REVIEW: Stellar performances in HBO’s ‘True Detective’ include Michael Greyeyes

Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hays, Stephen Dorff as Roland West and Michael Greyeyes as Brett Woodard. Photo Credit: Warrick Page / HBO

Vincent Schilling

HBO’s third season of ‘True Detective’ is flawlessly acted, suspenseful and engaging and well worth the time

Season one of ‘True Detective’ came to the HBO network five years ago and starred Matthew McConaughey as the lead, then season two came to the cable network in the summer of 2015. Critics have been a bit all over the place on the first two seasons, but to me, Season 3, hit some impressive territory.

I loved it. Admittedly as an Indian Country Today arts and entertainment buff. I was sincerely looking forward to the performance of First Nations Cree actor Michael Greyeyes. As a Native man, admittedly I pay a bit of attention to the successes of Native people, but ‘True Detective’ delivered so much more I was caught up in the entirety of the show - reviewers were given the first five episodes to peruse.

Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, who also just received a Golden Globe for ‘Green Book,’ portrays Detective Wayne Hays, who peruses aspects of a missing children’s case that haunts him throughout multiple decades of his life. (By the way, they show Ali in several stages of age up to 70-years-old, in my career as a journalist reviewing TV, film etc. I have NEVER seen such exceptional make-up. Just incredible, flawless perfection.)

Ali’s fellow actors include Stephen Dorff, who portrays his partner Roland West, Carmen Ejogo plays the love interest to Detective Wayne Hayes, a schoolteacher turned author Amelia Reardon, Scoot McNairy plays a distraught father, and Michael Greyeyes plays a suspicious trash-collecting veteran who lives alone after losing his family after returning from war.

Michael Greyeyes as Brett Woodard. Photo Credit: Warrick Page / HBO

My overall thoughts

The third season of ‘True Detective took its time to unfold a story. And I didn’t mind one bit. I did feel frustrated that more details were not forthcoming, but as a result felt arm in arm with Detective Hays and Detective West who undoubtedly would never have a moment to give in to impatience.

‘True Detective’ was a brilliant, suspense-filled drama with an ensemble cast that collaborates perfectly in painting a beautiful portrait of tragedy.

Hats off and sincere applause to the amazing cast, production team and to creator Nic Pizzolatto.

'True Detective' is a gift.

I bought it.

The makeup is the BEST I have ever seen in my career, the acting was incredibly natural, real, … complete and utter perfection. The intro to the show is also genius. It just wins in every way.

And the script? The script blew me out of this world … a few lines from Carmen Ejogo, who plays the love interest to Detective Wayne Hayes mesmerized me.

Did you confuse reacting with feeling?

Did you mistake compulsion for freedom?

And even so, did you harden your heart against what you loved most?

Michael Greyeyes shook me to the core. His hidden rage, his sadness and his frustration at being ridiculed by a town that automatically assumes he is responsible for the crimes being investigated.

Side note: Greyeyes is a professionally trained dancer, in one scene when he is running, he looks like the Roman God Mercury - or perhaps DC’s the Flash. It was an awesome moment.

HBO’s Episode Descriptions - Show Times Etc.

Below is the ‘True Detective’ description as written by HBO in their news release:

Created by Nic Pizzolatto, TRUE DETECTIVE returns for its eight-episode third season with two episodes debuting back-to-back SUNDAY, JAN. 13 (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, followed by single episodes subsequent Sundays at the same time.

The new season will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

Playing out in three separate time periods, the third season tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades. Mahershala Ali (Oscar® winner for “Moonlight”) stars as state police detective Wayne Hays, with Stephen Dorff (“Somewhere”) starring as Roland West, the detective who investigated the case with Hays, and Carmen Ejogo (“Selma”) starring as schoolteacher and writer Amelia Reardon.

In 2015, retired detective Wayne Hays, his memory failing, looks back at the disappearance of 12-year-old Will and ten-year-old Julie Purcell, recalling the days and weeks immediately following the 1980 crime, as well as developments in 1990, when he and his former partner, Roland West, were subpoenaed after a major break in the case.

Filmed at locations throughout northwest Arkansas, the new season of TRUE DETECTIVE was written by series creator Nic Pizzolatto, except for the fourth episode, which he wrote with David Milch (HBO’s “Deadwood”), and the sixth episode, which he wrote with Graham Gordy (CINEMAX’s “Quarry”). Pizzolatto is also making his directorial debut with two episodes; other directors are Jeremy Saulnier (“Hold the Dark”) and Daniel Sackheim (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”).

Episodes include:

Episode #17 (season 3, episode 1): “The Great War and Modern Memory”

Debut date: SUNDAY, JAN. 13 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)

The disappearance of a young Arkansas boy (Phoenix Elkin) and his sister (Lena McCarthy) in 1980 triggers vivid memories and enduring questions for retired detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali), who worked the case 35 years before with partner Roland West (Stephen Dorff). What started as a routine case becomes a long journey to dissect and make sense of the crime.
Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Jeremy Saulnier.

Episode #18 (season 3, episode 2): “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

Debut date: SUNDAY, JAN. 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)

Hays (Mahershala Ali) looks back at the aftermath of the 1980 Purcell case in West Finger, Ark., including possible evidence left behind at the Devil’s Den, an outdoor hangout for local kids. As attention focuses on two conspicuous suspects – Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes), a solitary vet and trash collector, and Ted LaGrange (Shawn-Caulin Young), an ex-con with a penchant for children – the parents of the missing kids, Tom (Scoot McNairy) and Lucy Purcell (Mamie Gummer), receive a cryptic note from an anonymous source.
Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Jeremy Saulnier.

Episode #19 (season 3, episode 3): “The Big Never”

Debut date: SUNDAY, JAN. 20 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Hays (Mahershala Ali) recalls his early romance with Amelia (Carmen Ejogo), as well as cracks in their relationship that surfaced after they married and had children. Ten years after the Purcell crimes, new evidence emerges, giving him a second chance to vindicate himself and the investigation.
Written by Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Daniel Sackheim.

Episode #20 (season 3, episode 4): “The Hour and the Day”

Debut date: SUNDAY, JAN. 27 (9:00-10:10 p.m.)

Hays (Mahershala Ali) and West (Stephen Dorff) see a possible connection between the local church and the Purcell crimes. As the detectives search for one suspect and round up another for interrogation, Woodard (Michael Greyeyes) is targeted by a vigilante group.
Written by David Milch & Nic Pizzolatto; directed by Nic Pizzolatto.

TRUE DETECTIVE was created by Nic Pizzolatto; executive producers, Nic Pizzolatto, Scott Stephens, Daniel Sackheim, Jeremy Saulnier, Steve Golin, Richard Brown, Bard Dorros; producer, Peter Feldman.

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling

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