The True Detective in fabulous return
The first season set a new benchmark for limited-series television, the second was simply bitterly disappointing.
Thankfully the third marks a return to absorbing, compelling form for True Detective (which next screens on Wednesday at 10.30pm on SoHo and has new episodes debuting at 3pm on Mondays).
Creator Nic Pizzolatto this time has enlisted the services of Green Room’s Jeremy Saulnier to explore the ongoing mystery surrounding the disappearance of two tween siblings from a small Ozarks settlement on November 7,
William and Julie Purcell went out for a bike ride in the late afternoon on the day Steve McQueen died and never came home.
It’s a case that has haunted Arkansas detective Wayne Hays Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, pictured left – for decades and the show flits between the original events, a 1990 deposition he gave and an interview he’s agreed to for a
This fractured narrative allows True Detective’s writers to play with notions of faulty memory, regret and reflection, while also dishing out slices of information about the investigation in tantalising small doses. Initially Hays and his partner Roland West – Stephen Dorff, pictured right – are convinced that the Purcell siblings have been abducted by their mother, given the strained relationship she has with their father.
‘‘When did you drop that theory?’’ one of Hays’ deposers asks. ‘‘About two minutes later,’’ he replies, revealing that she quickly showed up with her own set of questions about her children’s whereabouts. And by the time the first of eight episodes has unfurled, the list of possible suspects has become lengthy, one fate has been resolved with an unnerving result, and the other takes a belated bizarre twist.
After the complicated political excesses of the California-set second instalment, this represents a refreshing back-to-basics approach. There are certainly plenty of echoes back to the original run with its multiple time-periods, troubled cops and hint of the occult.
It also provides a fantastic showcase for Ali (who is also lighting up the big screen this summer with his performance in Green Book) as it essays a character at three potentially pivotal moments in his life.
Throw in an atmospheric T Bone Burnett soundtrack
(O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and a terrific supporting cast that also includes Scoot McNairy (Argo) and Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife), and the end result is the perfect summer thriller you’ve been waiting for.
– James Croot
There are certainly plenty of echoes back to the original run.