2019 has a lot of exciting TV on the way, but perhaps nothing will be released to the same kind of polarized expectations as the third season of HBO's True Detective. Coming over three years after the largely disappointing Season 2, the drama is making a return to small Southern towns with occultist murderers, and critics' reviews have now gone public.
While a full Season 3 rundown from yours truly is still on the way, let's take a look at what others are saying about True Detective's latest mysteries and stars, which include Green Book and Luke Cage's Mahershala Ali, Leatherface and Star's Stephen Dorff, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's Carmen Ejogo and Justice League's Ray Fisher.
Praising the performance of Halt and Catch Fire's Scoot McNairy as the season's big catch for his portrayal of a father whose children go missing, Den of Geek had this to say.
In its review, TVLine basically says that Season 3 is fine enough as a mirror of Season 1, but says that the level of quality doesn't hold up after years of TV murder-mysteries created in True Detective's inspirational wake. This about sums it up.
This season of True Detective takes place during three different timelines. In 1980, the central crime occurred, bringing Mahershala Ali's Wayne Hays and Stephen Dorff's Roland West to the Ozarks to investigate. A later timeline reveals a new development in the case, and the most current events take place in 2015, where Hays is being interviewed as part of a series on true crime.
Per EW's review, there are more misses than hits when it comes to telling a fresh story, calling the season and characters out for being overly repetitive. Also, this:
There's no denying that not all critics had a soft spot for True Detective Season 3, or at least the episodes available for review. However, not everyone was so unkind.
For instance, Uproxx gives Mahershala Ali all the praise in the world for his performances, calling him a great actor even in projects that cannot be considered great. However, this review makes a much larger point of drawing out the Season 1 comparisons, arriving at this thesis:
However, IndieWire had very few complaints about Season 3, praising the cast and particularly star Mahershala Ali, whose character is dealing with issues of undiagnosed memory loss, adding a new depth to the timeline concept. (At least to some, if not all, who watched early episodes.) From the review:
Director Jeremy Saulnier, of Blue Ruin and Green Room fame, helmed the first two episodes of True Detective's third season, adding to the lush aesthetic. For the most part, Saulnier is right up there with Ali as the most universally applauded element of the new season, with many reviews saying he gets all the vibes right in starting things off. Critics had less good things to say about follow-up directors Daniel Sackheim (The Americans) and True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto.
Jeremy Saulnier's work does get brought up in Variety's review, which also shines a light (as other reviews do) on how True Detective handles Wayne Hays as a black cop dealing with stereotypical small town prejudices on a day-to-day basis. (In that it addresses them, but doesn't let those issues take over the story.) Here are more of the outlet's kind words:
We'll end this review round-up on more positive notes, this time from Collider's four-star review. It's also full of encouraging opinions about Mahershala Ali, which is the norm, and it points out Stephen Dorff's sub-role as the lone beacon of low-key humor in Season 3. From the review:
While it's easy to think that critics are always divided on TV shows and movies, True Detective does tend to split a crowd like few other shows can. Judge for yourself when the noir mystery hits HBO on Sunday, January 13, at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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