On Truth Be Told, more tantalizing clues fall into place [Apple TV+ review]

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Truth Be Told review: Things get even more strained for Micah, played by Kate Hudson, in this week's episode.
Micah (played by Kate Hudson) needs to do some serious damage control.
Photo: Apple TV+

This week on Truth Be Told, the Apple TV+ true crime fiction series turns up the heat on podcaster Poppy Parnell and lifestyle (and deathstyle?) guru Micah. The characters find fewer allies everywhere they look.

Poppy (played by Octavia Spencer) knew this case would hurt — but she was hoping the pain would take longer to start.

Truth Be Told review: Season 2, episode 4: ‘In Another Life’

This week’s episode, titled “In Another Life,” opens with a bang. Micah’s (Kate Hudson) assistant Ramon (Anthony Lee Medina) comes back to Micah’s house after very publicly calling her a fraud and implying she at bottom aided in the murder of her husband and his estranged son by being duplicitous.

If Micah can’t do damage control, she might be looking at the death of her career on top of everything else. Micah tries one last time to calm him down, but they quickly come to blows and Micah reaches for a knife in self defense. Another few seconds and she might have killed him.

Poppy shows up in time to hear Micah say she won’t be pressing charges, much to everyone’s chagrin — especially her head of security, Markus Killebrew (Mekhi Phifer). Markus goes to Ramon’s apartment just in time to see him fall four stories to the ground and expire on the sidewalk in a pool of his own blood.

Strange and awkward moments

Leander (Ron Cephas Jones), Poppy’s dad, runs into an old face, his nephew Moss (Cranston Johnson). Moss is back in town after missing his father’s funeral. It’s uncertain what he’s doing here, but no one in this show ever wanders into Leander’s bar idly.

Poppy and Ingram Rhoades (Michael Beach) get into a series of awkward moments this episode. He thinks she’s being reckless and she thinks he’s being cloying. Neither seems 100% sure they want to get back together, and each new little aggression pushes them further apart.

Meanwhile, after a hot tip, Detective Aames (David Lyons) — who’s in charge of the case of Micah’s husband — finally decides he’s not going to keep stonewalling Poppy. This could spell trouble for Micah if he ever figures out how to play nice. Their first meeting at Leander’s bar ends contentiously, though.

Poppy walks away after delivering the best line of the season: “Goodnight, Inspector. Leave a fat-ass tip now,” she says, before turning to the bartender and saying, “Herbie, set me up.”

With friends like these

Truth Be Told on Apple TV+: Actor Mekhi Phifer (center) stretches out in this week's episode.
Actor Mekhi Phifer (center) stretches out in this week’s episode.
Photo: Apple TV+

At this point in season 2, Truth Be Told is starting to pick up the pace. Clues and faces start to fall into place. And surveillance in the office where Micah works turns up a possible suspect in the murders.

Crucial to this show’s success, however, is that it doesn’t cut down on character notes to make way entirely for plot. The ramp-up has been fun enough, but I’m grateful we’re entering the endgame. Even still, this episode delivers a bunch of great moments that have nothing really to do with the murder — but everything to do with Poppy and her inner circle.

Hearing their father talking about his tough childhood puts Poppy and her sisters in a reflective mood. They ask each other about why they didn’t have children. This in turn leads to Ingram and Poppy having a serious talk about their relationship. Poppy has a teary confession about how Ingram makes her feel, perhaps her best work this season.

Mekhi Phifer also gets a few moments to shine as he closes in on his suspect while navigating a new and embarrassing chapter of his fatherhood. Prior to Truth Be Told, the actor’s intensity translated to a career playing angry young men. I like that this show uses some of that baggage to paint a portrait of a man with a past he’s trying to forget in order to make a better future. His rage is always just below the surface, and I especially like how he handles his personal crisis this week. He doesn’t shout but he’s stern enough to be heard.

Throughout, Truth Be Told puts its characters first. The show continues to dig satisfactorily into who everyone in Poppy’s world really is.

Truth Be Told on Apple TV+

New episodes of Truth Be Told arrive on Apple TV+ on Fridays.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.