True Detective seems ready to return to top form in new S3 trailer

Enlarge / Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) investigates a missing persons case while haunted by his past.YouTube/HBO

We'd almost forgotten about HBO's uneven crime anthology series True Detective. It had a fantastic first season, only to hemorrhage viewers with the abysmally dreary, disappointing second season. But now the series is coming back for season 3, and if the new trailer is any indication, it's a welcome return to form.

The brainchild of former lit professor and novelist Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective has always fostered a very literary, philosophical tone, and, shall we say, unhurried pacing. When it works, it's brilliant. Season 1 was set in the Louisiana Bayou, as Detective Rustin "Rust" Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Detective Martin "Marty" Hart (Woody Harrelson) tracked down a twisted serial killer with a fondness for leaving weird twig sculptures in the woods.

The spooky setting and strong chemistry between the lead actors pretty much ensured its success with viewers and critics alike. It was well-plotted to reel the viewer in, and the dialogue between McConaughey and Harrelson yielded some much-needed comic relief. (Only McConaughey could pull off those long, drawling abstract ruminations without everyone wanting to strangle him, his partner included.)

  • Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) is on the case. YouTube/HBO
  • Hays works with Arkansas State Investigator Roland West (Stephen Dorff). YouTube/HBO
  • An innocent bike ride about to turn ominous. YouTube/HBO
  • These guys look like they're up to no good. YouTube/HBO
  • A confrontation looks imminent. YouTube/HBO
  • Dredging the river for missing children. YouTube/HBO
  • The search continues into the night.
  • Detective Hays finds one of the children's bicycles. YouTube/HBO
  • Addressing a worried community. YouTube/HBO
  • Lucy Purcell (Mamie Gummer) is a mother possibly caught up in a crime.
  • Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo) is a schoolteacher connected with the missing children. YouTube/HBO
  • A mysterious board could contain clues. YouTube/HBO
  • Could there be some clues in the creepy attic? YouTube/HBO
  • An outbreak of violence. YouTube/HBO
  • Detective Hays takes aim. YouTube/HBO
  • Homing in on a possible suspect? YouTube/HBO
  • Could this be the dark secret in Hays' past? YouTube/HBO
  • "Did you think you could just go on and never once have to look back?" YouTube/HBO

And then season 2 dropped like a lead balloon. Despite strong performances from leads Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch, the plot was a mess—something about a dead city manager, political corruption, and a crime boss' ill-fated rail project, all set in the fictional town of Vinci, California. The dialogue just didn't have the same shine this go-round, either.

Today's trailer gives us hope that True Detective might recapture some of that fine season 1 magic. Season 3 is set in the Ozarks over three separate time periods, and it stars Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Cottonmouth in season 1 of Luke Cage) as Detective Wayne Hays. Hays is haunted by a 1980 case involving two missing children, and he seems to be harboring some of his own dark secrets to boot. Personally, I would watch Ali read the phone book; he has a riveting screen presence. So if anyone can pull off Pizzolatto's bordering-on-lugubrious dialogue, he can.

And notably, this trailer reintroduces some elements that made season 1 so enjoyable: a mysterious cold case in an atmospheric setting; a community harboring lots of secrets; conflict and violence simmering just below the surface; and a cop tormented by regret and personal demons. When the show returns on January 13, here's hoping the full season measures up to the trailer.

Trailer for True Detective season 3.

Original Article


Ars Technica