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Review: True Detective Season Three

Keith Higgons

Posted on January 15, 2019 10:31

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HBO's highly anticipated crime drama True Detective returns

True Detective Season One is the Guns-n-Roses "Appetite for Destruction" of television. Simply put, no matter how good any season of True Detective is that follows, it will never be that good.

Nic Pizzolatto’s intelligent and dark detective series finally returned for a third season on HBO this past Sunday. This season is top lined by Academy and Golden Globe winner Mahershala Ali and Blu E cigarette spokesman Stephen Dorff (apparently borrowing Woody Harrelsons's hair piece from season one).

The first two episodes, "The Great War and Modern Memory" and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, tell the story of two children that go missing in 1980’s Arkansas. Covering three separate time periods (1980, 1990 and 2015), these episodes paint the landscape for what’s to come. And, much like Arkansas, it’s expansive. You have a foreboding sense that anything is possible . . . and probable.

Interestingly, there is a nod to the West Memphis Three in episode one. Pizzolatto seems much more deliberate than cheeky, so I’m curious to see how that plays out. You'll need to pay close attention here, so if you’re looking for a crime drama that’s more linear, True Detective isn’t for you.

While Pizzolatto is the sole credited writer on all episodes in season one, he shares credit on two episodes in season two (with Scott Lasser) and two episodes in season three (with David Milch and Graham Gordy).

Similarly, season one had only one director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, while season two had six and season three has three (Pizzolatto directing two). All said, I suspect a more cohesive story and vision to accompany this season: from what I’ve seen, I’m optimistic.

Now saying Mahershala Ali is a “good actor” is akin to saying Tom Brady is a “good quarterback”. Both of these men are two of the best in their profession. Period.

In every scene, Ali is firing on all cylinders and with his character covering three time periods, it gives him tremendous opportunity to shine. And shine he does. Stephen Dorff is fine. His character, at least so far, isn’t meant to be anything more than a partner. Not an equal.

Scoot McNairy, from AMC’s brilliantly underrated Halt and Catch Fire, shines in the role of the anguished father. The cast is rounded out by many familiar faces and not surprisingly, everyone has brought their A-game.

The vapid music that accompanies the show is an unusual miss for T-Bone Burnett.

Another tiny complaint, a show this complex would benefit from binge viewing. Even with weekly recaps, asking viewers to re-visit the complexity of a story that spans three time periods (and includes a character’s failing memory) is a big ask.

True Detective Season Three is similar to the current incarnation of Guns-n-Roses. While it’s a return to form, it’s not the classic line up. That’s never going to happen again, but this one is a damn fine.  

If you’re a fan of the first season, you won't be disappointed.

Keith Higgons

Posted on January 15, 2019 10:31

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Source: IGN

Minor Spoilers for the season three premiere of True Detective ahead. The third season of True Detective began last night...

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