TV Series

True Detective: Night Country

"Time is a flat circle."

Feb 22, 2024
Dimitris Passas

Featuring a finale that will become etched into the audience's memories for a long time, mainly due to the vigorous optics that capitalize on the frozen setting of the northern Alaskan town of Ennis, the fourth season of True Detective signifies a radical turn in terms of theme selection. Issa Lopez succeeded Nic Pizzolatto at the helm of the show after 3 seasons that left a deep imprint on noir lovers across the globe. Lopez opted for an inversion of the locale as featured in season 1 that unfolded among the steamy humidity of Louisiana and the result can be perceived as a reverse picture of season 1. The story is supposed to be set in a small Alaskan town, however, the series was shot in the exotic Icelandic landscape that always offers sequences of breathtaking allure, commanding the screen. Lopez owes her influences to John Carpenter and his classic horror flick The Thing (1982) which was also set in Antarctica. Apart from the change of scenery Lopez's individual interpretation of the True Detective tradition impelled her to incorporate unprecedented tropes, the most prominent being the supernatural dimension which permeates all 6 episodes. Careful for the story not to end up a cheap ghost tale, Lopez injects the right doses of the uncanny, just enough to amplify the bizarre atmosphere.

Furthermore, Lopez wanted to see the show through the female perspective, thus enhancing the female gaze by selecting two women detectives as protagonists, Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Navarro (Kali Reis). Both of them deliver impeccable performances in their respective roles staying loyal to the heritage of the saga that provided excellent acting both in Season 1 (Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey) and Season 3 (Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff). Despite the changes concerning the plot and narrative tropes, Lopez has stated that she remained true to the spirit of HBO's crime drama in the sense that she envisioned the whole season as an "existential whodunit". The interpolation of the horror element doesn't exclude the, thorough in all its accuracy, characterization that made this series one of the most outstanding TV phenomena of the 2010s. Francesca Orsi, HBO's head of drama had succinctly described the show's primary substance as follows: "The essence of “True Detective is the way in which the horror genre is encapsulated within the detective noir narrative.” The universe within which the story of the fourth season unravels is brimming with obscure symbolism, traumatic pasts, and a barrage of mirages of pivotal significance experienced by some of the main characters.

Even though the main storyline revolves around two cases, one that takes place in the present and the other in the past, Lopez adopted a single narrative timeline focusing on the here and now. This perhaps may come across as a betrayal as all previous seasons embraced multiple chronologies with the third one even settling on a triple timeline. However, it doesn't hurt the show one bit and the viewer becomes increasingly engrossed in the spectral storyline that involves the death of a group of scientists found frozen to death deep in the vast Alaskan tundra. It soon becomes evident that this case is interconnected with the murder of a native girl, Annie, that took place several years earlier. State Trooper Navarro, a young woman of Iñupiaq ancestry has been obsessing over Annie's case for several years while Danvers initially seems unwilling to follow her colleague in the treacherous path of compulsion.

Both Danvers and Navarro face tough predicaments in their personal lives: the former is the adopted mother of a native girl who proves to be a handful as she exhibits a tendency to get in trouble in any way imaginable. Navarro's sister, on the other hand, is an unstable girl with suicidal tendencies and a source of constant worry and grief for the heavily muscled police officer. Even though during the first half of the season, Danvers and Navarro are not the best of friends, as the investigation moves forward they come closer, sharing their grievances and past traumas that haunt them. In the season finale, an all-too-familiar phrase in the True Detective fictional universe is uttered once again: "Time is a flat circle" echoing M. McConaughey's words in the first season. Seasons 1 and 4 share several similarities: the deep dive into the ice cave in Night Country finale inevitably brings to mind the killer's cavern in the concluding episode of season 1. Keep your eyes open as there are more meticulously concealed linkages between the two seasons, Easter eggs, and more.

Issa Lopez proved a worthy successor of Nic Pizzolatto, adding her particularities to the mix and emboldening the show's distinctive mood and style without retracting anything from its appeal. Season 4 is a visually enthralling experience and will definitely glue you to your seats for six hours straight.


True Detective: Night Country
TV Series
Issa Lopez
Written by
Issa López ... (created by) (6 episodes, 2024) Issa López ... (written by) (5 episodes, 2024) Issa López ... (story by) (1 episode, 2024) Issa López ... (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2024) Scott Lasser ... (written by) (2 episodes, 2015) Chris Mundy ... (written by) (2 episodes, 2024) Graham Gordy ... (written by) (1 episode, 2019) David Milch ... (written by) (1 episode, 2019) Katrina Albright ... (written by) (1 episode, 2024) Namsi Khan ... (written by) (1 episode, 2024) Alan Page ... (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2024) Wenonah Wilms ... (written by) (1 episode, 2024)
Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, Finn Bennett, John Hawkes, Joel Montgrand
Production Companies
Anonymous Content HBO Entertainment Passenger
6 episodes/1 hour

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