In last week’s episode of True Detective: Night Country, Navarro and Liz learned that when Annie Kowtok’s dead body was found, Suzanne (Annie’s hairdresser) called the police, and Hank Prior was the one who responded. But he never revealed this information to anyone, thereby making Navarro and Liz suspicious of his intent. Additionally, Liz and Navarro learned that Raymond Clark and Annie Kowtok’s relationship wasn’t a secret. An equipment engineer at Tsalal, named Oliver Tagaq, was aware of their affair. That said, he wasn’t at the research station when the “event” happened that took the lives of all the scientists there; his name wasn’t in the records, and he was apparently living a nomadic life. When confronted by Liz and Navarro, he got hostile. Despite having a lot of issues on the personal front, Pete Prior managed to make some headway by cracking Annie’s phone and unearthing the last video she had made. Liz and Navarro’s personal lives saw complications too as Leah started her activism and Julia’s breakdowns got worse. So, let’s find out what today’s episode has in store for the detectives.
Hank Prior Realizes That He Is Being Catfished
Episode 4 of True Detective: Night Country opens with Liz reviewing the footage of Annie Kowtok over and over again. Actually, she does this throughout the episode until she notices something important, and we’ll come back to that later. Liz takes a look at Leah because, as a mother and as a detective, she is afraid that Leah’s fate will be similar to that of Annie’s, thereby ruining her future and adding to the statistics of dead natives. Duty calls as she realizes that the massive pile of frozen dead bodies has finally thawed, which means that they can be shifted to Anchorage. The dead bodies are connected to Annie Kowtok’s case, and if they are gone, it’ll be a major setback for Liz and Navarro. Liz heads to the skating rink to delay the transfer. However, she spots Julia having a meltdown, which forces her to stop her car and help her out. She sacrifices her evidence to help Julia. She even hangs back while Navarro and Julia talk to each other, appearing very nonchalant about it because she needs to make sure that people don’t see her empathetic side too easily. When Liz brings up Connelly’s name, Navarro reminds her that she can’t let him take the case away from them because she wants to get to the bottom of it. Talking about Connelly, he doesn’t take the Annie Kowtok case away from Ennis, but he does tell Liz to get all the random cases of violence happening all over the town under control. In return, Liz tells Connelly about the probable cause of the deaths of the scientists so that the forensic scientists at Anchorage don’t start their work by swinging in the dark.
Navarro drops Julia off at a therapy center while promising her that this one’s going to be different than all the previous ones that she has tried. It’s a pretty heartbreaking goodbye, especially as the camera dollies back to isolate and shorten Navarro within the frame. The focus then shifts back to the Ennis police station, where Pete reveals that he has found out some information on a guy named Otis Heiss. Why is he important? Because his injuries were similar to those of the Tsalal scientists. On top of that, he’s a foreigner and a total ghost. Yet he has somehow shown up in the records of the hospital he was admitted to after a non-existent “accident” and the police after several cases of disorderly conduct. Liz tells Pete to get the units to hunt him down, but Pete points out that since they are busy finding Raymond and it’s Christmas Eve, nobody is there to go after Otis. Liz orders him to tell the team to look for them both. Pete complains about working on a holiday and then starts working on the APB notice for Otis. Liz gets in touch with Navarro about Julia, and when she learns that Navarro hates Christmas, she gladly asks her to tag along for a mission. There’s this hilarious moment where Liz asks a fellow officer to get her something from the top shelf of the canteen because she is too short, and it’s such a great way of incorporating Jodie Foster’s height into the character’s actions. Elsewhere, we see Hank pathetically waiting for his online girlfriend at the Ennis airport, and as expected, no one named Alina walks out of the airplane. I know I’m not supposed to laugh at an old man who has been scammed, but it’s a little funny.
While going on Liz’s little “mission,” she and Navarro talk about Julia and religion. Surprisingly enough, Liz opens up about her mother’s death, how she prayed furiously, and that it didn’t change the outcome. Despite all the spooky stuff that’s happening in Ennis, it’s interesting how Liz isn’t wavering from her atheistic stance. I just hope that eventually her stance doesn’t change, because that’s how atheists are usually treated in entertainment. They always begin with a firm grasp on reality, and then their whole perspective is changed by something supernatural. Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, let’s focus on Liz’s mission, which is to consult Bryce about the video on Annie’s phone. The tension is palpable because he had an extramarital affair with Liz, and now he and his wife are trying to make it work. So, Liz showing up on Christmas Eve (which is a family affair) is insanely awkward. Anyway, Liz and Navarro had observed earlier that there are no caves in Ennis or the spot where Annie’s body was found, which means that she was murdered somewhere and then dumped in another spot. Bryce refutes that observation and says that there are caves in Ennis in a place called the Brooks Range. However, it’s a very shifty spot, and one wrong step can lead to death. Bryce says that they need an expert to help them. He reveals the name of the guy who mapped the caves. Guess who it is? That’s right! Otis Heiss!
Navarro finds out that Julia has died by suicide
While preparing to go to bed, Julia sees the ghost of her mother. Hank decides to spend Christmas night with Pete and his family after implicitly admitting that he knows that he has been catfished and scammed. Navarro goes to have dinner with Rose Aguineau, who has shed her hobo attire and slipped into something regal, while filling up the dining space with some of the most gorgeous-looking food items. Navarro randomly asks her what she used to do before coming to Alaska, and she talks about teaching, writing articles, and then seeking some quiet and peace. I’ve been on board regarding the narrative of the show from the get-go, but this scene didn’t sit well with me. Why? Firstly, Rose seems to be a walking Easter egg for fans of the first season. She hasn’t added anything substantial to the narrative since that first episode. Now, she is giving hints about her connections to Rust Cohle. Secondly, there’s a mystery that needs to be solved. Half of their evidence has been shipped to Anchorage. Thirdly, the dialogue writing in the scenes between Navarro and Rose is bad. I am sorry, but I have to state it out loud. I am perfectly okay with detours, but if it’s not engaging, it’s getting a “thumbs down” from my end.
