Before I delve straight into my review of Three Pines, I should give a little background. I LOVE a good crime whodunnit. There is hardly a Nordic Noir-style crime drama that I haven't watched.
So when I saw Three Pines on Amazon, it took me all of a millisecond to hit the play button.
Starring Alfred Molina and based on the best-selling novels by Louise Penny, Three Pines is centred on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. But is it worth watching?
What Is Three Pines About?
First off, there are eight episodes in Three Pines, and standalone murder mysteries span every two episodes with a larger crime spanning the season.
All four of the murders occur in or around an idyllic but remote village called Three Pines, on the outskirts of Quebec, Canada. Tasked with solving each murder are Armand Gamache and his detectives, Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste. They also help from local officer Yvette Nichol.
The first murder (White Out) is of a wealthy woman who recently moved to the area. Her family live in an old school house that decades earlier was used to hold indigenous children when they were taken from their families. So, not a good place.
Crime solved, a second murder takes place (The Cruellest Month, episodes 3 & 4), also involving the old school house. And once again, through a series of deductions, Gamache and his team solve the crime.
The third murder (The Murder Stone) occurs at the Manoir Belleforet hotel and involves the dysfunctional Morrow family, one of whom normally lives in Three Pines.
And just when you think a town populated by about 10 residents couldn't have ANOTHER murder, it does in The Hangman. This time it is an unknown man visiting the town that ends up dead in the nearby woods.
With all the villagers seemingly having a motive – as is the case with every murder – Gamache must figure out whodunnit. Again.
The larger crime involves the disappearance of a young indigenous girl called Blue Two-Rivers who upped and vanished. With the police uninterested in finding her, Gamache begins investigating the disappearance to find out what happened to her.
Three Pines Official Trailer
Is Three Pines Worth Watching?
Here's the thing about Three Pines. You're either going to love it or hate it.
Maybe my expectations are too high, but the fact that the village has a handful of people living in it and yet four people are murdered there in completely unconnected ways doesn't seem to bother anybody.
It wouldn't be so bad if the acting was credible enough to carry off the storylines, but I get the distinct impression that most of the cast are native French speakers and have to act in English, which comes across as wooden and forced. They should have just made it in French.
The crimes are ridiculous, and the solving of them is just as bad (be prepared to roll your eyes a lot). But the biggest crime committed in Three Pines is this…working out what happened to Blue Two-Rivers.
Gamache is a smart man. Yet he only ever asks one other person in the police department to help him with his queries. Even when everything he is told turns out to be fabricated, it doesn't occur to him, even once, that the person he trusts might be lying to him.
As a viewer you can see it coming from a mile away and honestly, it ruins the show. No credit is given to the audience at all. Instead, we are fed a paint-by-numbers crime show that is trying to be something it is not.
If I were to dig deep for some positives, it would be these. The larger story involving Blue Two-Rivers disappearance and that of other missing indigenous women is to be commended.
Likewise, the performances from Crystle Lightning, Georgina Lightning and Isabel Deroy-Olson, who play the mother, grandmother and sister of the missing girl.
Is it the worst show I've ever watched? No. But it's definitely not the best either.
Where Can I Watch Three Pines?
Three Pines is an Amazon Prime Video original tv show, and for that reason, you can only watch it on that streaming platform.
Even then, you can only watch it if you live in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Greenland.
As of yet, there is no scheduled release date for additional countries.
Three Pines Season 2
We left season one on a cliffhanger. Admittedly, it was unexpected and about the only twist in the entire show but it left enough threads that a second season could be developed.
While Amazon Prime video is notoriously bad at publicising renewals, it does look like Three Pines will have another season. There's certainly enough material to work from as Gamache is the central character in no less than 18 of Penny's books.
If that is the case, then we should see the second season later in 2023.
The Cast Members – Who Plays Who?
Alfred Molina as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache
Rossif Sutherland as Detective Jean-Guy Beauvoir
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as Detective Isabelle Lacoste
Tantoo Cardinal (Stumptown) as Bea Mayer an artist living in Three Pines
Clare Coulter as Ruth Zardo
Sarah Booth as Yvette Nichol the local police officer
Anna Tierney as Clara Morrow
Marie-France Lambert as Gamache's wife Reine-Marie
Georgina Lightning as Arisawe Two-Rivers, Blue's grandmother
Crystle Lightning as Missy, Blue's mother
Isabel Deroy-Olson as Kara, Blue's sister
Anna Lambe as Blue Two-Rivers who has been missing for over a year