There are two types of police officers in the world. Those who believe they can change the corrupt system and those who become a cog in that very machine. There is no doubt that Officer Hank Prior belonged to the latter category. In True Detective: Night Country, Hank can be seen as an opportunist who wanted to rise up the ladder, but he chose a shortcut. He wanted things in an easy way, which was perhaps the reason why he shook hands with the woman who ruled the town of Ennis (from a capitalistic outlook, at least). Kate McKittrick’s mining company, Silver Sky, provided employment to more than half of the population. And even though her mines had been polluting the underground water for a very long time, many people chose to remain silent because it was their only source of livelihood. Hank was one of them.
In the penultimate episode, Hank confessed to moving Anne Kowtok’s body, whose murder case had been the highlight of the fourth season. Evangeline Navarro found Kowtok’s body in a shipment container, in a state that could send chills down the spine of any sane person. We still don’t know who was the monster behind those wounds on Kowtok’s body, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Hank indeed had his hands soaked in her blood. And blood is something one cannot wash away so easily, yet Hank never felt guilty for his actions. From the beginning of the season, Hank had been tampering with the evidence related to Anne Kowtok’s murder. He even took the case file home so that no officer, especially Chief Liz Danvers, could poke her nose in the matter. On the surface, Hank came off pretty boneheaded, but he was as cunning as a fox.
Well, I just called him stupid because, even though he was a conspirator in such a gruesome murder, he was catfished by some random guy or girl online. And it wasn’t just that he fell in love with a girl whom he had been texting day and night; he also sent her money, believing the girl would come to visit him on Christmas Eve and would eventually marry him to settle down. Ouch! It all sounded perfect, and we felt bad for this guy before his crimes came to light. I think he deserved it. Karma hit Hank hard on this one. Coming back to the serious issue, Hank had been trying to manipulate his son from the very beginning so that he could know what Danvers and Navarro were up to all this time. He would play the father card every now and then so as to seek information from Peter, but thankfully, Peter eventually saw through his father’s lies and stopped believing the manipulator standing in front of him.
We still don’t know who killed Anne or how she died. But it would be safe to assume that it had something to do with her protests against Silver Sky Mining Company. In the process, Anne had most likely found some incriminating evidence against Kate McKittrick, which was why the woman got her killed, or maybe she found her dead body on her land, which freaked her out. People would have blamed her for Anne’s murder, which was why she bribed the most corrupt officer in Ennis and asked him to move the body. In Hank’s rule book, he didn’t commit a crime but helped the town. In exchange, Kate paid Hank some money and promised him a position, which was soon filled by Liz Danvers. Hank’s dreams of rising up the ladder were mercilessly crushed, and thus began his eternal hatred for Danvers.
In the meantime, Hank did all he could to cover the tracks so that the dead remained where it belonged, deep underground, but an incident at the Tsalal Research Station changed the entire game. Annie’s tongue was found at the crime scene, thereby forcing Danvers to look at the case from a fresh perspective, after which she found out that it was Kate who had been funding Tsalal so as to twist their pollution statistics in her favor. At this point, it was no surprise that Kate McKittrick did kill the nine unborn babies and hundreds more of whom we are not aware, and Hank had been her loyal accomplice in the brutal murders. When Kate found out that her crimes could come to light, she quickly contacted the corrupt Hank once again and tasked him with killing Otis Heiss. Well, she didn’t say that directly, but she wanted to, and Hank understood the cryptic nudge. A hit on Otis Heiss would affect her in no way, as no one cared about a former engineer who had destroyed his life in drugs. Kate’s only motive was to stop Danvers from connecting Silver Sky to Kowtok’s murder, and for that, she was willing to go to any lengths. Hank, on the other hand, had given his hard-earned money to an imposter he had met online and was, therefore, in dire need of some capital. It is most likely that Hank informed Captain Ted Connelly of the truth about the Wheeler case, where Navarro went off the rails and shot Wheeler in the head as the culprit reminded her of her abusive father.
Danvers and Navarro had been trying to cover up the mess for a long time, but Peter, the intelligent lad, found the cracks in the story. He had been investigating the case on his computer in order to confront Danvers, but before he could do so, Hank logged into his laptop and leaked the information to Connelly so he could have some leverage on her and stop her from pursuing the Tsalal case. In the entire fiasco, it was Kate McKittrick who benefited the most. It was quite evident that whoever left Kowtok’s tongue at the crime scene wanted Danvers and Navarro to re-open the case so that the truth about Silver Sky could come to public attention and the perpetrators could be arrested for the same. But with Hank’s help, Kate dodged that bullet.
At the end of episode 5, Hank followed Danvers so he could kill Otis and put an end to Danvers’ investigation once and for all. However, we didn’t know that he would be stupid enough to pull the trigger in Danvers’ house, especially in front of her. But as I said before, Hank was an old man who didn’t know how to act like an adult, and that was the entire problem. He didn’t even think twice before pointing a gun at Danvers, but thankfully, Peter arrived at the scene in time and shot his dad before he could make matters worse. I know it couldn’t have been easy for Peter to do so, but he had already seen the true face of his father, and hopefully, it would help him overcome his grief. As for Hank, Navarro asked Peter to take his body to her friend, Rose Aguineau, who would help the lad dump his father’s body at the spot where Navarro had bid farewell to her sister. In short, they are going to make Hank disappear from the face of the earth. He would be buried under thick ice for a very long time, and it might be a coincidence, but he had saved Peter from a similar fate in his childhood. But who could have known that Hank would die in a similar manner years later? Perhaps the scene foreshadowed his fate for us. And whoever took his money, please make good use of it.