Continuing a string of bad luck and delays, the third season of HBO’s True Detective has seemingly hit another snag, though its already somewhat recovered from the hit. Last night, THR reported that Jeremy Saulnier, the immensely talented director behind Blue Ruin and Green Room, had exited production on the season after directing two episodes. “Scheduling conflicts” were the reason given but not much other information has been forthcoming, and Saulnier took to Twitter to simply say “no comment.”
This has left many aspiring internet detectives to wonder if the problem here is once again the series’ showrunner, Nic Pizzolatto, who has a notorious ego and made the second season little more than a treatise on how difficult and heroic it is to be a tough, brooding, and entirely white man in this world. At the outset of the upcoming third season, which will star Mahershala Ali and Carmen Ejogo, Pizzolatto was set to helm half the season with Saulnier taking the other half. The remaining episodes for Saulnier will now be directed by Daniel Sackheim, an efficient and highly competent TV veteran who is responsible for a handful of excellent episodes of The Americans, amongst other projects. Pizzolatto is also responsible for all but one of the scripts, which taken alone doesn’t bode well for Season 3.
For all the attention given to Pizzolatto during the eruptive success of the show’s electrifying first season, the reason the show worked had way more to do with the way director Cary Fukunaga envisioned the story that he laid out. Under a less perceptive director, Pizzolatto’s initial season might have been as insufferable in its pseudo-philosophical window dressing and unconvincingly tormented worldview as the second season turned out to be. Saulnier was, in all seriousness, the only thing that the third season had going for it outside of its sterling cast, which also includes Scoot McNairy, Mamie Gummer, and Stephen Dorff. As reliable as Sackheim is, he doesn’t have the style that Saulnier’s films have boasted and which might have given the show a bit of visual oomph that was sorely lacking or came off as “Look at me, Ma!” posturing in Season 2. In other words, the loss of Saulnier here, for whatever reason, severely downgrades any anticipation that many viewers had for True Detective‘s third season, which is not to say the show couldn’t end up surprising the skeptical ultimately.