Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/HBO
Last week’s episode of True Detective: Night Country concluded with a major twist, despite this season only being two episodes into its run. The corpsicle that Detective Danvers and Trooper Navarro uncovered—with eight scientists frozen in terror in the Alaskan tundra—was missing a member: Raymond Clark. Clark had also just so happened to become a person of interest in the cold case murder of Anne Masu Kowtok throughout that episode’s run. It was a revelation that spelled bad news for the investigation into what happened to the men who were researching ancient ice at the Tsalal Station outside of Ennis. In Episode 3, things only continue to devolve, with a larger element of the supernatural creeping into Navarro and Danvers’ search for the truth.
Complicating things further are the theories from True Detective fans, who have been stitching together connections between Season 4 and Season 1 on Reddit, X, and Discord. They’ve speculated that Travis Cohle, the spirit who led Rose Aguineau out onto the ice to find the corpsicle, is the father of Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle, as well as identified a connection between spiral imagery from Night Country and the first season. While I’m foggy on Season 1 lore (it was, after all, a decade ago), there’s a larger portrait of something evil being painted by showrunner Issa López, one whose disturbing allure welcomes fans old and new. The iniquity is dialed up once again by the end of Episode 3, with a horrifying sight that won’t soon be forgotten, making Night Country a gripping feat all on its own—with or without a larger connection to past seasons.
This episode begins with a flashback to around six years ago, with Navarro attempting to arrest Annie for her role in the destruction of mining property during a protest. Annie, a midwife, is in the process of helping a pregnant woman give birth, and refuses to comply until after she’s done her job. The baby almost doesn’t make it, but Annie manages to save them. A stunned Navarro watches the entire tense process, a rare smile appearing on her stony face when the baby takes their first breaths. “Now we can go,” Annie says, holding out her wrists to be cuffed. As the season continues to explore the death rates among Native peoples, this scene will likely become integral to the larger message by the season’s end.