by Benjamín Harguindey
Following two years of silence after 2015’s unanymously panned second season, HBO has finally confirmed a third season of True Detective is in the works and the protagonist has already been cast.
The limited series first hit HBO in 2014 to universal acclaim. Created by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga, the show starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two homicide detectives on the hunt for an elusive serial killer in the span of two decades (think Zodiac meets poor man’s Twin Peaks). The mystical undertones, surreal imagery and offbeat characterization of its vitriolic lead duo – half of whom was in the midst of enjoying the fabled McConaissance – made for an instant hit, and secured an instant second series.
With the second series director Fukunaga walked out and McConaughey and Harrelson remained as executive producers. Showrunner Pizzolatto remained, though most of what had made for the success of True Detective was gone. Instead of the quirky, Southern Gothic character study we got a third-rate James Ellroy pulp fiction with too many characters, too many plotlines and a dull, dispirited noir sensibility with none of the charm.
True Detective’s second season would’ve made for a fine crime novel – the literary medium would make it easier for Pizzolatto to marshall the numerous characters, plot points and subplots that were messily crammed into the show – but the fact of the matter is the series’ run seemed to end there for good. Fortunately it seems to be back on track, with HBO president Casey Bloys officially greenlighting a third season.
Nothing is known about the plot, other than Pizzolatto is collaborating with Deadwood’s David Milch on the story, that five screenplays have been turned in so far, and that Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, 2016) has been cast as the lead. The announcement of a lone protagonist suggests True Detective is dialing down the star-studded megalomania in favor of a more focused, intimate story ala season one. It also makes sense that Mahershala Ali would solo the third season to step away from the buddy cop parallel with McConaughey and Harrelson.
Benjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).