In “Part 4” of True Detective: Night Country, another solid episode, the bottom falls out for all of the show’s major characters.
*This review of True Detective: Night Country will discuss spoilers for episode 4.*
Each of the main characters has gone through the ringer so far in this season of True Detective, but the bottom really falls out in episode 4. It’s kind of miraculous how Issa López has put her characters through hell already, along with all the dark imagery and horror elements within the case, without Night Country feeling nihilistic. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this season is already operating at a similarly high level as the show’s first season, while still charting its own path and not feeling like a tired retread.
First, let’s talk about Danvers (Jodie Foster). The video from Annie’s (Nivi Pedersen) phone is clearly haunting her, as she forgoes sleep in order to replay it over and over, hoping that she’ll find some new detail that’ll crack the case open. She’s so preoccupied that she doesn’t seem to notice or care that Leah (Isabella LaBlanc) has snuck out again and vandalized the mining company office. But does she talk down the manager from pressing charges to save her daughter’s future, or is it to save herself the logistical headache of processing everything?
López has mined a great deal of comedy out of Danvers’ history within the town, and how every married woman holds a grudge against her for her past affairs with their men, but she’s done an equally great job at making her a protagonist that’s both likable and unlikable. Episode 4 contains perhaps the best bits of comedy, when Danvers and Navarro (Kali Reis) visit the science teacher to inquire about the ice tunnels around town.
Navarro’s in a dark place (no pun intended) this week, when her attention to the case takes a back seat to her sister Julia (Aka Niviâna). Their mother’s death and mental illness has hung over the sisters’ story this season, but it comes to the forefront this week, when Julia’s mental health takes a turn and she’s checked into a facility. Kali Reis has been a steady, understated presence all season, and she nails the dramatic material she’s given in episode 4, especially once she receives the tragic news in the later half of the episode. I sincerely hope she’s not forgotten once Emmy season comes around.
Finally, we have to talk about the Prior men. Another running bit throughout Night Country has been in Hank’s (John Hawkes) “mail order bride”, who is not a real person at best and a scam artist at worst. But it’s no less heartbreaking when Hank is ghosted at the airport. He’s still a jerk and a mediocre cop, but perhaps he doesn’t deserve to be taken advantage of, especially when all the romantic surprises he had planned at his home are revealed. Pete (Finn Bennett) doesn’t fare much better, kowtowing once again to Danvers’ request to place an APB and search the Native community – on Christmas Eve, no less – because she’s too drunk to do it herself. I talked previously about the show’s thematic mission to depict police work as a disease that corrupts relationships, and Pete’s dialogue with his wife in the past few episodes suggests that their relationship was essentially doomed when he became a cop.
Lest we forget, the Tsalal case takes a major step forward this week as well. Pete’s diligence leads to finding a previous victim that suffered from the same injuries as the scientists, and he just so happened to be the one responsible for mapping the ice caves around the area. This gives way to an equally thrilling and chilling (again, no pun intended) scene at an abandoned station in the episode’s finale. Between Raymond Clark (Owen McDonnell) the missing scientist, and the missing Native man that skipped town after Navarro and Danvers’ visit last week, it feels like the show is dangling a number of suspects in front of us. With murder-mystery shows and films, I rarely try to predict the revelations, as I’m almost always wrong. But True Detective is the kind of show where it’s just as fun to live within its universe and try to unpack every minute detail.
Episode 4 of True Detective: Night Country is now available to watch on Max.