How True Detective Season 3’s Crooked Spiral Connects to Season 1

Minor spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of True Detective ahead.

The third season of True Detective began last night on HBO and the “crooked spiral” iconography that appears in episode two also appeared in the show’s first season.

As reported by THR, the second episode sees documentary producer Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon) interviewing an older Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) about the Purcell case he was a part of some 35 years before.

During the interview, she mentions another case that involved “crooked spiral” iconography and suggests that the dolls in the Purcell case are somehow related.

The symbol was a big part of Season 1 and was “carved into the back of victim Dora Lange, in a vision Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) sees, and in and around Carcosa,” THR notes.

Many internet detectives started to wonder if this connection means Season 1 and Season 3 could take place in the same universe. Executive producer Scott Stephens weighed in and clarified if this was the case or not.

“Not really,” Stephens told THR. “I guess it’s set in the same fictional world everything is set in, right? The reference is kind of a nod to the [first season]. The stuff in Season 1 was based on the same sort of pedophilia stories that are mentioned by the documentary crew. That’s kind of the connective tissue. It’s just a fun way to tie things in.”


While they may not be in a shared universe, True Detective has gotten off to strong start. In our review of the first episode, we said “True Detective’s Season 3 premiere is a crisp, haunting episode seeped in mystery.”

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN who really needs to start watching True Detective, as he hasn’t since season one. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst.