True Detective is back on HBO in January 2019 with Season 3. The story takes place in Arkansas and we’ve watched the first 5 episodes of the 8-episode season. It’s reminiscent of Season 1 and yes, we’re hooked!

True Detective is back in your life with Season 3 beginning on HBO in January 2019. However, this isn’t Netflix, so you won’t be able to binge-watch it. 

While I do love to immerse myself into a story by binge-watching entire seasons, there is something to be said for being made to wait for the next episode and not just the next season. This is the HBO way we know from Game of Thrones and Castle Rock.

Or just any show you watch as the episodes are released on good old “flow” TV. And I actually like it.

Of course, we did get the first 5 episodes of the season, which consists of just 8 episodes. So really, I’ll only be forced to wait for those last 3 episodes that will no doubt make the season.

Right now, I have my theories, but I do expect to have my mind blown in at least some ways.

Season 3 takes True Detective back to the South

While season 1 of True Detective took place in Texas, Season 2 happened in California. Season 3 takes us back to the South with the story playing out in Arkansas. Or rather, it’s playing out across three time periods.

The crime, our detectives are investigating, happens in 1980, which is the first time period. Next, we’re in 1990, where it’s made clear that they probably didn’t get the right guy. Not that our detectives ever thought they did.

Finally, we’re in 2015, looking back on what happened in 1980 and 1990, while trying to make sense of it all. Wayne hays (Mahershala Ali) is losing his memory and is practically time-traveling and getting lost in memories. Not very good for someone who is still trying to solve a crime that happened 35 years ago.

Also, apparently, season 3 is taking place in Arkansas because True Detective creator, Nic Pizzolatto, went to college there. It’s a little tribute of sorts. This being True Detective it shows the good, bad, and ugly. But it also shows how the country evolved by looking at how Arkansas evolved over more than three decades.

A question of race

Of course, various elements of racism are a big part of the storyline. With Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff as the detectives in this season, the black and white duo attract quite a bit of attention in the Deep South. Or the “Rim South” as some would label Arkansas.

Both detectives are Vietnam vets and both trust and respect one another. They also both loathe the fact that even though they could fight side by side for their country, they are not regarded as equals once they return home.

For the record, they didn’t actually fight side by side in Vietnam. But Wayne Hays (Ali) was infamous for his tracking skills in the Jungle, where he received the nickname “Purple Haze”.

While Hays (Ali) sometimes thinks his partner, Roland West (Dorff) doesn’t see the racism he encounters, he actually does. West isn’t made out to be any kind of hero, but he does always have Hays’ back. Both when Hays is around to witness it and when he isn’t.

In general, Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff are simply magnificent in their respective roles. They make you want to come back for more of their story. Both to find out what happened, but also to know what happened to them specifically.

True Detective season 3 review

Awesome supporting cast

While Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff play the lead roles as the title characters in True Detective, we get a lot of brilliant supporting characters. And, of course, these characters are played by awesome supporting actors.

Primarily, we get Carmen Ejogo (It Comes at Night) and Sarah Gadon (The 9th Life of Louis Drax) as characters that drive the story forward. Carmen Ejogo plays Amelia, who marries Wayne Hays and writes a book about the crime. This book becomes increasingly important to Hays as he loses his memory. 

Sarah Gadon is a reporter interviewing Wayne Hays in 2015. It turns out, she’s also doing some investigating of her own, but we don’t know much more. Yes, 5 episodes in, we’re still just peeling back the layers. In true True Detective style.

Also, I have to mention Scoot McNairy (Halt and Catch Fire) and Mamie Gummer (John Carpenter’s The Ward) as the parents of the two kids that go missing.

Especially Mamie Gummer has a character with lots of issues and portrays her with an intensity and conviction, I simply adored. Even though I still think of her mom, Meryl Streep, whenever I see her, she is a force of nature in her own right.

This just might be the role that shows the world, who Mamie Gummer is, in a whole new way. 

A strong director to open Season 3

The first two episodes of True Detective season 3 are directed by Jeremy Saulnier. He was the director behind the brilliant Green Room and Netflix’s Hold the Dark. I do wish he would have directed the entire season.

We’ve only watched the first five episodes, but those first two do have a special feeling. In a very good way. It’s not that the season turns bad later on. It’s just different and, personally, I preferred the style in those first two episodes.

Also read: Our review of the Netflix original Hold the Dark here >

The season does jump around a lot in the three different time periods. However, the hair and wardrobe lets you know where in time we are. Okay, let’s be honest, the hair lets you know. The 80s really did have a way with hair that hasn’t been copied again since.

And once we get to 2015, the gray hair and wrinkles tell you all you need to know. 

Watch True Detective on HBO this January

The flashbacks and shifts in time periods do work really well. You just need to remember what people knew when. And it will be clear how the issue of race is also an indicator for when we are, as much as where.

Season 3 of True Detective premieres on HBO on January 13, 2019.
The season 3 finale of True Detective will be on March 3, 2019.


Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Directors: Jeremy Saulnier, Daniel Sackheim, Nic Pizzolato
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, Carmen Ejogo, Ray Fisher


The third season of True Detective sees detectives investigating a grisly crime involving two missing children in the heart of the Ozarks.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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