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The new game on Sunday nights, for those Northwest Arkansas residents who watch HBO's True Detective, might be called "I Know Where That Is!"

The third season of the network's crime drama premiered Sunday night, providing relief to the many Northwest Arkansas residents who have waited patiently since last year when the cast and crew of the show arrived in this region. The crime that propels the story happened in a fictional town of West Finger, Ark.

The eight-episode season features Mahershala Ali, who just won a Golden Globe Award for his work in Green Book, as Arkansas State Police detective Wayne Hays. In 1980, two West Finger kids ride away from their home on bicycles on a weekday afternoon with instructions from their dad to be back by 5:30. The brother and sister never make it back home.

Created by Nic Pizzolatto, a 2005 graduate of the University of Arkansas Master's of Fine Arts program, the show transports the viewer back and forth and back again among three time periods: 1980 when the crime occurred; 1990 when a significant development stirs questions about it; and 2015, when the detective is an older man haunted by ... well, we're just not sure yet.

Judging from the first two episodes, the story is a slowly unraveling mystery about a crime, but also the toll it and relationships over a 35-year period takes on the human psyche.

For people familiar with Northwest Arkansas, though, mysteries to be solved in each week's episode aren't about a crime, but about the settings in which the show's events take place. Half the fun for local residents is looking past the actors to see what places here in the Boston Mountains can be identified.

A pivotal interaction between Hays and his future wife happens at the bar in Fayetteville's Herman's Ribhouse, where that big aquarium in the dining room provided a major clue.

Hays carries on a conversation with another character at a table in Hugo's, the underground restaurant on Block Street near Fayetteville's square.

The opening credits, and apparently some future scene(s), feature Eureka Springs' Christ of the Ozarks statue.

Cars cross Baptist Ford Bridge in Greenland.

After filming in Arkansas for about seven months last year, the show features too many familiar spots to detail them all.

Pizzolatto has told interviewers he had Arkansas in mind as he wrote the show, in which the landscape is given almost co-star status with the actors.

"Everywhere you point the camera here is treasure," Pizzolatto said last summer as the cast and crew moved from spot to spot around the region for filming.

We'd have to agree. Northwest Arkansas was ready for its close-up.

What’s the point?

Northwest Arkansas is in a starring role as HBO’s season of True Detective gets underway.

Commentary on 01/15/2019

Print Headline: The natural

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