True Detective: Season 3

Image result for hbo true detective season 3We live in a golden era for television programming. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Outlander, American Gods, and The Sopranos are classics of the new millennium. I really enjoyed the first season of HBO's True Detective, but the second season left the rails early and never quite found its way. I think I gave it up at about the midway point, so I didn't really have any expectations for season three when I noticed that the newest installment in this gritty, atmospheric series was available for streaming.

Boy, am I ever thankful that I gave it a chance. 

I streamed the third season over the course of three days, and it was an utterly absorbing piece of storytelling. Writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto excels at writing compelling dialogue, and he gives his characters plenty of room for depth and development. Season 3 is populated by complex, three-dimensional characters that are struggling to move forward in difficult circumstances. The grim shadow of the Vietnam War stands over the narrative segments taking place in 1980, and the sorrowful spectre of dementia clouds the latter segments taking place in the recent past.

Mahershala Ali is spellbinding as Wayne "Purple" Hayes. Hayes is dignified, fiery, intelligent, loyal, and stubborn throughout the series, even as his mental faculties fade with age. Ali's timing and ability to emote are amazing. He might be the best actor working today...

Stephen Dorff plays Lt. Roland West, and he is excellent in the role. While always loyal to his partner Hayes, West is more than willing to play along with the politics necessary to advance in his position with special investigations. Dorff delivers a consistent, complex turn in playing West, and his proclamation late ("What about us?" he says to Hayes as their partnership disintegrates) in the series will stick with you.

This is a story about the power of family. Some families are broken by circumstance. Some are ravaged by tragedy. Some are wrecked by addiction or parental nihilism. 

But as you watch this show, it's impossible not to think about your own youth and your own relationships with siblings and parents. It's impossible not to consider how chance and circumstance can intervene on a human life, sending a person down an entirely different pathway. 

I became engrossed in the series. It's both a personal and philosophical juggernaut, and--like The Haunting of Hill House--is well worth your time... 

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