What Happened to Amelia in 'True Detective' Season 3? 3 Unsolved Mysteries

And a few possible answers.

True Detective Season 3 came to an end on Sunday night, and while the HBO series did provide an answer to the mystery of the Purcell case at the core of the story, it also left plenty of loose threads unresolved. The biggest remaining mystery is what happened to Amelia, Wayne Hays’ wife who wrote a book about the case and then died in between the 1990 and 2015 timelines. However, that’s not the only unanswered question.

Here are three big questions that True Detective Season 3 never really explains, along with some speculation of our own on what the answers might be.

'True Detective' Season 3
Amelia and Wayne in 1980.

What happened to Amelia in True Detective Season 3?

This is, perhaps, the most frustrating unanswered question in the Season 3 finale. The episode devotes a decent amount of time to Amelia and Wayne’s rocky relationship, which is strained by their mutual obsession with the Purcell case. We see them break up only to get back together in one the final scenes, which seems to be a memory playing out inside the older Wayne’s deteriorating mind — so it may not be very reliable.

It’s a nice moment, but not exactly a surprise. We knew they would get back together after all. What we never learn, however, is how Amelia died and whether it’s connected to her obsession with the Purcell case.

The only thing that’s clear is that Wayne doesn’t remember how his wife died, and so we don’t find out either. The closest we get is a scene where he finally solves the case in 2015 after Amelia appears to him in a vision and essentially relays information from her book. So even if Amelia is dead, she still manages to directly influence the events of the final episode in 2015.

'True Detective' Season 3
'True Detective' Season 3

What about the true crime documentary film maker in True Detective Season 3?

Throughout Season 3, it seemed clear that the woman interviewing Wayne in 2015 knew more than she let on. She offered bits and pieces of information in an effort to push those interviews forward, but never divulged her full story. So it’s disappointing that she doesn’t appears at all in the finale episode.

We never learn exactly what she knew, which seemed to be pointing to the broader conspiracy that Season 3 never truly delivered. (At this point, True Detective fans should really know better than to expect that kind of payoff.)

More importantly, the finale fails to deliver a perfect moment that we’d like to assume happens soon after the episode ends. After Wayne tracks down Julie Purcell in 2015, he writes down her address and hands it to his son, Henry Hays, who’s also a police officer.

It’s unclear if Wayne realizes what he’s doing, but Henry seems to understand the significance of the information as he slips that piece of paper into his pocket. We don’t know what happens next, but I’d like to imagine that Henry gives the address to the documentary maker so they can tell the full story at some point in the future. (#TrueDetectiveSeason4 perhaps?)

'True Detective' season 3
'True Detective'

What does the last scene of True Detective Season 3 mean?

The final thing we see is a young Wayne Hays as a soldier walking into the jungles of Vietnam. At this point we’re several layers deep into his aging mind. So it’s tough to say what this really means, but we have a few theories.

One popular theory is that the series could be suggesting Wayne actually died in the war, and everything we saw over the past eight episodes was a fantasy he imagined in the moments before his death. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t really move the plot forward in any way. Also, in that case, Wayne was somehow able to accurately predict 21st century technology and our modern true crime obsession decades earlier, which seems extremely unlikely.

A stronger guess is that this final scene represents Wayne’s total mental decline as he steps into a metaphorical jungle. In that scenario, the scene before, where he recalls meeting Amelia at a bar to reconnect, represents a final moment of clarity before Wayne loses touch with reality and the memory of his wife disappears entirely. It’s a sad way to end the series, but for True Detective, it’s not exactly out of character

True Detective Season 3 is available to stream on HBO.

Media via HBO, Inverse