It turns out Emily Mills’ kidnapping was something else altogether. Plus, Poppy is pressing hard into other people’s secrets — and into her own for a change, much to Leander’s chagrin. Markus has hit bottom and can’t seem to pull up. Trini gets a much-needed wake-up call, and Eva can’t stop living in the past.
This week’s very fine episode brings some extremely strong performances, and some equally impactful revelations.
Truth Be Told recap: ‘Darkness Declares the Glory of Light’
Season 3, episode 8: In the episode, entitled “Darkness Declares the Glory of Light,” Emily Mills (played by Jane Widdop) finally returns home with her parents. She’s doing a televised interview recapping her torture. The Oakland Police Department wants to move on, but detective Aames (David Lyons) isn’t convinced things are as cut-and-dried as they seem.
The shady behavior of Emily’s dad, Peter (Larry Sullivan), throughout the investigation keeps weighing on Aames. Then it dawns on him: Peter owed his dealer, Marv (Dan Buran), and his bookie something like a hundred thousand dollars.
Emily decided to do something about the situation. She faked her kidnapping so that her mom, the rich one of the family, would have to pay a ransom — and Emily would become a media sensation. The smoking gun was that Emily packed up a bunch of her things, including a teddy bear, before her supposed kidnapping.
Scores to settle
Meanwhile, Markus (Mekhi Phifer) remains fixated on bringing down Bill Ochoa (Anthony Fernandez) for attacking his daughter, Trini (Mychala Lee). So Markus goes to Poppy (Octavia Spencer) with an idea. Maybe they could hack into the security camera system to find the feed from the night of the raid, something the Oakland PD couldn’t get access to.
Markus has a contact he can visit, but he doesn’t want to endanger Poppy, so he says he’s going alone. At that moment, Poppy confesses to Markus that Leander (Ron Cephas Jones) isn’t her biological father. Markus cheers up Poppy, saying she shouldn’t be worried about what her sisters Desiree (Tracie Thoms) and Cydie (Haneefah Wood) think. They’ll always love her.
Frankie (Darren Darnborough), Markus’ tech hook-up, is a reclusive fellow for a reason. A lot of what he does isn’t legal, and he’s got thousands of dollars worth of equipment in his hideaway. They find a video among the files Frankie digs up that suggests that Andrew Finney (Peter Gallagher), the man running unopposed for mayor of Oakland, isn’t the head of the sex-trafficking ring. Instead, Finney looks like a victim of it.
When Poppy goes to interview Finney, he verbally stonewalls her, but jots a message on a piece of paper asking her to meet him later. Would it shock you to learn he does not make it to that meeting?
Living in the past, dying in the present
Eva (Gabrielle Union) is furious with Poppy. After she confessed to all of the worst moments of her life in order to tell people what a bad guy Finney was, Poppy failed to air the interview. Poppy didn’t want to release it if she didn’t have to, and now with the money linking Ochoa and Finney, maybe she doesn’t. Of course, Eva relived the worst moment of her life — and she wants it to mean something. She wants her experience to be the thing that takes down Finney, but Poppy thinks people won’t look at Eva the same after her testimony goes live.
Markus and Zarina (Merle Dandridge) ask Desiree to bring Melanie (Makena May) over to spend time with Trini. Melanie was trafficked a lot longer than Trini, so maybe they’ll be able to talk about things, find common ground. Hearing Melanie talk about her experience with pimps makes Trini nervous, so she decides to sneak away and talk to Aubrey (Donald Dash) herself.
Trini’s become convinced she loves Aubrey. But when she meets him at juvenile hall, she makes him confess that he didn’t do much to stop her from being assaulted. This finally snaps her out of her fugue state. She breaks up with him and tells her mom all about it.
When Eva confronts Finney, he gives her the same routine he gave Poppy. However, she’s less receptive to his show-don’t-tell responses. So it’s entirely possible it’s Eva who’s driving the black sedan that runs down Finney in the parking garage on his way to meet Poppy.
Markus, Poppy and some real revelations
Livid about the news of Finney’s death and the case once more coming to a dead end, Markus goes to Poppy to sulk. He ends up trying to kiss her, but she stops him. Poppy doesn’t want to be like her mother, breaking up families.
Desiree and Cydie decide to throw Melanie a surprise party to celebrate her freedom. So they invite the whole neighborhood to Leander’s bar. Leander tries once more to patch up things with Poppy, but she’s fixated on her birth father.
She thinks her dad knows more about him than he’s letting on. So he brings her to her uncle, a man living in a homeless encampment, and hears the truth. He tells Poppy that her biological father was a controlling, abusive man. She left Leander for him because she thought if she was in his life, he wouldn’t hurt Poppy or Desiree, whom she left with other family members.
That settles that for her. Now Poppy can get back to more important things.
Love and loss
There’s some great stuff in this episode of Truth Be Told. Markus and Poppy share a moment that sent a chill down my spine. When they’re trying to comfort each other, it’s clear they’re both tapping into the past, when they were involved. It’s never exactly tracked to me that these two were together back in the day. They just seem so very different.
And yet … when they’re looking into each other’s eyes, and the silence between them lasts a second too long, oh boy… the tension is off the charts. I was a little bummed the show returned to the same setup later; the hint of it was so tantalizing, and so well performed, that any more of that was overplaying the hand. But I get that the writers need to show Markus hitting rock bottom.
Peter Gallagher also did a great job with his last scene as Finney. It’ll be a bit of a bummer to lose him going forward. But then, the central cast is really the only consistent thing season to season on Truth Be Told. I still miss Andre Royo from season two. But all the show’s guest stars must see themselves out, one way or the other.
Speaking of that, I’m not sure whether Eva killed Finney or not, but that would be one way to close Gabrielle Union’s arc on the show. There’s almost certainly no way they keep her around for season four.
Truth Be Told always finds unconventional uses for its ensemble players, and this season’s cast might be the best yet.
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.