True Detective: If You Have Ghosts
February 4, 2019 7:19 AM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Wayne finds himself in a no-win situation as new clues emerge in the Purcell case. Roland wrestles with how to keep evidence secure as lawyers demand a new investigation. Amelia finds her relationship with Wayne imperiled by her writing aspirations and his jealousy. [Official synopsis]

True Detective Season 3 Episode 5 Review: If You Have Ghosts -- True Detective drops the most balanced episode of season 3 so far with "If You Have Ghosts." (Tony Sokol for Den of Geek)

Counterpoint: True Detective is playing with puzzles instead of exploring mysteries (Emily L. Stephens for TV/AV Club)

Bonus: ‘True Detective’: 7 Theories on Season 3 — That Don’t Really Have to Do With the Case -- Episode 5 dropped a lot of clues for at-home detectives, but let's also look at the long-term impact Season 3 will have on the franchise — and TV overall. (Ben Travers for Indie Wire)
posted by filthy light thief (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, people are thinking that the thing talked about at the end was Wayne and Roland having killed *Tom*? It seemed pretty heavily implied that they may have disappeared Harris, most likely because of discovering his crime scene tampering being due to Harris interfering at the behest of powerful and unknown child-hunting fiends, and then the potential blowback of that confrontation. The detectives stumble into just how entrenched the real killers are in the local political scene, those puppetmasters potentially use the evidence of killing of Harris against the detectives to ensure they don't speak up as to the case being fixed, and that leads to the schism between W and R as one bows to the pressure first (prooooobably Roland).

That's my spitball, at least.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:35 AM on February 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

The end of this one veered uncomfortably towards Grumpy Old Men 3*: Back on the Case. Roland went from explicitly telling Wayne no "junior detective" "adventures" and refusal to "dip a toe" in this "sad senile shit" to some kind of grudging partners-forever agreement in about ten seconds, after an apology for something unremembered. (Did Wayne sleep with the woman Roland never married?)

And where the hell are these two supposed to get "guns and badges?"

*reportedly in development with Eddie Murphy and possibly Sam Jackson.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2019

A dog collection to rival Will Graham's.
posted by codacorolla at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Wait, people are thinking that the thing talked about at the end was Wayne and Roland having killed *Tom*?

From last week's episode, people also thought that Lucy Purcell killed her son because of her comment "children should smile" and the note. I'm in agreement with Hays' assessment this week: she sent it to make Tom feel better ... in the creepiest sort of way possible.

The detectives stumble into just how entrenched the real killers are in the local political scene

That's what I've been thinking (prior FF comment), and this episode pushes that notion further pretty hard. AG pushes to keep the dead Native American as the culprit, while Hays recognizes that there was evidence planted at Woodard's house.

Hays time-shift this episode was the most effective and impactful yet, putting the viewer in his shoes with regard to the uncertainty of when they are, and piecing the story together like this adds to the sense of us unraveling the case as Hays is doing at 70.

And now I feel like Amelia is cast in a more favorable light, showing how hard it is to deal with, and appease, Wayne. Sex feels like an easy out for a tense situation, which feels uncomfortable as a viewer, but also honest in the situation.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:46 AM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

The end of this one veered uncomfortably towards Grumpy Old Men 3

Grumpy old men doing some case solving is pretty much what I expect. Like the last shot of the opening credits is the true detectives posed next to a tattered American flag. That's the show.

Roland and that tiny dog... my icy heart thawed slightly at that and now I'm worried that they are making him extra likable so it will be sad when he dies and the dogs are left homeless. (After A Star Is Born, I can't take any more sad dogs.) If they hadn't done the storyline with the closeted cop in S2, then I might think that's where they're going with Roland because his lack of wife and kids was really emphasized, but that much trope recycling seems unlikely. However, time is a flat circle, so who knows.

Hays continues to find new ways to intensely gaze at things. One of the reasons I've been so confused by the "Amelia did it for her book" school of thought is that it's been obvious from the beginning that Wayne was not an easy husband and that is far too much trouble for a book deal.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:26 AM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed this last episode. I keep feeling like they're not going to have a neatly wrapped case after this is all said and done, but I'm happy to watch the process.

I also think that Stephen Dorff is quietly stealing the whole show. Sure, Ali is acting his socks off, but Dorff is someone who I wouldn't have expected to shine in quite this way and boy howdy is he shining.

Carmen Ejogo is really showing some chops as well. She's got more to work with though, because Amelia is a really deep character with lots of room to move whereas I feel like Roland is pigeonholed into being more of a "buddy cop" type.

