Let’s cut to the chase — Season Three, the much heralded return of a series desperate to pretend Season Two never happened, was held together by some damn good acting by Ali and Dorff, but in the end it was an ultimately disappointing exercise where all the most interesting characters were women that got almost no screen time.
Pizzolatto is a writer who mines pop culture and true crime stories, pulls out the superficial bits, and then weaves an empty story around them.
There was a good story in there, hidden in the muck. That good story was recited as a weighty exposition while our characters were sitting at a kitchen table.
Ali’s portrayal of a man suffering from dementia was compelling and heartbreaking, but in the end it was just a mcguffin, a wearisome plot device so that the writer could deliver his ah-ha moment that was obvious as soon as we met Mike and his daughter, but we had to watch as “the ghost” of Amelia delivers the “truth” to Hays by the happenstance of a book falling to the floor on just the right page for the revelation to bear fruit.
That’s some weak writing unless you actually interject the paranormal element.
Pizzolatto just can’t make up his mind, largely, I think, because he’s lost in his own narrative. He doesn’t understand the story he’s telling. He has no grasp of the craft. He just plods along, stringing scenes together and hoping it all comes together in the end.
Well, it doesn’t. Not really.
Hell, he couldn’t even make up his mind how to end the damn thing. As we pull into Wayne’s eye, we find him and his girlfriend reconciling in the VFW then walking off into the white light like the finale of LOST.
Don’t tell me we’ve been in Purgatory all along.
Did Wayne die there on the porch just then, or did he descend even deeper into his dementia, never to return?
But wait, we’re not done. We end, instead, with Purple Hays in the jungles of Vietnam. Force Recon, Uh-Rah!
Did Wayne die and then take a detour into hell or did he descend even deeper into his dementia to become lost in that jungle of long ago?
Or is this Pizzolatto’s attempt at lifting the plot of Jacob’s Ladder? Did Purple Hays never come home from ‘Nam at all, dying in the jungle, and the entire season was ultimately a dying man’s fantasy?
Surely not, but one could see how such an interpretation could take hold. I suspect the author wrote both scenes and couldn’t decide which route to take, so delivered both, creating an ineffectual mess.
Want my bottom line? Nic Pizzolatto is a snake oil salesman with a flashy cart and fancy label on the bottle. Drinking it down won’t hurt you none, but don’t expect it to do you much good either.
Watch Season Three for the amazing performances, particularly from Stephen Dorff, who really surprised me in this.
Don’t expect much from the story and you’ll get along just fine.