True Detective—Season 3

true detective season 3 poster episode guide list
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

A return to the good aspects of True Detective's first season


true detective season 3 title card review episode guide list

Where is Julie?

On November 7, 1980, Will Purcell (Phoenix Elkin) and his sister Julie (Lena McCarthy) ride off on their bikes and never return home.  When detectives Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) are called in to investigate the disappearance, they find themselves involved in a case that will shape their entire lives.  With a seeming resolution in 1980, the case finds itself exploding again in 1990 but finding the truth could be just as difficult.  As 2015 rolls around, Hays finds himself fighting dementia and hoping to solve the case that has dogged him forever…but it could mean bring up memories he hoped were gone forever!

true detective season 3 episode 4 the hour and the day amelia lucy mamie gummer carmen ejogo

Us ladies…got to stick together…right? Now tell me all about the murder of your child

True Detective—Season 3 is a mystery-suspense anthology thriller.  The series aired on HBO from January 13, 2019 to February 24, 2019.  The season was nominated for Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Mahershala Ali), Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie (“The Great War and Modern Memory”), Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score) (“The Final Country”), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie (“If You Have Ghosts”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie (“The Great War and Modern Memory”), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (“The Great War and Modern Memory”), Outstanding Madeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) and Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie.

true detective season 3 episode 4 the hour and the day wayne roland mahershala ali stephen dorff

CSI: Ozarks!

True Detective started out with a bang.  The first season was some of the best looking and best acted television on at the time.  The mystery, the macabre, and the horror of the story really drew you in…then True Detective—Season 2 was released.  The story just wasn’t there, L.A. was kind of neatly portrayed, and the acting and cast was forgettable.  True Detective literally almost died with Season 2, and Season 3 hung in limbo for a while.  When they finally released True Detective—Season 3, I was a little hesitant of getting burned again…but the season is closer to Season 1 than Season 2.

The series is very tightly written.  There are three timelines running in the story with 1980, 1990, and 2015.  The stories run parallel to each other and this works out well since Hays is an unreliable narrator due to his growing dementia.  Watching the show, you don’t know if you are simply getting the story as he recalls it in 2015 or if it is just a stylized telling…either way, it works.  I was worried that I had solved the case five episodes in, but the series continued to twist and change to a stellar ending.

true detective season 3 episode 8 now am found pink castle

What is the Pink Castle?

The series reveals the truth of the story but it also becomes more about those involved.  The series’ hook is really the strength of the cast and in particular Mahershala Ali who is believable in all three time frames.  While I understand her character, I do find Carmen Ejogo’s role a bit hypocritical.  Much of the fault lands on Mahershala’s “hard working to escape home” character when she doesn’t seem to get as much criticism for her role in the situation in their relationship.  Stephen Dorff is solid as Ali’s partner and I actually particularly like Scoot McNairy in his role which easily could have been a one-dimensional “red-neck” type role.

true detective season 3 episode 7 the final country old make-up mahershala ali stephen doriff

I was like you…until I started using Blu e-cigs…it changed my life

Like the first season and the second season, True Detective—Season 3 looks great.  The noir city of Season 2 is replaced by a return to the Southern Gothic roots of the first season with most of the story taking place in the Ozarks.  While the location is almost another character in Season 1, the setting is less instrumental in the telling of the tale (though the location and time period inevitable spurs some racial struggles involving Mahershala’s character).

If you tried watching True Detective—Season 2 and just couldn’t do it, come back for the third season of the series.  With a solid cast, a good mystery, and a darkness that lends itself to the story, True Detective returns to the form that made the first season work.  It isn’t as good as the first season, but that can be expected since it felt like that season caught lightning a bottle.  Still, the smartly woven tale which incorporates aspects of multiple crimes, gives you hope that True Detective will be back for a solid season four at some point.

