The episode -- titled "Now Am Found" after a line from "Amazing Grace" -- offers a satisfying, if disturbingly sad, explanation for what happened to the Purcell children. In 2015, a reunited Wayne and Roland track down the one-eyed man known as Watts, a.k.a. Mr. June, ultimately Junius Watts, a person of interest in the original investigation. He was the one watching Wayne from a car outside his home, but his intentions weren't nefarious. He says he was building up the courage to confess; ultimately, Wayne finds him first.
Junius lays everything bare. The perpetrator was not Edward Hoyt, but his daughter, Isabel, who was grieving and falling into the depths of mental illness (and the lithium prescribed for it) after the death of her child and husband. One day, she spotted Julie and became obsessed with the girl as a stand-in for her own deceased daughter, Mary. Junius helped orchestrate a meet up through Lucy, who was working at Hoyt's factory. Lucy agrees, on two conditions: She wants money, and Julie's brother Will has to go along with them.
That's how the Purcells and Isabel wound up playing in the woods at Devil's Den. But Isabel grew more possessive, wishing to adopt Julie, and Junius says he didn't realize she had gone off her meds until the day it was too late. In a tussle over Julie, Isabel pushed Will and he fell backward, hitting his head on a rock. Junius helped hide the body, while Harris James -- the Hoyts' head of security and the former police officer who planted evidence at the Woodard scene -- paid Lucy to keep quiet, and Isabel absconded with Julie, installing her in a pink room in her mansion and calling her Mary.
Junius thought Julie was happy until he discovered that Isabel had been drugging her for nearly 10 years, obscuring her own memories of her childhood. Distraught, Junius helped Julie escape, but loses track of her. He eventually finds out that she sought therapy and employment in a shelter run by nuns, one of whom tells Wayne and Roland Julie died in 1995, having contracted HIV at some point during her life on the run.
That's seemingly the end of the story -- devastating, but not as evil as the show had been teasing. What we were watching wasn't merely a mystery about a child's disappearance; it was a story of trauma spiraling, consuming unsuspecting people in its path, leading one woman to commit murder and kidnapping.
With the case seemingly closed, Wayne packs up his wife Amelia's research, reluctant to throw it out, but largely at peace. Then Amelia's book falls open, and he reads a page about a little boy named Mike Ardoin, the one who first recognized the straw doll. Mike was infatuated with Julie, and was one of the schoolchildren most upset over her disappearance. Suddenly, something breaks open in Wayne's mind. He remembers a landscaper named Mike he and Roland met at the convent. He had a little girl named Lucy with him, whose appearance suspiciously recalled that of Julie Purcell. Wayne's mind reels, and a young Amelia emerges weaving a yarn, a peaceful ending to the story that posits that Julie did survive. "What if Julie did find a life at that convent?" the spirit version of Amelia wonders. It's all in the conditional, but it adds up.
You'll recall that in episode six, Amelia visited the same place and speaks to a girl with a birthmark on her face, who explains Julie went by the name Mary July before leaving the convent for good. The nun who tells Wayne and Roland of Julie's death has that same mark. If Julie died at the convent in 1995, then it's likely the girl was lying to Amelia in 1990. That's the conclusion Wayne and True Detective come to: Everyone at the convent decided to lie in order to protect Julie, who's alive and well.
When Amelia's at the convent in 1990, the camera lingers on a man outside. It was a shot that caught my attention for how out of place it seemed. Now we know who that man is: Mike Ardoin, who found Julie, helped her rebuild, and worked to conceal her identity before marrying her and having a child with her. Amelia probably recognized the last name on his truck.