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True Detective Just Revealed A Big Clue About Who Wrote the Ransom Note

Children should laugh, right?

Christopher Rosen

Season 3 of True Detective is not without suspects -- Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes), Freddy Burns (Rhys Wakefield), an unidentified interracial couple, the Church. There's even speculation that Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) wife, Amelia (Carmen Egogo), is the true murderer and mastermind. But Episode 4, "The Hour and the Day," put a big red circle around someone who was maybe previously on the fringe: Lucy Purcell (Mamie Gummer).

During a contentious conversation with Amelia in the 1980 timeline, Lucy said a specific phrase that should have raised hackles for anyone who has been paying attention to Season 3 of the HBO anthology series. Talking about the sad home life of her children, Will and Julie, Lucy said, "Children should laugh, right?"

If that sounds familiar, that's because it is: the same sentiment, verbatim, was written on the ransom note Lucy and Tom (Scoot McNairy) received back in Epsiode 2.

"Do not worry. Julie is in a good place and safe the children shud laugh do not look let go."

We know Julie is alive in 1990; we also know Lucy died in Las Vegas back in 1988. Thus far, no one has taken her seriously as a suspect. But considering the ransom note makes a direct connection to her mindset, maybe they should?

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It's worth noting that after being pressed by Amelia, a distraught Lucy turns angry immediately, shouting racist epitaphs at Amelia and chasing her away. It's possible she's overcome with grief and quoting the ransom letter in conversation; maybe it made an impact on Lucy because of how few laughs were found in the Purcell home.

Or maybe she's part of a larger conspiracy.

In a prior episode, Wayne said a breakthrough in the case they've been missing was right in front of their faces. In Episode 4, one potential twist was in front of ours, too.

True Detective airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Watch our Episode 4 recap video above.