“Finish It” – True Detective Season 3 Theory

Warning: Contains spoilers for True Detective Season 3 episodes 1, 2, & 3. Go get caught up before reading. I’m also going to be referencing clips from the trailers that have not been shown in the series proper yet. You’ve been warned.

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I’m gonna cut to the chase: With what was shown to us in the two trailers, and the three episodes released so far, I think we actually have everything we need to solve this mystery.

Let’s go through the where, who, why, what, and when of it all.

Where is Julie Purcell?

While totally reasonable, I think it will turn out to be a fatal error for the detectives to have ignored the tip from that woman who had a dream about Julie. The woman said she saw the girl on a farm, surrounded by snakes. Now take a look at the large photograph in the back of the cork board, behind all the other photos.

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It looks to be an overhead shot of a farm. Surrounded by snakelike rivers.

This is where the detectives will find out she was being held, but, of course, it will by then be too late, and she’ll be long gone.

Who took her? And why?

Her being held on a farm strongly implicates the Hoyt company, who would have good reason to own a farm. It could very well be that they are involved in human trafficking, as was suggested by the documentarian in episode 2. She mentions “The Crooked Spiral,” which seems to be a direct reference to the cult in season 1. I think that ultimately “the Crooked Spiral” and Hoyt are connected, probably as part of a web of interconnected secret societies and upper-class criminal organizations. Pizzolatto has said he’s toying with the idea of having the heroes of the various seasons meet each other at some point. Perhaps they will connect their respective dots, and take down the head of this shadowy group?

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What did Hays leave in the woods?

When Hays receives a visit from the ghost of his deceased wife, she speaks in poetry and riddles, and ominously mentions Hays having left something out in the woods back in the 80s. What could it be?

You don’t have to be a true detective to know this case is going sour fast. With mob violence imminent, there’s a lot of pressure for the case to be closed, even if that means pinning the blame on a scapegoat. I think that when Hays discovers who the culprit truly is, he won’t be able to charge them, because they’re part of the wealthy Hoyt family, and can afford to evade justice. Someone else will be charged, probably the three teens, in order to give closure to the town and curtail their acts of violence. But Hays won’t be able to accept it. I think that, when he realizes this person is above the law, he will pursue his own vigilante justice. I think he kills this person, and shoots them and hides their body in the woods.

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When exactly is Hays?

So, what’s going on with Hays and his memory?

It’s hard to miss the influences of pop culture on True Detective. The series itself is named after an old pulp magazine. The hero of season 3 is named after a Jimi Hendrix song. Season 2 very clearly drew on Twin Peaks at times. Season 1 is centered around the Yellow King and Carcosa, which are both from a Robert W. Chambers novel. And it looks like Lovecraft and D&D are going to be important points this season. Knowing this, my ears perked up during episode 3 when a certain phrase was uttered.

“Finish it.”

A widower, lost in time, hearing the specter of his deceased author wife telling him to “Finish it.” Isn’t that directly from 2006’s The Fountain? Now there could be a lot of reasons for this, including parallel thinking, but I’m just going to go ahead and call it what I think it is: An homage.

I think that this homage is indicative of supernatural elements at work. Both seasons 1 and 2 had supernatural elements, so if season 3 lacked any, it would be an outlier. So what’s the supernatural twist this season? I think Hays is moving through time.

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In The Fountain, the story is divided into three time periods: The past (during the Spanish Inquisition), the present (2006 at the time), and the future (traveling through space). It becomes clear during the film that our hero, Tommy, is able to move his consciousness between these three times, changing the past with knowledge he’s gained in the future. One of the major things he needs to alter in the past is the fact that he never helped his wife conclude her novel. She was writing it when she fell critically ill, and before she passed away, she asked him to finish writing it for her. “Finish it,” is a line repeated many, many times in the film, reminding Tommy of all the things he left undone in the past, until finally, he uses the power of his mind to go back and alter the events.

