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Counting Down to the Finale of True Detective: Night Country 

Spoiler Alert: Everything is going to be a spoiler.  

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  • Photo Credit: HBO

This week’s episode of True Detective: Night Country was hands down the best one yet—personally, it was the first time in a very long time that an hour of television made me audibly gasp, which is refreshing considering the show’s history. 

An anthology series, True Detective is widely known for its fall from grace after the hype of season one (often argued as one of the best seasons of television ever), but Issa López, this season’s writer and director, has refused to let that notion stand. López’s determination to redeem True Detective has never been keener than in the fifth episode of the fourth installment of the show, yet a week away from the finale, there is still so much that remains unresolved.  

Looking down the barrel of episode six, López has her work cut out for her, but with how she’s proven herself thus far, it seems like the task is in the right hands. 

Let’s take a look at what we need from the finale of True Detective for this season to be considered a true act of redemption. 

What really happened to the scientists at Tsalal?  


Episode five brought us disappointing autopsy results for the scientists from the Tsalal Research Facility, and just as it went in the Dyatlov Pass Incident, the real-life event from which López drew inspiration for the show, the men were said to have died from the effects a freak weather event. Ted Connelly (Christopher Eccleston), the boss and bedfellow of police chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster), suggests the men went out to view the last sunset before the long night when things suddenly went wrong.

This remains a hard sell mostly because the season opened with the men at Tsalal, showing us what they were up to, and it hardly seemed anyone was getting ready to go sky-gazing. After all, scientist Fecundo Molina was quite preoccupied making the turkey sandwich tutorial video that caught prime suspect Raymond Clark acting out of sorts in the background. Which brings us to the next question... 

What about Annie K’s tongue? 


If the men died from a freak weather event, why did they have the tongue of Annie Masu Kowtok, an Inupiaq woman whose murder case went cold six years ago? And if Ted Connelly is willing to overlook the fact that Annie’s tongue was found at Tsalal six years after her death, what did Annie know? Think about it.

It’s no secret that the mine is impacting the community of Ennis—water runs black from the tap, babies are coming out stillborn. Lots of people are making noise and protesting, including Leah, Liz’s stepdaughter, who haven’t yet turned up dead. Annie’s protesting might have been ahead of the curve, but was that alone enough to get her killed?

Episode five revealed that Silver Sky Mining is undoubtedly involved in Annie K’s murder and that Captain Hank Prior (John Hawkes) had transported her body after her death, that is if he’s telling the truth, but who stabbed her over thirty times and why? 

It will be interesting to see how these two cases are resolved because True Detective's beauty lies in the fact that the show's primary focus is not necessarily the case itself. It’s one of the things that sets it apart from any other police procedural.

What made season one great—and what’s working again in season four—is that the detectives’ psychology is the real investigation. López will need to ensure the aforementioned cases are involved, but more than that, she will need to check some boxes for our leading ladies Danvers and Navarro, too. 

To what degree does the supernatural come into play?


The second thing that sets True Detective apart is the way it dips its toes into the supernatural and the metaphysical, and so far, this season’s magical realism feels a bit heavier-handed than season one.

In the most recent episode, Danvers, our resident skeptic, has even started to fold, recalling a dream of her son in which he grabbed her shoulder and said the same thing as Raymond Clark in the back of Fecundo Molina’s video. Two ominous words: she’s here.  

What happened to Danvers’s son Holden? Is “she” Annie K? And why does everyone keep pointing at Navarro? Is the familial curse Navarro alludes to really something supernatural or a genetic case of mental illness? If any archetypes from indigenous folklore are involved will there be enough time to explain?

Interviews quote López saying there has been a real killer hiding in plain sight all season long and the show is only meant to have a “whiff” of the supernatural, but the inclusion of it still feels like the one place where things can go wrong if not done right. 

What about the nods to season one? Travis Cohle? Tuttle United? Is this just for fun or are these iconic names and characters from season one really involved? 


In episode one Ennis resident, Rose Aguineau, is able to locate the bodies of the missing scientists with the help of a ghost who is later reveled to be Travis Cohle, father of Rust Cohle, the iconic protagonist from season one.

It doesn’t seem as though the show will dig deeper into why or how Rose can see ghosts, having already presented it in a way that was very matter of fact, though it does leave the question of why Travis Cohle would know the location of the bodies? Is he involved in either of the cases, and will there be any further connections drawn to his son?

Likewise, the show mentions Tuttle United, a financial backer of the Tsalal Research Facility who happens to bear the same name as the big bad from season one. Are these simply Easter Eggs meant to honor and excite loyal fans with their mention? Or is season one really connected to season four? 

If episode six goes anything like episode five, we’re in for a damn good hour of television— 

Peter Prior (Finn Bennett) and Evangline Navarro (Kali Reis) absolutely killed it with their work. In fact, the acting has been magnificent all season long, something that stood out in season one, too. But with so many questions left to answer will the task of tying up all the loose ends dull the cast’s shine? 

Only time will tell us. Tune in on Sunday to find out.