With Mahershala Ali in the lead, "the new story is blatantly structured as a kind of 'Pizzolatto Plays Season One’s Greatest Hits' album," Alan Sepinwall says of the Nic Pizzolatto creation. "There’s a brilliant-but-tortured investigator played by a great actor coming off an Oscar-winning performance. The mystery spans three eras and features the main characters being interviewed in the later periods about what happened years earlier. The killer even leaves primitive sculptures made of natural materials (sticks then, corn husks now) near the victims’ bodies. It’s as if Pizzolatto wants us to block out all memory of the disastrous second season with Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn and recall only the mostly beloved debut year with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It’s a sensible, if somewhat cynical, choice. Season Two played as Pizzolatto’s response to the criticisms of Season One, with a bigger and more complicated plot, more main characters, more prominent female characters and all the other things people said the McConaughey/Harrelson iteration was lacking in the wake of an underwhelming finale. But it turned out his initial creative instincts were the right ones — for him, at least." Noting that Season 3 is less visually impressive, Sepinwall adds: "Ultimately, the franchise’s most important creative voice has turned out not to be Pizzolatto, nor any of his famous stars, but Cary Joji Fukunaga. He directed all of Season One and infused what was, in hindsight, a very thin story with such stunning, unsettling imagery that it all felt deeper than it turned out to be."