TRUE DETECTIVE Season 3, helmed by series creator Nic Pizzolatto, takes viewers to the Ozarks in search of two missing children. Together with Pizzolatto, the show is also directed by Jeremy Saulnier and Daniel Sackheim, and stars Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Stephen Dorff (Leatherface), Carmen Ejogo (Alien: Covenant), and Scoot McNairy (Destroyer).

As per HBO’s description, this new season tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods. Other themes presented range from racism, ethics, loyalty, and police procedures. The show focuses on Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Detective Roland West (Stephen Dorff) as they try to uncover the disappearance of two young kids in the 80’s, the re-opening of the case in the ‘90’s, followed by present day and new evidence that has been brought to light.

When TRUE DETECTIVE first came on the air back in 2014, people were hooked. Since then it has seen much acclaim in not only its storytelling format but also in regards to its hard hitting subject matters; and Season 3 is no different. Like in it’s previous seasons, the narrative twists and turns in labyrinth direction which keeps the viewer guessing at every turn. Having had the chance to watch the first five episodes of Season 3, it became apparent that the amount of lies, secrets, and deceptions from all the major players was going to be a roller-coaster of emotions in the quest for discovering the truth.

I will admit that this season is more of a slow-burn compared to the other ones. However, this is offset by the incredible performances from Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff. Both play off of each other brilliantly with Detective Hays being the more stoic, quiet one and Detective West being the more animated, personable one. Seeing them interact with each other was almost like a fine-tuned dance number, but eventually the cracks begin to show the further into the investigation that we go. Both Ali and Dorff bring their A-game to this show, and I, for one, am glad to see Dorff back in the spotlight after such a long absence. I also enjoyed seeing Carmen Ejogo, who plays Amelia Reardon, as I’ve been a fan of hers for quite some time and I appreciated the strong-willed character that she embodies.

The disappearance of a child is nothing new in shows such as this, which is why I think the show-runners also add in additional factors to heighten the realism of not only police procedures but of the time period in which they find themselves. There’s a definite air of racism in this small town, and though Detective Hays is a successful detective, and war veteran, it doesn’t stop people from reminding him of the color of his skin. Though his partner always seems to have his back, my assessment of Detective West is that he doesn’t fully understand the depth of racism seen not only through people’s interaction with Hays but also in the way people interact with a Native American man dubbed, The Trashman. This blase attitude ends up culminating in a shocking climax that changes the course of the entire investigation with a ripple effect that takes hold of all those involved.

There is a lot to unpack with this show which shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone who has been watching this series. It makes you question the motives of everyone involved, especially when a major plot point is revealed. Once the detectives realize there possibly could have been a misstep, we then begin to see how it affects their loved ones and their community. To me, I found it fascinating to see how this story took place throughout three different decades, the final upon which both Hays and West are in their ‘70’s. As their memories begin to fade, Hays realizes that in order to make amends, they must go back to the beginning before it’s too late. It’s both sad and heartbreaking to watch, but it’s hard not to admire their determination. Seeing how they have changed so much in those 40 years is a site to behold especially as we learn more about their relationship as working partners.

I’m not sure how this season is going to end, but the last episode left on such a fantastic cliffhanger that I’m anxiously awaiting for what is to comes next. Knowing how this show typically goes, I think that by the end of the season we are all going to be shocked with whatever truth comes forth. TRUE DETECTIVE is so much more than just a dramatization of true crime, it’s a study on how horrific things affect those around us, and a lot of times it is not for the better. For those who haven’t watched TRUE DETECTIVE before, have no fear, as each season is a separate entity. If you are looking for something that is more slow-burn with themes relevant in today’s society that also incorporates mystery and intrigue, than make sure to watch TRUE DETECTIVE each Sunday at 9pm (ET/PT) on HBO.

Stephen Dorff, Mahershala Ali in TRUE DETECTIVE | Warrick Page/HBO
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