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Monday, January 14, 2019

True Detective 3.1-2: Humanistic Disturbances of the Soul



True Detective returned for a third season last night, with a completely new story with new characters, as was the case with the second season.   The first season was masterpiece, justly lionized. The second season was widely panned, but I didn't think it was as bad as the critics made it out to be.  The third season is much more like the first.

Indeed, it has the same narrative template as the first season - a detective and his partner consumed by an unsolved case, shown at the three stages in their career, when they first caught the case, ten years later when the case is being re-opened, and in retirement (in the season 3 story, when someone is making a television special on the case).  There's even some kind of unclear, quasi-religious element.

But there's one big, significant difference.  Detective William Hayes (wonderfully played by Mahershala Ali) falls in love with a teacher in the victims' school - a boy, Will Purcell, 12, kidnapped and murdered, and his sister, Julie, 10, just kidnapped.  That's in 1980, when the crime is committed.  Ten years later,  Hays and the teacher, Amelia, are married with two kids, and her book about the case is about to be published (in 1980, she tells Hays that she always wanted to be a writer).  Unlike Matthew McConaughey's tortured Detective Rust Cohle, who lives alone throughout, and is close to possessed or psychotic - one of the very best performances I've ever seen on television or in the movies, period - Hayes has a relatively normal life, is obsessed by the case but troubled rather than nearly psychotic, and is suffering from just the beginning of Alzheimer’s in 2015, meaning he's much more compos mentis than Cole at this point in the third stage of the story.   Indeed, this obsession is "working" Hayes' "brain" - as he says - helping reverse or postpone his mental decline.

And I think this medical rather almost supernatural context is a big plus.  Because the one part I wasn't especially thrilled with in the first season was the dive - or ascension, depending upon how you look at it - into, I don't know, religious ecstasy, Blakean demons, in that riddled season.  Hayes' soul is deeply unsettled, to be sure.  But it's a less mystical disturbance, and he has someone in addition to his professional partner with whom to share it - Amelia, and later, his family - and that makes for a more humanistic narrative.

Lots to look forward to here - I haven't even talked about who is the likely kidnapper/killer - and I'll be back with reviews every week.

See also Season Two: True Detective: All New ... True Detective 2.2: Pulling a Game of Thrones ... True Detective 2.3: Buckshot and Twitty ...True Detective 2.4: Shoot-out ... True Detective 2.7: Death and the Anti-Hero ... True Detective Season 2 Finale: Good Smoke but No Cigar

And see also Season One: True Detective: Socrates in Louisiana ... True Detective Season One Finale: Light above Darkness

 
 philosophic crime fiction:  The Plot to Save Socrates 

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