I think the parallels between True Detective and The Fountain are too strong to be coincidence. Furthermore, when searching Will Purcell’s room, the detectives find a book that mentions Leng. Leng was originally a location in H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, and, if one possesses a strong enough mind, one can cross back and forth between the waking world and the Dreamlands. I think all of this points to Hays possessing the ability, somehow, to mentally jump between these periods in time. Think of the series finale to Star Trek: The Next Generation (spoilers — highlight to read) where Jean-Luc Picard does this exact thing: Mentally jumping from his past, present, and future selves in order to alter the events of all three timelines. There being multiple precedents for this makes it less of a stretch.

The fact that they’ve avoided specifically naming Hays’ mental condition leads me to think that naming it doesn’t matter, from a storytelling perspective, because they’re wrong. He doesn’t have dementia, or Alzheimer’s: It’s something medical science doesn’t understand.

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How exactly he’s able to do this is a mystery that I don’t think will be answered. True Detective thus far has been perfectly comfortable with not answering every question. There’s still so much we don’t know about the Yellow King and what happened during the finale. And that’s OK. In real life, we usually don’t get answers to our greatest questions. And when you’re delving into the supernatural in an otherwise grounded show, it’s sometimes better not to explain everything. It’s also in line with the cosmic horror from which True Detective takes some inspiration: There are things we as humans can never understand about the universe, and attempting to understand them leads to madness.

 

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Can You “Win” Black Mirror: Bandersnatch?

 

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Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

Author’s note: I’m going to be referring to Bandersnatch as a game in this article, because it makes more sense to use this word within this context.

Since its release, Black Mirror‘s interactive nightmare Bandersnatch has drawn people into its labyrinth in search of secrets. While it seems that all possible endings have, at this point, been discovered, it is still up for debate which ending is the “true” ending. While, cinematically, the “5-Star” ending might seem the most in-keeping with Black Mirror‘s usual vibe, there’s something about it that seems too obvious. It doesn’t subvert our expectations, it just plays into them. We expect Stefan to end up like Jerome F. Davies, descending into a rabbit hole of paranoia and violence. Nothing about this ending is surprising.

As a gamer, I went into Bandersnatch with the mindset that I needed to get the “true” ending, and I knew well that the “true” ending isn’t always the most obvious. Silent Hill 2 and Bloodborne are prime examples of the true endings being the more depressing and unsettling. In my mind, the true ending to this unconventional story wouldn’t be the easiest to get, it wouldn’t be found at the end of the most conspicuous path, and it wouldn’t be one of the copy-paste endings with a review at the end. Seeking the highest rating for Stefan’s game was only playing into expectations, and going for the easiest answers. Notice how the first REAL choice we are given in Bandersnatch is whether or not to work at Tuckersoft, and making the more obvious choice of accepting the offer leads us to an unsatisfying ending, for both Stefan and ourself, the player. It’s only when you make the risky choice that you can progress. This fact, to me, is very telling of what the true ending of Bandersnatch is meant to be.

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There are many ways to lose a game. There’s far fewer ways to win. You can finish the game, get a review, and be fooled into thinking that you’ve successfully gotten the high score, but you’ve only done what the game expected you to. Only what it wanted you to. You played into the programming, and were controlled just as much as Stefan was. Bandersnatch expects you to go mad, kill your father, and finish making the game. To really beat the game, you have to get Stefan away from the dark fate Bandersnatch has planned for him.

There is only one ending that has you diverge from the path of slavishly completing the game. Only one that fulfills the Stefan’s wants and needs, not those of the player. Only one that actually frees Stefan from the endlessly cycling maze.

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The “TOY” ending, where Stefan goes back in time, finds Rabbit, and embarks on the fateful train ride with his mother, resulting in his spontaneous death in the current time line.

Changing the events surrounding his mother’s death is the only way to truly break Stefan out of the endless cycle of madness, murder, and imprisonment. While the result of changing history is bleak, it is the only ending that does not result in Stefan’s imprisonment, and is (arguably) more merciful. In his death, he is actually freed from the maze. It is the only way he can escape the confines of Program and Control.

