True Detective

It’s not a huge surprise that True Detective would be picked up for a third season. While season 2 shredded a lot of goodwill, the base concept is solid and versatile. The issue is whether the second season burned people enough to make them even care about a season 3.

Well, season 3 seems like it’s going to be made specifically to get me to watch it.

HBO announced yesterday that the next season of the anthology series is officially going into production. The only announced star is Mahershala Ali. Whose fresh off of an Oscar win and years removed from an appearance in Predators. That’s some damn good news. However, people who watched the second season know that pure acting talent won’t save questionable material.

True Detective Mahershala Ali

Luckily the shining light is the series director, Jeremy Saulnier. The writer and director of Blue Ruin and Green Room — two of the best movies of the 21st century — will take over the reins from season 1 director Cary Fukunaga and various directors of season 2. This might end up being the season’s saving grace. While the first season was pulpy and over-written by series creator Nic Pizzolatto, a second creative voice in Fukunaga helped create a cohesive whole that didn’t go too far up its own ass. That was probably the death knell for season 2.

Pizzolatto has also apparently been working with David Milch (Deadwood, a ton of inscrutable HBO failures) to keep him on track and Milch will be writing an episode of season 3. I think this is a great sign. Milch’s writing is exactly the extravagantly hard-to-parse poetry that Pizzolatto was aiming for when he missed the mark in season 2, so Milch’s guiding hand should help steady to ship.

Hollywood Reporter announced: “Season three will tell 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,” which is a vague yet promising premise.

Honestly, as much as I make fun of the second season, I didn’t hate it. Sure, it steals wholesale from James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere and Pizzolatto clearly got high on himself after the first season’s success, but there are flashes of brilliance. The main actors do their best with what they have. Colin Farrell is a particular standout. The most memorable scene in both seasons so far is a Lynchian dream with Farrell and Fred Ward. If the season were more of that and less of Vince Vaughn’s half-baked philosophizing, it wouldn’t be nearly as maligned.

My hopes are high for season 3. A solid star, another guiding voice and an elder statesman possibly guiding the writing make for a winning combination. Honestly, Saulnier is enough to sell it for me completely. I’ll literally watch anything he makes.

True Detective Season 3 is currently in the last phases of writing. No premiere date has is set. 

Michael Walls-Kelly

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