'True Detective' season 3: Why Scoot McNairy's Tom Purcell is the most underrated character on the show
Tom Purcell, a character who wears many hats emotionally and actually is even more complex and realistic than the rest in the roster, remains an underrated man.
There's no denying that every performance on 'True Detective's new season has been spectacular. With a cast like Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo and Stephen Dorff, we didn't really expect any less, did we? But, while the ones on the forefront slither back and forth out of the three timelines, there's one man among them who is most certainly an unsung hero in the mix. Tom Purcell, a character who wears many hats emotionally and actually is even more complex and realistic than the rest in the roster, remains an underrated man.
Would you pray with me? pic.twitter.com/dGyzb8xKnQ— True Detective (@TrueDetective) January 26, 2019
With Tom, you don't get what you see. He's like an onion, who needs to shed his many layers to actually figure out who he is. Not to mention, there's plenty of tears you shed on the way. A closeted gay man, struggling with his sexuality and the guilt it brings with it; a father whose children are taken away from him and one of them murdered in cold blood; a husband who doesn't know how to deal with his broken marriage; a raging alcoholic and a suspect in the kidnapping and murder of his own kids, Tom Purcell's character is layered like a rainbow cake, in case you haven't noticed.
Why aren't you out there lookin' for her? pic.twitter.com/asMUwHzN9F— True Detective (@TrueDetective) January 25, 2019
The best part about Tom's character arc is that it has only gotten better with each episode - consistently too. When we meet him for the first time this season, he looks like a helpless man whose life is falling apart. He seems confused about the world around him, which we think is why Lucy left him in the first place. He wasn't man enough for her and we almost feel sorry for him, to be honest. He's pitiful, sitting there between his wife who can't stop blaming him and detectives who think he's lying. He cannot seem to hold his ground about anything - not even himself. Then, Tom goes on to become the character who lies about things just as everyone else.
As though it wasn't amazing enough to have a character grow this much in just a matter of four episodes, McNairy's Tom takes a further flight in the last two. From a pitiful middle-aged man to a brave gun-yielding father who is ready to find the truth even if it kills him, Tom is just excruciatingly wonderful to watch.
He's never been the smartest of the lot in the show, we have to admit, but just the character's raw reality of a man who has been raised in a small town that is homophobic and racist and not to mention classist and criminal is anything but overshadowed. The story's mission to find out who killed Will and took Julie and what happened to her, often makes you overlook the beauty that is Tom Purcell. And unlike Carmen Ejogo's Amelia Reardon, Stephen Dorff's Roland West and Mahershala Ali's Wayne Hays, Tom doesn't look like the focal point of the story - but he does make it worth the ride.
He carries around the weight of the loss of his family on this shoulders, has secrets he can never tell and has scars he cannot wear as badges of honor - Tom Purcell really captures what it means to be a human being barely floating through life. Actor Scoot McNairy, who portrays the character onscreen deserves as much reverence as the character itself. His performance should get him an Emmy nomination at least - he makes you cry with him, makes you scared for him and makes you think he's telling the truth - all at the same time. We may not believe what you're saying Tom, but we are rooting for you!
Watch Scoot McNairy in the next episode of 'True Detective' on Sunday, 17 February at 9pm on HBO.