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True Detective: Night Country Episode 3 Review

Kali Reis, Finn Bennett and Jodie Foster look at a phone in Episode 3 of True Detective: Night Country

In True Detective: Night Country episode 3, the investigation slows down to explore the social unrest within the community.

*This review of True Detective: Night Country will discuss spoilers for episode 3.*

Now that we’ve completed episode 3 of True Detective: Night Country, we’re officially past the halfway mark of the season. No major suspects have emerged just yet, but the episode does offer some intriguing possibilities by expanding the world outside the crime scene. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this episode a “filler episode”, given its negative connotation, but the investigation doesn’t progress much this time around beyond a major development, which I’ll get to in a bit.

First we need to talk about the supernatural horror so far this season. Issa López has meted out bits and pieces of the unexplainable in each episode, and episode 3 features some chilling imagery. First there’s the bit when Navarro (Kali Reis) ventures out into the tundra with Hank’s (John Hawkes) search party, as she throws an orange into the darkness, and it somehow returns at her feet. Then there’s the final scene in the hospital, with the now awake scientist seemingly possessed and talking to her of her deceased mother. The question with any supernatural premonitions is always whether we’re seeing something genuinely phantasmagorical, or if it’s all in the characters’ heads. López doesn’t give any clear answers so far, and I’m fine with it. Maybe we’ll never know for sure; it’s all part of the atmosphere being built. Thank goodness López is sensible enough to steer away from the “Native Magic/Superstition” that often plagues crime stories set in Native communities.

Another thing we may never know is what actually happened between Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Navarro that split them apart. Danvers finally comes clean to Pete (Finn Bennett) that it involved a murder-suicide between a serial abuser and his girlfriend, but López’s flashbacks clearly indicate that it wasn’t as tidy as she describes. I can’t say that I’m terribly invested in learning much more about this aspect of their relationship, unless it somehow ties back to the current-day events. Episode 3 dives deeper into Navarro’s past as well, when she brings to light her traumatic upbringing with her mother and what brought her to Ennis.

Kali Reis and Jodie Foster outside a cabin in Episode 3 of True Detective: Night Country
Kali Reis and Jodie Foster in Episode 3 of True Detective: Night Country (© Michele K. Short/HBO)

There have been vague hints at the social and political unrest within Ennis in the first two episodes, but they come to the forefront in a major way this week. Annie (Nivi Pedersen) was killed after speaking out against the mining operation outside town, and episode 3 dedicates a significant portion to exploring everything around this fraught relationship. Danvers reveals that half the town is employed by the mining company, and Leah (Isabella LaBlanc) sneaks off to attend a rally against it. It also can’t be a coincidence that someone recognizes Leah as Danvers’ daughter, further adding fuel to my theory that she’ll be in grave danger before the end of the season. We still haven’t met anyone directly involved with the mine yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there was some involvement in the murders. After all, the video from Annie’s phone, and some of the imagery from the credits sequence, clearly shows her in some kind of ice tunnel. Perhaps Annie’s tongue resurfaced in Tsalal as a kind of warning.

And yet, despite my guesses, I still have no idea where the rest of Night Country will lead, and I love it. There are a number of questions raised by the events within episode 3 that I’m dying to know the answers to. How does the home birth scene that opens the episode tie into the events of today? Is the stillborn death mentioned at the rally related at all to the mine, or the supposed poisoning of the habitat in Ennis? How much does the nature of the Tsalal station’s work – searching for an extinct microorganism that could hold a medicinal secret – relate to what’s happening today? Why is Hank such a jerk? I’ll fully admit that I’m no expert when it comes to predicting the whodunit element of a mystery, but there have been times when a show either becomes too predictable with its endgame, or too uninteresting to really get invested. But with three-dimensional characters and the spooky atmosphere like what we have here, I’m down for the ride no matter where it leads.

Episode 3 of True Detective: Night Country is now available to watch on Max.

True Detective: Night Country Episode 4 Review – Loud And Clear
In “Part 4” of True Detective: Night Country, another solid episode, the bottom falls out for all of the show’s major characters.
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