Either way, loving this season so far, and can't wait for each episode.
posted by Sphinx at 12:47 PM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

yeah. it’s good.
posted by valkane at 4:38 PM on February 4, 2019

Yeah, I'm liking this season more and more as time goes on. For having a similar structure to the first season, it feels like this one is actually grounded and critical. As an example, episode 6 of Season 1 has the famous long take meth compound raid, which is mirrored with Woodard's shootout (I think season 2 also put its big shootout at roughly the same place). Instead of Rust getting to be all badass and competent, both cops bumble through things, and Hays is forced to face conflicted interests in talking to Woodard.

I actually like Hays as a foil for Rust quite a bit - both are competent investigators, but Hays (for a variety of reasons) doesn't have all of the answers like Rust seemed to have. I also appreciate that the supernatural, such as it exists in this season, seems to be in people's minds, like Hays' ghosts brought on by dementia as opposed to the coy winks at Weird Fiction in Season 1.
posted by codacorolla at 5:07 PM on February 4, 2019

i hate the "Amelia did it" theory.
i kinda miss the weird fiction edge.
this season feels drawn out already, working too hard at being "prestige television fare".
but i would watch it all over again, just for the scene with Old man Stephen Dorff and the Tiny Dog Eating Eggs!
that's my glib take on it.
on a more serious note: wow, has the acting - from all players - been amazing. the "old person" makeup is phenomenal! but it wouldn't mean a thing if the portrayals weren't up to the same level. i am actually finding it more satisfying to simply watch the acting, rather than the mystery. (i agree with Emily L. Stephens, that it feels more like a puzzle than a mystery; and not just in this episode, that said, i do very much hope that this season connects back to the S1 universe/mystery.) Mahershala Ali in particular amazes me, in that i really like the Hays of the 80s, and feel empathy and care for Old Hays; but i think 90s Hays is an asshole. that's impressive, that range. and Scoot McNairy manages to play broken vulnerability without irritating neediness or overt melodrama. that is one heartbreaking character. the male characters are better written than the female ones, but this season is a major improvement over the last 2, in that respect. Carmen Ejogo is doing some subtle and interesting work, and her absence in the 2015 scenes is palpable.i really hope the writing does well by that character.
posted by lapolla at 6:29 PM on February 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think the sex scene between purple and Amelia is a nice bookend with the one in the previous episode. Now we've seen both of them use sex as an out for complicated feelings. Which I guess makes them compatibly dysfunctional.

Dorff and that dog....I was just loving it to the point I didn't want Purple to show up. I was like can we have a bit more of these two just schmoozing together?

Oh also in terms of Amelia did it for a book. That just seems nuts. She groomed two kids that she already had access to, killed one, somehow shuttled off the other to...., and stayed married to Purple for DECADES for a book? That just seems like wwwwwwwwaaaayyyyyy too much work for very little pay off. Plus I don't see her really doing much to ramp up her fame. It's not like she's going on talk shows or doing book tours. She seems, to me at least, genuinely to driven to find out what happened to these kids in the same way Purple is. The problem is Purple wants her to be a respite from the case despite her connection to it and she's not happy with that role.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

The ghost door scene was an enjoyable spooky morsel. Generally speaking I don't think she show is really earning its ominousness but I eat up that tone anyway so.

It's hard for me to believe that Lucy would fake a letter like that. It doesn't seem in character for her, and it's a weak clue to follow. It seems most likely that she simply repeated a phrase she read in the 'ransom' letter.

And Lucy sure was posed in the universal posture of a murder victim disguised as drug overdose.

The problem with Amelia's arguments in these fights is that it's not like she has an unrelated career of which Hays is being unsupportive. Their whole relationship is wrapped up in this case, from start to finish, and it's a case that kind of wrecked Hays' brain and his own career quite a bit. Hays can't tell her to back off or how he'd support her if she was pursuing like literally any other thing. I think he knows she can't, that she'd take the case over him if it came down to it. Even when she came to the hospital it seemed clear she was much more interested in finding out what happened than Hays' well-being.

Maybe in a way Hays created a mystery with the case so she'd stick around, but comes to rue the bargain.

the "old person" makeup is phenomenal!

Yeah it seems that way to me too, and Ali is real good at Old Hays. It's all so good I don't even notice it. Cf Stranger Things where half the characters looked like they were assembled from spare parts.
posted by fleacircus at 7:16 AM on February 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

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