Time Is a Flat Circle: ‘True Detective’ Gets a Do-Over in Season 3

Warrick Page/HBO

It’s been nearly three and a half years since the last episode of Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective aired. After the generally disappointing Season 2, it appeared for a time that the series wouldn’t live to find redemption. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

After some tumult (director Jeremy Saulnier left the production after two episodes), HBO at last delivers Season 3, which has Pizzolatto venturing into new territory while also returning to Season 1’s first-rate storytelling.

The new installment (Sundays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Jan. 13) stars Mahershala Ali, Oscar winner for Moonlight and 2019 Golden Globe winner for Green Book, as Arkansas State Police Detective Wayne Hays. Hays and his partner (Stephen Dorff) take the lead on the case of two children who went missing in a small town in the Ozarks.

The story plays out in three decades: During the investigation in 1980, during a reopening of the case in 1990 and during the filming of a documentary in 2015. As the years progress, Hays’ memories of the events change until he can no longer trust the version of the story he’s had to live through.

Carmen Ejogo (the Fantastic Beasts films) stars as Amelia Reardon, an English teacher whose involvement in the case leads to an unlikely romance with Hays. “You have this quite macabre backdrop that two people are falling in love against,” Ejogo says. It’s not exactly a fairy tale romance when a horrible crime is at the center of your “how we first met” story.

“There’s something somewhat disjointed about their relationship onscreen,” Ejogo says. “They’re not the most suited personas for each other. It was a fascinating experience to bring to life a couple that know each other well but don’t really know each other at all.”

True Detective Retrospective

The case file on previous seasons:

Season 1
Premiered: Jan. 12, 2014
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, Tory Kittles
The Crime: A 2012 murder case has similarities to the 1995 ritualistic murder of a Louisiana prostitute.
Quote: “Someone once told me, ‘Time is a flat circle.’ Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.” — Rust Cohle (McConaughey)
Viewers: 2.33 million (premiere); 3.52 million (finale)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Season 2
Premiered: June 21, 2015
Stars: Colin Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, Kelly Reilly
The Crime: The murder of a corrupt California politician with possible ties to a career criminal.
Quote: “That’s one off the bucket list: a Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” — Frank Semyon (Vaughn)
Viewers: 3.17 million (premiere); 2.73 million (finale)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

About Ryan Berenz 2008 Articles
Devotee of Star Wars. Builder of LEGO. Observer of televised sports. Member of the Television Critics Association. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Connoisseur of beer. Consumer of cheese. Father of two. Husband of one. Scourge of the Alaskan Bush People. Font of Simpsons knowledge. Son of a Stonecutter.