The Next True Detective Episode Has A McConaughey & Harrelson Photo Cameo

Mahershala Ali Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective

True Detective season 3 takes place in the same world as season 1, and next week’s episode will feature a cameo from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson of sorts to hammer that home. It’s becoming clear the two seasons of TV – set in Arkansas and Louisiana respectively – are more connected than we thought.

Both these seasons of True Detective takes place in three different timelines. In season 1, McConaughey’s Rust Cohle and Harrelson’s Marty Hart investigate a series of crimes in 1995, 2002, and 2012, while Mahershala Ali’s Wayne Hays investigates the death of Will Purcell and the disappearance of his sister, Julie, in 1980, 1990, and 2015. All of the detectives investigate crimes that seem to be connected to a larger conspiracy involving a pedophile group known as the “Crooked Spiral.” 

Related: True Detective Season 3 Is In The Same World As Season 1

In True Detective’s new promo for episode 5, the 2015 timeline shows Hays being interviewed by journalist Elisa Montgomery for a true crime documentary. A curious image appears on her laptop: a newspaper headline that says, “Former State Police Officers Stop Alleged Serial Killer.” The officers in question appear to be none other than season 1’s Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. More than just a fun reference, this crossover appears to have a serious impact on True Detective season 3’s mystery.

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective Season 3

In True Detective season 3, the 2015 timeline shows that Hays didn’t follow up on certain clues during his initial 1980 investigation. A couple in a brown sedan was spotted by witnesses near the crime scene, but nobody followed up on the lead. In season 3, Elisa, the True Criminal journalist, presses Wayne about why he didn’t follow up, thus making him even more agitated about the past. After four episodes, Hays believes that that Elisa has discovered new information about the case, one that his now-deceased ex-wife Amelia wrote an acclaimed book about; he’s just not sure what that information could be.

Could that information be linked to the mystery from True Detective season 1? Elisa already hinted at the “crooked spiral” killer’s brand from season 1, albeit in a passing sense, and now the computer suggests that Cohle and Hart’s 2012 killing of serial killer Errol Childress may be connected to the Purcell case more directly. In the new True Detective trailer, Elisa also asks Wayne if any of Amelia’s book research suggested a larger conspiracy, further alluding to this being the new information.

While the True Detective season 1 connection is certainly exciting, as is seeing Cohle and Hart, what all this really does is highlight how important Amelia and her book is to the case. It’s a key connection between all three timelines, and evidently holds – or hides – something to do with season 1. Whether or not True Detective season 3’s mystery ultimately depends on what’s come before, it’s clear there’s more going on that meets the eye.

More: True Detective Season 3 Cast & Character Guide

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