Truth Be Told builds toward shocking season finale [Apple TV+ review]

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Truth Be Told review: Actor Mekhi Phifer steals another scene this week!
Actor Mekhi Phifer, right, steals another scene this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

The second season of Apple TV+’s first crime series is drawing to a gripping close. This week Truth Be Told, podcaster Poppy Parnell’s cause grows in righteousness even as the noose tightens around her childhood friend Micah Keith.

The little show that could soldiers on, propelled by the searing charisma of one of the best casts on TV.

Truth Be Told review: ‘Brick by Brick It Also Falls’

In this week’s episode, titled “Brick by Brick It Also Falls,” Micah (played by Kate Hudson), knowing Poppy (Octavia Spencer) has outmaneuvered her, makes one last ploy to maintain her grip on the situation. (To wit: Her husband and his out-of-wedlock son were possibly killed by someone she knows, and it looks to all the world like she’s been lying about it.)

She goes to Rose’s hotel room to beg her once and for all to tell Poppy that she’s mistaken, that Micah’s life story is her own and not Rose’s. Rose won’t relent, wanting her agency back; Micah even offers Rose a house but she won’t take the bait.

Poppy tries to get some more answers out of Rose, too, and she’s about as receptive. However, Poppy does pry one piece of information out of her: Josh Keith, Micah’s husband, was threatened by Martin Haywood (Michael Muhney), former member of the Sons of Ivar, the men’s rights group from earlier in the season.

The only thing Poppy knows is that Holt (Christopher Backus) confessed too readily to the murders of Josh and his son, so she knows he’s lying. He’s trying to protect Rose or Micah, or both of them. So who really killed Josh?

What’s next for Micah?

Micah goes back to work the next day and finds that the board has also gotten one over on her. She’s being forced out of the company after a whole season of malfeasance and bad business.

The determined glint in her eyes says she still has another card up her sleeve but the audience has no reason to suspect she isn’t out of road. Micah’s actions start to read as desperate and tone-deaf, even to her close friends and allies. No one knows what she’s doing anymore.

Detective Aames (David Lyons), Poppy’s reluctant new friend at the police department, gives her the address of a guy who fled from the Sons of Ivar, who might corroborate that Martin Haywood, the guy Rose remembered threatening Josh, was missing from a meeting the night of the murder. Poppy goes looking for him to no avail.

Meanwhile the missing Spivey girl, Drea (Layla Crawford), is brought in by members of The Capstones, Leander’s (Ron Cephas Jones) old motorcycle club. The stress of seeing her after months of being at the mercy of the streets — and Poppy’s revelations about the violence she suffered at the hands of her foster mother — shakes Leander’s confidence, which is already waning thanks to his rapidly advancing illness. He’s become a shadow of the man we saw at the outset of the season.

Getting at the truth

Markus (Mekhi Phifer) is similarly upset by the sight of Drea. He suddenly feels he’s been wasting his time protecting the obviously guilty Micah when real crime is being committed all the time.

He and Poppy have a heart to heart and both Spencer and Phifer are stupendous in this scene.

“I’m sorry I dragged you into this,” she says.

“I’m a grown-ass man,” he replies.

I love Phifer’s cadence in this scene — it weighs a ton. The shared love between them, their eye contact … it hits perfectly. Truth Be Told hasn’t always known what to do with Phifer, but the show always lets him act, and that’s always magnificent.

… one searing scene at a time

And speaking of: Poppy has another one-on-one with her dad and they hash out some of the hazier details of her childhood. Poppy was told by her wicked foster mother that Leander wasn’t her dad, but we learn that she did this out of jealousy because Leander left the foster mother for Poppy’s birth mother. The rest is tortured history.

They reconcile finally, something they’ve been building to all season, and it’s just beautifully done. Jones once again just kills this sequence, not over- or underplaying anything, hitting every bull’s-eye the short scene offers him.

A little later it’ll occur to Poppy that he dodged an important question, but when she comes back to the bar it’s not her father but Martin Haywood who’s there to greet her. And as they say … what happens next will shock you.

Watch 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.