Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) investigates a missing persons case while haunted by his past.

Enlarge / Detective Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) investigates a missing persons case while haunted by his past. (credit: YouTube/HBO)

We’d almost forgotten about HBO’s uneven crime anthology series True Detective. It had a fantastic first season, only to hemorrhage viewers with the abysmally dreary, disappointing second season. But now the series is coming back for season 3, and if the new trailer is any indication, it’s a welcome return to form.

The brainchild of former lit professor and novelist Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective has always fostered a very literary, philosophical tone and, shall we say, unhurried pacing. When it works, it’s brilliant. Season 1 was set in the Louisiana Bayou, as Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Detective Martin “Marty” Hart (Woody Harrelson) tracked down a twisted serial killer with a fondness for leaving weird twig sculptures in the woods.

The spooky setting and strong chemistry between the lead actors pretty much ensured its success with viewers and critics alike. It was well-plotted to reel the viewer in, and the dialogue between McConaughey and Harrelson yielded some much-needed comic relief. (Only McConaughey could pull off those long, drawling abstract ruminations without everyone wanting to strangle him, his partner included.)

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