HBO’s divisive second season of True Detective has viewers scratching their heads, either because the plot is so dense and difficult to follow that nobody can figure out what exactly is going on, or because the backstory of Taylor Kitsch’s character (closeted and self-loathing) seems a strange throwback to less enlightened times, or because Nic Pizzolatto‘s hardboiled crime noir writing verges on parody, or simply because everyone is mystified by Vince Vaughn’s performance: a strange exercise in line-readings, Pinter pauses, stilted Noh acting, and philosophical non-sequiturs. And while the crime show’s sophomore season hasn’t grabbed the Zeitgeist and caught lightning in a bottle like it did last year, the Internet is still finding ways to tackle the show’s themes. A user on Reddit, the place where conspiracy theories go to die, has come up with a fascinating theory as to who the killer is and why.
Episode three began with a strange, Lynchian dream sequence following the sudden shooting of Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) that ended the second episode on a cliffhanger. In the dream Ray talks to his policeman-father (Fred Ward), but was he really having a conversation with his dream-dad or was he in fact chatting with the man who just unloaded riot shells into his gut? Lieutenant Kevin Burris (James Frain) is one of the background characters in the show, guiding the investigation into the murder of Vinci’s corrupt city manager Ben Caspere (the homicide is notionally the reason why the show’s cops are working together.) As Uproxx points out, in a show filled with so many characters, it’s more than possible for Burris to be the killer, as he is “the kind of shadowy background figure that makes for a perfect mystery killer: He’s not that obvious, but he’s also not a last-minute surprise. He’s in every episode, he makes vague pronouncements, he’s smart, and he seems like the kind of guy a television writer might pin the murder upon.” With three episodes left, Reddit may have already solved the case. Then again, this is Reddit we’re talking about: the birthplace of the Don Draper is DB Cooper Theory.