Think about it: Throughout the course of Bandersnatch, we’re told over and over again that we need to break free. We’re challenged to escape the limitations of the programming, as impossible as that seemingly is. While we are still controlling Stefan no matter what path we go down, it is possible for us to choose a path for him that gives him closure, and allows him to rest in peace rather than driving him down a path that destroys him and everyone around him. No matter how you slice it, the “TOY” ending is the one that causes Stefan to suffer the least. It also allows him to confront his personal demons, rather than him being driven mad by them.

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We are constantly being told, don’t give in. Don’t make the easy choices. Don’t go for the obvious paths. In a sense, we are playing against the game Bandersnatch itself. The premise of the game tricks us, suggesting that the only goal we have is to complete Stefan’s video game. But doing that only causes him suffering, and surrenders to the trappings of obvious and easy answers. It’s easy to give in. It’s easy to let Stefan become single-minded and only care about the game, letting his own life fall to shambles as a result. What’s harder to do is to look for the deeper, more obscure path, and release our Pac-Man from his programming.

 

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Iron Fist: Is Danny Rand on the Autism Spectrum? [No Spoilers]

With the recent news of Iron Fist‘s cancellation, it’s sad to look back at the two seasons we were given and think about what might have been. While it was certainly the weakest of the Netflix-Marvel collaborations, the nonetheless holds the potential to be as amazing as the others, should he be taken down the right path. The time seems ripe for speculating where the character could go from here, if this iteration is kept alive within the Marvel-Netflix universe, or even brought into the larger scale of the MCU. How could Iron Fist find his footing again?

One of the first things that struck me, when I first watched Iron Fist Season 1, was how different Danny Rand was from the other heroes he shared his universe with, and not really in a good way. He was a typical straight white male from a wealthy family, like so many superheroes, including but not limited to Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, Reed Richards, and Ted Kord. Compare this with the other three members of The Defenders: Matt Murdock, a blind man, Jessica Jones, a woman who suffered sexual abuse and PTSD, and Luke Cage, a black man living in the impoverished Harlem. It would make a lot more sense if Danny was also a minority of some kind.

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YES. I know what you’re going to say. “The SJWs have to shoehorn in minorities in everything.” Look: If a tactic is working, DON’T CHANGE IT. The Defenders work GREAT as a group of minorities. It’s just part of the cocktail that makes these characters all so compelling. Furthermore, Marvel Comics made their name by publishing comics that catered to subcultures, minorities, and the disenfranchised. Perhaps the most famous example of this are the X-Men, who themselves are metaphors for racial minorities, LGBT+, and anyone else rejected by mainstream society. So, if you want the SJWs to get out of Marvel Comics, you’re decades too late.

The Netflix version of Iron Fist was not well-received by fans, who criticized the writing and performances. Danny Rand comes off as an oblivious, disconnected, inconsiderate jerk. But, what if there was a reason that Danny has issues with his social interactions? What if there was a reason Danny doesn’t understand the way he acts comes off as rude? What if there was a reason Danny can’t communicate properly?

What if Danny Rand is on the autism spectrum?

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Danny shows a lot of behaviors associated with Asperger’s, a condition on the autism spectrum. Symptoms of Asperger’s include difficulty with social interactions, trouble empathizing with others, and a need for calmness and routine. Even Danny’s constant word-vomiting about K’un Lun and his defeat of the dragon Shou Lao, despite peoples’ reactions, mirrors the way people with Asperger’s can be hyper-obsessive over one particular subject. He tells anyone he meets that he’s “the immortal Iron Fist,” unable to understand that no one knows what that is.

Yes, all of these things could have alternate explanations. After all, Danny did leave the typical world and spent the majority of his life in K’un Lun. And he did fight the dragon Shao Lao, which is definitely something to be proud of. Why wouldn’t he want to talk about it often? This crystallization could account for Danny’s childlike demeanor, but it also doesn’t really explain everything. After all, it’s not like people don’t mature in K’un Lun. Why wouldn’t Danny be a more disciplined person, able to speak politely, be patient, and empathize with others?

