Mahershala Ali (Getty/Matt Winkelmeyer)

Surprise! "True Detective" is back — can Mahershala Ali save it?

After a dismal second season, the once-beloved HBO show is on track for a return with Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali


Gabriel Bell
July 27, 2017 5:57PM (UTC)

After many considered it left for dead by the side of the road with a bullet wound to the stomach, HBO's crime anthology series "True Detective" is apparently bound for a third season — its first since completing its second-season run in 2015.

Entertainment Weekly reports from the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena that, even though the show's return is not set in stone and HBO is still courting directors, the network has signed a deal with newly minted A-lister Mahershala Ali to star. Ali won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2016 for his turn in "Moonlight," which itself took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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While HBO never formally cancelled the prestigious series, the network neither slated a third season nor announced anything official about its return after the second season finished airing in August of 2015.

While there have been errant rumblings that the show would indeed resurface, prospects for its return looked bleak for some time. After a stunningly good and well regarded first season starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (himself an Oscar winner), the series stumbled painfully in its second.

While still better received than most television projects, the drop in critical approval was steep. The Rotten Tomatoes critics' score for the first season was 87 percent with a 97 percent audience score. The second season holds a 63 percent critics' score and a 61 percent audience score. Ratings too fell. While 3.52 million watched the finale of the first season, only 2.73 million watched the final episode of the second.

For this drop, many blamed the ragged, frustrating script and the unchecked tonal extravagances of series creator Nic Pizzolatto, who was without standout first-season director and co-runner Cary Fukunaga. Recently, though, there's been a strong uptick in buzz surrounding the future of "True Detective" as past reports have said that Pizzolatto is indeed writing season 3, now with the assistance of "Deadwood" and "NYPD Blue" scribe David Milch.

As  HBO president of programming Casey Bloys told Entertainment Weekly, “I have read five scripts for a third season. ... I’m very very impressed and excited about what I’ve read. I don’t want to give away the storyline, but I really think they’re terrific.”

No return date, director or other details about "True Detective" season 3 are available at this time.

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Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

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