After a stunning first season that gave us the existential buddy-cop pairing of Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), a slow-moving, overly complex and critically panned (but actually not as bad as its reputation suggests) second season saw True Detective's ratings dip.
As a result, True Detective season 3 looked unlikely (really unlikely, actually – see below for more information on that) but recently, some key news reports have hit the trades suggesting that a third season isn't just possible, it's actually happening.
We've decided to play telly detective, and gather all the important info in one place.
So stop staring at those spirals in the sky and check out everything you need to know about True Detective season 3.
True Detective season 3 cast: Who's in it?
This was the big news piece that got us hoping – Variety broke the news in July 2017 that Mahershala Ali, the Oscar-winning star of Moonlight, was in talks with HBO to join the cast of True Detective season 3. Which is obviously very exciting.
Joining Ali will be Stephen Dorff - best known for playing the vampire villain in Blade or as the abusive boyfriend in Britney Spears' 'Everytime' video, depending on your mileage.
[Above: Stephen Dorff]
Dorff will be playing Roland West, an Arkansas State Investigator who has had his entire life and career moulded by the central mystery.
Then there's Scoot McNairy of Halt and Catch Fire fame, cast a character called Tom: a father who suffers a terrible loss that will connect him to the decades-long investigations of two state-police detectives.
Behind the camera, Jeremy Saulnier – director of ace crime movies Green Room and Blue Ruin – will direct along with series creator Nic Pizzolatto.
"I'm tremendously thrilled to be working with artists at the level of Mahershala and Jeremy. I hope the material can do justice to their talents, and we're all very excited to tell this story," Pizzolatto enthused.
True Detective season 3 release date: When's it coming back?
HBO has confirmed that True Detective won't returns to our screens till 2019 - with an official launch date yet to be confirmed.
HBO held off from officially announcing the third season for the longest time. What we do know is that Pizzolatto has teamed up with Deadwood creator David Milch to shape the season's narrative.
Two scripts were written – presumably as proof of concept – before a continuation of the series was confirmed by the cable network.
An official synopsis reads: "The next instalment of True Detective 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."
Pizzolatto will write the entire season, though working with Milch on the script for the (presumably pviotal) fourth episode.
True Detective season 3 Rust Cohle: Is McConaughey coming back?
When True Detective was announced as a concept, it was as an anthology series, in which the cast and cases would change from season to season, meaning that season 1's finale was definitely the last we'd ever see of Rust and Marty.
Or, um, was it? After the failure of season 2, we would totally understand if Nic Pizzolatto wanted to lean on the incredible characters he created in that perfect first season. And one of them is definitely keen to return.
"I've talked to Nic about it," McConaughey said. "It would have to be the right context, the right way.
"I miss Rust Cohle, man. I miss watching him on Sunday nights. I miss watching True Detective on Sunday nights... I was a happy man when we made that for six months."
"No. Because it went very well the first time and if we come back around to it, what else are you going to hear but, 'Not as good! Just wasn't as good. Boy, you guys were good before, but this time…' I don't want to even hear that."
True Detective season 3 'cancelled'? What happened there?
It seems strange to be even discussing the idea of a True Detective season 3, when the harsh reaction to season 2 made that seem impossible, before that instalment had even finished airing.
Former HBO programming president Michael Lombardo was critical of True Detective season 2, even if he didn't call it an outright failure.
"Our biggest failures – and I don't know if I would consider True Detective 2 a failure – but when we tell somebody to hit an air date as opposed to allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place, when it's ready, when it's baked – we've failed," Lombardo admitted.
But something's clearly changed at HBO. Luckily, it looks like the channel, and Pizzolatto, are taking more time this time around.
"I have read five scripts for a third season," HBO programming present Casey Bloys told reporters in July. "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."
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