lines of inquiry

True Detecting True Detective: Let’s Lay Odds on Who the Killer Is

Photo: Warrick Page/Courtesy of HBO

Whew. With this week’s “Hunters in the Dark,” we get a lot of developments — and a lot of odds shifting, too. Stop the episode early on and you might think, well, maybe Tom did have something to do with it. But by episode’s end, he seems as eager to find the truth as anyone else (even if he might not be that long for this world). So strap in for some of the most dramatic shifts we’ve yet seen.

Tom Purcell (Scott McNairy): 30 to 1

Last week’s odds: 10 to 1

Photo: Warrick Page/Courtesy of HBO

Let’s start with Tom. The message from the woman claiming to be Julie accuses him of not being her father, which makes him a suspect all over again. Even Wayne is wondering if Tom might have had something to do with the crime. Tom, however, doesn’t behave like a guilty man upon release. He behaves like a tormented, alcoholic man, but not a guilty one. What’s more, he seems to have discovered a key element of the case that neither Wayne nor Roland has yet to find: the pink room located in the basement of the Hoyt estate. But will he live long enough to do anything about it? That brings us to…

Harris James (Scott Shepherd): 8 to 1

Last Week: 25 to 1

Well, well, well: Look who’s shooting up on the suspect list. It’s Harris James, the cop who discovered (or “discovered”) evidence tying Woodard to the Purcell case at the scene of the shootout. By 1990, he seems to be doing quite well for himself as Hoyt’s chief of security. Is the position a reward for keeping the Hoyt connection to the Purcell case silent? That’s looking pretty likely, especially since we know he knows about the pink room. Is a hemorrhoid-free life worth this kind of moral compromise?

Lucy Purcell (Mamie Gummer): 4 to 1

Last week’s odds: 5 to 1

Photo: Warrick Page/Courtesy of HBO

Here’s what’s emerging as a possible theory of the case (though it’s worth being skeptical about any theory emerging with several episodes left in the season): Lucy sleeps with the still-offscreen Mr. Hoyt. Hoyt either fathers Julie by her or for some reason becomes fixated on Julie. Lucy trades her daughter to Hoyt in exchange for money. (Poor Will is just collateral damage in this scenario. And Lucy would technically be an accessory to the crime rather than the perp. But just indulge these numbers for the sake of simplicity.) Tortured by what she’s done, Lucy continues on a self-destructive path until she, as Cousin Dan suggested, asked for more than Hoyt was willing to give and ended up dead. And speaking of…

Cousin Dan O’Brien (Michael Graziadei): 10 to 1

Last week’s odds: 4 to 1

Cousin Dan is now looking more like an adjacent sleaze bag rather than the primary sleaze bag. But boy is he sleazy, with his insinuations of cousin-on-cousin love. It’s hard to feel too sorry that he’s quarry-bound.

Mr. Hoyt: 3 to 1

Last week’s odds: 5 to 1

We’re going to conflate Mr. Hoyt and the Ozark Children’s Resource Center since they seem to be one and the same at this point. Whether it’s Mr. Hoyt or someone else in the larger Hoyt organization, there’s clearly something suspicious going on at the meat factory. Or is that too obvious? Is there an innocent explanation for Hoyt beefing up its security to suspicious levels and creating a kind of underground pink dream palace?

The Cigarette-Smoking Runaway Questioned by Amelia: 40 to 1

Last Week: N/A

She seems like another one-off character introduced to shed a little light on Julie’s post-disappearance life.

Lori (Jodi Balfour): 100 to 1

Last week’s odds: 25 to 1

Out of the picture this week, Lori’s looking and more like a long shot.

People Surveilling Wayne: 25 to 1

Last week’s odds: 10 to 1

We’re lowering the odds on the people in the sedan surveilling Wayne because they may only exist in his head — Roland doesn’t see them when asked — and, thus, be incapable of committing crimes.

Alan Jones (Jon Tenney): 15 to 1

Last week’s odds: 12 to 1

Not much in the picture this week again. Let’s lower those odds.

Gerald Kindt (Brett Cullen): 10 to 1

Last week’s odds: 10 to 1

In an act of oversight, we haven’t really addressed Gerald Kindt, a local DA in 1980 and Arkansas’ Attorney General in 1990, thanks in part to having closed the Purcell case by convicting Woodard. No wonder he looks so upset when Julie turns up alive and Woodard looks less likely as a suspect. (We’ve eliminated him here.) But maybe his rise, and his concern, has something to do with his relationship with Hoyt and his own connection to the Purcell case. Could be.

Person Who Was Obviously in Elisa’s Room When Wayne Walked In Even Though She Said No One Was There: Eliminated

Last week’s odds: 75 to 1

Yeah, it was Henry.

The Priest Roland Doesn’t Like: 100 to 1

Last week’s odds: 10 to 1

It feels like we can come this close to eliminating him since we haven’t seen him in a while. And yet, those photos … Let’s keep him in the mix for now.

Tom’s Old Boss At The Shop: 45 to 1

Last week’s odds: N/A

Gruff? Yeah. Borderline homophobic based on the inflection he uses when he says “queer”? For sure. Our guy? Probably not.

Dead-Eyed Mystery Man and His Female Companion: 5 to 1

Last week’s odds: 3 to 1

We apparently meet the Dead-Eyed Man this week at Amelia’s reading and he’s pretty scary. Yet, let’s raise the odds because he also seems kind of sad and angry about the Purcell case rather than guilty. It’s weird, right? Right? Also, would a killer show up to browbeat a true crime author about not having a theory? Actually, yeah, probably. Maybe we’ll have reason to lower the odds next week.

The Pushy Local TV Reporter Who Harangues Lucy: 50 to 1

Last week’s odds: N/A

She’s probably just doing her job and probably not involved in the crime. Doesn’t mean we have to like her, though.

Someone We Haven’t Seen Yet: 5 to 1

Last week’s odds: 2 to 1

This still remains a strong possibility, but we’re much closer to the end than the beginning so we’re going to raise the odds. (We’re not counting Mr. Hoyt here, however.)

Previously eliminated suspects:

• True Criminal producer Elisa Montgomery
• Henry Hays
• Steve McQueen
• The Junkyard Fox
• Wayne Hays
• Roland West
• Amelia Reardon (Yes, we’re aware of the theory. No, we don’t think there’s anything to it.)
• Amelia’s Ghost
• Ronnie Boyle
Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax
• Tip Line Tipster
• Unnamed Surly Farmer
• The Woman Who Could Do More Push-ups Than Anyone Else in the 1980s
• Ghosts of the Viet Cong
• Mr. Whitehead
• Dear Good Woman Patty Faber
• Brett Woodard
• Freddy Burns and the Purple VW Beetle Toughs
• The Runaway Questioned by Wayne and Roland
• The Insolent File Clerk

This post is updated weekly throughout.

True Detecting True Detective: Who’s the Killer?