True Detective 4×01 and 4×02 Review: “Night Country” Part 1 and Part 2

True Detective Season 4 Night Country episode 1 review
Liz working on her murder mystery case (Image via trailer: True Detective “Night Country”)

The first two episodes of True Detective season 4 “Night Country” offered a very intriguing start to a twist-filled murder mystery that might involve the supernatural.

Co-lead by the iconic Oscar winner Jodie Foster and the impressive Kali Reis, I’m so here for the weirdness occurring in True Detective: Night Country. The cast is doing a good job in their respective roles and the pacing of the murder mystery seems to be enjoyable (unless something changes drastically in the remaining 4 episodes).

Set in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska, the narrative takes place in a secluded environment where the sun won’t rise for a couple of months after the last sunset in December. The darkness, combined with the snowy terrain, amps the eeriness of the story being told. Not only that, but the townsfolk of Ennis are aware of ghosts showing up. It’s supposed to be a normal thing for them to witness or hear of someone else noticing deceased loved ones or other spirits popping up occasionally.

The current case involved a group of scientists mysteriously disappearing from the secretive Tsalar Research Center. Chief Liz Danvers (Foster) is in charge of making sense of the incident, which seems to have a connection to a cold case involving the murder of a woman named Annie. Said connection ropes in Trooper Evangeline Navarro (Reis). Liz and Navarro used to work together but apparently something happened that led them to part ways, and Navarro had to leave the police force.

Part 1 and Part 2 of the latest season of True Detective had the women try to move past their differences to kill two birds with one stone. However, that’s going to be easier said than done due to their strong personalities. I have seen certain fans and critics bring up not liking the dynamic between Liz and Navarro. However, I’m all in. It’s kind of refreshing to see a duo that consists of headstrong women who clash more than once while solving a murder mystery. Usually, such shows have two characters with one being by the book and the other being more free-spirited. It’s a dynamic we have seen countless times. So, kudos to the creative behind True Detective: Night Country for giving viewers something different with Liz and Navarro. I’m looking forward to learning more about their shared and individual backstories.

I’m also enjoying the dynamic Liz has with her partner Peter (Finn Bennett). He’s got a lot to learn from Liz and in turn, being young and better at technology, he brings up ideas that help Liz with making progress in the case. I have to give a well-deserved shoutout to the scene the two shared in Part 2 with Liz mentoring Peter when it came to asking the right type of questions when trying to make sense of what caused a bunch of scientists to freeze to death. 

As of now, the narrative has hit the spot when it comes to making the audience feel confused (but not frustrated) about the true nature of the case. The story has achieved the perfect balance between reality and the supernatural. Certain weird aspects of the case get explained (kind of) by factual observations and yet, due to how the story unfolds, you still can’t help but consider the paranormal being involved to some degree. The writers clearly want the audience to think in such a manner, and I’m here for the ride the rest of the episodes will take me on.

Navarro had a very interesting conversation with Rose about Ennis and how it was likely the focal point of the veil between the living and the dead tearing apart. Rose also mentioned the importance of being able to tell the difference between spirits who appear because they miss you, want to deliver a message, or want to take you with them to the other side. She also stated how you shouldn’t confuse being able to communicate with spirits with actual cognitive health issues which was something that Navarro’s sister was dealing with.

Due to Navarro’s character having the ability to sense the supernatural, I’m excited to see how her abilities will continue to build while working on the case with Liz, especially with Liz being someone who wants nothing to do with talks about spirits and things of such nature.

With Liz’s disdain for Navarro’s so-called spirit sense and not wanting Leah (Isabella Star LaBlanc) to explore her heritage, I want to learn more about what Liz has against the Indigenous community. Leah’s desire to want to learn more about her culture made sense for her character. However, Liz was having none of it. I could be wrong, but I think with what happened to Annie and how the Indigenous community was treated in Ennis, it’s safe to assume Liz wanted Leah to stay away from all of that in order to protect her.

Certain people in the Indigenous community weren’t fans of the local mine messing up the water supply and other natural resources. You can tell Leah’s going to be involved with the protest group soon. So, Liz’s concern as a parent makes sense. However, I still think pulling Leah away from her feeling connected to her heritage so harshly isn’t working out the way Liz wants it to. 

The queer representation in True Detective: Night Country is also via Leah. She’s been sneaking around hooking up with another young girl. Liz isn’t a fan of that either but teens will be teens. 

As for the other romances on this show, I’m rooting for Navarro’s relationship with Eddie Qavvik (Joel D. Montgrand). I appreciate the writers not pushing Qavvik to become more “feminine” to balance out Navarro’s more “masculine” side. They both balance each other well and I want their relationship to succeed.

Peter’s romance with his girlfriend has been experiencing some friction due to Liz keeping him late at work. And as for Liz, she seems to be quite casual when hooking up with certain dudes she likes. Apparently, Liz was responsible for causing drama in certain relationships when she was younger.

A relationship important to the case was the one between Annie (Nivi Pedersen) and the scientist named Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell). While we didn’t get all of the details, the first two episodes had the right pacing when revealing certain information about what was going on between Annie and Raymond. His unusual behavior and the spiral tattoo he got were connected to Annie’s fate and I want to know more. The twist at the end of Part 2 concerning Raymond’s status was quite unexpected.

With the scientists at the Tsalar Research Center wanting to uncover the origin of life by experimenting on a very old microorganism, the questions surrounding Annie’s murder, the treatment of the Indigenous community, and the mine messing with nature, True Detective: Night Country has a couple of themes it wants to explore. Here’s hoping it’s able to do that in a satisfying manner while operating within the confines of telling an episodic murder mystery story.

Some other thoughts and questions:

  • Characters mentioning sharp pointy objects really stood out to me. At this point, I’m trying to keep track of how many times that phrase gets mentioned as the season progresses.
  • Cancer has been mentioned quite a bit, too. I take it the mine is somehow responsible for causing cancer in certain residents? Hmmm.
  • There’s got to be something up with eyes getting injured. Even that polar bear that Navarro saw on the road had an injured eye.

What did you think of True Detective: Night Country Part 1 and Part 2?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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