True Detective: Season 3 (HBO, Sundays at 10 p.m.) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, June 4th, 2020  

True Detective: Season 3

HBO, Sundays at 10 p.m.

Jan 11, 2019 Web Exclusive
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Anthology series have become the most interesting programs to watch on television these days, attracting major talent on both sides of the camera. Heading into its third season, True Detective is now headlined by Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali as the lead detective on a new case.

Created by Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective has been on an interesting roller coaster since its first season. The inaugural chapter of the series perfectly paired Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, in some of their best work to date, and became a bit of a phenomenon. The gritty cop show even found itself as a popular meme online, pairing two unlikely candidates, captioning it "True Detective: Season 2." The second season starred Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn and couldn't ignite the same passion the first season did. (Full disclaimer: I only watched half the season. It was boring and deeply uninvolving).

Pizzolatto has been the constant in the series and the new season is a step up from the previous but still can't return to what made the first season so successful. Ali stars as Wayne, who is the lead detective on the case of a missing brother and sister. Wayne and his partner Roland (Stephen Dorff) knock on doors and question everyone in the small Arkansas town, in the hopes of leading to clues about the missing children. Concerns about the kids' well-being are only heightened when their erratic parents (Scoot McNairy and Mamie Gummer) are unable to provide clarity into the last time they saw their children. Carmen Ejogo rounds out the supporting cast as Amelia, a schoolteacher, who prominently stays in Ali's life.

True Detective takes place over three different timelines: the original case in 1980, returning to the case in 1990 and in 2015 when an elderly Wayne is being interviewed about his work on the case. It's very much structured like the original iteration, playing in flashbacks and calling upon character's memory to propel the narrative. Structurally, things get repetitive and a bit muddled this time around, but one thing remains a constant force throughout: Ali's performance. He wears Wayne's world in his eyes, taking us on the character's journey through the years. Ali's mannerisms change from decade-to-decade, showing the slow toll the case took on him. In just a short amount of time, Ali has proven to be one of the most interesting actors working today, constantly delivering focused and lived-in performances.

Director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) joins the series and brings his mastery of mood and atmosphere to the season, which elevates True Detective from its relaxed and unhurried pacing. Saulnier doesn't entirely harken back to the swampy and sweaty mood of the first season but what he brings feels a bit closer to what once made True Detective great.

True Detective returns January 13 at 10 p.m. on HBO. The first five episodes were screened ahead of time.


Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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Michael Coleman Actor
June 2nd 2019

I love this show!