The truth proves dangerous this week on Truth Be Told [Apple TV+ review]

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Truth Be Told review: Mekhi Phifer and Octavia Spencer get closer to the truth in this week's episode.
Mekhi Phifer and Octavia Spencer get closer to the truth this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

The arrests and accusations fly this week on Apple TV+’s shocking crime drama, Truth Be Told. Podcaster Poppy Parnell needs to get a grip on her situation because her father’s in need, her partners in crime need space, and she’s starting to look too self-obsessed for her own good. Can she pump the brakes in time, or will Micah stop her first?

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Last week on Truth Be Told, Markus Killebrew (played by Mekhi Phifer) and Poppy (Octavia Spencer) got arrested by SFPD when they went looking for Rose Gil and Holt Rollins (Christopher Backus) in their hovel. Only intervention from Inspector Aames (David Lyons) saves them from further hot water.

Poppy finds it anyway, though, when her lawyer Demetrius (Andre Royo) shows up hopping mad that she’s been podcasting about Micah’s reputation without evidence. If Micah goes ahead with a defamation lawsuit, Poppy’s podcast will be used as evidence. And that’s the last thing Poppy wants to hear as she closes in on Rose, her star witness.

Of course, Micah (Kate Hudson) knows this, too. When Holt shows up at her house late at night, Micah very innocently says she’s “worried” about Rose and makes Holt promise to go out on the streets and look for her. Holt doesn’t know what Micah might do to keep Rose from testifying into Poppy’s microphone.

Poppy’s father Leander (Ron Cephas Jones), meanwhile, is undergoing mental competency tests and it’s looking grim. The appearance of his nephew, Moss, centers him somewhat, though Moss’s motivations remain worryingly murky. When he meets Demetrius, whom Leander put through law school in their hellcat days, he gets a glint in his eye.

“So what, you a lawyer?” he asks.

“You need to take the surprise outcho voice!” Royo replies. “I’m a G. But yes I’m also an attorney.” (Royo remains a pretty effortless MVP on this show.)

Spoiler alert: You chose wrong then, you chose wrong now

Truth Be Told review: Andre Royo and Octavia Spencer swing like tennis pros on <em>Truth Be Told</em>.
Andre Royo and Octavia Spencer swing like tennis pros on Truth Be Told.
Photo: Apple TV+

Micah is growing desperate and Poppy can sense it. She dives into Micah’s autobiography of her time before they became close friends and does a little investigating. There’s a powerhouse sequence where, with Micah’s voice in her ears, Poppy investigates a club that was host to a scene from Micah’s youth. The club is empty, and only Micah’s reminiscences fill the space. Excellent work from directors Alexis Ostrander and Frederick E.O. Toye.

There’s also a lot of talk about how Micah spent her formative years on the street, eking out a living on the fringes. For a while, this felt one of the showrunner’s few missteps. There’s no way on earth someone who looks like Kate Hudson in her late 40s was an abused, homeless drug addict. Especially when you look at Holt and Rose.

Poppy and Markus finally locate Rose. And when Poppy gets her long-awaited interview with Rose, that’s when it all makes sense. Micah wasn’t a street urchin like Rose; Micah took Rose’s memoirs and passed them off as her own. Now, the only real problem with this development is that everyone else looked at Micah and believed she could have been homeless.

That’s a little less credulity straining, but it still takes a bit of a leap in logic. Just take a look at Hudson’s Instagram. It’s all workout videos, supplements and pilates. Someone should have asked some questions before now about how someone who looks like her was supposed to be the woman in that book.

Hats off to Mekhi Phifer

A brief aside: Mekhi Phifer has been great all season on Truth Be Told, but I’ve really liked him these last two episodes, being tossed in stormy seas, domestic and social. He’s being stretched to the breaking point by everyone in his life and yet seems hellbent on keeping his composure.

It’s an excellent work of relentless interiority, of emotions being shoved down as hard as possible. When this week’s episode ends with him in handcuffs with a gunshot wound, you know he’s reached his breaking point — and so has his family. He’s gone incredibly far out on a limb for Poppy. It’s cost him almost everything, and you finally see in Poppy’s eyes that she realizes it.

If you aren’t careful, every bad thing they say about you can come true just like that.

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.