WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of True Detective.
Season 3 of HBO's True Detective is regarded as a return to form for the series, a crime/drama procedural that follows a team of investigators, usually a duo, solving child murders and abductions.
This time, creator Nic Pizzolatto's story follows Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) as the Arkansas detectives attempt to solve the case of murdered youngster Will Purcell and his kidnapped sister Julie. However, as the show jumps between three time periods, 1980, 1990 and 2015, evidence resurfaces indicating Julie may have escaped captivity. Now, certain clues have been dropped in Episode Six, "Hunters in the Dark," which might have revealed her final fate.
Before we get into where Julie may be, we need to consider the three time periods the show's running through. In 1980, the Purcell kids tragedy occurred, and a Native American veteran of the Vietnam War, Brett Woodard, was pinned for the heinous crimes. In 2015, an older Wayne is being interviewed as part of a documentary, and as he battles memory loss, certain clues resurface that drives him to seek out a drunk, reclusive Roland to figure out what they missed, and if they helped convict the wrong man.
However, it's the middle period, 1990, that theorists believe holds the key to Julie's whereabouts, as that's when it was revealed her body was never found. The case has been reopened in this time period because Julie's fingerprints were just found out of town at a convenience store, along with blurred footage of what she might look like at the time. As they track various leads and begin to suspect local law enforcement of tampering with evidence to frame Brett, the detectives end up investigating the local cult-like chicken tycoons known as the Hoyt family.
It's when they visit a nun-run home in Arkansas that the Hoyts fund, though, where crucial red flags come to light. Here, they meet a teenage runaway named Shelly (Lindsay Musil), who's about the same age as Julie would be, and claims to be her friend. Shelly tells them Julie dealt with drug abuse and was in and out of the home quite often, ergo why she's difficult to track down. However, as she stares out the window, a glint of affection hits her as we see the home's gardener, Mike Ardoin, tending to business.
This is where Mike becomes an integral part of the puzzle. In the early episodes, he's revealed to have had a very close relationship with Julie, even being interviewed when she went missing and offering clues to Wayne and Roland. Interestingly enough, in the 1990 timeline he's played by Nathan Wetherington, who's slated to appear in the season finale, "Now Am Found," alongside Musil's Shelly. Interestingly, IMDB also has a young actress, Ivy Dubreuil, also due to appear in the finale playing a Lucy Ardoin (Lucy's actually the name of Julie's mom). Speculation is that this is Mike's daughter with Shelly, who theorists actually believe is Julie, hiding in plain sight.
Shelly certainly looks like the girl in the footage, but disguised by browning her hair. The actress who'll play Julie Ardoin is blonde, echoing what Julie looked like in the '80s. These clues may indicate that, after escaping captivity, she decided there's no better place to be than with her best friend Mike -- the only person Julie could truly trust, as hints have also been dropped her own junkie mother may have sold her off without the dad knowing in the first place.
"Ardoin" translates to "friend" or "home," depending to which part of North America you're in, and Pizzolatto does have a thing for gardeners/landscapers; Season 1's killer was a groundsman at a Louisiana religious home for at-risk youth. Hiding out in the open was also a plot device used to disguise Season 2's sibling serial killers, so it wouldn't be far-fetched for True Detective to trick fans by employing this tactic again.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, True Detective stars Mahershala Ali, Mamie Gummer, Stephen Dorff, Scoot McNairy, Carmen Ejogo and Ray Fisher.