True Detective—Season 3 Complete Episode Guide:

true detective season 3 episode 1 the great war and modern memory dead kid will purcell phoenix elkin

“The Great War and Modern Memory”

3.1       The Great War and Modern Memory Airdate:  01/13/19

On November 7, 1980, Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and his partner Roland West (Stephen Dorff) are called to investigate the disappearance of brother and sister Will (Phoenix Elkin) and Julie Purcell (Lena McCarthy) who disappeared during a bike ride to a friends.  Hays and West find Tom Purcell (Scoot McNairy) and his wife Lucy (Mamie Gummer) have secrets and question if a group of teens might know something about the disappearance.  In 1980, Hays finds himself called back in when new evidence surfaces in the case while in 2015, Hays is questioned by a documentary group looking into the case.

true detective season 3 episode 2 kiss tomorrow goodbye tom purcell scoot mcnairy

“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”

3.2       Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye Airdate:  01/13/19

Will Purcell is dead and the search for Julie Purcell is on.  With suspicious dolls popping up at the crime scene, Hays turns to Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo) for help in questioning the children about potential leads.  Tom finds returning to work could be difficult, and West gets a potential lead on a molester who could have clues to the crime as the case gets more public.  In 1980, Hays learns that Julie has resurfaced and could reveal insight into the case.  In 2015, the documentary has Hays looking back into his past as he fights the creeping dementia stealing his memories.

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“The Big Never”

3.3       The Big Never Airdate:  01/20/19

Evidence points to the children having a secret friend while Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes) faces attacks by townspeople for talking to children.  In 1980, the resurfacing of Julie has increased the strain in Wayne and Amelia’s marriage as Amelia’s book prepares for publication.  In 2015, Henry Hays (Ray Fisher) worries about the strain the documentary is putting on his father, but Hays realizes that it is giving him a new perspective on the case while reawakening memories.

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“The Hour and the Day”

3.4       The Hour and the Day Airdate:  01/27/19

The search for a potential suspect leads to the children’s church group as Hays, and West question the teens who saw Will and Julie on the day they disappeared.  Brett Woodard faces a mob who threatens to bring him and takes drastic actions.  In 1980, Hays is brought back on the case by West and seeks out evidence of Julie’s survival.  In 2015, Hays realizes Elisa Montgomery (Sarah Gadon) must have addition evidence and enters a wary partnership with her to try to jog his memories.

true detective season 3 episode 5 if you have ghosts mahershala ali

“If You Have Ghosts”

3.5       If You Have Ghosts Airdate:  02/01/19 (Online)/February 02/03/19

The raid on Brett Woodard’s home and the death that follows reveals a surprise revelation in the murder of Will and the disappearance of Julie.  In 1980, the search for Julie leads to a public showdown between Gerald Kindt (Brett Cullen) and Alan Jones (Jon Tenney) who wants answers for the children of Brett Woodard.  With the revelation that Julie might still be alive made public, Hays and West might find a shocking revelation regarding the woman they are searching for.  In 2015, Hays decides to meet with West and bury the hatchet…although Hays might no longer know why they are fighting.

true detective season 3 episode 6 hunters in the dark tom dan michael graziadei scoot mcnairy

“Hunters in the Dark”

3.6       Hunters in the Dark Airdate:  02/10/19

The discovery of Will’s backpack at the home of Brett Woodard has put the murders of Julie and Will in his name though Hays suspects that there is some other suspect.  In 1980, the resurfacing of Lucy’s cousin Dan O’Brien (Michael Graziadei) has Hays and West seeking out a new lead despite the accusations shifting to Tom.  The discovery that Amelia is writing a new book about the case drives a deeper wedge between Wayne and Amelia.  In 2015, Hays and West consider continuing their research as the piece begin to fall together.

true detective season 3 episode 7 the final country murder mahershala ali stephen doriff

“The Final Country”

3.7       The Final Country Airdate:  02/17/19

In 1990, Tom Purcell is dead in what looks like a suicide, but Hays and West question the idea that Tom murdered his child in spite of his secret life.  With clues leading back to Tom, West and Hays decide to question Harris James (Scott Shepherd) about his involvement with the family.  In 2015, Hays is getting closer to the truth about who was involved in the killing, but the danger still lurks.

true detective season 3 episode 8 now am found adult julie ending

“Now Am Found”

3.8       Now Am Found Airdate:  02/24/19

In 1980, Hays is called up for leaking to the press and must make a decision about his future with the force.  In 1990, Hays faces the consequences from his actions from Edward Hoyt (Michael Rooker) and realizes that he might never know what happened in the woods.  In 2015, Hays and West track down the mysterious one-eyed man (Steven Williams) to learn the truth of what happened to Julie…but even the truth can be deceiving.

Related Links:

True Detective—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

True Detective—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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