True Detective Season 3 Review


I had hopes coming into this season…not high hopes….just hopes.

After the disaster that was Season 2 that contained some of the worst dialogue and writing this side of a B-movie the producers tried to revert to the form of Season 1 which was some of the most intense drama ever created for the small screen.

In some respects Season 3 staring the now multiple Oscar winning Mahershala Ali succeeds and in others it falls far short. The acting is solid all around with exactly zero over the top, out of place performances like Season 2 was filled with from Vince Vaughn in particular. Ali and his cop partner played by a surprisingly effective Stephen Dorff are compelling characters each with their own vulnerabilities and both worth investing in. Carmen Ejojo, Ali’s wife in the series is less engrossing and is actually a turn off for the series with her portrayal of an independent, driven wife often distracting and not really pertinent to the core issues. Time and again we return to her as a token lead female for the sake of doing so but without real purpose.

I suppose the writers intended for her to be Ali’s anchor…the rock on which he would break…but in fact that role is already filled by Dorff who by the end clearly realizes that the most valuable person in his live has been his male partner…someone he can’t live without.

But I digress…the real issue here is the lack of real drama. Brooding music and a crazy Indian who blows up his house aside, I came away surprisingly bored. Skewer Season 2 all you want….and its a disaster…but I never found myself falling asleep during it. Here? We end up with a decidedly non-interesting finale in which everything turns out pretty much OK and we find out that the reason for all the not-really-that-horrible things we’ve witnessed was a sad daughter who wanted a surrogate child to take care of and then had a mental breakdown…not exactly the Satanic cults, human sacrifice, and frightening atmosphere of Season 1 nor the political and business infighting and violence found in Season 2.

Was Season 3 “bad”? No, not really. Was it a step up from Season 2 and redeem the series for the possible development of Season 4? Yes. Are critics climbing over themselves to declare it the best of the three seasons? Absolutely…and for various reasons including their own agendas. Don’t feel you’ve missed anything if you haven’t seen it. You haven’t and its not driving the common discourse the way Season 1 did week after week. As the police might say “Move along, move along…nothing to see here…”