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‘True Detective’ Creator: Season 3 Was Definitely Not a Dream the Whole Time

Nic Pizzolatto debunked a circulating "Jacob's Ladder" theory after last week's finale.

True Detective Season 3 Episode 7 Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali in “True Detective”

Warrick Page / HBO

There’s very little that’s off-limits on “True Detective.” In Season 2, Vince Vaughn’s character stares up at a stain on his bedroom ceiling. The first season’s climax took place in a winding maze of overgrowth and may have included a portal to another realm.

But series writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto draws the line at season-long hallucinations. Speaking after the end of last week’s Season 3 ender, Pizzolatto addressed the enigmatic final sequence, which returns Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) back to Vietnam, when and where he served in the military. Some writers and commenters took this as a possible indication that much of what the audience saw in the season — the case of a missing girl, his marriage to Amelia (Carmen Ejogo), and multiple grisly deaths — was just a vision of Wayne’s as he made his way through the jungle.

“Yeah, that’s not true,” Pizzolatto said in an interview with Esquire. “I’m not sure how much I should say about the very final sequence because I can literally explain it, but it might be the kind of thing that’s better left to interpretation for a while. But Wayne definitely did not die in Vietnam, and everything that you witnessed actually happened.”

In addition to stepping behind the camera for a pair of episodes this season, Pizzolatto also had an increased social media presence while these installments were airing. He explained in the interview why he felt the need to clarify certain other details and theories that had been floating around, as with Amelia’s death.

“Even if you’re paying attention, I think, in the early episodes, Wayne mentioned it was just a couple years ago and they had plans to travel, but I did feel like fans deserved that answer and since we didn’t get to put the scene in the final cut of the finale, I just wanted to clear that up for them,” Pizzolatto said.

As for any new seasons of the series, Pizzolatto reverted back to his early-season caginess, saying, “I do have a pretty serious crazy idea for another season.” Get those dream-casting engines revving up again. (The only correct answer remains Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.)

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