‘True Detective’ Season 3: Another Crime Procedural With Familiar Moody, Macho Baggage [Review]

The Playlist | 1/13/2019 | Rodrigo Perez
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After one major career-minting success (“True Detective” season one) and one resounding follow-up failure (season two), the narrative around “True Detective” creator /showrunner/writer/ Nic Pizzolatto’s third season is that he is returning to a back-to-basics approach. But that’s hardly the case, and perhaps more accurately, season three marks a quasi-return to safety, albeit one that’s needlessly more complicated and predictably dour.

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Set - Time - Periods - Pizzolatto - Viewer

Set in three time periods, the 1980s, the 1990s and 2015, Pizzolatto makes it extra difficult on himself and the viewer in season three, featuring a crime at its center that spans four decades. And by following the pattern of season one—aging, washed-out characters revisiting their cases years later—Pizzolatto, who also takes a turn in the director’s chair for this edition, helming two of the eight episodes, delivers a familiar formula for season three. But it’s also ambitious in scope–a story about wrestling with the past, personal redemption and memory, the reflections of who we are versus who we once were and everything that broke in between. Time isn’t necessarily a flat circle; it’s the ever-present equalizer that will always win in the end, whether you remember or not.

“Yeah, of course, I remember,” is the first line of the series, uttered by Arkansas state police detective Wayne Hays (a typically excellent Mahershala Ali) setting up a story of reexamination both literal and figurative. But does he? The fragmented version of the retired Hays, elderly and seemingly facing dementia or senility, isn’t so sure these words ring so true 15 years later.

Ozarks - State - Prosecutors - Case - Children

It’s the Ozarks in the 1990s, and state prosecutors are looking to reopen a ghoulish case about missing children that Hays initially investigated in the 1980s with his partner Roland West (a somewhat miscast Stephen Dorff, especially when...
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