoke about Tom Purcell not being her real father. Sounds like someone brainwashed Julie into believing some wild stuff. 

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Also, here’s a deeper, unrelated theory: When 2015 Wayne meets with 2015 Roland, he mentions the new evidence about Dan O’Brien, but Roland doesn’t seem to be phased by it. Is it possible that the horrible thing that Wayne and Roland did in 1990 that is alluded to is that they murdered Dan O’Brien? And could missing officer Harris James discovered this and been killed as well? Our unreliable narrator may be more unreliable than we previously thought.

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Must Love Dogs Award” goes to….Roland West!

– The “Pity Party Award” goes to…oh, it’s a tie between Wayne Hays and Freddie Burns!

– The “What’s That Smell Award” goes to…ivory soap and chalk dust!

– The “Sorry For Asking You to Do Your Job Award” goes to…the evidence locker guy!

– The “Lover Not a Fighter Award” goes to…the cute lil pup!

Episode 4: The Hour and the Day

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. Episode four, “The Hour and the Day,” has several strong nominees (like more vivid prison rape description, yeesh), but the award once again will go to modern-day Wayne’s latest hallucination. While going over the details from the 1990 portion of the case, Wayne’s mind begins to slip and he starts apologizing to his daughter Rebecca for the incident that happened inside of the Wal-Mart. Rebecca’s absence from the modern-day story has suggested that something is amiss with Rebecca, with Wayne most likely to blame. As he rambles, the figures of who appear to be several Vietnamese soldiers stand in the shadows of the dark room and start to surround Wayne. It’s an unsettling image that feels akin to the horror-influence that was entrenched in the first season.

While the figures creep in, Wayne discusses his children, wondering aloud if his own issues or mental state “poisoned” his children. It’s as if literal ghosts of men that Wayne killed are appearing as he discusses how those ghosts hindered his ability to be a father. What’s especially interesting about the scene is that, among the clearly Vietnamese soldiers, a white man in a suit with his face obscured can be seen. Wayne apologizes to him directly. Is it possible that this is Roland? Wayne can’t seem to remember what happened to him, could he have been responsible for his former partner’s death? Or is it someone else involved in the case? Maybe that detective that cracked about Amelia’s “ex” husband. Whoever it is, they’re clearly still haunting Wayne.

True Detective Suspect of the Week

Still lots of potential perps to choose from, like the priest (more on him below), someone in the congregation, Sam Whitehead or another black man with an eye issue, a mysterious “Aunt” figure (more on this, too), Dan O’Brien, and Freddie Burns. Based on his hysterics, I don’t think Freddie Burns killed Will Purcell. It would seem boring and obvious if that were the case. I’m not ready to rule out the potential of a black man with an eye issue, as someone who fits that description bought ten of vaguely racist Patty Favor’s creepy corn dolls, but I don’t believe it was Sam Whitehead. There’s definitely something off with the priest, and the mysterious death of Dan O’Brien has me itching to learn more, but I’m most concerned with this “Aunt” figure. Like Wayne says, I still think we’re missing something major. Last week’s episode mentioned a black man and a woman in a nice brown sedan, perhaps the “Aunt” figure is this woman. Right now, I’d say they’re still my prime suspects.

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. Just like the character that Shea Whigham played in the first season, we have another shady religious figure involved in the case. Since Will’s body was positioned like his communion photo, Hays and West investigate the local catholic church and speak to the priest that took that photo himself. I noticed his strange reaction to Roland’s comment about Will’s eyes being closed in the photo, as if he hadn’t noticed. There’s just a general air of unease around this character, just as there was around Joel Theroit, who was covering up widespread abuse in catholic schools. True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto seems to distrust religious institutions, and once again, he’s tying the victims in his story directly to a congregation.

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. An interesting and growing theory on the internet is that Amelia is directly responsible for Will’s murder or more involved than it appears on the surface. I wasn’t fully committed to the idea before “The Hour and the Day,” but as nothing in this episode disproves the theory, it’s beginning to look more plausible. At dinner with Wayne in 1980, she once again comments about being “somewhat of a mess” in her past. Maybe that’s a wild understatement. When their conversation shifts back to the case, Amelia’s posture immediately tenses up and she asks questions that appear to be sympathetic of the killer, as if she’s talking about her own motivations. She then visits Lucy Purcell at home, and as I’ve learned from many true crime stories, killers routinely like to stay close to the investigation or the victims’ families. We can also throw in the fact that she’s a member of the congregation, and Hays and West seem convinced that someone who attends the church is involved in the murder. Further, in the 1990 timeline, she looks visibly shaken when Wayne tells her that they’ve officially reopened the case. Add all of this to the other hints that fans believe have been laid in the previous episodes, and this theory looks more and more concrete. Is she the “Aunt” that Julie was talking about?

