We’re now into the second half of True Detective‘s eight-episode third season, and while “If You Have Ghosts” provided more questions than answers, the episode was worth the ride based solely on the final 10-plus minutes, which reunited Roland and Wayne in 2015. Up to this point, the 2015 scenes had been the weakest of the time periods, but the writing of the final scene and the performances by Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff changed that, setting up an interesting wrinkle for the last three episodes.
Let’s start where the previous week ended: All hell is breaking loose at the Woodard house as the trash man’s gunshots take down men on both sides of the law. Even Roland gets hit in the leg and he’s only saved by Wayne sneaking up on Woodard, who says he could have finished Wayne but missed on purpose. Wayne’s trying to return the favor by talking down the fellow veteran, but Woodard is essentially forcing Wayne to kill him. “You’re gonna put this on me, huh?” He does and Wayne pulls the trigger.
Moving forward to 1990, Roland is going over the Purcell case with his team. They touch on Lucy’s death in Vegas and her cousin, who is still MIA after dropping off the map back in 1987. Tom then unexpectedly arrives and freaks out. First, it’s about the graphic photo of Lucy’s OD. Then, it’s when Wayne has him look at the photo of older Julie. He’s still emotionally reeling when he goes on TV to speak directly to Julie. Soon, Alan, one of the interviewers from the deposition, comes on the scene with Woodard’s children. He puts on a show for the cameras, saying the Purcell murders were just pinned on him after he died. Alan then talks privately with Wayne, who’s still bitter about Woodard’s death. “Motherf—er made me carry his water,” he declares. “Like I need more of the memories.”
The investigation is back in full swing in 1990 with Roland and Wayne going to visit their old friend, Freddie, who has gone from scared teenager to a grudge-holding adult. After their unproductive visit to the defensive witness, Wayne declares that he has no sympathy for him. “Please explain to me all of the hardships and tribulations of being a white man in this country,” he tells Roland, who just wants to get back to the case. They do just that when they interview a homeless kid who recognizes older Julie, saying she went by the name of Mary July and was a bit “nutty.” He backs that up by revealing that she believed she was a secret princess who was looking for her brother. With Wayne convinced that this is Julie, they begin talking to runaways and working girls.
They take a break from the case for a double date night at Roland’s house. Wayne and Amelia come over for dinner with Roland and Lori, who he has been on and off with for years. It turns uncomfortable when Amelia insists on bringing up the case, angering Wayne. The bitterness continues when they get home and Wayne calls her out for calling him her ex-husband to those cops a few episodes back. “This may shock you, but I have bigger dreams than just making a house for you to brood in,” she says, prompting him to refer to her as a “tourist,” who lifts herself up on people’s back luck. “We are all stories to you,” he declares, to which she replies, “Stop pretending that you’re too dumb to know you’re full of s—.” The argument only ends because the kids come down and little Rebecca is sick. The kids remind them of the rule about not saying goodnight until you’ve said I love you. Wayne and Amelia do just that as they all go up to bed.
Meanwhile, in 2015, Wayne is finally reading Amelia’s book and realizes that Lucy is the one who wrote the note. Shortly after, he begins losing it and goes around the house looking for his family. He eventually finds them…in 1990. He watches as post-argument Wayne and Amelia hold hands, the kids sleeping next to them. Wayne in 1990 almost appears to see Wayne in 2015, but then he definitely sees someone in the window (1980 Wayne?).
Speaking of 1980 Wayne, just after the Woodard shootout, he’s at the hospital, still in his bloody clothes and waiting for word on Roland. He’s on edge, but Amelia shows up and is able to eventually calm him down. After asking about her smell, he says he wants to get out of there and they go back to her place. “You hungry?” she asks. Well, not for food! He starts undressing, she follows suit, and they go into her bedroom.