• Some 17 years after they worked on a case together, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, then with the Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigation Division are re-interviewed about a case they worked together. They had only been partners for a few months when a naked woman's body was found in a farmer's field. She was posed kneeling before a tree with a crown of deer antlers on her head. The victim is identified as Dora Lange who, as Cohle had predicted, worked as a prostitute. Hart is a family man who does his best to get to know his new partner but Cohle reveals little of …
  • Cohle and Hart continue interviewing family and friends of the victim they found in the farmer's field. They learn that she had moved to a trailer park and found religion. They find the church she attended, now mostly burned out, but they also find something that links the church directly to their current case. Back at the office, they are faced with the prospect of being replaced by a task force. Cohle tells his partner he had a difficult time after his 2 year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. In the present day interviews, it becomes obvious to both Cohle …
  • Cohle and Martin finally get a new wind in the case and can confirm a suspect. Martin's mistress gets on with somebody else leaving him furious. Cohle's theory becomes increasingly more convincing than ever.
  • Martin is faced with marital problems. The search for Reggie Ledoux leads the detectives to a motorcycle gang called The Iron Crusaders, which Rust worked undercover in the past.
  • Hart and Cohle share the spoils of a solved case; Papania and Gilbough confront the detectives with troubling new intelligence.
  • Cohle's activities in 2002, when his partnership with Hart disintegrated and he quit the force, are recalled by Maggie.
  • Cohle and Hart try to discover if a series of missing persons reports could be related to the Dora Lange murder and the Tuttle family.
  • An overlooked detail provides Hart and Cohle with an important new lead in their 17-year-old case.
  • The disappearance of a young Arkansas boy and his sister in 1980 triggers vivid memories and enduring questions for retired detective Wayne Hays, who worked the case 35 years before with partner Roland West. What started as a routine case becomes a long journey to dissect and make sense of the crime.
  • Hays looks back at the aftermath of the 1980 Purcell case in West Finger, Ark., including possible evidence left behind at the Devil’s Den, an outdoor hangout for local kids. As attention focuses on two conspicuous suspects – Brett Woodard, a solitary vet and trash collector, and Ted LaGrange, an ex-con with a penchant for children – the parents of the missing kids, Tom and Lucy Purcell, receive a cryptic note from an anonymous source.
  • Hays recalls his early romance with Amelia, as well as cracks in their relationship that surfaced after they married and had children. Ten years after the Purcell crimes, new evidence emerges, giving him a second chance to vindicate himself and the investigation.
  • Hays and West see a possible connection between the local church and the Purcell crimes. As the detectives search for one suspect and round up another for interrogation, Woodard is targeted by a vigilante group.
  • Wayne finds himself in a no-win situation as new clues emerge in the Purcell case. Roland wrestles with how to keep evidence secure as lawyers demand a new investigation. Amelia finds her relationship with Wayne imperiled by her writing aspirations and his jealousy.
  • Wayne and Roland revisit discrepancies in the Purcell case that were hidden or forgotten over the years. Among those being reevaluated is Tom Purcell, as well as Lucy Purcell’s cousin, Dan O’Brien. The glitter of Amelia’s book release is tarnished by a voice from the past.
  • Following up on new leads, Wayne and Roland track down a man who left the police force in the midst of the Purcell investigation. Meanwhile, Amelia visits Lucy Purcell’s best friend in hopes of gaining insights into the whereabouts of the mysterious one-eyed man.
  • Wayne struggles to hold on to his memories, and his grip on reality, as the truth behind the Purcell case is finally revealed.