Leander and Poppy have to hash out some family history, and Markus and Zarina have to hash out some very present things or risk losing their future together. Plus, Eva must be honest about who she is and what she wants.
Even though none of them yet know it, the clock is ticking. The episode, entitled “Here She Shall See No Enemy,” stands as a superlative edition of the Oakland-set drama.
Truth Be Told recap: ‘Here She Shall See No Enemy’
Season 3, episode 3: We join our story, already in progress. It’s a good thing Aames (played by David Lyons) has Rochelle (Reign Edwards) locked up in his police cruiser. Otherwise, Markus (Mekhi Phifer) might kill her. Poppy (Octavia Spencer), Aames and Markus had gone to the house of a suspect in the death of teenage runaway Drea Spivey (Nia Sondaya) and found Rochelle there instead.
They searched Trey’s (Isaiah Jarel) house and found a cache of homemade porn videos. Among all the blackmail material, they discovered footage of Markus’ daughter Trini (Mychala Lee) and her boyfriend Aubrey (Donald Dash). Markus wants answers. But first, he must have two awkward conversations. One with his wife Zarina (Merle Dandridge), who Trini lied to and said she was a virgin, and one with Trini herself.
Markus and Zarina try to talk to Trini, and she asserts that there is no way Aubrey knew about the recording. Markus is furious and blows the heart-to-heart portion of the talk, but at least seems to get that he’s not helping. He leaves Zarina for the next part, and she and Trini finally talk about the sex issue with some clarity.
Poppy also does her own interrogating, with Aames allowing her to question Rochelle. (I’d love to know the legality of this little maneuver.) Poppy plays hardball with her when it’s clear that Rochelle won’t rat on Trey.
Some interesting meetings
Later, Lee Hackman (Xander Berkeley) comes to visit Leander (Ron Cephas Jones). They got off on the wrong foot the other day when Leander’s Capstone M.C. blew through a voting event and pissed off mayoral hopeful Andrew Finney (Peter Gallagher). After Finney told Leander to stand down, it’s a little suspicious that Hackman chose now to show up and do a little glad-handing. He claims he just wants to talk bikes with Leander, but nobody ever just wants to talk on this show.
Poppy is Leander’s next visitor. When going through her mother’s things, she finds a love letter from someone who isn’t her father. She tries to ask her dad about it, but gets cold feet. Luckily, Eva (Gabrielle Union) walks in and rescues her. Eva thanks Leander for positioning members of the Capstones near the school as protection, because the superintendent (Rif Hutton) doesn’t see Drea’s murder as a problem for all the kids at school.
Then Eva sets up Poppy with an interview with a close friend (Gwendoline Yeo) who specializes in social work for former sex workers. Maybe they can get an insight into Rochelle’s psychology.
Everyone’s looking for clues
Markus goes to interview Aubrey with Aames and at least gets the kid to confess that he did in fact film himself and Trini having sex. However, Aubrey claims it was just for himself. His parents (Rueben Grundy and Leshay Tomlinson) intervene before Markus can get any more info out of him. Aames and Zarina both keep reminding Markus to keep his temper in check, but every little thing sets him off.
Continuing her search for information on Drea’s murder, Poppy finds another girl who runs with Trey and Rochelle named Devon (Andrea Ellsworth). They get on easily enough, so Poppy thinks maybe she can get some more info out of Devon if she plays her cards right.
Poppy finally questions her dad about the love letter and makes a shocking discovery: Leander isn’t her biological father. This throws her, but she knows her dad did his best by her. Leander gets a reminder how hard it is to do the right thing as a father when Markus comes into his bar, threatening to fall off the wagon. The two hash it out and Markus leaves with his sobriety intact. There are more important things than pride, the two men reason.
… and everyone’s got their own reasons
Eva does a little reasoning of her own, finally coming clean to Poppy about why she’s so adamant about solving this particular mystery. When she was a kid, her mother was undocumented and a law school boyfriend told her if she slept with the right people, they could expedite the case. So this is as personal for her as it is for everybody. Does that explain why she’s sleeping with someone (Ana Ayora) close to Andrew Finney? Who could say?
Aames, Eva and Poppy do a little investigating based on Devon’s revelation that she met Trey at a summer camp. Turns out, not only was Trey a counselor at this camp — Aubrey was a junior counselor. They go to Markus with the info, but by the time they arrive, Aubrey and Trini have already fled with Trey to who knows where. They’re going to need to be quick if they’re going to stop something worse from happening.
Doing what we have to do
This episode of Truth Be Told is all about the little compromises people make in order to stay right with themselves and survive. There are two kinds of decisions being made here — from the head and from the heart.
Eva and Markus need to learn to not take things too personally. Otherwise, they risk losing the important things in front of them in the heat of passion. Likewise, Poppy and Leander must come clean about what they know about each other. They both know, deep down, that family is family, no matter what a DNA test says.
Everyone does great work with their characters this week, with the struggle to keep internal feelings internal for fear that they’ll mess up everything they’ve worked hard to build. This is the most focused the show has yet been. Wisely keeping everything wrapped up around the identity of Poppy and her friends, family and indeed her Oakland neighborhood ensures this episode remains tightly wound throughout.
It’s easy to get lost in. This is the most anxious I’ve yet been to see what happens next on Truth Be Told.
Watch Truth Be Told on Apple TV+
New episodes of Truth Be Told season three arrive each Friday.
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 author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.