True Detective Season 3 tells the story of two children who go missing in the Ozarks in 1980 and the two detectives tasked with solving an apparent murder-kidnapping in three different timelines. Pretty early on in the season, the show dropped a massive bombshell: Julie Purcell, the younger sister of the sibling pair, was still alive. Her fingerprints were found at the scene of a Walgreens robbery in 1990, making her 21 years old. Theories about Julie Purcell on True Detective immediately started swirling amongst fans — to say nothing of detectives Hays and West.
Hays concludes in the earliest timeline that the investigators are missing something, something that's staring them right in the face. He just can't seem to figure out what it is. It's an elegant and prescient metaphor for the mind of an Alzheimer's patient, which Hays of course turns out to be in the 2015 timeline, also struggling to see the forest for the trees. There's a mountain of puzzle pieces to try fitting together, though, and fans have dutifully taken up the mantle, as the season unfolds across three and a half decades. How did Julie survive all those years when her brother was so swiftly murdered? Here are some ideas to get you started.