Also, sidenote: I pointed out that Robert Penn Warren, who’s poem “Tell Me a Story” has featured heavily this season, was blinded in one eye. Now we have a suspect with a blinded eye. Coincidence? I think not.

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Good Guy Award” goes to….Roland West!

– The “Most Unsettling Anecdote Award” goes to…[explosion noise]!

– The “Oh They Definitely Banging Award” goes to…Wayne’s son and Elisa!

– The “Unsolicited Advice Award” goes to…”Turn your ass into an entrance!”

– The “Kevin McCallister Award for Home Security” goes to…Brett Woodard!

Episode 3: The Big Never

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 episode three, “The Big Never,” the award goes to Wayne hallucinating a conversation of his dead wife, Amelia. While going through his routine of recording his thoughts to prevent forgetting the day’s events, Wayne is visited by an antagonistic vision of his wife, who in typical True Detective fashion, muses on different dimensions and taunts her husband with questions like, “Did you harden your heart against what loved you the most?”

Now, nothing in episode three really elicited a huge reaction in this category, but establishing that Wayne is going to be having these vivid, startling visions means that we can surely expect more of them in the future, and I doubt that they’re going to get any less disturbing.

True Detective Suspect of the Week

The new suspects of the week are unnamed, but identified by the man who lived near the woods where the Purcell children played. He’s visited by Hays and West for an interview after Hays discovers the scene where Will Purcell was killed nearby the man’s house. The man says that he saw a couple in a nice, new brown sedan around the same area that he frequently saw the Purcell children playing. The man says he saw a black man with a scar on his face accompanied by a white woman. Later in the episode, the documentarian Elisa also mentions eye-witnesses say they saw a brown sedan loitering around the neighborhood and that a black man with a scar was seen by children near Devil’s Den. The brown sedan also tracks with the tire treads that Hays found during his first comb through the park.

That being said, the secret little messages written on scraps of paper that were discovered in Julie Purcell’s room still have me thinking that cousin Dan is our culprit, though Hays and West also think it could be an employee of the processing plant where Lucy Purcell worked.

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. At first, I thought that Hays and West were nothing like Season 1’s Marty Hart and Rust Cohle. For one, in the 1980 storyline they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company and act like functioning partners, a big difference from the way that Hart and Cohle behaved during their case. However, West’s side of the 1990 timeline shows that he and Hays have become estranged from each other. When the two finally meet at a bar after a number of years, it recalls Hart and Cohle’s barroom meeting in their present-day storyline from Season 1, albeit with no physical fighting. It turns out that these two do have their issues to sort out like Hart and Cohle, though it more so appears that Hays doesn’t hate his former partner, just resents him for the opportunities he’s been afforded and the career advances he’s made while Hays has been stuck with meager desk duty. However, just like Hart and Cohle, these men seem to squash their beef and look set to reteam on the Purcell case, back at it once again.

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. While there isn’t a clear rabbit hole presented in this episode, the most puzzling thing in the hour that will need to be further examined, beside our new suspects in the brown sedan, is the bag of Will’s toys that are found in the woods. Tom says he doesn’t recognize any of the toys found in the bag, however, Will and Julie’s fingerprints are all over them. Clearly another adult had bought them for the kids, but who? Also, do any of the toys have any significance? Some D&D dice are found at the scene of Will’s death, did Will’s dungeon master do him in?!

True Detective Lightening Round!

– The “Dream Big Award” goes to….The Lady on the Snake Farm!

– The “People of Wal-Mart Award” goes to…Wayne Hays!

– The “What Happens in Vegas Award” goes to…Lucy Purcell!

– The “What’s in the Bag Award” goes to…Brett Woodard!

– The “Unsettling Advertisement Award” goes to…Walgreens!

Episode 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. Now, once we meet the cousin in episode two, it’s pretty obvious that this guy is a total skeeve. 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; they should have know that Ol’Danny boy was up to no good in that room, and Dad is so oblivious, he thinks those Playboys belonged to his son and not that scumbag. 

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 discovery 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 Wayne 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 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, 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.