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TRUE DETECTIVE is back for its eight-episode third season every Sunday at 10:00 pm AST* exclusively on HBO, followed by other episodes concluding with the season finale of March 3rd.

Tracking along with Will and Julie…meet Mike Ardoin. (Warrick Page/HBO) Previous seasons of TRUE DETECTIVE are available on HBO GO.

The new season tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.

Mahershala Ali stars as Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas. Carmen Ejogo and Stephen Dorff also star. Created by Nic Pizzolatto.

Wayne & Roland discuss what Logan said. (Warrick Page/HBO) While presenting one case over three different timelines, decades apart, isn’t the most straightforward way of telling a story, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto is adamant that the timelines don’t exist to trip the viewer up or obscure the truth.

“I wanted to sort of be like, ‘no tricks up my sleeve,’” Pizzolatto told Den of Geek. “Because 2015 and 1990 are happening at the same time as 1980, you’re sort of constantly being told what is going to happen, like, all the time, you know?”

The three timelines in True Detective Season 3 cover the case of the missing Purcell kids in West Finger, Arkansas as it develops in 1980, 1990, and then 2015. This isn’t a Pulp Fiction or Roshomon-like situation where stories overlap and intersect in a dubious, non-chronological order. True Detective Season 3 is simply telling a story so big and consequential to the characters involved that it spans more than one specific period in time…just like True Detective Season 1 did.

Family dinner: Wayne, Henry, Heather, Sam and Amy. (Warrick Page/HBO) As Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) says in the season’s first episode, “I used to think back then it was before ‘Nam and after ‘Nam. But now it’s before the Purcell case and after the Purcell case.” Some things are so big and so consequential that they stick with us, even as our memories begin to fade and degrade.

Now, just because True Detective Season 3 isn’t actively trying to mislead the viewer doesn’t mean that the presentation of the timelines is always completely straightforward or easily understandable. Sometimes the story does bleed into other decades or we receive information in say, the 1990 timeline that we’re not privy to in the 1980 timeline.

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