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True Detective: Night Country Episode 5 Review

Jodie Foster and Finn Bennet face each other in episode 5 of True Detective Night Country

History repeats itself for the major characters in episode 5 of True Detective: Night Country, and the results are fascinating.


*This review of True Detective: Night Country will discuss spoilers for episode 5.*

About two-thirds of the way through episode 5, I had begun to wonder why the show felt so compelled to return to the past, specifically in Danvers  (Jodie Foster) and Navarro’s (Kali Reis)  cover-up of the murder-suicide that drove them apart. The penultimate episode of True Detective: Night Country doesn’t dive deeper into the central mystery much, but it still contains a good number of intriguing developments. But the shocking final moments of the episode offer a great thematic continuation of this season’s thesis. That is, the ability of the past to repeat itself and how that manifests within these characters.

I’ve spoken at length in previous reviews about Pete’s (Finn Bennett) puppy-like loyalty to Danvers, and the way he’s often torn between her and his father. Episode 5 sees him split in two after he’s officially kicked out of his home, so he first turns to his father, Hank (John Hawkes). But Hank’s just as broken as him, in more ways than one. It’s kind of a “nature versus nurture” scenario, though neither option is ideal. Does he want to emulate his father, a crooked cop who raised him nevertheless? Or does he want to be like Danvers, an undoubtedly more successful cop, but one that has ruined relationships because of her dedication to the force? (Not to mention her uncontrollable libido.) As fate would have it, the final moments of the episode force his hand, and the implications are fascinating.

I do feel pretty proud of myself for predicting the mining operation being involved somehow in the Tsalal murders, and this week’s episode spells it out pretty clearly, with a few missing pieces left to discover. Turns out the mine was bankrolling the station’s research, and ginning up the numbers that show their negative environmental impact. I’m still wrestling with my feelings on whether it’s the most narratively interesting thing to pin everything on the evil corporation, especially when we barely know anything about Kate (Dervla Kirwan), the head of the company. But as with most fictionalized murder investigations, the “who” or the “how” are less captivating than the “why.” Indeed, there’s still a number of unanswered questions that are only tangentially related to the murders of the Tsalal men and Annie (Nivi Pedersen).

Kali Reis sits inside a red car with a grim expression on her face in Episode 5 of True Detective: Night Country
Kali Reis in Episode 5 of True Detective: Night Country (© Michele K. Short/HBO)

There aren’t so many that I worry about López’s ability to close things tidily, but as I look back on some of the more memorable moments of the season, I can’t help but wonder how they all fit together. Take Raymond Clark’s (Owen McDonnell) creepy abandoned trailer that closed one of the earlier episodes. As Danvers sifts through the evidence closet in episode 5, I suddenly remembered how it hasn’t really factored into the season at large. It’s not that every single moment has to fit neatly into the larger puzzle, but maybe a moment that was given so much weight shouldn’t feel like a random bit of horror in the larger scheme of things. Of course, this is a very minor piece of criticism in what has otherwise been a great season of television. True Detective has always been a show that invites rampant, frame-by-frame speculation, so I’m fine with the occasional bit of fan service (for lack of a better word).

I can still remember online conversation before the first season finale and how the murder investigation could possibly be wrapped up. Would the answer be something with cosmic implications, where a rift in the universe is opened up upon the discovery of the truth? Of course, the answer was much simpler than that, and I was left satisfied with the result. Night Country has similar vibes with all the supernatural ideation, and though this season isn’t as narratively straightforward as the first, I remain confident that López can wrap everything up satisfactorily next week.


Episode 5 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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