‘True Detective’ Season Three: A Return To Form

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‘True Detective’ Season Three: A Return To Form

Jack Julow, Writer

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As the first season debuted on HBO, we were in the midst of the McConaissance (an era of great Matthew McConaughey material) and True Detective marked itself as the pinnacle. Woody Harrelson and McConaughey brought to life a grim story of a cultish serial killer investigation with phenomenal writing to support their performances. True Detective attempted to recapture its critical acclaim with a new stellar cast (without Cary Joji Fukunaga’s direction), and it sucked. It received mixed reviews for its convoluted story narrative, but still received acclaim for McAdams and Farrell’s performance. It seemed the anthology series would be forever gone, the third season was made and have been my entertainment for the last eight Sundays. True Detective Season Three marks a return to form — allow me to explain.

Starring two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, Wayne Hays and and his partner Roland West (Stephen Dorff) work together on a case to find a missing girl and her brother. In his investigation, Hays meets his future wife Amelia (Carmen Ejogo) who helps him with the investigation. Instead of typical narrative storytelling, there are three timelines we explore with Wayne beginning the case as one in 1980, the case being reopened in 1990 where Amelia has written a book about the case, and in 2015 with a retired Hays being interviewed with a true crime documentary producer. This format benefits the show greatly, especially as the show comes to an end.

The junior season blends nonlinear storytelling and impeccable storytelling to feature a new twisted criminal investigation that features incredible direction. Bold choices are made with visuals and story-structure — proof that audiences do not need their story watered-down to understand. I would go into more detail, but the show’s best moments are its surprises.

For a True Crime drama, True Detective Season Three is far more drama than True Crime — not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of centering on the partner relationship between Hays and West, it focuses on the marital partnership between Hays and his wife Amelia. For those expecting an insane criminal investigation similar to Season One, should take note that Season Three cares more about how crime affects relationship rather than just crime. I particularly enjoyed the choice to tell a story about how crime and injustice brought together Hays and Amelia, as often the wife archetype means no screen time for the actress.

True Detective Season 3 is streaming on HBO Now and HBO Go.

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