AppleTV+’s latest series Truth Be Told wastes little time getting right to the heart of a case, where a potentially innocent man has been in prison for 19 years. This premise has echoes of Making A Murderer running throughout and despite a slow start, does have potential to be an interesting series given what we receive in the first episode.
We begin with news footage for the murder of famed author Chuck Buhrman. 16 year old Warren Cave was taken into custody and tried as an adult as a result of this occurring. We then cut to the present day in court, where we see lawyers trying to get a retrial for Warren as they watch the inconsistent testimony of Chuck’s daughter, Lenie. Also present is former reporter Poppy Parnell, who wrote stories about Warren 19 years ago. The judge decides to file against the appeal as he believes Lenie was just dealing with her father’s death.
In the evening, Poppy discusses the video footage of Lenie Buhrman with her husband, Ingram. She tells him she can see she was lying and wonders if her stories she wrote were wrong, as she’s the reason he was tried as an adult. This prompts her to decide retelling the events through podcasts and meet Warren in person. She first tries to get help from Warren’s mother but she categorically refuses to help, even after Poppy notices she has cancer and tries to use her disease as a bargaining tool. Her next best chance is Lenie who is now a death doula. However she also gets the cold shoulder from her.
After the Sunday mass with her family, Poppy receives a call from Melanie Cave, having finally agreed to let her see her son, but not before making her promise not to tell Warren about her condition. In St Quentin, Poppy is searched as she goes through security, ready to meet Warren. However, she quickly becomes overwhelmed and intimidated by him when he starts taunting her, showing her multiple Nazi tattoos on his arms. Unable to carry on her interview, she leaves, barely holding back her tears.
She decides to visit Melanie again, who tells her that her son was changed by the prison and asks her to do whatever she can to get him out, as she only has two months to live. This leads her to ask her sister for some advice during their father’s party. However, she suggests helping other innocent men in jail instead, including their cousin. After speaking to her ex about his job as an investigator, she has a chat with her dad and notices that he’s not himself and doesn’t recognize her for a few seconds.
We then cut to Lenie, still disturbed by Poppy’s visit earlier on. As her aunt arrives in the kitchen, Lenie explains what happened and asks her to help warn her sister, while we see Poppy waking up from a nightmare about a young Warren in prison. She admits to her husband that she had heard about the tape when she did the story on Warren all those years ago, but decided not to investigate it as her stories were opening doors for her.
This leads her to revisit Warren in prison where she takes a different approach with him. She believes he got his tattoos to survive in prison and reveals that his mother is dying from cancer. This prompts him to reveal that he used to go hunting for pills in the Buhrman household. We then see a flashback of a young Warren but instead of heading for the bathroom, he ends up under one of the twin’s beds while slowly caressing her hair. After hearing a noise, he quickly left the house and jumped over the fence, which could be what Lenie saw that night.
Back in the present, Poppy tells him she knows he’s lying and finally manages to convince him to tell the real story, as we cut to her podcast and she explains she may have been wrong about Warren all those years ago, asking the audience to reconsider where we leave things hanging in the balance.
Truth Be Told offers up a decent first episode here, introducing all the characters whilst setting the scene for what’s to come this season. The first few minutes, while hardly original, are a nice touch as they depict the news footage of the murder and trial. While this approach has been done before, it’s a simple and effective trick to help set the tone and mood, starting off with strong foundations as the story unfolds.
The acting from the main cast is good too but Aaron Paul steals the show here, offering up an excellent portrayal of a man that may have been sent to prison by mistake. His mannerisms show that there’s definitely more to his story than he’s letting on and this has me pretty intrigued for what’s to come next. Fans of true crime series or investigative whodunits will feel right at home with Truth Be Told and while some of the plot points could be developed a little further, especially the stories Poppy wrote about Warren, the drama is still enjoyable and leaves things wide open for the future episodes.