Apple TV+ crime drama Truth Be Told takes a stroll down memory lane this week as Eva remembers her years in the life of sex trafficking, giving her a potential tool to bring a network of bad people to justice.
Meanwhile, Markus is at his wit’s end trying to help Trini reintegrate into her life while looking in vain for justice. Leander and Poppy both have favors to ask of Lee Hackman. And the walls are starting to close in on Andrew Finney and his donors.
Truth Be Told recap: ‘The Luxury in Self-Reproach’
Season 3, episode 7: In the harrowing episode, entitled “The Luxury in Self-Reproach,” Eva (played by Gabrielle Union) is ready to come clean about her days as a sex trafficked sex trafficker. She sits down with Poppy (Octavia Spencer) in her podcasting studio. Then Eva recounts how, back in the day, she partnered up with politician Andrew Finney (Peter Gallagher), who got her into the life of trading sex for favors and favor.
Eva wanted his approval so badly she started getting her other classmates hooked. Poppy tries her best to listen to Eva’s story without judgment. But when she sits down to edit the interview, she realizes she can’t use any of it. If the people of Oakland heard that a school principal left a bunch of at-risk girls in the hands of a pimp, Eva would never recover.
Down at Oakland Police Department, Detective Aames (David Lyons) has his one-time partner Detective Sun (Tim Chiou) arrested for tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. The authorities hope to prove that Sun was the one holding Melanie (Makena May) captive during her years as a sex worker.
With Sun out of the picture, maybe now they can get to Aubrey (Donald Dash), the man who pushed Markus (Mekhi Phifer) and Zarina’s (Merle Dandridge) daughter Trini (Mychala Lee) into sex work.
This isn’t over yet
Trini’s still in bad shape. She suffers from night terrors and becomes convinced she loves Aubrey, even though he’s in jail for what he did to her. Poppy and Aames interrogate Aubrey, and he says that Trey (Isaiah Jarel) didn’t show an interest in Trini until after Drea Spivey (Nia Sondaya) was murdered. Trini was Drea’s replacement. So why did Trey kill Drea? Maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was Detective Sun.
Leander (Ron Cephas Jones) and his motorcycle club the Capstones are still feeling the heat from the Oakland PD, so he decides to play hardball. He calls Finney’s biggest donor, Lee Hackman (Xander Berkeley), and asks him for help stopping the gang crackdowns that Finney instituted.
Hackman reminds Leander he doesn’t have much in the way of leverage. Indeed, Leander owes Hackman after they used his software to help locate Trini. But Leander does have something Hackman wants: a vintage Indian motorcycle. He gives it to him in exchange for a little more interest in the community. This will prove important, because Poppy also needs access to Questor, Hackman’s software. Sun planned to leak evidence about Leander’s prior arrest (for almost killing Poppy’s biological father), so clearly he had a lot more stuff saved on his account. Sun was using the app to talk to his sex workers and pimps.
We’ve got a sex-trafficking ring to bring down
Aames goes back to try and bluff Sun into a confession and succeeds. That’s one step closer to toppling the house of cards. Markus doesn’t want to wait, though. He breaks into the car of Bill Ochoa (Anthony Fernandez), the man who raped Trini, and steals his phone. Data on the device points the way toward the conspiracy, but it’s inadmissible as evidence.
Markus starts stalking Ochoa’s wife, too, causing a scene in the park. Trini keeps trying to ask her mother to see Aubrey, but she won’t budge. When Trini brings up Markus’ alcoholism (he’s relapsing in an alley with Leander as they speak) as an example of her mom putting up with bad behavior, Zarina’s not having any of that. Markus worked for years to conquer his disease. Aubrey chose to put Trini in harm’s way rather than face the consequences.
Trini asks to leave the house to go for a run, and Zarina lets her. But it’s clear what Trini’s going to do when she gets out. She hops a train and heads to meet Cooper (Spence Moore II) to ask him to get a message to Aubrey.
Aames and Poppy talk Hackman into letting them see Sun, Ochoa and Finney’s accounts. They locate sums of incriminating money passed among them, and to a man connected to all three of them named Marv Lennell (Dan Buran). They raid Marv’s place and find Emily Mills (Jane Widdop) in a dog cage in his guest room.
She deserves to be found
Truth Be Told finally bringing the Emily Mills case to a close is kind of a peculiar side effect of the rest of the drama. The show started by directly comparing the cases of Drea and Emily, saying that the disappearance of a white girl always makes headlines but the disappearance of a black girl doesn’t. And then, for all the time and energy apparently being devoted to the rediscovery of Emily, it took them a long time to find her.
Emily feels distinctly like an afterthought, which I guess is kind of the point, but it’s still a little peculiar. I mean … everybody’s getting kidnapped and abused, right?
Anyway, I’m liking all the desperation stuff from the Markus storyline. It’s all believable, and it’s heartbreaking to watch Phifer throw himself against the limits of what the character can achieve. The actor has become the unstable engine of the last few episodes, and his depiction of Markus’ frailty is very watchable.
With just a few episodes left, it remains an open question whether he’ll pull it together in time for the Truth Be Told season three finale.
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.