True Detective season 3: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson to cameo in episode 5

The third season of True Detective will directly link back to the first in the very next episode.

After weeks of speculation that the case featured in the current run – starring Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff – was related to season one’s, it’s now been confirmed in a teaser for episode five that this is well and truly the case.

Keen-eyed fans have noticed that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s characters, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, will crop up in the next episode – on a laptop screen.

Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon), the documentary producer interviewing the 70-year-old Wayne Hays (Ali) about the Purcell he worked on 35 years before, is shown sitting next to a laptop that displays a newspaper article with the headline: “Former State Police Officers Stop Alleged Serial Murderer.”

Cohle and Hart’s faces appear under the headline. Take a look for yourself below.

Sarah Gadon, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in 'True Detective' (HBO)
Sarah Gadon, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in 'True Detective' (HBO)

In episode two of the new season, viewers saw documentary producer Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon) interview the 70-year-old Wayne Hays (Ali) about the case he worked on 35 years before. As part of their conversation, she reels off more recent cases that bear similarities to the Purcell case – one of which featured “crooked spiral” iconography.

While a throwaway line, many viewers highlighted that this symbol appeared in season one – specifically, etched into the back of Dora Lange as part of a vision McConaughey’s character saw.

Executive producer Scott Stephens previously referred to the aforementioned moment as nothing but a loving reference to the show’s first season.

He said: “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 one was based on the same sort of paedophilia stories that are mentioned by the documentary crew. That’s kind of the connective tissue.”

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True Detective continues in the US on HBO this Sunday. The episode is available to view on NOW TV and Sky Atlantic the following day.