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Iron Fist makes a lot more sense if you believe Danny is on the autism spectrum. All the other Defenders and their supporting cast are either disabled, mentally ill, or minorities. If Danny was revealed to be on the autism spectrum it would make his character more sympathetic, and give representation to people on the spectrum.

So, Marvel, if you want to hire me, I’m great at revamping problematic characters…

(Editor’s note: I also came across someone on Reddit who had similar thoughts. The thread is worth reading, in my opinion.)

 

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Theory: The Deeper Connection Between Bloodborne and Lovecraft

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers for Bloodborne.

There’s no question that the Hidetaka Miyazaki game Bloodborne is heavily influenced by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, particularly the concept of the Great Ones and other incomprehensible beings. There are three main cycles in Lovecraft’s work, with some overlaps here and there: The Cthulhu Mythos, the Dream Cycles, and his miscellaneous works. For this theory we’ll just be focusing on the first two.

There are two factions of “Gods” (for lack of a better word) in Lovecraft’s mythos: The Great Old Ones, such as Cthulhu and Tsathoggua, and the Outer Gods, such as Nyarlathotep and Azathoth. (There are also their minions, but those irrelevant here.) The Great Old Ones are mostly Earth deities, worshiped by ancient man. They are rooted in nature and the workings of the Earth itself. Then, there are the Outer Gods, which are more concerned with the Dream Lands and space. They exist outside of our natural realms, living instead in the far reaches of the cosmos and other dimensions.

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In Bloodborne, the main goal of the humans is to transform into higher beings, akin to the Great Ones, through consumption of the blood of the left behind Great One, Ebrietas and experiments with the Kos parasites. However, these humans attempting ascension seem awfully confused. They believe that the Kos parasites will grant them the insight needed to ascend, and begin working with water-based experiments. Kos seems analogous to the Great Old Ones of the Earth. However, there seem to be bigger fish to fry, like the Moon presence, which seems more like an Outer God. It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but I believe Bloodborne drew from this concept of there being two factions of Gods, and created a conflict between them. Someone* suggested that the Amygdala seemed to be the antagonists of the Moon Presence.

*Author’s note: My sincerest apologies, I can’t recall whose theory this is. If anyone reading this knows, please bring it to my attention in the comments below so I can properly attribute their work to them.

Furthermore to prove that the citizens of Yharnam are greatly unaware of the truth, they mistook the concept of Insight to mean “Eyes on the inside.” This makes no sense, honestly. It sounds like the result of a game of telephone, wherein the original concept was to gain insight into the nature of these greater beings, so as to reach their level of existence, but over the years, or decades, or possibly even eras, this word “insight” was mistranslated by those that followed the original discoverers of the eldritch truth, and thought that they were supposed to literally have eyes inside their brains. They therefore began experimenting on animals, and later humans, mutilating them to sprout multiple eyes.

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My theory on what all this means for the story of Bloodborne: Humans attempting ascension are concerned with the “Great Old Ones” like Kos, but they fail in their goals because this is not the true way. The twist at the end is that, while the humans were concerned with the Great Old Ones, the Moon Presence, an Outer God, was pulling the strings the whole time, and it is the true means of ascension. The ending is a revelation that everything the humans thought was important was a red herring. It was never the way to becoming a higher being. Something that other humans could never have fathomed was there was the true means they sought. It enslaved Gehrman so that it could find a Hunter to do its bidding, and destroy the Great Old Ones for reasons that are probably unfathomable to us mortals. Who knows how long this has been going on. Perhaps every Hunter has been given a different task, each one a step towards the Moon Presence’s ultimate goal. Eileen and Djura seem to have been successful in whatever task they were given, and were returned to the waking world by Gehrman’s execution.

Notice how it’s only once you meet the Moon Presence that you ascend to being a higher being. That was the only way the whole time. The blood of the Great Old Ones, Gods of the Earth, were only ever going to turn people into beasts, because the beasts are creatures of the Earth and Nature. The only way to become a higher being, is to commune with the cosmic entities.

 

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