What’s Season Three of True Detective Worth?


In 2014, HBO amazed audiences and critics alike with its new series:True Detective. An exciting script, a virtuoso direction (thanks to Cary Fukunaga), a prodigious duo of actors (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top!), a magnificent rock soundtrack (Nick Cave, The Handsome Family), an exciting and mystical universe (the Louisiana bayous). When Nic Pizzolatto announced a second season for 2015, we can say that the wait was longer than expected. Still, what a disappointment! The season itself is far from being bad (the actors are good, some scenes are even daring, like the end of episode 4), but season 2 suffered from the comparison with season 1. Four years later, in 2019,True Detectivereturns for a third season. We have seen the first five episodes. But is it worth it?

A season closer to the season 1

It would seem, and this from the first episode of this season 3, that showrunner Nic Pizzolatto has taken note of the public’s disenchantment with his season 2. The screenwriter has therefore opted for a return to his roots.

As in the first season,True Detectiveseason 3 tells us about the difficult investigation of a duo of cops, and its consequences on their private lives at several points in their personal lives.In 1980, Will and Julie Purcell, two children aged 12 and 10, disappeared.Very quickly, Will, the older brother, is found dead, with a straw doll representing the Virgin Mary nearby. Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) are leading the investigation. In 1990, the Purcell case was back in the news again: Julie Purcell, who everyone thought was dead, was seen in a pharmacy. In 2015, Wayne Hays, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is interviewed for a TV show about the Purcell case.

First of all, it’s good to see that, as in the first season, Nic Pizzolatto has chosen to tell the story over several time lines. The exercise is all the more interesting here because the viewer knows that Wayne Hays is not, because of his illness, a reliable narrator. Some may criticize that this triple timeline that runs through the season sometimes makes the story more confusing. Nevertheless, Nic Pizzolatto handles all aspects of these timelines beautifully, allowing him to blur the lines and make the mystery ever thicker.

Although so far (as a reminder, we are at episode 5), the mystical side is still very discreet, this mysticism is reminiscent of the one (perfectly mastered, from the first to the last episode) of season 1. Another aspect that brings the two seasons together is this exploration of deep America, from the bayous of Louisiana to the wooded villages of Arkansas. 

In some ways, however, Season 3 resembles a distorted, even negative, portrait of Season 1.Season 1 showed us the irresistible duo of two detectives that everything seems to separate (past, family life, sexuality, character, philosophy), while Season 3 tells us the adventures of a duo of cops who seem to be accomplices, and support each other. The first season was marked by institutional corruption, while season 3 deals with much more personal ills (drugs, racism). Finally, while the first season did not hesitate to show sex head-on, the third season prefers to avoid it consistently.

A very good season, but not as good as the first one

We’re not going to beat around the bush: season 3 is very good so far. The story is compelling, and the actors are good. Moreover,the show rests largely on the shoulders of Mahershala Ali. Already stunning inMoonlight,Luke CageorGreen Book(currently in theatres), he’s already stunning inMoonlight,Luke CageorGreen Book(currently in theatres), and he’ll be hitting the screen in season 3, in which he delivers what is already shaping up to be one of his best acting performances. We will regret however that his sidekick, Stephen Dorff, is sidelined, although the end of episode 5 lets us predict that he will have a much more important role in the last three episodes of the season. Special Mention for two particularly moving supporting roles, as the grieving father Scoot McNairy(already extraordinary inGodless, the Netflix western series)and Michael Greyeyes, who plays a poor Native American garbage man, the whipping boy of a population that is not done with its xenophobic demons.Fans ofFantastic Animalswill also find Carmen Ejogo, who played President Seraphina Picquery.

However, it is to be regretted that season 3 does not benefit from such an impeccable achievement as season 1. In the first season, the direction of Cary Fukunaga was one of the great strengths of the show. We remember, for example, the impressive final scene of episode 4, with this violent robbery in a suburban house, filmed in a single sequence shot of almost seven minutes. Here, although the realisation is flawless, it unfortunately remains too classical, compared to season 1.You will notice that the only flaws we find in this season are flaws created by the comparison with season 1, which remains five years after a model of perfection in the international television landscape.

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