Time is of the essence in the intricately multilayered puzzle of True Detective’s mesmerizing third season, a return to form for creator Nic Pizzolatto. Curbing his tendency toward the loopy dialogue and mopey metaphysics that made 2015’s pretentious second installment feel like a self-parody, he puts story and character first in this long-awaited comeback season.
And what a character is Wayne Hays, a brooding Arkansas state detective haunted over three decades by a crime that shaped his life and career. Played with a simmering, festering intensity and sorrow by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Wayne is besieged by ghosts, literal and symbolic, when a true-crime TV producer puts him on camera in 2015. The goal: to recall the tragedy involving two small-town kids who went missing back in 1980 and what happened a decade later, when the case was fatefully reopened in 1990 following a startling twist.