During the first season of True Detective, there was a hilariously insightful interview with series creator Nic Pizzolatto that ran on the Daily Beast (courtesy of Andrew Romano) that became something of an inside joke among the show's fans, thanks to this descriptive passage:
"Despite being a relatively recent California transplant—he moved west in 2010—Pizzolatto, 38, looks more camera-ready than most TV writers. Grey leather jacket. Black unbuttoned henley. White undershirt. Aviators. Careful stubble. He resembles celebrity chef Rocco Di Spirito, or perhaps Tom Ford in landscape mode. He orders the whole branzino. I get the linguine vongole con bottarga."
The whole branzino. If there was ever a perfect culinary metaphor for Pizzolatto's baroque, gothic, hyper-masculine cop show bullshit, it would be this menu selection. He's an artist who totally buys into his own macho nonsense, often biting off way more than he can chew. But that's what makes him so distinctive: he's always going to order the head, the tail, the whole damn thing...for better or worse (ahem, Season Two).
If the full trailer for Season Three of True Detective is any indication, we're having more fish for dinner, as this is totally leaning into the original's trashy, blue collar investigator aesthetic, right down to the portentous brown color schematic.
Take a look:
Yup. Whole Branzino. To be honest, this latest Ozark-set mystery (starring Moonlight great Mahershala Ali) almost comes off like parody of Pizzolatto's stoic warrior poetry. But fuck it, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm going to watch every damn minute. Pizzolatto's making his directorial debut, and wrote this season pretty much by himself (with the exception of episode four, which was co-penned by Deadwood mastermind David Milch).
Green Room and Blue Ruin violent auteur Jeremy Saulnier is also another executive producer, and directed a few episodes before departing the series under somewhat tumultuous circumstances (which were written off by the network as eyebrow-raising "scheduling conflicts"*). How much of Saulnier's input stayed in the final cut of these chapters remains to be seen (as Ozark/Game of Thones/Better Call Saul creative Daniel Sackheim was reportedly hired to do some triage work behind the camera). Guess we'll just have to wait and see there.
Season Three of True Detective hits HBO Sunday, January 13th. Whoever throws a Branzino Party for the premiere better invite me.
*Saulnier has since refused to talk about his departure in interviews.