After the critically acclaimed first season, and the disappointment that was the second, True Detective season 3 was under the microscope from the moment it premiered back in January.
Season 3 of HBO’s anthology series follows Detective Wayne Hayes (Mahershala Ali) as he tries to crack the case of two missing children through three periods of his life: 1980, 1990, and 2015. The season also stars Carmen Ejogo as Hayes’ wife and Stephen Dorff as his partner, Ronald West.
The entire cast does a terrific job in their roles, specifically Ali. Seeing him play this dynamic role essentially three times, you have to give credit where credit is due. He plays off the entire cast so well, even supporting characters like Ray Fisher who plays his son. His work alongside Ejogo is terrific as well. You can see this case test the boundaries of their relationship, and the two really show it.
Undoubtedly however, Ali’s best work comes from when he is alongside Dorff. The two have such tremendous chemistry that you’d think they actually were cops that have worked together for years. As early in the year as it is, I’m already calling nominations if not wins for both Ali and Dorff at the Emmys and Golden Globes.
The crime itself is also incredibly captivating. Without giving anything away, the twists and turns this case takes, especially as it jumps between these time periods, glues you to the edge of your seat, leaving you with five questions for every one answer you get.
I should caution you though. If you are a parent watching this, it could be hard to get through. Even as someone who isn’t a parent, watching this season made me think of what I would do in a situation like this, if my kids were the ones that went missing. Those thoughts and feelings come mostly because of the phenomenal performance by Scoot McNairy, who plays the father of the two missing kids.
This season does take a little bit to get going. With only eight episodes, it could’ve used a little more excitement. Then again, most missing persons cases are not all that exciting. For week to week watchers, I understand how it could’ve felt like a drag. But as someone who binged all eight episodes in two days, you could really feel the tension rising, even in the slower moments.
That is where the show really shines: tension. Not only is there a urgent need to solve this case, but as new leads are found, and theories start to develop, so does the tension between even our main characters. This need to solve the case makes you ask questions like How far will you go in the name of “justice”? The audience has to decide that for themselves, while also accepting the decisions of the characters, building tensions even between us the audience, and the characters.
If you’ve never seen an episode of True Detective, you can jump right into this season without missing a beat. For those who have, this season brings out some of the best of the show, from the tension to the performances, all leading to an extremely satisfying ending.