Poppy calls an audible this week on Truth Be Told [Apple TV+ recap]

Poppy calls an audible this week on Truth Be Told [Apple TV+ recap]


Merle Dandridge, left, and Mekhi Phifer continue their search on Apple TV+ crime drama ★★★★☆
Zarina (played by Merle Dandridge, left) and Markus (Mekhi Phifer) continue the search for their missing daughter. this week. And Poppy has a crazy plan that might help.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewTrini is still lost, and Markus and Poppy are still sweating every minute she’s gone this week on Apple TV+ true crime podcast drama Truth Be Told. Trini’s location is right within everyone’s fingertips, but they still can’t be sure where she is.

Finney’s every move is now being watched, but he may have already pocketed the Oakland Police Department. Aames, Poppy, Markus, Eva and Leander are all mobilized, but without a solid clue that won’t do any good. Can they rescue Trini before she suffers the same fate as Eva?

The episode, entitled “Freedom Is Never Given; It Is Won,” is another rough but gripping outing.

Truth Be Told recap: ”Freedom Is Never Given; It Is Won’

Season 3, episode 5: With Trey (played by Isaiah Jarel) dead, Markus (Mekhi Phifer) is frustrated and despondent. He thought that was the only lead left to follow to find his daughter, Trini (Mychala Lee).

Now Poppy (Octavia Spencer), sensing his anger and bitterness, shares with him what Eva (Gabrielle Union) told her last night: Mayoral hopeful Andrew Finney (Peter Gallagher) was the man who got Eva into a life of sex trafficking — and he’s still doing it now. Markus doesn’t want to hear that. It sounds impossible, and even if it’s true, taking down a well-connected politician isn’t any more of a walk in the park than finding a missing girl in a crowded city.

Still, Markus goes to confront Finney. But Eva stops him. After all, if he screams at him in public, what’s to stop Finney from burying her and all the evidence? Eva tells Alicia Rodriguez (Ana Ayora) about having been sexually trafficked by Finney, believing that she can trust her with the information.

Of course, when Alicia finds out, her first question is, did Eva seek her out because she was working for Finney? Yes, Eva confesses, but now she has actual feelings for her. Alicia offers to quit working for Finney, but Eva tells her not to. If she stays she can discover things — donor lists, scheduling, anything that can help them bring down Finney.

So many loose ends

Poppy finds out that Rochelle’s (Reign Edwards) name was on the lease of the recording studio where Trey was gunned down. So Poppy heads back to the county lock-up to talk to her. By the time she gets there, though, Rochelle has been released. Aames (David Lyons) tells Poppy there was nothing to hold her there, what with Trey dead and being held accountable for the crimes.

Poppy heads off to find Rochelle, and Aames heads back to the cabin where he thinks missing girl Emily Mills (Jane Widdop) was held. Poppy goes to the diner where Rochelle and her girls hold court and threatens her in person.

Eva suggests she and Markus follow Finney while they wait for information, to keep themselves busy. Meanwhile, the Capstones send Drea Spivey’s (Nia Sondaya) mother Charisse (Erica Tazel) over to comfort and help Markus’ wife Zarina (Merle Dandridge). Markus and Zarina still haven’t apologized to each other after their blow-up, so they need other people to keep them from going nuts. As the Capstones start shaking down shady locals, the Oakland police begin arresting members of the club. Word has evidently got out that the Capstones and Finney are at cross purposes.

Leander (Ron Cephas Jones) doesn’t like the sound of that.

Poppy hatches a potentially compromising plan

Leander tells Poppy about the arrests, and she tells him to hold tight. But her dad’s getting antsy. Trini’s boyfriend Aubrey (Donald Dash) calls Poppy and gives an approximate location where he and Trini are being held. Aames calls it in and tries to get a warrant, but the judge won’t sign it, citing lack of evidence.

That may be true — or it might be a conspiracy. So Poppy and Eva hatch a plan. What if Poppy goes live and says that Emily Mills was at the party, instead of Trini? That would bring the whole police department down on the party, wouldn’t it? Poppy knows she’d be destroying her credibility if she does this, but she doesn’t know what else to do. If they don’t stop Finney, he might become even more powerful. There’d be no stopping him.

Poppy goes live, the police show up, and the remaining Capstones wait nearby for help. They find a number of girls, some missing for a long time, and they find Trini — but no Emily Mills, which might cost Poppy tomorrow. But in the meantime, they’ve saved Trini from a terrible fate. That’ll do.

On the power of podcasts and a committed cast

Gabrielle Union and Octavia Spencer stand at Poppy's podcasting desk in a scene from "Truth Be Told."
Podcaster Poppy (played by Octavia Spencer, right) gambles with her credibility this week. But do podcasters really possess this sort of power?
Photo: Apple TV+

I’ve reviewed a season and a half of Truth Be Told by now, and there’s starting to be a problem with the world of the show that I’m not sure occurred to anyone involved with its creation. Do people take podcasts as seriously as they did a few years ago? I mean, lord knows we’re all still listening to them. But is there a true crime podcast with the reach and impact analogous to what Poppy’s show has on Truth Be Told?

The way everyone talks about her show, it’s as if it’s the most important thing airing in Oakland, if not all of America. And yet … I’m hard-pressed to think of a show where a host could go live and immediately get the police to come raid a mansion. I wonder…

Still, that quibble’s not enough to get in the way of the drama. I loved the tender moment when Markus and Zarina forgave each other for their outbursts, as Zarina suffered from an upset stomach because of what the stress is doing to her pregnant body. I also loved Poppy genuinely considering the ramifications of putting her credibility on the line to save Trini. And I like the ambiguity of Eva confessing to Alicia about everything she’s been through.

All in all, this week’s episode stands as a typically great showcase for the very committed cast of Truth Be Told.


Watch Truth Be Told on Apple TV+

New episodes of Truth Be Told season three arrive each Friday.

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 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.


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