Truth Be Told whipsaws through another killer episode [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Truth Be Told whipsaws through another killer episode [Apple TV+ recap]


Mychala Lee, Merle Dandridge and Mekhi Phifer in ★★★★☆
Truth Be Told positively brims with strong performances this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ ReviewThe search for a mayoral hopeful’s killer takes center stage on this week’s Truth Be Told, the Apple TV+ crime series told through the lens of podcaster Poppy.

Eva’s on the hunt for a killer, but is it a smokescreen for her own guilt? Poppy can’t decide. Markus is still acting out, and it’s getting in the way of his parenting. Plus, Poppy has some secrets of her own to spill. And fate has one last curveball to throw this crew before the season’s final inning.

Truth Be Told recap: ‘Only Little Secrets’

Season 3, episode 9: In the episode, entitled “Only Little Secrets,” Andrew Finney (Peter Gallagher) is dead and the suspect list is long but specific. On the one hand, there is a conspiracy of silence that reaches the highest levels of Oakland government. On the other, we know that vigilante school principal Eva (Gabrielle Union) was one of the last people who saw Finney alive. And she made it clear that she would be holding him accountable for his crimes (which included sexually abusing her when she was younger).

So who was driving the Chevy Impala that crushed Finney to death? Detective Aames (David Lyons) finds security camera footage of Eva talking to Finney, which isn’t conclusive, but it’s not good, either.

Meanwhile, Markus (Mekhi Phifer) and Zarina (Merle Dandridge) are very nervous. It’s their daughter Trini’s (Mychala Lee) first day back at school after the days-long endeavor of being kidnapped, sex trafficked, checked out by social workers and police, returned home, and then breaking up with her boyfriend.

Troubles at home, at school and at the police station

Markus has started drinking again after 10 years of sobriety, and it’s starting to cloud his judgment as a parent. Zarina wants to give Trini her independence; Markus doesn’t agree. The first day back at school, both Trini and Melanie (Makena May) find themselves on the business end of playground taunts. Trini tries to stand up for Melanie but it backfires. Melanie doesn’t want anyone looking out for her. All this stress leads Trini to have a panic attack in class.

Aames tells Poppy (Octavia Spencer) to stay away from Eva. So, naturally, she heads to Eva’s office first thing to snoop around. They head back to Poppy’s place to brainstorm, and Eva sees the sex tape with Finney and another girl. Turns out Eva knows her from her days running with Finney. She wants to go get her, but Poppy says no.

Back at the police department, Aames takes a run at Trini’s sexual abuser, Bill Ochoa (Anthony Fernandez), in the interrogation room. Ochoa’s confident he’ll beat the assault charge because it would be easy to paint Trini as a runaway drug user. Aames asks Markus if he can get Trini to testify; it would help their case enormously.

Why won’t Poppy air the interview?

Eva goes over Poppy’s head and complains to her podcast sponsor about having her interview go unpublished. The suits aren’t happy that Poppy has a victim’s testimony and isn’t running it. They’re so mad, in fact, that they might pull their sponsorship of her podcast entirely. Eva calls to gloat, demanding that Poppy run the interview and start taking her more seriously.

Poppy’s frustrated on all fronts. She goes to Lee Hackman (Xander Berkeley) and his wife (Susanna Thompson) to ask about the secret messaging function they uncovered in his app. (It allowed the sex traffickers to pass information back and forth among themselves.) Hackman denies having anything to do with it. They only have so much time to catch who killed Finney before the trial.

A little investigation turns up that Hackman was a long-ago ally of Finney in the sex trafficking and that it was Rochelle (Reign Edwards), one of Trey’s (Isaiah Jarel) sex workers, who hit Finney with the car. They’re all covering their tracks now.

Eva and Poppy make up when it becomes clear that they’re not working against each other after all. Plus, she makes up with Markus, and tells Desiree (Tracie Thoms) and Cydie (Haneefah Wood) that she’s not their biological sister. Everyone finally seems to be on the same page. And then someone pulls up to the courthouse with a gun on the day of Trini’s testimony and shoots at her. He misses Trini (it looks like a he, but the shooter’s in baggy clothes, with a hood pulled over his face, so who knows?) but hits Eva.

It’s all about the acting

Gabrielle Union, Merle Dandridge and Mychala Lee in "Truth Be Told," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Eva (played by Gabrielle Union, left) goes through a lot this week.
Photo: Apple TV+

Truth Be Told delivers excellent stuff this week, as usual, with a lot of tonal and plot developments between the opening and closing credits. Poppy goes from suspicious of Eva, to actively hostile toward her, to forgiving, and then to devastated as she kneels over her bleeding body on the courthouse steps. That’s enough whiplash for a whole season, but Spencer and Union handle it beautifully.

Frankly, everyone’s giving it all they’ve got this week. Union and Spencer have to underplay or they’ll make hysterical what has to seem like the kind of everyday hassles that women like this face. Everything’s bad, but there’s too much to do, too much else to focus their attention on. They can’t just give in.

Phifer, by contrast, allows himself to get caught up in his emotions, because, like most men with a history of control issues, it’s a luxury he wants to afford himself. To sulk and complain and lash out when things don’t go well.

Ron Cephas Jones has a great scene with Thoms and Wood, too, trying to talk around the confession he has to not make because it’s Poppy’s to reveal. His love for them turns him into a stammering wreck, because he isn’t always good with communicating what matters most, or being seen as vulnerable. But he knows, as a business owner, a father and a pillar of the community, that he must let himself do it.

It’s another great performance in a sea of them. I’m desperate to know what happens next.


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 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


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