Liz gets a call from Kate because Leah has defaced the Silversky Mining office by painting the words “murderers” on the entrance doors. Kate wants to press charges. Liz advises against it because it’s going to ruin her life. Kate obliges and lets Leah go. Based on Dervla Kirwan’s expressions, Kate isn’t intimidated by Liz. She is showing that she has the power to make or break Leah’s life, and she is choosing to let her go, thereby keeping both Leah and Liz in her debt. Liz didn’t care about Kate’s feelings when she cheated on her husband. So, it’s a really complicated way of getting back at Liz. Elsewhere, Navarro gets a call from Julia, and it’s apparent that she has left the therapy center. She is sitting near the abandoned ship. But this time, instead of just sitting there and waiting for Navarro to get her, she discards her clothes, walks away into the darkness of the night, and essentially dies by suicide. Much like her scene of being admitted into the therapy center, this is a heartbreaking moment (and yes, that’s Billie Eilish’s “bitches broken hearts” playing in the background). To add to the heartbreak, Leah leaves Liz’s house to go live with the Priors. And in order to distract herself from all this, Liz dives into Annie Kowtok’s footage and the footage from the moment where Raymond started convulsing and then the lights went out.
In a lightbulb moment, Liz notices that there’s a similarity between the scene where the lights at Tsalal station went out and the scene where the lights inside the cave where Annie was captured went out. Liz assumes that since Oliver Tagaq was the equipment engineer, he could’ve had access to stuff like that, and hence, he needs to be questioned. Navarro tells Liz to stay put because she is drunk and tries to postpone this search-and-arrest mission until the 26th of December. But Liz ruins Pete’s Christmas Eve by sending him to assist Navarro, and yes, Liz is ruining Pete’s life just because she is his superior and she is irresponsible enough to get drunk out of her mind in the middle of an ongoing investigation. To make matters worse, she resumes her affair with Connelly, and even that goes horribly as they get into an argument about Connelly running for the position of mayor of Anchorage and Liz’s declining mental state, which apparently started after whatever happened to Jake and Holden Danvers. Amidst all this, we see Hank watching Elf (Connelly was watching it, too) and discarding all the decorations he had arranged for Alina, thereby adding to the pathetic portrayal of the character. His son’s situation isn’t really good either, because it seems like he is on the brink of a divorce with Kayla. Navarro and Pete reach the area occupied by nomads and find out that Oliver Tagaq has fled the scene, leaving behind his gun, some of his clothes, and a stone with a spiral on it. They are confronted by the locals, with one of them being the guy from the opening scene of the show, where all the caribous died by suicide, and advised to get out of there. Navarro and Pete don’t hesitate and leave immediately. Sadly, bad news awaits Navarro as she gets home and learns that Julia has died by suicide.
What did Otis Heiss reveal?
In a fit of rage, Navarro trashes the therapy center and then picks a fight with the abuser from the first episode. She gets pummeled while barely managing to land a few punches on the abuser and his two friends. The meaning of this scene is very obvious. She wants to externalize the pain that she is feeling inside because of her sister’s death. In case you don’t get it, the sentiment is underlined when Navarro goes to Qavvik to get some medical attention. It’s hilarious that Qavvik pretends to propose to Navarro and subverts everyone’s expectations by using the proposal to fix Navarro’s dislocated finger. Joel Montgrand and Kali Reis are really good. Moving on (but not exactly moving on because everyone and everything in Ennis is in a state of limbo), Liz nearly gets into an accident after seeing the one-eyed polar bear. I still don’t know if this giant is real or something that the people of Ennis regularly hallucinate about. The following day, a battered Navarro meets a hungover Liz, and they get into an argument over the spiral stone (which is probably at Qavvik’s house) and Holden’s one-eyed polar bear toy. When Liz starts talking about mortality again, Navarro finally tells Liz that Julia is dead, and she begins to spiral out while fearing that she is going to die next. That angers Liz, but we know that it’s not actually anger, but the love she feels for Navarro that is coming out in this weird and distorted way.
At the end of True Detective: Night Country episode 4, the show makes a big insinuation that there is something supernatural going on in Ennis. Firstly, Liz points out that Navarro saw something at the scene of the crime surrounding William Wheeler. Secondly, when Liz and Navarro visit an abandoned rig in the hopes of finding Raymond Clark, Navarro repeatedly sees Julia’s spirit. Meanwhile, Liz finds out that the guy wearing the pink parka (which was seen on Annie and Raymond) is actually Otis Heiss. The man is high on drugs, and he says something incomprehensible about being in Night Country and whatnot. When Liz reunites with Navarro, she sees that one of Navarro’s eardrums has been damaged, and she seems to be sitting in a state of confusion and fear in front of a Christmas tree. But does this actually mean that there’s something supernatural going on in Night Country? I don’t think so. The fact that everyone is suffering from insomnia is a huge factor. On top of that, there’s a lot of paranoia going on due to the murders, and the source of this paranoia seems to be an elaborate ruse to cover a crime of passion and a vengeful crime (separately). Actually, the important question is: how is the show going to solve all the plot threads in the next two episodes? I just hope they don’t rush it because the makers have done a decent job of creating a lot of intrigue around its central mystery. They are near the finish line, and it’ll be sad to see them fumble it at this stage.