'True Detective' Episode 3: Let's Talk About That Movie Director

Did Nic Pizzolatto put a Cary Joji Fukunaga stand-in on screen?
Courtesy of HBO

Since it was announced that True Detective season one director Cary Joji Fukunaga wouldn't return for season two -- and when Fukunaga left series creator Nic Pizzolatto out of the acceptance speech for his best director Emmy -- rumors have swirled about tension between the two men.

Pizzolatto has denied any tension with Fukunaga -- they "worked together really smoothly," he told The Hollywood Reporter last year -- and Fukunaga has stayed mum on the subject. After Sunday's episode, however, that old chatter is likely to resurface.

It's all thanks to a scene in which detectives Ani Bezzarides (Rachel McAdams) and Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) visit a movie set as part of their murder investigation. The film, which looks to be a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic thriller, is shooting in Vinci thanks to the dead man, Ben Caspere. Its director, Ashley Daison (Philip Moon), briefly answers Ani and Rya's questions about meeting Caspere at a couple of parties.

Nothing out of the ordinary there for a cop show -- until you consider that Daison is an Asian-American man who gathers his hair into a small bun at the base of his skull -- not unlike Fukunaga himself.

Daison is also kind of an arrogant jerk, giving flippant answers to Ray and Ani's questions and ending with this line about the parties he attended: "I drink, so it makes my recollection unreliable."

As for his movie, the on-set photographer describes it to Ray as "two tons of shit."

For all anyone knows, Pizzolatto and Fukunaga may be sharing a private laugh about the on-screen portrayal of the director. But that's hardly the perception of the scene among those who have seen it. A number of critics made a point of mentioning how Daison seemed like a Fukunaga stand-in in their advance reviews and labeled it a cheap shot.

Pizzolatto has a reputation for demanding full control of True Detective to put his vision on screen; Fukunaga has said in other interviews (without ever slighting the writer) that he brought some of his own shading to the show. Fukunaga's not there anymore, and Pizzolatto is, so he gets the last word. Even on what would otherwise be an unremarkable (and unremarked-on) bit of exposition.

What did you think of episode three? Sound off below.