It’s been a long time coming — three-and-a-half years, in fact — but the third season of True Detective is almost here. Now, 10 days before the season premieres on HBO, the reviews are in and are somewhat divided.
Some are hailing season three as a “return to form,” while others have called its action scenes a “snooze.” There does seem to be at least a couple of unifying themes running through the verdicts, however. First, critics agree that Mahershala Ali gives a brilliant performance in the lead. Second, everyone seems to agree that it’s much better than the largely derided second season.
Season three is told over three decades and follows the story of two detectives, partners Wayne Hays (Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff), who are investigating a macabre crime involving missing children in Arkansas.
Watch the trailer above and check out the must-read critics reactions below.
Outstanding performances and a return to form
Allison Keene, Collider
“For fans of crime series, True Detective’s third season is a really engrossing mystery, bolstered by outstanding performances from its leads… True Detective has come back around with a true return to form.”
Ben Travers, IndieWire
“True Detective season three is good. Whether or not you believe the first season to be an untouchable classic or an overrated but well-acted cop show, Nic Pizzolatto’s new episodes are a big step up from a second season… With strong performances all around — and a flat-out remarkable turn from Mahershala Ali — HBO’s third season benefits from reliable genre elements, a compelling central story, and aesthetics as lush as they are eerie.”
Daniel D'Addario, Variety
“Tightly directed (in its first episodes by Jeremy Saulnier) and plotted, and with a performance at its center that steers away from calling attention to itself, the new True Detective transcends hype and amounts to 2019’s first pleasant small-screen surprise.”
Not amazing, but an improvement on season two
Todd VanDerWerff, Vox
“The five episodes of season three that I’ve seen are generally tighter and faster-paced than the episodes in True Detective‘s first two seasons, but I still groaned when I saw that one was well over an hour long, because Pizzolatto hasn’t entirely lost his taste for indulgence.”
Brian Grubb, Uproxx
“The main takeaway here is that the third season of True Detective is not quite up to the level of the first, so far, in large part because substantial hunks of its plot come off like a store brand version of the original. It is so much better than the second season, though.”
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
“True Detective returns to HBO in January with a third season that may be hailed as a full comeback by those with a short memory, but actually falls into that vast middle ground as less nuanced and rich than the start of the first season yet still in most ways superior to whatever you’ve been trying to repress about the second. At the very least, the new True Detective season is a three-tiered showcase for Mahershala Ali, who stays consistently mesmerizing even if the mystery around him does not.”
Thank you, but no
Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
“So this season’s attempt to bring back the old True Detective magic also feels a bit stale. This season’s Big Action Thing is a snooze. This year’s hallucinations are less haunting than inadvertently funny. Also not helping: In the 2015 timeline, Wayne runs afoul of someone who might turn out to be the single most ludicrous character on television in 2019.”
David Nemetz, TV Line
“But despite a tremendous lead performance from Mahershala Ali, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of season one, either. More than anything, it feels unnecessary, hitting the same self-consciously grim notes we’ve seen plenty of times before.”
Will you still be watching True Detective when it airs on January 13? Let us know in the comments.
In other TV news, this new ‘Rick and Morty’ teaser is getting fans hyped for season four.