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This is how lead actor Mahershala Ali describes True Detective Season 3: “We’re dealing with an abduction. Two kids gone missing. And this starts a journey that spans 40 years.”

When detective Wayne Hays is called onto the case of a brother and sister who have disappeared, he knows almost immediately that this isn’t any regular missing-persons mystery. The first timeline starts in 1980, when Julie and Will Purcell’s father alerts the cops that his kids haven’t come home from their bike ride.

Then, 10 years later, the case is reopened when teenaged Julie seems to reappear. Hays is no longer a detective, but his former partner pulls him in to reinvestigate and to find out what happened to Julie Purcell.

And then we see Hays as an elderly man in the year 2015, when he is forced to relive the intricacies of the case, which was never solved, by a documentary filmmaker who interviews him about his involvement.

Somewhere along the way, a conspiracy was covered up by the powers-that-be in West Finger, Arkansas, a conspiracy that cost Hays his career, and, very nearly, his marriage, not to mention the lives of Julie and Will’s parents, and those who threatened to expose the truth behind the Purcell children’s disappearance.

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