Will Trent Character Explained: A Man With Trauma And Brilliant Detective Skills

Ramon Rodriguez plays the titular Will Trent in ABC’s crime drama series based on Karin Slaughter’s novel, and he’s done a fantastic job in the first season. Trent is a special agent at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and can often be seen wearing a three-piece suit, something that was initially used to ridicule him. However, beyond his suit and attitude, this is a man carrying decades worth of emotional baggage and trauma. With Season 1 coming to a close, here’s a detailed look at GBI’s number one detective, Will Trent.

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Spoilers Ahead


Will Trent And His Quirks 

Brilliant detectives don’t come along too often these days without a particular quirk that sets them apart from the rest. This quirk helps showcase this detective as somebody who can solve crimes, catch killers, and save the people close to them. Will Trent is one such detective who initially comes off as a smug and proud man who considers himself far superior to the other detectives, a notion not lost on his fellow crime solvers. However, once you get to know Trent better, you understand that he is a severely dyslexic, socially awkward, and emotional baggage-carrying man who has more than enough physical scars to highlight just how messed up his life has been. Trent can be seen wearing a three-piece suit, carrying a handkerchief, and traveling around in a Porsche—things that make others jealous of him. However, as we get to know more about him, it turns out that most of his quirks are a part of his coping mechanisms because of all the trauma he has carried for the better part of his adult life. The first case he ever solves is when he rescues the kidnapped daughter of a man he grew up with in the orphanage. This man, Paul Campano, calls Trent “trash” until Trent’s girlfriend, Angie Pulaski, asks Campano to call the detective by his name. This special nickname has a lot of significance to Trent’s life; it is where the orphanage supposedly found Trent as a baby. That is enough to give somebody a lifetime of identity crises and questions about themselves since Trent never knew who his birth parents were or why they chose to abandon him as a baby for an orphanage to pick him up.

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Meeting Angie Pulaski

It is in this orphanage where Will Trent met Angie Pulaski when they were kids, and it is where he realized his feelings for this girl, and it was a reciprocated feeling. Thus began a relationship that is very toxic but has stuck through thick and thin, surviving several breakups and even more fights. Trent and Angie would often break up between episodes, and by the next time, some of the other calamities would bring them close again. The relationship between Trent and Angie is problematic because both of them need each other in an almost trauma-bonding way, where their individual traumas serve as the pieces of a jigsaw that help them fit together. But this relationship is problematic because they do not have the emotional capacity to sit down and talk about their issues, at least in the beginning. Angie is a recovering drug addict who suffered from substance abuse because she was sexually assaulted at a foster home when she was 15 years old. Trent, who had preferred living his life all alone, had no choice but to bring Angie in because of how starved of physical and emotional affection he had been for the better part of his life, and this is the reason they kept coming back to each other.


Bringing In Betty

The first time we meet Will Trent, he is trying to give up a little Chihuahua for adoption, but as fate would have it, he’s the one who ends up having to take care of the little dog and ends up naming her Betty. This dog becomes a very important part of Trent’s life as he spends a lot of time taking care of her, taking her shopping, cooking good food for her, and finally having somebody who will listen to him without complaining. As it turns out, Angie, although she initially did not like Betty, ended up forming a friendship with the little dog and would often share her deepest secrets with the pet because she, too, knew that Betty would not complain. It’s because of Betty that Trent brings in a young person named Niko, whom he gives a space in his home and pays to take care of Betty. There might also be another reason for inviting Nico to his home, and that is Trent’s need to fulfill the huge emptiness that he feels inside. Having bounced around from foster home to foster home all his life, Trent has never learned stability, a feeling that is mutual with Angie. Thus, Trent paints his home, cooks food, listens to the radio, and does several other things that help him stay rooted in the stability that is his home.

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His Fascination With All Things Old

Interestingly, Will Trent can almost always be seen carrying a handkerchief, something that is a common theme for all the children who came out of the orphanage where he grew up. This handkerchief was something all the children were provided with, and keeping this cloth clean and ironed became a habit for them. Trent can often be seen rubbing the handkerchief in his fingers as a way to ground himself while he thinks about the case he’s solving. The three-piece suit also has a story behind it. Trent spent his early life waiting for clothes he would receive in donations from rich families that had too much to spend. Almost always, he would end up with too little or too uncomfortable clothes on his back, and it was never enough. Thus, when he became a special agent with the GBI, he filled his closet with a number of suits, and he would dress his best for every day at work because that was how he would compensate for spending almost two decades of his life in poverty. He is dyslexic and has severe difficulty trying to read a piece of paper, which is why his go-to method to note down scenes of crime or even while thinking is using a tape recorder. However, he could just use an iPhone with a much more modern inbuilt recorder that would document his thoughts; but Trent is somebody who is unable to adapt to changes. That is the reason his phone is at least two decades old, his tape recorder is a very old analog model, and he still uses a box radio to listen to music instead of using Spotify. It is because of this inability to adapt to new things that he is not able to move on from his relationship with Angie, even though, time and again; he realizes that this is an unhealthy bond he shares. However, he tries his best to keep their relationship alive because he does love her, as has been proven several times.


The Childhood Traumas 

Will Trent does not know about his childhood, which has caused him a lot of problems in his life. One of those problems was the ill-treatment he received at the foster homes. As a result, he has a deep distrust and disgust for the foster parents who might want to adopt children or the CPS, which will assign a child to a foster home without checking with the family. He has a lot of scars on his body, and when a CPS worker comes to the GBI to assign a child to a foster home, Trent truly shows his anger, shouting at the woman about whether she has done proper background checks. He then narrates how his foster mother once ironed his clothes while he was wearing them because he had worn unironed clothes to Sunday church and embarrassed the woman. This shows just how many trust issues Trent has and that he will not be willing to hand over another child to a foster home because he knows how cruel people can be. It is for this reason that he takes care of the child, who had been a victim of kidnapping until he is reunited with his mother. 

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Will Trent’s Real Identity 

Finally, having wondered about his true parentage all his life, Trent finds out the reality about his mother in Will Trent episode 12. When a psycho from 1986 returns to commit terrible crimes once again in Atlanta, Georgia, Amanda puts Trent at the helm of the case, where their task is to apprehend the killer who has been sewing people’s mouths shut before killing them. It is through this case that Trent finds out his mother was Lucy Morales, a sex worker who died in childbirth, leaving behind baby Trent. The finale episode also reveals that it was Amanda Wagner who had found him as a baby and taken him home, where she planned to raise him as her own and also gave him his name. However, as fate would have it, Amanda had to give up Trent, and she has regretted this decision for her entire life. When Trent finally learns the truth, he walks up to Amanda and thanks her for all that she has done. However, the first time he found out about his mother, he had an emotional outburst directed at Amanda, in which he blamed her for keeping it a secret his entire life.

As it turns out, Amanda did not want Trent to know about his parentage because she was afraid or embarrassed that he might not like her involvement in his life. For whatever reasons, however, when the need was apparent to let Trent know about his childhood, she trusted him with the information because she considered him her best. This is because she has considered him a son, and for three weeks, she has really raised him as one. Trent might not have felt a mother’s love, but he finds out that he is scared for, loved, and appreciated both in his personal life and his professional career, and finally, the emptiness that he has felt all his life is shed away when he finds himself surrounded by people who actually care for him.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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